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Yesterday I looked at former England cricket captain Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff who appears to have set his eyes on to the world of professional boxing. I thought I'd follow that up with an even weirder multi-sport story, that of American Eddie Eagan.

Eddie was born into a relatively poor family in 1897 though though was a determined and driven man. Not only did he study law at both Havard and Oxford but he also went on to become a lawyer, a colonel and the chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission.

Of course with this site being "www.WeirdBoxing.info" his story obviously has something to do with boxing, in fact it was in boxing that Eagan first become a global name.

Having won a Boxing AAU title in 1919 Eagan would then go on to compete, in the Light Heavyweight division at 1920 at the Antwerp Olympics. After victories against Thomas Holdstock (South Africa) and Harold Franks (Great Britain) Eagan would find himself in the Olympic final opposite Norwegian Sverre Sørsdal. Eagan would manage to defeat Sørsdal for the Gold medal and his first, of two major international sporting medals.

Despite continuing to box, and claiming a British ABA title in 1923 Eagan couldn't replicate his success at the 1924 Olympics where he was beaten in the the opening round of the Heavyweight division by Arthur Clifton (Great Britain).

The 1924 Olympics were to be the last ones that Eagan would compete in as a boxer, though 8 years later Eagan resurfaced on the international sporting stage.

In 1932 the USA had sent 2 separate Four-Man Bobsleigh teams to the Winter Olympics held at Lake Placid with one of those teams, the one lead by Billy Fiske, also featuring Eddie Eagan. Eagan's team (which also contained English song writer and actor Clifford Grey) would go on to earn the Gold medal.

The Gold medal at the 1932 Winter Olympics saw Eagan not only becoming one of the few people to capture medals at both the Winter and Summer games, but the only man to capture Gold in different events at the two separate games.

Following his Bobsleigh medal Eagan went on to serve in World War 2 and became, as said previously a lawyer and the chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission prior to his death, aged 70 in 1967.

Note-The only other person to collect Golds at both Summer and Winter games was Gillis Grafström, who won Figure Skating gold at the 1920 Summer Olympics and the same event at the 1924 and 1928 Winter Olympics.

 
 
Picture thanks to Wikimedia Commons
FBI picture of Vicent Gigante
Despite the shady nature of professional boxing not many former fighters have reached the weird heights of being a Mafia leader though that's exactly what former Light Heavyweight Vincent Gigante (21-4,1) manages to do prior his death in 2005, aged 77. In fact the entire story of Vicent “Chin” Gigante is nothing less than a story made for a Hollywood screen writer.

Aged 16 the young Vicent started on his short lived dream of being a professional boxer, although his career started with a loss he soon get into the swing of things and managed to amount a respectable 21-3 record before facing Jimmy Slade. Slade would stop Gigante in the 7th round as a result of cuts and spell the end of Gigante's professional boxing career. Aged just 19 Gigante waved good bye to boxing and became ever more involved in the Genovese crime family.

In the 1950's Gigante's involvement with the Genovese family became more and more sinister. What started off as a bit of illegal gambling and Auto-Theft soon became attempted murder as Gigante was ordered to shoot Frank Costello. Thankfully for Gigante Costello refused to identify him and he was acquitted for the attempted murder the following year.

Gigante's involvement would continue to get more and more serious and by the early 1980's he had become the boss of the Genovese family. As the boss Gigante would often be found wondering around in his pyjama's in the park which saw him dubbed “The Oddfather” as he tried to give off the impression that he was mentally ill. This act as well as his “paranoid” allowed Gigante to run the families business with out too many issues until 1990, when he was finally arrested for racketeering and murder. During his reign at the top Gigant would rarely leave the house empty and rarely make phone calls instead using a messenger to give his orders out.

Despite being arrested in 1990 it took years before they could eventually try Gigante who's act of being mentally ill continued despite his arrest. This was helped further with witnesses testifying that Gigante was in no fit state to be tried with his own family coming forward and claiming he had an IQ in the high 60's and wouldn't know how to run a Mafia family. In fact so good was Gigante's acting that psychiatrists had claimed he had been insane since the the 1960's, it wasn't until a trial in 2003 that Gigante actually admitted that he had been feigning his mental illness. Soon after coming clean about his mental health Gigante's psychical health started to decline and in 2005, aged 77 Gigante passed away.

Whilst his boxing career was short and somewhat underwhelming, it's hard not view Vincent Gigante as one of the most weird and wonderful stories that boxing has had it's hand in. A whirlwind 3 year boxing career followed by a climb to the top of one of the biggest Mafia Families.

Picture courtesy of the FBI.