The man born as Norman Selby in 1872, who later becomes Charles “Kid” McCoy (another fighter’s name that he casually adopted as his own,) who later took on the nom de ring “The Corkscrew Kid,” and then eventually, and simply, “Kid McCoy” was not a good man. He was a con man, a thief, a cheat, and a hustler. His out of the ring exploits could fill a book of nefarious deeds, but despite all this thuggish and disreputable baggage you can’t take away the fact that he was one of the slickest boxers to step into the ring.
Selby, McCoy, or whatever name he was going by on any given day won the vacant middleweight title with a knockout in the 15th round of Dan Creedon in 1897. He never bothered to defend the title, but don’t let that winning of a vacant title and lack of title defense allow you to assume McCoy was inactive or yellow. On the contrary, he was active as hell, and seemingly fearless. Consider the following.
In 1896, the year prior to picking up the middleweight belt he knocked out welterweight champion Tommy Ryan, a move that would seemingly make him the champion but he never claimed the welterweight title.
On the evening of November 12th, 1897 he knocked out George LaBlanche and Beach Ruble both on the same night—first round knockouts of both men.
December 2nd, in the year of 1901 Kid McCoy didn’t just fight three men in one night, he knocked all three of them out.
Let’s also have a look at some of the men McCoy faced singly. Keep in mind McCoy was a natural middleweight but he took on and often did quite well against the following men: Joe Choynski, Tom Sharkey, Peter Maher, Jack Root, Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Jack “Twin” Sullivan, Gus Ruhlin, and the estimable James. J. Corbett. These men were all vaunted heavyweights of the day, but McCoy had no problem saying yes to the bouts.
What McCoy lacked in morals and ethics he more than made up for in grit and power.
McCoy could be less than ethical inside the ring but we’ll leave those stories for another day, instead let’s focus on what gave him the nickname “The Corkscrew Kid.”
McCoy, claims to have invented an altogether brand-new punch that he dubbed the “corkscrew.” He would tell many tales about where and how he developed it over the years always varying details here and there. In some incidences it was shown to him by a “Chinaman” [his words, not mine] and in another version it’s a lesson he picked up watching his kitten play with a cloth toy he was dangling in front of it.
The “corkscrew” is essentially a way to take your standard boxing repertoire and add a bit of twist at the end that can add some slashing/tearing action if timed correctly with the twist occurring upon the punch’s impact.
McCoy claimed (and yeah, again highly doubtful, considering the source) that he could use the corkscrew tactic and punch a bag of cement and eventually grind it into a fine powder. Again, doubtful, but a mighty good story.
Numerous opponent’s both horizontal and vertical could testify to being poleaxed and/or cut by McCoy’s trademark tool, but before we get into the mechanics of how to throw the corkscrew ourselves let’s not forget that McCoy’s version may have had a little bit of extra help.
He would wrap his hands in mounds of friction tape to give him some extra heft and “grab” allowing him to club and tear skin all the better. I will say that this is one of his “nicer” less than honest tactics inside the ring. Again, stories for another day.