Frank Patrick Slavin

“Paddy” Slavin was a famous pugilist in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Born in 1862 in Maitland, NSW Australia, he was the Heavyweight Champion of Australia at one time hence his nickname the “Sydney Cornstalk”.
Slavin was a rushing, moving, boxer-puncher with skill and an extremely hard punch in either hand. He was much like Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight champion, in his skills, ability to take punishment, and killer-instinct. He came to the Klondike in 1898 and fought in matches until 1902 in Dawson and the Klondike. The New York Times of June 18, 1899 reported that he and his partner (Joe Boyle) had 37 placer claims in the Klondike. It also stated that he had gotten $100,000 in investment money to mine. He was also a “Commissioner for affidavits” in Whitehorse in 1908. Here is a letter he wrote to a friend in 1908:
“…Now old pal I am sending by this mail a couple of papers of our little town, and in the first noted you will see I am still on the track and can make they boys go a bit. I won the two mile walk in the snow here at our winter sports. I can still do my two miles in 18 minutes – not so bad for an old “has been,” though he was one of the smartest of the old bunch. Not a pound of surplus flesh on me. We are going to have a great country here in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The population of the territory is made up of people from all parts of t he world, and there is a very strong percentage of kangaroos and New Zealanders. Dawson City is 350 miles further down the Yukon River and north of this we have good sport-horse racing and cricket, base-ball, curling and skating and hockey matches. I had the privilege of being the first starter in this territory. I started the first horse race in this part of Canada and the farthest north in the world and on that part of the glorious Empire which the sun never sets on in 1898.
My son Frank is quite a good lad with the gloves. He is now 16 years old and I have apprenticed him to the engineering. He has now put in a year. He is a very big boy for his age 5ft 10 in high and weighing 142 lb and can go some but I will not let him go out of the amateur ranks. I have two girls, one 14 years and one 18 months – a native daughter.” Letter published in the New Zealand Truth, Issue 143, 14 March 1908 page 8.
He signed up for WW1 in Canada but because of his age was turned down. He then enlisted in the Western Scottish Battalion and worked first in recruiting, but then fought in Europe, suffering from shell-shock in 1917 after 57 days in the trenches.

Frank Slavin lived in obscurity until his death on October 17, 1929 in Vancouver BC.

New Zealand “paperspast” website; Wikipedia; Nytimes article-8/22/1897; 1901 Dawson Census online



14 Replies to “Frank Patrick Slavin”

  1. Frank “Paddy” Slavin was my greatgrandfather. Did you know his son, Frank, also fought in WW1. He unfortunately did not come home,he was killed in action September 29, 1918 just a few weeks before he was to return home.

    I wish I knew who my greatgrandfather was writing in that very interesting letter you printed, do you happen to know?

    1. I have a family myth that we are related to Paddy Slavin and my father was also a boxer (amateur) but had that belief. However my research goes back to a John Slavin being born in Bendigo around 1859 but I am unable to identify his siblings or parents. The family story is that we are related to Paddy’s brother John. Do you have any knowledge of Paddy’s brother lineage?

    2. I made a comment re Paddys sister being my great grandmothers brother! We are in Vancouver and will visit his grave in the next few days! He sounds a very interesting man!

    3. The ‘Truth’ in Perth of a similar date to this refers to a letter to a “Mr John Norton”.
      Not a certain answer for you, but a possible search term for trove to hopefully find the letter.

  2. Hi Stephen, sorry I do not have any more info than what I put in this story. It may require a trip to NSW to find records….I am heading down to New Zealand soon, if I get over that way I will look up some information there! Let me know what you discover in your genealogical searches! – Marlene

  3. Paddy,s sister Mary Anne Slavin married my great grand father Tim Toohey and my father can remember visiting her on a number of occasions before her death in 1942. He tells me that his father used to tell stories about Paddy mostly from letters Mary Anne received.

  4. Interesting! I recently have been going through my grandfather’s scrapbook’s and files. He was John D. Slavin and my notes say his brother’s are Michael and Patrick. Michael having been with the C&O Railroad and Patrick, a pugilist of the same time frame. John, became a famed portrait artist of his time and if related you’d be very interested in his work! However, never a mention of New Zealand in our ancestors and never a mention of a sister…but how could there be two boxers with the name Patrick Slavin??? The shoulders and chest in this picture looks like my brother and his son’s! Lynne

    1. Lynne, I’m the author of the comment above dated 26 January 2013 and I’m very interested in your grandfather John D Slavin particularly if there is a link to the Bendigo Slavin’s from whom I’m related. My email address is, cheers

  5. Francis Patrick “Paddy” Slavin was born at Brecon in 1862 to father Michael Slavin and mother Julia. He had two other brothers namely William and Frederick. In the era around 1900 Slavin moved into Canada and then further into the Yukon and at one time was Sherrif of Dwson City. At the outbreak of WW1 Slavin joined the Canadian Forces as a member of the famous Princess Pat Regiment. He was invalided home to British Columbia before the cessation of hostilies. He passed away on 17th October 1930….Cheers

  6. As an addendum to my previous post. Brecon was a planned village some 2 miles north of Vacy in NSW. At a point where the Allyn and Paterson Rivers meet. There appears to be some contention with the date of his birth, as some have it as 18th December 1861 and newspaper reports have it as the 5th January 1862. The NSW BDMs do not have his birth registered. In my previous post I had also showed his date of death as 17th October 1830 as that was the date we had gathered during research. Now thanks to the wonders of the Internet we have viewed photos of his headstone which gives the dod as 16th October 1929. Once again I hope this information may have been of some help to those looking…cheers

    1. Hi All, including Nancy Paul and Ean.
      I don’t know if you’ll receive this message being 2020! Nevertheless my name is Andrew Douglas from Epping, Sydney Australia. My story is intertwined with yours also. Apparently my Great Grandfather Donald Douglas married Frank Slavin’s sister Rose Slavin after the men became friends after meeting at the Men’s Sports Club in Melbourne. My GGM Rose told stories of him apparently being Sheriff of Dawson city also?
      Ean, your comment was instructing because that the first time someone has mentioned it.
      Do you or anybody else have any information about any of that?
      Thanks Andrew Douglas

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