A Southie Story: Happy Memories With A Sad Ending.

The caption for the photograph that appeared in the Boston Globe read in part:

IN HIS HOME SURROUNDINGS — Tommy Sullivan meets Red Priest at the Garden Tuesday. Here he is shown, . . . at the South Boston Boys’s Club giving some pointers, etc., to Kenney Healy, Cornelius Lynch, William Kilroy, Matthew Connolly and Jim Concannon, while Patrick O’Toole and Roger Concannon demonstrate.





This was taken at the local Boy’s Club down on West 6th St. It still is there.

Roger Concannon my first cousin is show in the photograph of December 15, 1946, with the gloves on the right with a smile on his face. He’d grow up to become a good fighter but not necessary in the ring. He is missed. I’m still wearing glasses which I had thought I no longer needed at that time. My cousin Jimmy stands to my left.

That photo at the Boy’s Club brought back lots of good memories. It was the first time I had a card that let me into some place. I still remember that it was very smooth about the size of a credit card but thicker and made of a hard cardboard substance that could not be bent.

It had a wonderful swimming pool. I was always reluctant to jump in as all the other kids did so my cousins would be good enough to clear a space for me. That always made me feel good. Don’t get the idea though that they were always so considerate. To this day I can see Roger standing opposite me with a piece of wood on his shoulder daring me to knock it off.

One thing that I was not too happy about was I thought they named the big room where we played basketball and other games after my cousin Jim. Whenever we went there a  counselor would say, “All right, let’s go to the Jim.” My one consolation was they named the thick pads we played on after me, “Matts.” Of course Roger was not left out because when one counselor would instruct another he would often reply, “Roger.”

I also think that it was through the Boy’s Club that we got to go off to summer camp in Duxbury. I’d always be homesick there. And, was that where we’d sign up to go on one of those trips to Jimmy Condon’s farm?

That photograph was taken before Tommy Sullivan fought Red Priest at the Boston Garden. He fought him twice and lost a decision in both matches. It was noted that those fights: “will be remembered as two of the most sensational bouts in Boston rings in the postwar era. Both fighters had big followings. Each time they met, crowds . . . flocked to Boston Garden to watch the pair fight. . . . A gate record was set for the first time Sullivan and Priest met on December 17, 1946, 13,250 fans packed the place.”

Sullivan had won the New England light heavyweight title as an amateur. It was said that “He gained the reputation as an aggressive, free-swinging fighter who had the courage and the strength to make any of his fights full of action. . . . Inside the ring he was a rough-house fighter. . . .  He was an excitable battler who once shouted “C’mon, c’mon” to an opponent so loudly it was heard 10 rows back. He was an exciting fighter to watch.”

He quit fighting in 1949 after defeating Johnny Carter. He didn’t want to get hurt having made good money. His manager said, “He was a good living kid, a church goer, and good to his family.” He worked as a longshoremen at the Army Base after fighting. He was critical of the corruption he saw in the longshoremen’s Union out of New York City.

On December 22, 1957, he left his house where he lived with his 83-year-old mother to go work his second shift of the day at the docks. He was gunned down by men in a black sedan that had approached from M Street about 165 feet from his home at 660 East 5th Street at about 6:35 p.m while he was walking past Hawes Cemetery.

His murder was never solved.




7 thoughts on “A Southie Story: Happy Memories With A Sad Ending.

  1. There are no Connollys (Southie/Savvy Clan) who cannot accomplish at least three difficult tasks at the same time.

  2. Matt, thanks for another fine post. Don’t you think that time spent maintaining an active blog is better spent writing books?

    1. Yes. I should get back to the books. What I’m trying to do now is insert parts of the book on Whitey into the blog but then I get trapped back into witting about other things. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Hello Matt, great trip down memory lane with today’s Blog. As members of the Boxing Team we would travel to many Veteran’s Hospitals and entertain those recovering from World War 2 injuries. Of course every bout would be judged a draw. The Vets seemed to love the show because they treated us royally after the bouts. Remember Camp Wing? I still remember their song, “Camp Wing Will Shine Tonight”. The Boys Club is still serving our Southie Community as it did when we were kids. Keep up the good work, we enjoy all of your blogs and the spirited responses while Wintering In Sunny Florida. Slainte

    1. Good for you to remember the name “Camp Wing.” I would have had a hard time coming up with it. And the camp song, that’s far far gone from my mind. But I do remember one song from Camp Wing that I learned around the nighttime camp fires that I sing to my grandkids: “Oh, the preacher went down to the cellar to pray and he prayed all night and he prayed all day, oh, the preacher went down to the cellar to pray and he prayed all night and he prayed all day “I ain’t gonna grieved my Lord no more; Oh, I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more, I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more, I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more. Oh, you never get to heaven in a leaky boat for the gosh darn thing it just won’t float,” etc.

      I forget who was on the bunk bed with me and who was on top or who was on the bottom. It’s a wonder we all survived those days.

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