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What do Saratoga Racecourse in New York and the film Gangs of New York have in common? John Morrissey.

John Morrissey was born in Templemore, Co. Tipperary in 1831 and his family moved to America in 1833. By the time he was 18 he was working for the Irish gangs and got a reputation as a fighter. As leader of the Dead Rabbitts he came across William Poole (Bill the Butcher) and the Bowery Boys when given the task of stopping them from rigging an election, something he achieved.

He also taught himself to read and write. During a lifetime of adventure, he was involved in the gold rush in California, fought for the heavyweight boxing title and became a state Congressman. He then set up a casino in Saratoga and then founded the famous racecourse.

John Morrissey died in 1878, aged just 47. From a small town in Ireland to becoming one of the most famous achievers in America.

John Morrisey

Stories from the past and present

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