Hilltown heavyweight Catherine McClusky was one of Dundee’s foremost female bruisers.
Quick with her tongue and temper, her fists packed a punch befitting her unwieldy girth.
Catherine brawled her way through Dundee’s streets claiming knockout after knockout against city men.
She stacked up convictions but the patience of the law gave way in 1883.
On Sunday November 24 1882 she faced down police when they tried to arrest her friend Brendan Murphy on Ann Street.
As Constables William Japp and James Small tried to cuff Murphy, Catherine waded in with knucklesflying.
She laid punches on both officers before they got the upper hand and carted her off to Bell Street.
In court, Catherine further admitted thumping a man on James Street in February 1883 and attacking two police officers. She was jailed for six months.
The term female bruiser would have been familiar to readers of The Courier in the 19th Century. It was applied to a legion of pugilists who showed no respect for the gender expectations of the time.
Even as late as 1904, female bruisers were making headlines in Dundee. Two battlers drew a massive crowd to South Lindsay Street on a Saturday night in May that year.
One was large and powerful and the other wiry and nimble. It was a mismatch of a contest and attracted an audience of hundreds.
When the smaller woman started to take a pasting, a shoemaker called William White of Perth Road rushed to her aid and seized the big woman.
That was a big mistake as our report of the time stated: “White, however, found he had caught a tartar. The lady pugilist butted at him like a ram.”
A painter called Krachan, who thought White was attacking the woman, dealt him a swift blow.
When police closed in, the big woman managed to escape but the wiry bruiser, Sarah Donnelly, was caught. Krachan, of Union Street, Maxwelltown, was arrested and fined 15 shillings in court on the Monday morning. There is no record of a fine for Donnelly.