Joe Jacobs (1896-1940), the manager of boxer Max Schmeling (who had just lost a decision to Jack Sharkey at Madison Square Garden on June 21, 1932), grabbed a microphone and told the world, “We wuz robbed!” Jacobs also said that Schmeling was “robbed” in May 1934 in Barcelona, Spain, when the Spanish fighter Paulino Uzcudun was awarded a draw against Schmeling.
“We were robbed” has been used in questioning fight results since at least 1894. When Tom Sharkey (boxer Jack Sharkey took his last name) was awarded a controversial victory over Bob Fitzsimmons in December 1896, “we were robbed” was used. A newspaper article in 1924 stated, “The first lesson in the fight manager’s primer is ‘We Was Robbed.’”
Wikipedia: Tom Sharkey
Tom ‘Sailor Tom’ Sharkey (November 26, 1873–April 17, 1953) was a boxer who fought two fights with heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. Sharkey’s recorded ring career spanned from 1893 to 1904. He is credited with having won 40 fights (with 37 KOs), 7 losses, and 5 draws. Sharkey was named to the Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.
On December 2, 1896 Sharkey fought a controversial battle with future heavyweight champion Bob Fitzsimmons. In the eighth round Fitzsimmons dropped Sharkey, and appeared to have won the bout. The referee, famed lawman Wyatt Earp, inexplicably disqualified Fitzsimmons and awarded the bout to Sharkey on an alleged foul. The bout had been billed for the heavyweight championship of the world, as it was thought that the champion, James J. Corbett, aka Gentleman Jim, had relinquished the crown. Accordingly, Sharkey then claimed the title. The claim evaporated when Corbett resumed his fighting career, and continued to be recognized as champion until he was knocked out by Fitzsimmons in a title bout.
Wikipedia: Max Schmeling
Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling (September 28, 1905 – February 2, 2005) was a German boxer who was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. His two fights with Joe Louis in the late 1930s transcended boxing, and became worldwide social events because of their national associations. He was ranked 55 on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.
In order to solidify his title as undisputed, Schmeling signed a contract to face the “Boston Gob” once more. On June 21, 1932, the championship picture became even more muddled when Sharkey won a highly controversial split decision, taking the championship. Many in attendance, including Gene Tunney and the mayor of New York, felt that Schmeling had proven himself the better man and was robbed. In losing the championship, the German had managed to elevate his reputation in the minds of boxing fans.
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
U.S. boxing manager, 1896-1940
“We wuz robbed!”
Quoted in Wash. Post, 19 Sept. 1934. Spoken after heavyweight champion Max Schmeling, whom Jacobs managed, was defeatedby Jack Sharkey, 21 June 1932.
29 August 1894, New York (NY) Herald, “Don’t Agree With More: Decision in the Griffo-McAuliffe Contest Freely Criticised by Sporting Men,” pg. 10, col. 5:
“Nick” Dunn, the Australian lightweight, who seconded Griffo, was a very disappointed man. He said:—“We were robbed.”
3 December 1896, New Haven (CT) Register, pg. 1, col.4:
FITZ SAYS ‘TWAS ROBBERY
Declares That He Whipped Sharkey
Fairly and Squarely.
BOXING EXPERTS SAY FITZ WON.
“To Dan A. Stuart, Dalas, Tex.: We were robbed to-night, but this outrageous decision will not make any difference in our plans. Fitzsimmons will meet both Sharkey and Corbett in the same ring any time you are ready to arrange the match.(Signed) Martin Juian.”
20 April 1924, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pt.10, pg. 3, col. 2:
FEW WORKING FLAWS
YOUNG HEAVYWEIGHT HAS
HIS TASK MAPPED OUT IN
By The United News.
NEW YORK, April 19.—There are few flaws in the work of the almost perfect peach, Willie Stribling of Georgia, and those few should be cured by the heat of battle, warmth being the first requisite in the development of a peach. However, from now on, a very rough gang of marauders will loiter after Willie, wishing to shake him off the tree.
Stribling could sit in a rocking chair reading a paper and win from any of the second-string light-heavyweights, except, perhaps, this Jimmy Slattery of Buffalo, who gave him a shock and a thrashing in a six-round smash-up some weeks ago. Willie’s pa, and his mother, too, allege that he was the victim of larceny in the adverse decision on that occasion, but these remarkable parents are now ight managers by trade and the fight manager’s view of such things is notoriously astigmatic. The first lesson in the fight manager’s primer is “We Was Robbed,” the second “We Break Our Hand.”
Google News Archive
25 June 1932, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, pg. 21, col. 6:
NEW YORK, June 24. (AP)—The New York state athletic commission, sitting in judgment on the Sharkey-Schmeling championship fight, Friday indefinitiely suspended Joe Jacobs, manager of Schmeling.
At the same time the commission approved the work of Referee Gunboat Smith and praised the German fighter both as a boxer and a gentleman.
Jacobs, who charged Schmeling had been robbed of the decision by unfair officials named by the commission, was suspended as a manager and a second on the grounds that his conduct and actions were detrimental to the best interests of boxing. His suspension, however, does not affect Schmeling or other boxers in the Jacobs-Billy McCarney stable.
8 January 1933, Springfield (MA) Sunday Union and Republican, “Sharkey Leaves for Vacation on Bermuda Island,” pg. 4B, col. 2:
A knockout over Jack Delaney and a draw with Tom Heeney failed to earn him (Jack Sharkey—ed.) a whack at Gene Tunney. He gambled his all in a fight with Dempsey and was knocked out under questionable tactics by the Manassa Mauler.He kept going and finally won the way to the heavyweight throne, whereupon the loser’s manager howls, “We were robbed.”
31 May 1933, The Times (Hammond, IN), “Mister Jacobs Is Peeved at Jack Dempsey, pg. 8, col. 5:
But it was only Joe (we was robbed) Jacobs, the conversational small-arms and gunnery expert, resuming his target practice after a long lay-off, only this time the opposition was not in the line of fire.
3 February 1934, Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT), “Schmeling’s Pilot Lets Off Steam Against Baer” by Jack Cuddy, pg. 18, col. 3:
And did “Yussel” Jacobs have a fit!
The atmosphere of his office was tense. Yussel was more irate than at any time since the historic Sharkey bout, when he yelled through the microphone, “We wuz robbed.”
Google News Archive
16 May 1934, Dubuque (IA) Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, pg.11, col. 8:
Jacobs On Old
Barcelona, Spain—(U.P.)—Joe Jacobs yelled “we were robbed” when his boxer, former heavyweight champion Max Schmeling, was given only a draw with Paulino Uzcudun at Barcelona Sunday.
Joe had scarcely left town when Spanish authorities yelled, “Fuimos Robados,” which means the same thing. They had Jacobs arrested at Portbou on the frontier.
19 July 1935, Hartford (CT) Courant, pg. 15:
Promoters Yearn For Joe Jacobs
‘Yussel the Bite’ Promised Warm Welcome From Johnston and Mike (No Relation) Jacobs
By John Lardner
He coined the classic phrase, “we wuz robbed.”
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