Frankie DePaula knocked Don Nagle out cold during a bar-room brawl in a Union City.

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Jersey City Police Officer Don Nagle (now deceased) is widely acknowledged as having been one of the pioneer martial artists in the United States. Nagle’s Karate school was the first of its kind on the East Coast. Despite his black belt fighting prowess, not every match was a win. The boxer (and eventually rubout victim) Frankie DePaula knocked Don Nagle out cold during a bar-room brawl in a Union City Transfer Station club.

A very drunk Don Nagle was bounding about the Rag Doll (a Union City Transfer Station club) throwing kicks that just barely missed the heads of frightened patrons. Frankie DePaula snuck up behind Don Nagle and then tapped him on the shoulder. As the drink-benumbed and unsuspecting Nagle dropped his guard to turn around, DePaula hit Nagle with a solid punch, not only knocking him out, but also sending him flying right out the open door. As everyone feared a very mad Nagle suddenly waking up fighting, the Karate expert lay in the street in the rain.

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8 Responses to Frankie DePaula knocked Don Nagle out cold during a bar-room brawl in a Union City.

  1. SEAN SHANNON says:


    • In 1976, I had a Summer job at White Rose Frozen food. Don Nagle worked there then part-time in the office. (He actually basically hung around gabbing with the crew for an hour or so.) Workers at White Rose told me that Frankie DePaula knocked out a drunken Nagle with a sucker punch. It’s hard to imagine that anyone made up this story about Don Nagle when everyone literally had to walk past the karate expert to get in the door.

      One night at the White Rose night shift lunch break (midnight), Don Nagle showed up drunk, in a leisure suit and wearing a gun. Don then proceeded to provide an exhibition by bounding about the office. Nagle seemed to be airborne like some Travolta doing a Peter Pan. Nagle threw jumping kicks just grazing the faces of the biggest warehouse workers. The sight of an inebriated martial artist with a badge and a gun spinning about was more than a little scary. Another black belt who worked at White Rose full-time left. I was a very gutsy 20-year old and I didn’t hang around either. I can easily imagine Don having done a similar stunt at The Rag Doll and DePaula ringing the gong.

      The post that there was “bad blood” between DePaula and Nagle seems to confirm the knockout. Also, when my recording of the incident was first questioned a couple of years ago I found someone familiar with Jersey City street culture from Nagle’s era. The story was immediately recalled and confirmed.

  2. ed says:

    Human beings are fundamentally imperfect.

    Having said that, it is a consistent source of inspiration for me just
    to hear the two words:Don Nagle.

    The stories i have read are about discipline, effort, achievement
    and self-mastery. Even now, they inspire me and remind me to keep at it.

    I don’t care if Master Nagle tripped now and again.
    I do care that he set an example of what is possible with effort and dedication.

    Even someone like me that has NEVER met him or been his student
    derives benefit from knowing that a person CAN achieve and accomplish
    their goals with focus and commitment.

    Thank you Master Nagle.

  3. Steve Williams says:

    I was promoted to 2nd degree BB by Sensei Nagle and knew him very well.Worked out in the JC dojo from 1974 to 1980.I never heard this story and i spent many nights out with Don in Union City.Frank’s brother denies the story.But listen FD could have knocked out anyone on the planet if they were drunk and unprepared so the story even if true has no significance.Both men were very dangerous.


  4. gary says:

    Don nagle was a drunk who hated anyone who was not like him…

  5. Sean Moore says:

    Great JC story( does its truth affect it one way or the other?) when two very well-respected icons in their respective fields of endeavor might come to clash in such a manner( it sounds like it fits both men’s volitive personalities)

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