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Bill The Winner
 

Bill The Winner

This is the story of how I came to be making a piece of video about a man BORN IN 1888 In Ireland. Mod approached me and asked if I would be able to this and after a short chat about what he wanted I agreed to have a go. It has to be said I was struggling to get started especially with other commitments somehow taking longer than expected which is quite often the case when situations like this arrive.
 
I finally got going and this turned out to be one hell of a story about a man who spent his life fighting with his fist and fighting with his brain to keep ahead of the black and tans who were constantly on his tales with revenge on there minds.
 
Without telling the complete story as it is well worth you buying the book and having a read let me give you a short version of William O'Driscolls life.
 
Bill The WinnerBorn in 1888 in Cork Ireland Bill was destined to marry a lady of Romany Gypsy heritage and spent his life sharing a caravan with her and their children while travelling the country fighting to earn money to put food on the table and too stay one step ahead of the Black and Tans, the security force working for the British army made up of all the rejects who could not make the regular army and ex prisoners. A band of bully boys who pretty much roamed the country out of control.
 
Bill and Nora
Things really started in 1907 when Bill was 18. Bill and a couple of his friends where doing their bit to fight the British in Ireland by smuggling weapons across the boarder. Things eventually did not go to plan resulting in there arrest.
 
As was normal in those days they were sent to the prison on spike island a notorious place run by the British with guards who cared none if the prisoners they were in charge of lived or died. 
 
Bill heard that his life was in danger and knew if he was to survive he had to escape. He hatched a plan, one which itself held a high degree of risk which could easily result in his death. He waited till dark knowing that he would not be missed for nine hours which was when the guards would check the prisoners. 
 
He slipped into the icy waters and started to swim for all he was worth arriving on the shore fifty minutes later, exhausted but still alive.
 
He was now a wanted man and to say the least the powers that be were not happy and put every effort in to tracking him down. Bill joined a travelling circus after fighting the house champion in the boxing booth. Having beat there champion made Bill there new fighter and he traveled the land fighting all comers beating each and every man. His fame started to spread but still with the Black and Tans on his tale word got back to them and they planned to capture him. 
 
Luckily Bill heard of this plot and left the circus travelling all the time to keep one step ahead of his enemies. One day though his luck ran out and he was arrested by the Black and Tans and thrown into prison, there intentions were to put him against a wall and shoot him.
 
Bill being the survivor he was broke out of the prison but with the guards in hot pursuit and baying for blood he was forced to jump in the river Lee and once again swim for all he was worth. It was dark and his pursuers soon lost sight of him. Unable to find him the thought he must be drowned.
 
In reality Bill had made it too the other side and although exhausted managed to take refuge in the woods where he managed to evade the Black and Tans for years. With his wife Nora, Bill once again took to the road in their barrel top caravan making money where and when they could. His reputation from the circus never left him and he had many more fights.
 
Sadly his wife, Nora was too die at the young age of 40.
 
In early 1920 Bill heard a challenge had been put out by King Ward so it was too Dublin Bill headed as he was not one to hide from a challenge. Bill The Winner fought King Ward it is said out side a pub on the cobbled road. An epic battle that lasted two hours before bill bested King Ward making him the new King. 
 
This mean't he was too face many many more challengers for his title. He beat them all and remained undefeated till his death. Bill retired from fighting respected by all who knew him. Some of his sons carried on the fighting tradition and were winners in their own right.
 
Bills fame as a champion fighter had spread far and wide and there was even a film made about his life.
 
Bill died at the ripe old age of 82 a Winner in many ways.
 
 
Thanks to MOD for allowing me to reproduce what is a very short version of the life of a fascinating man. 
Grab the book "When men were men" written by MOD I am sure like me you will find it a great read
 
For more information about Bill The Winner visit  Bill The Winner's Fighting Life Story 'When Men Were Men' on Facebook
 
 
Bill and King WardBill The Winnerbills and Noras Boys