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Sayings and Proverbs

Culture > Sayings and Proverbs > “It’s the really McCoy

Culture > Sayings and Proverbs

submitted by George Poulos on 05.10.2006

“It’s the really McCoy

A Mama-isms from the brilliant book, Austin Lunch, by Contance M Constant.

Mama's way of saying - "'s the real McCoy."

An outline, & how to purchase Austin Lunch

The real Real McCoy

"What’s in a name...?
There be of them, that have left a name behind"


All the names in this book are familiar and most of them slip into genera] conversation without a thought being given to the fact that they belong to real people. We talk of Fred Karno’s army and lightly curse with Gordon Bennett! We sing of Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and the Grand Old Duke of York. And when something pleases us above all else, we call it the real McCoy — the genuine article.
Whi is the real person, and what is the real story behind the expression, the real McCoy.

The real McCoy who gave his name to the ex­pression was Norman Selby, a boxer who was born in Rush County, Indiana, on 13 October 1873. In 1891, when his boxing career began, he changed his name to Charles ‘Kid’ McCoy, in the belief that to succeed as a boxer it was better to be Irish, since Irish boxers were very popular at that time in the United States of America.

In March 1898, McCoy won the world welter­weight championship when he beat Irishman, Tommy Ryan. He continued as a successful boxer, competing next as a middleweight, then as a light­heavyweight, and finally as a heavyweight. At the height of his success a middleweight named Al McCoy, appeared on the scene and from then on Kid McCoy was billed as the Real McCoy to dis­tinguish him from lesser fighters.

The expression real McCoy had been used before Kid McCoy took it for himself. It originated as real McKay in Scotland where it was applied to first-class whisky. The whisky was exported to Ameri­ca, and with it went the expression to describe it as the genuine article and above all others. And the American pronunciation became McCoy.

Kid McCoy’s life was a very colourful one. He travelled widely and introduced boxing into Afri­ca and many parts of Europe. Besides being a boxer he was also a film actor. He had eight wives — one of whom he divorced and remarried.

Some years before his ninth marriage he pro­posed to his mistress and when she declined his offer, he shot her dead. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for manslaughter, having eluded a murder charge by pleading insanity due to boxing injuries. He was released in 1932 and soon after­wards he married his final wife.

On 18 April 1940 he committed suicide.

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