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Gunner Moir
Gunner Moir 1936.jpeg
Mior in the 1936 Hammer Films production Phantom Ship
Real nameJames Moir
Born(1879-04-17)17 April 1879
Lambeth, London, England
Died12 June 1939(1939-06-12) (aged 60)
Sutton, Surrey, England
Boxing record
Total fights25
Wins by KO10

James Moir (17 April 1879 – 12 June 1939), better known as Gunner Moir and sometimes as "Ex Gunner" James Moir, was an English heavyweight boxer. He was British champion from 1906 to 1909 and challenged Tommy Burns for the world title. After retiring from boxing he took up acting, appearing in several films in the 1930s.


Born in Lambeth, London, Moir began his boxing career whilst serving in the British Army in India.[1] He was trained by the trainer Dai Dollings and the wrestler Sid Grumley from Shepherds Bush.[2] When he returned to England in 1903 he was the Heavyweight Champion of the British Army in India. His first recorded professional fight took place in 1903, a win over Fred Barrett. After losing his next three fights he won his next eight, including a win over former Australian champion Peter Felix in 1905, which led to him challenging for the title of British Champion, which he won by defeating defending champion Jack Palmer in 1906.[3]

Mior, circa 1907
Mior, circa 1907

Moir's success led to commercial ventures such as the Gunner Moir boxing glove, and he appeared in a newspaper advertising campaign for Phosferine tonic, which continued for several years.[4][5] He also trained the wrestler George Hackenschmidt.[6] He successfully defended the title against Tiger Jack Smith, leading to a fight for Tommy Burns' world title on 2 December 1907 at the National Sporting Club — the first world heavyweight title fight to be held outside the US;[7][8][9] Burns retained his title in 10 rounds after knocking down the taller and heavier Moir twice in the first two rounds.[10][11] Burns subsequently claimed to have prolonged the fight in order to increase the value of the film rights to the fight, which he held.[12]

Moir's boxing career never recovered from the defeat, and he lost his national title to "Iron" Hague in his next fight, which also had the EBU European title at stake.[13] He had eight further fights, winning only two, and retired from boxing in 1913 after unsuccessfully challenging Bombardier Billy Wells (whom he had beaten three years earlier in a non-title fight) for the British title. He went on to work as manager of the Canterbury Music Hall in London.[14]

In 1922 he was fined £500 for slander after allegations regarding motor-lamp maker William Nelson and Moir's son, James.[15] Moir unsuccessfully appealed the verdict in 1923.[16] He failed to pay, and was taken to court by Nelson in 1924, where he stated that he was unable to pay, now earning only £7 a week and with a wife and six children to support; He was ordered to pay the money at £4 a month.[14]

He wrote an instructional book, The Complete Boxer, which was published in 1930, and subsequently took up acting, appearing in films such as Third Time Lucky (1931), Madame Guillotine (1931), and The Mystery of the Mary Celeste (1935).[11][12][17][18]

He died on 12 June 1939 in hospital in Sutton, Surrey after a long illness, aged 60.[19]


  1. ^ "Gunner Moir and Boxing". Nottingham Evening Post. 27 February 1906. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  2. ^ West London Observer, 6th December 1907
  3. ^ "Gunner Moir's Triumph". Sheffield Evening Telegraph. 30 October 1906. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ "Phosferine advert". Sheffield Evening Telegraph. 26 November 1907. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ "Men of Action". Daily Record. 20 October 1914. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. ^ "Natural Strength". Gloucester Journal. 22 June 1907. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ "Burns and Moir Ready", Pittsburgh Press, 2 December 1907, p. 12. Retrieved 27 September 2014
  8. ^ "Gunner Moir is Bigger Than Tommy Burns", Los Angeles Herald, 27 October 1907, p. 16. Retrieved 27 September 2014
  9. ^ Mullan, Harry (1999) The World Encyclopedia of Boxing, Carlton, ISBN 1-85868-815-9, p. 197
  10. ^ Roberts, James B. & Skutt, Alexander G. (2006) The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book, McBooks Press, ISBN 978-1590131213, p. 81
  11. ^ a b Kent, Graeme (2005) Great White Hopes: The Quest to Defeat Jack Johnson, The History Press, ISBN 978-0750938921
  12. ^ a b "Gunner Moir Dead: Great Boxer Who Fought for World Title". Hull Daily Mail. 12 June 1939. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  13. ^ "Hague Defeats Gunner Moir". Dundee Courier. 20 April 1909. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ a b "Gunner Moir: a Judgment Debt". Exeter and Plymouth Gazette. 15 April 1924. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  15. ^ "Gunner Moir Ordered to Pay Damages for Slander". Derby Daily Telegraph. 9 November 1922. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  16. ^ "Gunner Moir's Appeal Dismissed". Evening Telegraph. 16 February 1923. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  17. ^ "Gunner Moir"m British Film Institute. Retrieved 27 September 2014
  18. ^ Roberts, Randy (1985) Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes, Free Press, ISBN 978-0029269008, p. 51
  19. ^ ""Gunner" Moir Dead". Portsmouth Evening News. 12 June 1939. Retrieved 27 September 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive.

Further reading

  • Gunner Moir (1930) The Complete Boxer, London Boxing

External links

This page was last edited on 2 September 2021, at 20:19
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