Prizefighter Sean "Trooper Thorn" Thornton announced his decision to give up boxing and leave the country today. The Pittsburgh area boxer announced his intentions shortly after a bout with fighter Tony Gardello, who was killed in a freak accident during the match.
"Tony Gardello was a good egg," Thornton said, "Nice little wife and a home, a couple of kids." Although the death was ruled an accident, something not uncommon in the dangerous sport of boxing, Thornton firmly maintained that he was to blame for Gardello's death. "I didn't go in there to outbox him. I went there to beat his brains out, to drive him into the canvas, to murder him. That's what I did".
Thornton, who is by nature a rather quiet man, noted that the incident has left him with a great distaste for fighting, particularly fighting for money. Thornton made it clear that he hopes never to have to fight for money again.
Although many of his fans and friends were unsurprised at Thornton's decision to quit the ring, his announcement that he would be leaving the country was completely unexpected.
Thornton, it must be noted, was not born in the United States. He was born in the Irish town of Inisfree, in a cottage called White O' Mornin'. He spent the first few years of his childhood there before the family left for America.
He intends to return to Inisfree, and to repurchase White O' Mornin', if possible. "Ever since I was a kid livin' in a shack near the slag heaps, my mother has told me about Inisfree, and White O' Mornin'. Inisfree has become another word for heaven to me".
Thornton speculated that he had been away so long his old neighbors might not recognize him. "I'll bet even Michaleen Oge Flynn, ‘Young Small Michael Flynn', who used to wipe my runny nose when I was a kid, won't recognize me".
Thornton has a fairly clear idea of what he wants to do with the rest of his life, and what he expects to find in Ireland. He said that he would like to settle down and get married, maybe to a hot-tempered redhead. "Preferably one without a rich, overbearing bully of a brother," Thornton said, "but I'll take what I can get".
Thornton was somewhat concerned that rich, protestant widows or their scheming, selfish, overbearing neighbors might obstruct his attempts to repurchase his mother's cottage, but he plans to take plenty of money and a positive attitude with him.
Thornton says he can almost hear "The Galway Piper" and "The Kerry Dance" being played in the background. "My imagination's getting the better of me," he joked.
Thornton's decision has purportedly been influenced by the urgings of his friend John Ford, also known as Sean Aloysius O'Fearna.
Although Thornton is highly optimistic about the future, some have criticized his naïveté. "He's going to see the whole country through green-tinted spectacles" said one Irish-American commentator. "He probably expects to find comical, drunken matchmakers, elegant protestant widows with wealth and long pedigrees, priests who love fishing and fights, large, overbearing squires with land and bad tempers, gossipy, nosey townspeople, and fiercely independent redheads who cling to old traditions such as dowries. He probably is even imagining accordion players who sing songs like "Wild Colonial Boy" in the pubs! The simple truth," the commentator continued, "is that he probably won't find any of that. Ireland won't be like he expects, and his friends should be getting him ready for a rude awakening".
Thornton admitted that Ireland may not be quite what he expects, but insisted that compared to Pittsburgh, with its "Steel, and pig-iron furnaces so hot a man forgets his fear of hell", Ireland will be like heaven.
Admitting that he will probably misunderstand much of Ireland, Thornton pointed out that the people of Inisfree will probably misunderstand him. "Heck," he said, "I'll bet some of them even think Pittsburgh is in Massachusetts!" He even suggested that they may not know what a sleeping bag is. "I'll bet that little item will be starting conversations in the Gaelic".
Thornton hopes that nobody in Inisfree will have heard of his career as a fighter. "Oh, I may make subtle allusions to it from time to time," Thornton said, "but hopefully nobody will figure it out. I suppose it would be alright if a protestant vicar did, since his congregation would be so small in predominately Roman Catholic Inisfree that he wouldn't have anyone to tell".
Thornton will arrive by train at Castletown and ask directions to Inisfree from there. It is not yet known when he will depart for Ireland.