Rockin’ Sockin’ Sheriff Tommy Gibbons
Saint Paul native, Thomas J. Gibbons was a nearly undefeated heavyweight boxer. He started boxing professionally as a middleweight at the tender age of 20. Tommy was often compared to his brother Mike as he advanced to the Heavyweight class and developed a respectable punch.
His biggest fight came near the end of his career when he met heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey on July 4, 1923 in Shelby, Montana. The local backers and the town of Shelby went broke putting on the fight. Dempsey battled through the full fifteen rounds before winning by decision. The prize for Dempsey was awarded $200,000. Gibbons received enough to cover his expenses.
Tommy Gibbons record was 56-4-1 with 44 no decisions, and 1 no contest. He scored 48 knockouts, and was stopped only once by Gene Tunney on June 5, 1925. The names dotting his record read like boxing’s hall of fame. Tommy recorded wins over George Chip, Willie Meehan, Billy Miske, Chuck Wiggins, Jack Bloomfield, and Kid Norfolk. Tommy had no decision matches with George “K.O.” Brown, Billy Miske, Harry Greb, Battling Levinsky, Bob Roper, Chuck Wiggins, Georges Carpentier, and others. Only Harry Greb, Billy Miske, Jack Dempsey, and Gene Tunney were able to score wins over Tommy Gibbons.
Following his retirement, at age 34, Tommy sold insurance very successfully and was a member of the $100,000 Club in the 1920′s. His friends and family convinced him to run for Sheriff of Ramsey County in 1934. Along with the cooperation of the F.B.I. and city police, the sheriff’s department started capturing hoods like Karpis, Verne Miller, Davis, Doc Barker, Harry Sawyer.They nearly captured Dillinger in a shootout on Lexington Avenue, but the nation’s number one crook managed to get away. The gangsters were housed in Sheriff Gibbons jail for safekeeping. None were able to pull off an escape. Gibbons won six consecutive four year terms as Ramsey County Sheriff. In 1941 he received the coveted St. Paul Cosmopolitan Club’s 13th annual distinguished service medal for meritorious service. Gibbons was King Boreas IX in the 1946 Winter Carnival. In 1954 he was elected, along with his brother Mike to the Helms Boxing Hall of Fame. After 24 years of services. Gibbons retired from the sheriff’s office in 1959. A testimonial dinner drew a crowd of 1,5000 admiring friends and neighbors . Jack Dempsey flew in from New York and heaped high praise on his former opponent not only as a boxer, but a public official. Gibbons became a member of the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1963 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010.