Gardner, George (1877–1954), boxer, was born 17 March 1877 in Ballinslacken, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, son of Patrick Gardner, bare-knuckle prizefighter; nothing is known of his mother. His family emigrated to Lowell, Massachusetts, in his early childhood and he fought his first of sixty-five professional bouts in 1897. Of these he won forty-one fights (nineteen inside the distance), drew ten, lost eleven, and fought three without decision. He relied on his own steady determination to survive superior technicians; his major offensive weapon was an accurate left jab that opponents found difficult to counteract. He travelled to England to fight in 1900 and defeated Frank Craig in four rounds. To the end of 1901 he lost only one of thirty-five fights: on points after twenty rounds against the then world welterweight champion, Joe Walcott, in 1900. He gained his revenge over Walcott the following year before fighting the best year of his career in 1903. He moved up to the heavyweight division and stopped Peter Maher in the first round before defeating Marvin Hart on points. The light-heavyweight division was invented the same year, and he challenged its first champion, the Austrian-born Jack Root, whom he had already beaten in 1902. He fought Root (4 July 1903) at Fort Erie, Canada, and knocked him out in the twelfth round. Root later remembered him as his most vicious opponent, quite prepared to taunt the defeated champion about his failure. Gardner lived in Chicago and moved to San Francisco to train with Alex Greggains two weeks before his 25 November 1903 title defence in the Yosemite Athletic Club against the Englishman Bob Fitzsimmons. Chosen because of his age, 41-year-old Fitzsimmons was handicapped by a low weight limit set at 168 lb (76.2 kg) and the fact that his last fight had been a knockout defeat sixteen months earlier. Despite this, he knocked Gardner down four times, and after suffering late damage still held on to defeat the champion on points after twenty rounds. Gardner's career declined after this setback and he managed to win only one from his nine fights from 1904 till his retirement in 1908. He was one of the minority of white boxers who would fight black opponents, and was defeated on points by the future heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, in October 1904, remarking ruefully that he felt as if he had fought a buzz saw. On retirement from boxing he married a wealthy American woman and lived quietly till his death on 8 July 1954 in Chicago. His younger brother, Jimmy Gardner (b. 1885), was world welterweight champion in 1908.
Maurice Golesworthy, Encyclopaedia of boxing (1960); Gilbert Odd, The fighting blacksmith (1976); Jack Johnson, In the ring and out (1977); Gilbert Odd, Encyclopaedia of boxing (1983); Patrick Myler, The fighting Irish (1987); Denzil Batchelor, Jack Johnson and his times (1990)