"Fisticuffs" as written by Les Claypool, Reid L. Iii Lalonde and Bryan Kei Mantia....
They found James Ambrose dead in his cell,
A gaping gash in his arm had drained him down to hell.
No one knew for sure if Ambrose was his name.
They called him Yankee Sullivan in early days of fame.
He'd known the game of fisticuffs had always treated him right .
But no one knew the men who came and took his life that night

He'd spent some time in botany bay atoning for his sins.
He fought a bout with hammer lane and took a tainted win.
He was the hero of the Bowery, a prince of lawless times.
Then was battered by the butcherman in 1849.
He knew the game of fisticuffs, he knew the game of might.
But no one knew the men who came and took his life one night.
He knew the game of fisticuffs.

Lilly and McCoy were shy of a hundred and forty pounds.
In 1842 they went a hundred and eighteen rounds.
They begged McCoy to cash it in, he said that he would not.
Got up and fought one more round then died right on the spot.
He knew the game of fisticuffs, he knew the game of fight.
But no one knew the game would come and take his life that night

Lyrics submitted by knate15

"Fisticuffs" as written by Les Claypool Bryan Kei Mantia

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Downtown Music Publishing

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Fisticuffs song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentYankee Sullivan (James Ambrose) (March 10, 1811 – May 31, 1856) also known as Frank Murray and James Sullivan was a bare knuckle fighter and boxer. He was a Champion of Prizefighting from 1851 to October 12, 1853. He considered himself to be the inheritor of Tom Hyer's title and lost any claim to that title after losing a fight to John Morrissey.

    He was born James Ambrose in Ireland and became a prizefighter at an early age. There is no authoritative source for the location or date of his birth.

    Sullivan arrived in New York in the early 1840s and gained a reputation as a prizefighter and a political enforcer. He was sentenced to two years in state prison for his involvement in the promotion of a fight between Christopher Lilly and Thomas McCoy which resulted in the death of McCoy. He received a pardon after two years on the condition that two men put up two hundred dollars and that he agree not to fight for two years. During his time in New York he was the owner of a saloon known as the Sawdust House on Walker Street.

    On February 7, 1849, he fought Tom Hyer in Still Pond, Maryland. Billed as a contest between undefeated fighters, the men left Baltimore by boat accompanied by a party of two hundred specitators and chased by a group of local militia. The ring was fashioned from the ships ropes and stakes handmade from forest wood on the spot. Sullivan was knocked out after eighteen minutes and taken unconscious to an area hospital. Following the fight Hyer retired temporarily. Based on the retirement Sullivan claimed Hyer's status as a champion as his own on very dubious grounds.

    Sullivan's claim to being a Champion of prizefighting from 1851 to 1853 was based on the logic that Hyer was a champion, Sullivan's only loss was to Hyer, Hyer had retired and therefore Sullivan inherited the Championship on the basis of being a fighter second only to the retired Hyer.

    On October 12, 1853. he fought John Morrissey at Boston Corners on the New York/Massachusetts state line. Sullivan was the dominant fighter for the first ten rounds but wore down as fight went on and was taking a serious beating by the thirty seventh round. The fight broke down into a brawl involving Sullivan and the seconds of both fighters. Morrissey stayed out of the fight and was given the winners money (two thousand dollars) as a result.

    He later moved to California where he had a criminal reputation. He was arrested by the San Francisco Vigilance Movement, and he died in his prison cell from slit wrists. The circumstances of his death are unclear, and it is very possible that he was murdered by the Vigilance Movement or a rival. He was buried in the Mission Dolores cemetery in San Francisco, California. Initially buried in an unmarked grave, a grave marker was erected by Tom Malloy two years later. He was finally buried at Mission Dolores Cemetery near Dolores and 16th street San Francisco. The headstone bears the inscription "Remember not, O Lord, our offenses, nor those of our parents. Neither take thou vengeance of our sins. Thou shalt bring forth my soul out of tribulation and in thy mercy thou shalt destroy mine enemies."
    pistonhead72on October 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is about boxing, and then dying while boxing
    L.O.S.E.R.on September 16, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah. A famous boxer than no one knew who killed.
    JAStewarton February 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis stuff is actually all true, I looked it up, it's quite interest.
    SirSquigglyon February 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdid they already use the bassline though?
    pumkinhedon December 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's the same bass line as barrington hall, from fearless flying frog brigade.
    BWIdrummerTAGon March 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKewl!
    And yes, Sir Squiggly, it is quite interest.
    Invader Z?on March 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMaybe it's about how some occupations or hobbies are less risky than others.
    Baudson June 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentclaypool did this on tour in cleveland in his mutated mini fest oddity faire thing it was badass. also did duchess. that was all the primus though
    SlothsAreFunnyon March 24, 2009   Link

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