07 February, 2009
Jack Sharkey was an American heavyweight boxing champion. He was of Lithuanian descent.
Born in an era when prizefighters, actors and others in the public spotlight adopted an "American-sounding" pseudonym, Joseph Paul Zukauskas (his birth surname is sometimes given as Cukoschay) took the family name of a popular retired Irish boxer and future Hall of Famer, "Sailor Tom" Sharkey (1873-1953).
In 1929, in a fight held in Yankee Stadium, Jack Sharkey knocked out the former light-heavyweight champion, Tommy Loughran to win the United States heavyweight title. His victory earned him the opportunity to fight for the vacant world title against the German contender, Max Schmeling. In their June 12, 1930, championship fight, Sharkey was disqualified in the fourth round after delivering a punch that landed below Schmeling's belt. This is the only occasion in boxing history when the heavyweight championship was won by disqualification.
In October 1931, Sharkey defeated Italian heavyweight, Primo Carnera, and was then given another chance to fight for the title. On June 21, 1932 at the Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, New York, Jack Sharkey defeated Max Schmeling in their rematch to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in a very controversial split decision.
Sharkey lost his championship on June 29, 1933 in his second fight with Primo Carnera.
In 1994, Jack Sharkey was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He died on August 17 of that year due to respiratory arrest.