Ramsey County History – Summer 2006: “Fighting Billy Miske: The Heart of a Champion”

Paul Picard

Fighting Billy Miske: The Heart of a Champion
Author: Paul Picard

St. Paul was known for its champion boxers even before the sport became legal in the city, and bouts had to be fought outside the state. Miske, the “St. Paul Thunderbolt,” was the son of German immigrants. He ran a car dealership that was barely profitable. Miske learned that he had a chronic kidney disease; however, he still needed to box to provide for his family, so he trained at home to conceal his poor health. Against doctor’s orders, he went into the ring for over thirty fights. One of his last ones was against the new champion, Jack Dempsey. Although he fought valiantly, he lost in the third round. By the end of 1923, Miske was too sick to train; however, he still needed money. He fought in Omaha and won a sizable purse that helped him provide a large Christmas for his family. The next day, he went to the hospital. Miske died on New Year’s Day, leaving behind a wife and three children. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
PDF of Picard article