For nearly two years, the controversy over creating a statute to Jack Doyle in his hometown has rumbled on.
However, the committee behind the plan are adamant there is no proof Doyle beat his wife, Hollywood star Movita Castaneda, or a partner he had in later life.
Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, a former county councillor who is on the statue committee, said Doyle’s relatives refuted the allegations levelled against him.
Doyle, known as “The Gorgeous Gael” was born in Cobh on August 31, 1913, and at one stage fought for the British heavyweight boxing title. After his career in the ring ended, he went on to make 78 records for Decca and starred in two Hollywood movies —
McGlusky the Sea Rover (1934) and Navy Spy (1937).
Later in life Doyle fell on hard times, and drank heavily. He died penniless in a London in 1978. To avoid him being buried in a pauper’s grave, people in Cobh fundraised to bring his body home.
Mr Ó Cadhla expressed his delight that a statue had been finally been approved by the council.
“Allegations regarding domestic abuse are completely unsubstantiated. Jack Doyle was never even charged with such a thing. You can’t take a man’s good name based on rumour. If we did, where would that end?” he said.
Mr Ó Cadhla said that members of Doyle’s family met some local councillors in the past few months and are outraged at any suggestion of domestic violence.
“They and family friends describe Jack Doyle as a ‘gentle giant,” Mr Ó Cadhla said. “In reality, there has always been a snobbish element that didn’t like Jack Doyle, because he was an upstart from the working class and never bowed his head to pomp and ceremony.
“Jack Doyle put Cobh, and indeed Cork, on the world map. He was an outstanding sportsman and a talented tenor voice,” he said.
Chairman of the Jack Doyle Statue Committee, Colin Barry, knew Doyle personally and lived with him in London for a time. Mr Barry’s family helped bring his remains back to Cobh.
“The statue will be a major plus for Cobh,” Mr Barry said.
“The locals will love it because Jack is our own. We expect that anyone coming to Cobh will want to have their photo taken with him and the statue is designed to facilitate this.”
The statue design places Doyle sitting on a corner stool in a boxing ring, with his arm resting on the rope and boxing gloves on. There is an empty stool beside him, to allow visitors to sit with his arm around them.