Egan, Michael (1880–1954), handballer, was born 28 August 1880 at Ballyglass, Glenamaddy, Co. Galway, the son of Thomas Egan, a small farmer, and Catherine Egan (née Haddican) of Ballyglass. When he was young, his family migrated to Pittsburgh, USA. In 1896 they moved again, to Jersey City, where Michael's uncle John Egan was living. It was under the influence of John Egan, who had built a handball court and gym in Mercer Street, Jersey City, that Michael began to play handball seriously. At this stage he also boxed and is reputed to have trained in the gyms of renowned heavyweights, such as Jim Corbett, James Jeffries and Bob Fitzsimons.
In 1897 Egan won the inaugural Amateur American Union Handball championship and by 1902 he was considered the best handballer in America. The then holder of the world championship was the Irish champion James Fitzgerald, who had defeated Carney of Chicago decisively in 1901. A challenge from Egan was accepted and the match was played in 1902. Fitzgerald, who was suffering from tuberculosis, was comprehensively defeated. Egan's reign as world champion continued controversially, later in 1902, against Oliver Drew, who some believed was the finest exponent of the game ever to leave Ireland. Drew was leading the match 4–3 when he withdrew, owing to the failure of Egan's manager to pay him from the first day's receipts, handball then being professional. In 1903 Egan was challenged by the Irish champion Tim Twohill, whom he defeated so convincingly that he was compared to the legendary John Lawlor (qv). Not known as a stylist, he relied on strength and athleticism.
In 1903 he published a book entitled Handball and how to play it, complete with various diagrams outlining all manner of different strokes, and he retired undefeated in 1906. He died in Jersey City in 1954.