Graduated NYU 1963. Worked in NYC in public relations 2 years then as reporter/news editor 32 years at The Hour newspapers. Retired in 2000.
'Yonkers Favorite' Lightweight Boxing Champ Shamus O'Brien
Donated Tombstone for Michael J. Hogan aka Shamus O'Brien
Lightweight Boxing Champion Shamus O'Brien -- 1913 Photo
Dozens of friends, relatives and Yonkers officials braved 103-degree temperatures on Friday, July 22, 2011 to pay tribute to Michael J. Hogan, a native of Dungarvan, Ireland, who gained fame in his adopted city of Yonkers nearly 100 years ago as lightweight boxing champion Shamus O'Brien.
The tombstone dedication was officiated by Monsignor George Kuhn of St. Joseph's Church who offered prayers and blessed the stone.
Yonkers Mayor Issues Proclamation
Yonkers Mayor Philip A. Amicone and New York State Assemblyman Mike Spano were on hand to pay their respects to Shamus, who was well known during his fighting days -- which spanned 18 years from 1910 to 1928. Mayor Amicone further honored Michael J. Hogan in a formal Proclamation in which the city recognized Shamus for "a lifetime of achievements and accomplishments."
Many friends and relatives gathered together after the ceremony at Rory Dolan's Irish Pub in Yonkers.
Shamus, who died in 1959, was an Irish immigrant who adopted the city of Yonkers as his home when he arrived in the United States from Dungarvan, Ireland, in 1906. His passage on the RMS Umbria was paid by his uncle, Patrick, who worked at the Alexander Smith carpet factory and lived in company housing on Moquette Row in Yonkers. Shamus took up boxing shortly afterward and fought well over 100 matches against many great champions, including Benny Leonard and Mickey Walker, thereby winning acclaim as "Yonkers Favorite."
When a grandson of Shamus, William F. Torpey, learned that the famed boxer had been buried without a tombstone -- or even a marker showing his name -- he appealed to the boxing community for help to restore the dignity that Michael Hogan had lost for so many years.
Boxing Community to the Rescue
The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, along with Ring 8 of the Veteran Boxers Association of New York and the Artists Memorial Monuments, pulled no punches and immediately came to the rescue. The rugged Irishman's dignity was finally restored when the boxing community gave Shamus O'Brien one more victory: his own tombstone -- and not just any tombstone.
Shamus now rests under a beautiful granite stone featuring a shamrock recognizing his Irish heritage, a pair of boxing gloves recognizing his prowess in the ring, a classic Celtic Cross acknowledging his Catholic faith and inscribed with his name: Michael J. Hogan AKA Shamus O'Brien, restoring his dignity for eternity. The stone, donated by Artists Memorial Monuments of Staten Island, N.Y., was installed in the Saint Jude Section of St. Joseph's Cemetery.
Shamus was remembered in 1959 for three solid days by hundreds who passed through the Flynn Memorial Home, then on Ludlow Street, to pay their respects. A Mass of Christian Burial had been held at St. Peter's Church on Riverdale Avenue.
According to his son, John Hogan, Shamus had requested that his funeral procession pass through Getty Square. A long line of cars wended their way through the hub of the city and denizens of Yonkers watched as the onetime Irish champion was taken to the cemetery on Truman Avenue for burial.
Michael Hogan was the estranged husband of Adelaide Hogan of Yonkers. The couple, who were married in 1910, had eight children: John, Michael "Mitch", Edward, William, Elena "Helen" Torpey, Mary "Mae" Dropauer, and two infant twins, Gilbert and Adelaide, who died in the tragic influenza outbreak of the early 1900s.
Shamus' Son a Yonkers War Hero
All four sons served their country during World War II, including William Hogan, whose name appears on the Yonkers City Hall Veterans Memorial near Getty Square among those who gave their lives for their country. Young Bill Hogan was killed in action by gunfire when his ship, the USS Gregory, was outnumbered and sunk by Japanese destroyers in a surprise midnight attack.
Shamus O'Brien's great great grandson, John Hogan IV of Yonkers, is following in his famous relatives footsteps in the ring. Young Hogan is an amateur featherweight who trains under the auspices of the Yonkers Police Athletic League. John fought recently in the Golden Gloves.
Shamus, whose cauliflowered ears gave testimony to his many hard fought bouts, launched his boxing career by fighting in an exhibition at the infamous Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y.
Shamus Fought All Comers
The scrappy lightweight boxer won the admiration and respect of his fellow Yonkers residents by fighting just about anybody and everybody from the great lightweight champion Benny Leonard and welterweight champion Mickey Walker (who he defeated in two out of three contests by "newspaper decisions") to such fighters as featherweight and lightweight boxer George "KO" Chaney, middleweight Rocky Kansas and featherweight champ Johnny Dundee.
The young Irishman won the Westchester County lightweight championship, 1911-12. In 1913 he fought Yorkville lightweight champion Eddie Smith in Yonkers. The fight poster advertising the match, which was won by Smith, can be seen below.
Later in his career Shamus became a worthy opponent for champions and a "trial horse" testing young fighters. He gained the reputations as "a good fighter, win or lose."
Before hanging up his gloves in 1928 Shamus returned to Ireland to win the Irish lightweight title.
Honored By Hometown in Ireland
More recently Shamus O'Brien's exploits have been chronicled by Eddie Cantwell, president of the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, Ireland, and in the newsletter of the Yonkers Historical Society. The museum recently opened a new sports section which includes a display of a Shamus O'Brien's boxing poster from 1913.
Contributions may be made to the Shamus O'Brien Fund, Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, 543 Cary Avenue, Staten Island, N.Y. 10310.
More About Shamus O'Brien:
Born Michael Joseph Hogan
Fought as Shamus O'Brien
Billed as 'Yonkers Favorite'
Born: August 5, 1890 in Ballinacourty, Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland.
Died: April 13, 1959 of pneumonia, St. John’s Riverside Hospital, Yonkers, N.Y. Family, friends and fans of Shamus O'Brien attending calling hours for three days at the Flynn Funeral Home, then on Ludlow Street, A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Peter's Church at the corner of Ludlow Street and Riverdale Avenue in Yonkers, N.Y.
Great Great Grandson Carries On Tradition
Shamus' great great grandson, John Hogan IV of Yonkers, is carrying on his great tradition as an amateur boxer who trains under the Yonkers Police Athletic League program on North Broadway. As a boy in Dungarvan, he was a well-known footballer. He emigrated from Ireland to New York in 1906.
Shamus (Michael J. Hogan) was the son of Michael Hogan and Ellen (Meade) Hogan. He was one of five children.
His career as a lightweight boxer began in 1906 when he fought an Exhibition Bout for the prisoners at the infamous Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y.
Boxing Record (According to boxrec.com):
Won 15 (KO 4) + Lost 22 (KO 4) + Drawn 3 = 43
rounds boxed 372
Newspaper Decisions won 16 : lost 34 : Drawn 9
rounds boxed 574
Total Bouts 102 KO% 3.92
Note: Shamus O'Brien fought more than 400 bouts in his career, according to his son, John, but many were not recorded in the books for a variety of reasons. More than 100 fights have been verified by the boxing community.
Shamus fought the great Benny Leonard at least three times, once to a "no decision." He also fought Hall of Famer Mickey Walker three times and defeated the Hall of Fame champion fighter in two of those three 12-round fights.
Shamus began fighting in the bare knuckle days. Many of his fights took place at the Raven Athletic Club in New York City where he did much of his training. He also trained occasionally in Newburgh, N.Y.
A Familiar Figure Around Getty Square
Shamus O'Brien was a familiar figure around Getty Square in Yonkers where his exploits were well known and where the handsome young man was said to be "always scrapping."
Shamus was reported to be a “trial horse” for up and coming young fighters. In various periods of their careers, Shamus, at 135 pounds, fought any and all comers, including welterweight Mickey Walker (early In his career), middleweight Rocky Kansas, welterweight champ Pete Latzo, featherweight champ Johnny Dundee, Pinky Marshall, Jack Britton, George K.O. Chaney and negro champ Leo Johnson.
At various times Shamus worked as a bartender, an iron worker and in construction.. After fighting in various locations around the country, he hung up his gloves in 1928, but not before returning to Ireland to win the lightweight title in his native country.
Son, William Hogan, Gave His Life for His Country in World War II
Michael J.Hogan was estranged from his wife, Adelaide. The couple had eight children, John, Michael "Mitch", Edward, William, Elena "Helen" Torpey, Mary "Mae" Dropauer, and two infant twins, Gilbert and Adelaide, both of whom died in the tragic influenza outbreak of the early 1900s. Their son, William, died in a battle with Japanese destroyers on Oct. 5, 1942 when his ship, USS Gregory, was sunk in the waters near Guadalcanal. His sons, John and Michael both served in the U.S. Navy during WW II while Edward flew P-51 fighter planes in the Army Air Force.
Shamus O'Brien was only 6 years old when his father, Michael, succumbed to injuries resulting from his efforts to rescue survivors of the ill-fated Moresby, which sunk in Dungarvan Bay in Ireland. Only five of the 25 persons on board survived.
Shamus O'Brien's Grandson William F. Torpey, left, with Yonkers Mayor Philip A. Amicone at July 22, 2011 Memorial
Kin of Michael J. Hogan aka Shamus O'Brien Gather at Rory Dolan's Irish Pub in Yonkers Following Memorial
City of Yonkers Honors Michael J. Hogan aka Shamus O'Brien
Under the Tent at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Yonkers
Monsignor George Kuhn of St. Joseph Church and William F. Torpey, grandson of Shamus O'Brien, at Blessing of tombstone
Tim on May 25, 2019:
We've heard very mixed reviews on this. He died homeless and with cauliflower ears. Poor guy. Came to America with a dream and luckily had lots of kids who did well here in America. No matter the opinion he brought the hogans to America at the age of 15. Tough kid. But the affliction of alcohol abuse took its toll.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 06, 2017:
What a wonderful and meaningful gravestone your grandfather now has! I am happy for you and his entire family. It was so interesting learning about him. Thanks for writing this.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on March 18, 2015:
My family and I are indeed proud of the accomplishments of my grandfather, Michael J. Hogan/Shamus O'Brien, compu-smart. I am particularly proud that he will be remembered in his native land by visitors to the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, Ireland, where he appears in a display in the museum's Sports Section.
Tony Sky from London UK on March 18, 2015:
Hi William, you and all the family must be so proud of you for your achievement. What a great fighter and beautiful gesture you made to keep his legacy alive.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on February 12, 2015:
Thank you, billybuc. I remember listening to the fights in the 1940s -- especially the Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn battle, but I never really followed boxing. I lived with my grandmother (Shamus' estranged wife) but I was too young then to ask all the questions I would like to know the answers to now.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 12, 2015:
What a great human interest story. As an old boxing fan, I've actually heard of this gentleman, but you have done a fine job of telling us about the man behind the name.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 21, 2014:
That has to be the key, or missing key to me not having a complete genealogy. Thanks for your patience and sharing your information.
I still love your work, and urge you to continue sharing on hubs.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on September 21, 2014:
Once I began to research my grandfather's life, Kenneth, I had lots of help. An aunt had a copy of his obituary (which led me to his grave site and led to 2011 Memorial.) My daughter, Catherine, happened upon the boxing poster with his photo in a restaurant in New Haven (which gave me the first image of Shamus.) A cousin, Tabitha, had done lots of research on Shamus (which I was beneficiary of -- including information on my Uncle Bill Hogan's ultimate sacrifice during WW II from the Freedom of Information Commission. Eddie Cantwell of the Waterford County Museum in Dungarvan, Ireland, was a treasure of help and information regarding my research into the life of Michael J. Hogan. You never know where the next piece of information will come from!
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 20, 2014:
You are very welcome. I loved this work. My family has been trace back to Ireland by more than one genealogist, but there is where my family tree stops.
I wish I knew if Ireland was the original place of birth for my family or they came from elsewhere.
Anyway. Keep up this fine work.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on September 20, 2014:
Thank you for the kind word, Kenneth. This particular hub was a labor of love. My grandfather, Michael J. Hogan, was estranged from my grandmother, with whom I lived for eight years, so I did not see him often. But he was always very kind to me when we met casually -- usually around Getty Square in Yonkers where I often "hung out." When I wrote this hub initially I had no photos of Shamus O'Brien. My daughter discovered the boxing poster later at a restaurant in New Haven, Conn., so I added it to the hub. Later still I discovered the newspaper photo in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and added that to the hub as well. I have links to my blog about Shamus on an earlier hub, but I am now adding those links to this hub for anyone interested in additional information about Shamus and/or the Hogan family.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 19, 2014:
I love this hub. And here are the reasons why:
1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.
2, I loved every word.
3. Graphics, superb.
4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.
5. Voted Up and all of the choices.
6. I loved your topic of this hub.
How did you get away with running the pixalated photo? HP always flags my hubs BEFORE I publish them.
You are certainly a gifted writer. Keep the great hubs coming.
Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on February 18, 2013:
It was my honor, Christoph. I am so happy that Shamus finally has received the recognition he deserves. Thank you for commenting.
Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on February 18, 2013:
A great honor you have bestowed on your Grandfather, William. Well done!
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on November 30, 2012:
Thank you, compu-smart. I am very proud indeed. I have the City of Yonkers proclamation honoring my grandfather, Shamus O'Brien/Michael J.Hogan, adorning my wall. I wish he could have been here to see it.
Tony Sky from London UK on November 30, 2012:
I don't know how i missed this hub but I am very happy for you and the family that you have finally been able to provide a headstone for such a talented boxer.
Better late than never I always say.
You ought to be very proud for all the hard work I know you have done for Shamus.
May he never be forgotten.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on July 09, 2012:
Nice to hear from you, Froggy213. I couldn't be more pleased that my grandfather now rests in peace. Thanks.
Greg Boudonck from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong on July 09, 2012:
I just read this hub my old friend. I am very happy that your Grandfather has a proper stone and can RIP now.
I hadn't heard from you in some time and had to pop in and check--another Great hub and it was nice to see a pic of you.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on April 14, 2012:
Thanks, Jack White. I very much appreciate your comment.
Jack White from Ormeau Road, Belfast, Ireland on March 22, 2012:
Maith thu a chara!
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on February 29, 2012:
Thank you,itakins. I'm delighted that we have a Dungarvan connection. I'd love to visit there, but I'm too old and grumpy to make the trip (but my daughter got to visit Dungarvan and stop by the Waterford County Museum.) I am very proud of my grandfather and thrilled that he can now rest in peace for eternity.
itakins from Irl on February 29, 2012:
Such a wonderful hub -so great after all those years for the man to get a headstone ,and good for his family.My dad was from Dungarvan too-btw.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on February 09, 2012:
Thank you very much, druhepkins. I am very proud of my grandfather's accomplishments and honored to have such a nice comment from someone with your knowledge of the boxing profession. I know where to go when I'm looking for hard-hitting information about the fighting game -- right to your hubs!
druhepkins on February 09, 2012:
Must be an honor I’m sure you’re proud of to have a Grand Dad who was champ during one of the most grueling and toughest eras of boxing. And a Grand Dad who even duked it out with one of the greatest boxing legends of all time Benny Leonard. And I also didn’t know he won a best of 3 against one of the greatest of all time Mickey Walker. Congrats on his well-deserved commemorative tombstone.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on January 09, 2012:
Thank you very much, vocalcoach. My grandfather, Michael J. Hogan aka Shamus O'Brien, is resting in peach, at last. I am also very pleased that the city of Yonkers, New York, his adopted city, has paid final tribute to him.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on January 08, 2012:
William - I hope you are doing ok and am again so sorry for your loss. So pleased to have found this wonderful hub and your beautiful story on Shamus O'Brien. I have learned more about him through yout hub. Take care please.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on October 20, 2011:
Thank you, Cogerson. Shamus was no pushover -- even for the very best fighters. He had a long and memorable career.
UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on October 20, 2011:
Fascinating hub on Shamus O'Brien. I am glad to see he got that final victory and he now has a tombstone. His career records do not look impressive...but with 300 fights not in the books I am sure his real boxing record would be much more impressive. Thanks for writing this hub that was educational and interesting....voted up and awesome.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on October 17, 2011:
You are very kind, Hubertsvoice. I am very proud of Shamus O'Brien, my grandfather, and of my family heritage, and I am thrilled that he -- Michael J. Hogan of Dungarvan, Ireland -- is remembered by his friends and his family. Bing Crosby comes as close to "family" for me as anyone could. Thank you.
Hubertsvoice on October 16, 2011:
Shamus would be proud of his family. It is not only a great story, but a testament what people can accomplish if they put their hearts and minds into it. You have brought happiness to people acrooss the ocean and revived the memory and honor of your grandfather. Indeed your grandfather would be proud, and so would Bing.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 22, 2011:
Thanks for the nice comment and thumbs up, rajaramravi.
rajaramravi on June 21, 2011:
A unique different article Thums up
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 20, 2011:
Our family can indeed be very proud of Shamus, Denise. I knew him and loved him as a young boy, but he was estranged from Nana and much of the family. I only saw him occasionally around Getty Square, never at home or at family affairs. He obviously had many issues to face, but he was loved by his many friends and fans in Yonkers and elsewhere. He truly was a "favorite son" of Yonkers.
Denise Hogan-Sommers on June 20, 2011:
Fantastic article...interesting review of a family history that I was not aware of...it will be a proud day indeed!
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 15, 2011:
I appreciate your comment, WillStarr. Thank you.
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on June 14, 2011:
I knew the name and now I know the man. Great Hub.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 14, 2011:
I appreciate your nice comment very much, suziecat7. It was a labor of love for me. Thanks.
William F Torpey (author) from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on June 14, 2011:
Thank you, Patty Inglish, our family is thrilled. We know Michael J. Hogan AKA Shamus O'Brien can rest easy now.
suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on June 14, 2011:
What a heart-warming story. I'm so glad Shamus got the recognition he deserved. Rated up!
Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 14, 2011:
Congratulations to your family on the achievement of the new tombstone, missing since so long ago. It is lovely that it was donated by a fine organization. Rated Up and Awesome.