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  • The Ring Organisation

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Screenshot 2022-07-31 at 15.02.06.png Views:	3 Size:	227.3 KB ID:	595181
    Gary Barnett posted this article last August in post #22 of the McCarthy photo thread - https://www.jtrforums.com/forum/general-help-request-items-for-sale-forum/580590-mccarthy-photo/page2

    It's from the Sporting Life - Tuesday 09 May 1911. So when it says Jack McCarthy has played apart in the world of boxing for upwards of 35 years, that takes us back to the late 1870s.

    There are a number of notable aspects about this article revealing John McCarthy's role in the foundation of The Ring. Which is one of the more notable historic boxing venues in London for a number of reasons. For reasons of post brevity, I intend to address this points a one at a time.

  • #2
    The first remarkable thing about this article Is the headline: ‘The Ring Organisation’.

    Ring Organisation is one literal translation of the German 'Ringverein'. The Ringvereine were German clubs and associations which purported to be cultural and supportive societies for ex-convicts, but are really perceived to have been a front for organised crime associations. The criminal organisations portrayed in Fritz Lang’s M are intended to be Ringvereine.

    I’ve previously speculated as to whether the Gehringer’s ran something like a Ringverein from ‘The City Of Norwich’. Some interpret ‘Ring Organisation’ to come from the members wearing rings, others say it was because the memberships formed a ‘ring’ but also it’s been claimed the name came from the headquarters having a boxing or wrestling ring.

    ’The City of Norwich’ had a boxing ring by at least 1882 and after police warnings, doesn’t seem to get used for public events again until the space came under the management of Ching Ghook in August, 1888.

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    Sporting Life - Tuesday 23 May 1882

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    Sporting Life - Wednesday 29 August 1888

    That coupled with Frederick Geringher (the senior’s) German roots leads to a thought of ‘I wonder if..?’ but there is no firm evidence to support this.

    And then an article turns up about Jack McCarthy with a headline which is a literal translation of ‘Ringverein'.

    Was the term ‘Ring Organisation’ known in London in 1911?
    Well maybe, yeah. There was an association formed in London named the Arbeiter Ring Verein (Worker’s Ring Organisation) founded in 1908 and a Freie Arbeiter Ring formed in 1909 - https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...f-e0d980751c54
    Maybe it worth checking for any link between these organisations and previous London radical Jewish groups like the one at International Working Men's Educational Club in Dutfield’s Yard?

    A search of newspapers around the time does bring up the term ‘Ring Organisation’ relatively frequently. Although the term does seem to be used more in relation to associations of traders or merchants which control prices and other untoward behaviours by reaching agreements with each other. The term is sort of like ‘monopoly’ but is more like how the big energy companies are accused of working together now or how banks colluded together at the time of the Libor Rate scandal. The phrase was in use during 1911.

    The headline of the article does seem to be intended as a pun on the phrase ‘Ring Organisation’ but would the editor have been aware of the possible ‘criminal fraternity’ meaning? - Maybe, maybe not.

    In any case, to some readings the headline reads pretty much as ‘The Mafia’.

    Comment


    • #3
      So the word ‘organisation’ wasn’t used in its usual sense, but to imply that there was an organised crime aspect to the managerial structure of the Ring?

      The Sporting Life was ostensibly praising the McCarthies for their charitable work, theatrical fame and long devotion to the sport of boxing, but secretly hinting they were a criminal dynasty by reference to an obscure German term?

      Interesting idea. ;-)

      Comment


      • #4
        The second notable thing about the article is Jack and Steve McCarthy’s business partner, Dick Burge. As the article says:

        Dick Burge is far too well known to need any special comment.
        What did they mean by this?

        Dick Burge was a champion boxer. In 1911, he may well have been more well known for his involvement a fraud staggering in its size. Burge’s own illicit share appears to have been some £100,000.

        Burge had been a booth boxer on the fair circuit before he was picked up by a mysterious ‘someone with deep pockets’ and billed against some of the best known fighters of his time.

        He won the world lightweight title in 1891 by beating Jem Carney and claimed the British Empire title in 1894 by beating ‘Cast Iron’ Harry Nickless. There’s a claim here that several of his fights had a ‘bad odour’ about them - https://tss.ib.tv/boxing/featured-bo...ion-dick-burge

        There was definitely something of a bad odour to his fight with Jerry Driscoll in January 1901. Initially, there had been excitement about the fight.


        Click image for larger version  Name:	Sporting Life - Saturday 26 January 1901.png Views:	1 Size:	1.54 MB ID:	595209
        Sporting Life - Saturday 26 January 1901

        Yet, the resulting bout was described as a fiasco.

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        The Sportsman - Wednesday 30 January 1901

        The referee walked out in disgust, and despite another official offering to finish the fight, the fighters split the prize purse between them.

        Then in November 1901.

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        Daily News (London) - Tuesday 26 November 1901

        The trial is here. For 1901, the the sums involved are staggering - https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/brow...=t19020210-198

        He was sentenced to 10 years. He served 7 of those years and was released in 1909.

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        Leominster News and North West Herefordshire & Radnorshire Advertiser - Friday 06 August 1909

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        Halifax Evening Courier - Tuesday 10 August 1909.png


        The Ring on Blackfriars Road opened in 1910. He must surely have entered into a business agreement with John McCarthy almost immediately upon his release for the establishment to have opened within a year.

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        Sporting Life - Saturday 18 June 1910

        But did John McCarthy have any connection to Dick Burge in 1901, when the Great Bank Frauds were being committed?

        Well yes this can be shown, for two reasons. Firstly, McCarthy and his party from the so-called Worst Street in London can be found attending events with Dick Burge in 1901.

        Click image for larger version  Name:	Boxing World and Mirror of Life - Wednesday 28 August 1901.png Views:	1 Size:	1.31 MB ID:	595216

        Boxing World and Mirror of Life - Wednesday 28 August 1901

        But also through a common connection to Dick’s wife, Bella. Bella Burge, but more on her later.

        Comment


        • #5
          So everyone who attended a boxing event involving Dick Burge was probably also involved in the cheque fraud?

          Comment


          • #6
            Until the formation of the British Boxing Board of Control in 1929, working class boxing events (as opposed to the posh events held by the National Sporting Club) were very rough and ready affairs.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
              So everyone who attended a boxing event involving Dick Burge was probably also involved in the cheque fraud?
              McCarthy does seem to have been closer to him than just anyone 'who attended a boxing event involving Dick Burge'. They were good friends apparently:

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              Boxing World and Mirror of Life - Wednesday 21 August 1901

              Any way there is no evidence to link John McCarthy's to the cheque fraud. It is intriguing though. He entered into a business relationship with Dick Burge so very soon after he was released in prison. And in secret, too.
              His involvement looks like it may have ended up becoming public in 1911 only because of another celebrity court case. But more on that later.

              At a later date I might try and dig into the details of the fraud scheme. There's two interesting points which jump out of the trial at the Old Bailey which is the way advertisements were placed in the Sportsman newspaper to fool their mark and the second is Dick Burge's role in the fraud.
              There was something like £178,000 taken in the fraud (equivalent is estimated as something like £15,000,000 today). £100,000 of that, over half, was found in accounts in the name of Dick Burge or Bella Burge. Bella was a music hall starlet.
              Dick Burge's only role in the fraud seems to have been to pay some checks into his or Bella's accounts. This seems to have become more frequent when the cheques got bigger.
              Celebrities were useful friends to be able to pay large checks into their accounts without raising too much suspicion. Was Burge's role to launder the money, I wonder?

              Anyway. Bella used the stage name Bella Lloyd as a member of the Lloyd Sisters. She had also toured with Marie Lloyd as her dresser, and had even rented a room in Marie Lloyd's house for a time.

              Bella was to remain a close friend of Marie Lloyd, until Marie died in 1922. In the 1890s and early 1900s, Bella was a regular at Marie Lloyd's parties on her house boat. As were Marie Kendall and her husband, Steve McCarthy. Well, at least as Bella told it to her biographer Leslie Bell.

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              As far as I can see from the extracts published in multiple newspapers in 1961, the biography 'Bella of Blackfriars' completely omits Jack McCarthy's part in the story of the Ring. Isn't that odd?
              Last edited by Sean Robbins; August 5, 2022, 08:46 PM. Reason: Fix broken image

              Comment


              • #8
                I wonder if Bella Burge mentioned Jack or Steve McCarthy when she was featured on 'This is your Life' in 1958.

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                Comment


                • #9
                  Bella Burge didn’t mention McCarthy in her 1961 autobiography?

                  Bang to rights!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sean,

                    Have you seen this before?

                    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B0oSfi-xhQc


                    Gary

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                      Sean,

                      Have you seen this before?

                      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B0oSfi-xhQc


                      Gary
                      I have seen that before. You've posted it before. It is wonderful... the old music hall stuff seems so familiar, distinctly British and yet so alien.

                      Here's Marie Lloyd Jr performing one of her mother's tunes. As close as we're ever gonna get to seeing and hearing Marie Lloyd.

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBFL...el=RogerWilmut

                      Marie Lloyd features quite a lot in the early days of the Ring, in surprising ways. John McCarthy was definitely and provably in her orbit.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                        Bella Burge didn’t mention McCarthy in her 1961 autobiography?

                        Bang to rights!
                        Case closed.

                        Where do you think Burge found the money to convert an abandoned church into a boxing venue?

                        By the way this is a trick question...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sean Robbins View Post

                          Where do you think Burge found the money to convert an abandoned church into a boxing venue?

                          By the way this is a trick question...
                          This is a trick question because this was the Good Old Days™ and you didn't need anything as vulgar as money for a sizable structural engineering project.

                          Undeterred by the task ahead, Dick and Bella enlisted the help of local homeless people to clean out the building and transform it into a state fit for presenting boxing to the public.
                          Source: https://blackcablondon.net/2013/02/0...t-blackfriars/, Accessed: 8th August, 2022.

                          They got the homeless to do it for them for free, from the goodness of their little hearts. Bless 'em.

                          I imagine the book 'Bella of Blackfriars' is the original source of these, in my opinion, tall tales. I've managed to find a copy for a not unreasonable price and so I may soon be able to see if mentions people like McCarthy and what it says about them (if anything).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            In the meantime, another interesting thing about the original article is the details it gives about Jack McCarthy's career. For example, it mentions McCarthy as Chairman of Dock Societies (plural).

                            The role of dock societies seem to be a little lost to history, but they seem like a kind of pre-Union power which would represent the interests of the workers in. Some of them seemed to exercise intriguing powers like being able to say who could work at those particular docks, issue loans to individuals and companies and arrange worker's insurance.
                            I haven't been able to find a dock society with an association to John McCarthy of Spitalfields, perhaps this is a research project for someone else familiar with docks and dock industrial history. But the chairmanship of multiple dock societies looks like yet another significant string to John McCarthy's suprisingly powerful bow.

                            He was at the helm in the stormy strenous days when the old arch at Shadwell flourished as a boxing centre, and the representative of the "Sporting Life" performed his function with some inconvenience and danger.
                            This from the original article doesn't seem so complementary, Would the 'Sporting Life' journalist find themselves in danger in spite of John McCarthy and his associates or because of them, I wonder?

                            I did try to find the arch at Shadwell. There's this article from the East London Observer - Saturday 30 November 1878 detailing a fight of some dubious legality, complete with undercover or maybe off-duty police, at Jack Baldock's East End Gymnasium at Shadwell under a railway arch with a boxer named McCarthy.

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                            Could this McCarthy be the John McCarthy, I wonder?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sean Robbins View Post
                              In the meantime, another interesting thing about the original article is the details it gives about Jack McCarthy's career. For example, it mentions McCarthy as Chairman of Dock Societies (plural).

                              The role of dock societies seem to be a little lost to history, but they seem like a kind of pre-Union power which would represent the interests of the workers in. Some of them seemed to exercise intriguing powers like being able to say who could work at those particular docks, issue loans to individuals and companies and arrange worker's insurance.
                              I haven't been able to find a dock society with an association to John McCarthy of Spitalfields, perhaps this is a research project for someone else familiar with docks and dock industrial history. But the chairmanship of multiple dock societies looks like yet another significant string to John McCarthy's suprisingly powerful bow.



                              This from the original article doesn't seem so complementary, Would the 'Sporting Life' journalist find themselves in danger in spite of John McCarthy and his associates or because of them, I wonder?

                              I did try to find the arch at Shadwell. There's this article from the East London Observer - Saturday 30 November 1878 detailing a fight of some dubious legality, complete with undercover or maybe off-duty police, at Jack Baldock's East End Gymnasium at Shadwell under a railway arch with a boxer named McCarthy.

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                              Could this McCarthy be the John McCarthy, I wonder?
                              It must have been. McCarthy was such a rare name in the Victorian East End. You should try a bit harder to discover the significance of Station Place.

                              Comment

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