But in those ensuing years spent delving through internet sites and government archives, and despite finding his birth and his family and the American Browne beginnings in England, a huge ‘question mark’ continued to loom over Charles-Bertie’s double life.
The circumstances surrounding his death can only be guessed at and would without a doubt be heartbreaking to know.
But he never told anyone just how he crossed the Pacific to arrive in, of all places, Levuka, Fiji.
Later in newspaper interviews at the height of his vaudeville fame in New Zealand when at various times he was known as ‘Kid’ Parker, he talked to reporters about his boxing prowess, and bouts with champion pugilists in the States. I then spent hours trawling the internet throwing in the boxing names I had already come across, Kid Parker and Kid Brown.
I found an interesting item about an Irish boxer called “Sailor” Tom Sharkey about a year younger than ChasBert. Sharkey was described as a powerful, rough, durable fighter: at one time a likely contender for the American heavyweight title. A former United States Navy sailor Sharkey’s resume of bouts included two against “Sailor” Charles Brown, in 1894 and 1896 in Vallejo California. In both fights ‘Sailor’ Charles was knocked out in the first round.
I’m sure grandfather had been a sailor in the USA Navy, had probably mixed in boxing circles and had even known Tom Sharkey. I would even bet grandfather borrowed showbiz ideas from Sharkey who is largely credited with pioneering boxing and ball punching as vaudeville attractions.
When I found this item in an 1897 edition of The New York Times my research antenna began to quiver. All the signs pointed in the right direction, but this was the dangerous part, I needed confirmation, pure assumption was not proof however much I wanted it to be.
Calling themselves the United Brotherhood of the South Pacific the group sailed away from San Francisco to found a socialist Utopia on some unsuspecting but nevertheless hopefully welcoming sun drenched island.
|Newspaper reports from NZ Papers Past|