Jim Driscoll
  
Author:  Paul Hindley

Was determined to get at least one Brit in the list but this is not jingoism on my part, Driscoll is here on merit. Born in 1880 in Cardiff, like so many British fighters of the age Driscoll got his apprenticeship working the boxing booths at local fairs, where local toughs could chance their arm against the in house fighters and win prizes based on their ability to last three rounds. Due to his wiry frame and diminutive stature Driscoll rarely found himself short of takers but those foolish enough to take up the challenge soon found that looks could be deceptive and that landing anything worth mentioning on the elusive and skilled Driscoll was easier said than done.
 
After cutting his teeth in the booths Driscoll turned pro and during his time in the UK he lost only one fight, this a disputed decision to the excellent Harry Mansfield, a loss Jim was later to avenge. Despite this loss Jim went on to challenge for the featherweight title of Britain and handed reigning champion Joe Bowker a thorough thrashing on the way to a resounding 15 round decision. Inexplicably Jim relinquished the title only to challenge Bowker again a year later. This time Driscoll improved on his win when he stopped Bowker in the 17th to become a two time champion. After annexing the European title Driscoll was fast running out of credible European challengers and decided to try his luck in the states where the all-time great Abe Attell ruled the roost at featherweight.
 
After a couple of wins over decent opposition the inevitable fight with Attell was lined up. Due to the number of fixes at the time the no decision rule was in place at the time, this rule basically specified that a world title could only change hands on a knockout. This was a rule that would come to haunt Jim in the Attell fight, because of the many gifts Jim possessed  as a fighter a big punch was not one of them. A lot has been written about Attell through his willingness to indulge in the odd fixed affair and his involvement in the fixing of the 1919 fixing of the Baseball World Series, but none of this should obscure the fact that as a fighter he was one of the greats and a true legend of the featherweight division. However this mattered little in his fight with Driscoll with Jim absolutely schooling the champion over  10 rounds to such a degree that Attell won only one of the rounds (8 went to Driscoll, one was even).
However despite this the title remained with Attell as Jim had failed to secure the KO needed to win the title. The aftermath of this fight has become part of boxing folklore but is still a cracking story and speaks volumes about the kind of man Jim was. On the back of his humiliation Attell was keen to fight a rematch and made moves to set up such a fight. However Driscoll had given his word to box in an exhibition on behalf of the Nazareth House Orphanage annual charity show back in Wales and so duly headed back to Wales to honour this engagement. This was to be as close as Jim was ever to get to a world title.
 
Upon returning to the UK Jim was involved in a fight that stands as perhaps the only black mark on his record when he was matched with the equally as great future lightweight champion Freddie Welsh, whilst the two fighters held mutual respect for their respective abilities when the fight started Welsh utilized every underhand tactic in his locker to stop Jim fighting and after several rounds of this Driscoll’s patience finally snapped and he butted Freddie full in the face leaving the referee little choice but to disqualify him.
 
Jim’s career was disrupted by the outbreak of the 1st world war and whilst he fought on after the war he was not the fighter he had once been and he retired in 1919, having lost only three fights throughout his career. Whilst Driscoll may not have the names popping from his records many who will feature later in this series may have his performance with Attell left few in any doubt that he was the finest featherweight in the world and a worthy addition to the top ten.