BONUS EPISODE

Sins of the Father

Jarrod Tillinghast's father is the notorious mobster Jerry Tillinghast. But Jarrod found his own success in the boxing ring. Courtesy of Victory Journal/Nils Ericson.

Jarrod Tillinghast is the son of one of Rhode Island’s most notorious mobsters. Determined to make a name for himself, he turns to boxing and becomes a rising star. But he learns that his father’s legacy isn’t so easy to leave behind.

Read "Name of the Father," Tim Struby's story about Jarrod Tillinghast in Victory Journal → 

LISTEN TO SINS OF THE FATHER


THE WISEGUY'S SON

Why can’t I have a normal fucking life?
— Jarrod Tillinghast
Jarrod's parents, above, during happier times. Life at the Tillinghast home was chaotic, especially after Jerry was sent to prison when Jarrod was four. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

Jarrod's parents, above, during happier times. Life at the Tillinghast home was chaotic, especially after Jerry was sent to prison when Jarrod was four. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

Jarrod's infamous last name followed him everywhere. As a teenager, he channelled his anger into sports—as well as frequent street fights. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast. 

Jarrod's infamous last name followed him everywhere. As a teenager, he channelled his anger into sports—as well as frequent street fights. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast. 


IN THE RING

Working with boxing trainer Peter Manfredo, above, Jarrod learned that the rough-and-tumble world of street fighting was very different from boxing. Manfredo tried to instill in Jarrod a sense of discipline and focus. Photo by Rob Szypko.

Many of Manfredo's boxers came from tough neighborhoods in Providence, and the world of crime was never very far from the gym. While training Jarrod, Manfredo would make weekly calls to prison, to keep Jerry updated on his son's progress. Photo by Rob Szypko.

Don’t fight on the street. Go in the ring. Make money.
— Jerry Tillinghast

Jarrod faced off against John Kimbrough in the 1991 Southern New England Golden Glove finals. The fight was left to a decision, and the judges gave the victory to Jarrod. Courtesy of Paul Morrissette.

Jarrod earned more than 50 victories and 20 knockouts in his five years as an amateur boxer. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

Jarrod earned more than 50 victories and 20 knockouts in his five years as an amateur boxer. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.


A TILLINGHAST TURNs PRO

Jarrod made his professional debut on June 22, 1996 at Suffolk Downs in Boston. He knocked out Robert Jones in the first round. Courtesy of Jerry Tillinghast.

Jarrod made his professional debut on June 22, 1996 at Suffolk Downs in Boston. He knocked out Robert Jones in the first round. Courtesy of Jerry Tillinghast.

Boxing promoter Jimmy Burchfield rarely attended amateur fights, but made an exception to scout Jarrod as a young fighter. Burchfield says he saw in Jarrod a special mix of boxing ability and charisma. Photo by Rob Szypko. 

There were people who wanted to see him get beat because of his name. And then there were the people there that would die for him, to win.
— Jimmy Burchfield

Jarrod racked up two knockouts in his first four professional victories. His father Jerry, serving a life sentence in prison, could only watch from afar. Photo by Rob Szypko.

From inside prison, Jerry collected newspaper clippings documenting Jarrod's success in the ring. Jerry never saw his son fight in person. Photo by Rob Szypko.

Burchfield saw world championship potential in Jarrod, envisioning him as the heir apparent to Rhode Island boxing legends like Gary "Tiger" Baletto and five-time world champion Vinny Pazienza. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

Burchfield saw world championship potential in Jarrod, envisioning him as the heir apparent to Rhode Island boxing legends like Gary "Tiger" Baletto and five-time world champion Vinny Pazienza. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

Jarrod's left hook was an especially powerful weapon in the ring. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.


THE COMEBACK

On May 11, 2007, Jarrod made his return to professional boxing after an eight-year hiatus, fighting Jeffrey Osborne Jr., from Davenport, Iowa. Osborne broke Jarrod's nose in the first round, but Jarrod would go on to win by unanimous decision after four rounds. 

I had one chance to release all that pain.
— Jarrod Tillinghast
Many of Jarrod's friends and family came out for his comeback fight, including his childhood best friend, Billy Samos (right). Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

Many of Jarrod's friends and family came out for his comeback fight, including his childhood best friend, Billy Samos (right). Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

After his Osborne bout, Jarrod knocked out Santiago Hilario to go 9-0. He then retired from professional boxing for good. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

After his Osborne bout, Jarrod knocked out Santiago Hilario to go 9-0. He then retired from professional boxing for good. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

In 2013, Jarrod was inducted into the "Ring of Honor" at Classic Entertainment and Sports, the boxing organization run by promoter Jimmy Burchfield. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.

In 2013, Jarrod was inducted into the "Ring of Honor" at Classic Entertainment and Sports, the boxing organization run by promoter Jimmy Burchfield. Courtesy of Jarrod Tillinghast.


BRAWL FOR IT ALL

Jarrod, now 43 years old, stays close to the ring as a promoter of Brawl For It All, an amateur boxing series he co-founded. The most recent installment was held in October 2017, in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Photo by Rob Szypko.

The fights at Brawl For It All are a mixture of local amateur bouts and "grudge matches," which bring two local rivals together to settle disputes in the boxing ring. The fighters range from 20-somethings to 50-somethings. Photo by Rob Szypko.

The latest installment of Brawl For It All drew hundreds of spectators, including Jarrod's mother and father. Photo by Rob Szypko.

I gotta give it to Jarrod. He’s making a good name for himself.
— Jerry Tillinghast

EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier, in partnership with Gimlet Media. This episode was produced by Tim Struby, Rob Szypko, Austin Mitchell, and Christopher Isenberg with Victory Journal. Our senior producer is Drew Nelles. Editing by John White and Soraya Shockley. This episode of Crimetown was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Kenny Kusiak. Our title track is “Run To Your Mama” 

by Goat. Our credit track this week is “I’m a Winner” by Smoked Sugar. Original music by John Kusiak, Kenny Kusiak, Edwin and Bienart. Our ad music is by Matthew Boll. Archival footage courtesy of WPRI Channel 12 and Paul Morrissette. Thanks to Julia Heymans, Emily Wiedemann, Tim White, Brennan Reese, Rita Samos, Dino Dennis, the Tillinghast Family and everybody who shared their stories with us.