Category Archives: History


By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /

Back when I was a kid in the fifties, I came across a magazine called The Referee that was either at my father’s barber shop or at the newsstands nearby.

It was in 1961 that I would start to obtain these magazines to educate myself with boxing and wrestling. It was mainly a west coast publication that was published to serve as a fight program with updates for the upcoming various events. It was available at fight venues as well as news-stands.

Although, I do not have every issue, the issues I have are certainly treasured collectables.


Sam Langford

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /

Born on March 3, 1883 in Weymouth, Nova Scotia, Canada was one of  the all time greats in boxing, Sam Langford.

Langford was known as The Boston Tar Baby, and was not a big heavyweight in stature; he stood 5’7″ with a career weight range of 126 to 190 pounds. He was powerfully built with a waist of 32 inches, a chest of 44 inches, and a 74 inch reach.

Langford started his professional career as a featherweight in 1902. The following year, he defeated Joe Gans and drew with Jack Blackburn.

Langford is considered to be the greatest boxer to never have won a world title.  On September 5, 1904, he fought welterweight champion Joe Walcott in a non-title bout that resulted in a 15 round decision draw. In that fight, Langford knocked Walcott down in round three and was well ahead after eight rounds before Walcott would come on to win the later rounds.

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Oddities in Boxing

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /

Boxing has certainly had its share of odd events. In no particular order of preference here are ten that have always stood out to me.

1 – November 6, 1993 / Las Vegas, Nevada … Holyfield vs. Bowe II, a fan James Miller lands by parachute into the ring during round 7 causing a 21 minute delay in their heavyweight championship fight.

2 – December 4, 1912 / Paris, France … Georges Bernard fell asleep at the end of the sixth round during his middleweight title fight with Billy Papke.

3 – September 13, 1975 / Caracas, Venezuela Luis Etaba defeated Rafael Lovera by 4th round knockout to win WBC junior flyweight title, only to learn afterwards Lovera had never fought a professional fight before and only fought that one fight in his career.

4 – December 13,  1887 … “Nonpareil” Jack Dempsey retained his middleweight title by knockout in the 45th round over John Reagan. The bout took place in two rings. It Started in Huntington, Long Island and after the ring was flooded by nearby river, in the 8th round, both fighters boarded a tug boat and continued their bout 20 miles away in another ring.

5 – January 15, 1977 /  Las Vegas, Nevada … Howard Smith wins a 10 round decision over Henry Clark. In round one, the original referee (Ferd Hernandez) suffered a epileptic seizure causing a fifteen minute delay before new referee (Richard Greene) was brought and the fight resumed. On a side note, prior to becoming a referee, Fred Hernandez boxed professionally and once scored a 10 round split decision win over an aging 44 year old Sugar Ray Robinson in 1965.

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Boxers Who Have Never Been Knocked Out

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /

There are many boxers who have retired having never been knocked out in their respective careers.

The most logical rating formula for compiling such a list would be to judge them according to the quality and level of their competition, or by their total number of fights.

However, I have chosen to rate each on their greatness as a fighter; how I see them pound-for-pound at the height, peak, prime, pinnacle of their great careers.

Arguably, you could move them around, changing the order as you wish; but this likely would be the group at the top of most lists.

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Freddie Welsh

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /

One of Britain’s greatest boxers, is certainly Freddie Welsh.  Born by the name Frederick Hall Thomas, on March 5, 1886, in Pontypridd, South Wales, United Kingdom.  Welsh started his professional career in 1905 in Philadelphia.  He would later win the lightweight championship by 20 round decision over Willie Ritchie on July 7, 1914.   He would go on to hold the title until 1917, when he then lost to Benny Leonard by knockout in 9 rounds.

After the Leonard fight, Welsh went on to serve in United States Army during World War I, and helped disabled veterans at Walter Reed Hospital.  After being discharged at the rank of captain, he returned to the ring after a three year layoff resumed his boxing career in December 1920 .

Welsh would only fight six bouts in 16 months winning four, with one draw and losing a 10 round decision in his final fight, and he would retire in April 1922.

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First Boxing Champions From Their Country

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /

Many have asked me this question:  Who were the first fighters from the different countries around the globe to be a title claimant to a world championship?  The fighters on this list were born in the country concerned, though some may have emigrated later to other lands.  Here listed are the major nations, the fighter, the year of winning their title, and the weight division of each champion.

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Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 2 of 2)

By Bob Quackenbush /

In last week’s article, we looked at nine classic prize fights that were contested at well known outdoor stadiums.  In Chicago, it was Soldier Field and Comiskey Park; in New York, the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field; and in Washington D.C., Griffith Stadium.  

Yankee Stadium – 1923

This week, the spotlight will be on “The House that Ruth Built”, the legendary Yankee Stadium. Though the Bambino and his famous baseball teams were the star attraction at this venue, and the New York Giants football team was the gridiron tenant (1956-73), the sport of boxing brought in big names and big crowds, as well.  It was said that Yankee Stadium was Joe Louis’ personal fight club as he appeared there so many times (twelve times per BoxRec).  The stadium was actually prepared for the fight game as a concrete vault with radio lines permanently installed for broadcasters was buried in the ground under second base.

Thirteen famous bouts highlight Part 2 of our look at famous prize fights in the great outdoors. [Reminder … this is not an exhaustive list, but a selection of some of the most famous bouts contested at this location.]

YANKEE STADIUM, the Bronx, New York City:

  • Jess Willard defeated Floyd Johnson by technical knockout in round eleven on May 12, 1923.  In the first boxing event ever held at Yankee Stadium, promoter Tex Rickard organized a benefit program staged as a heavyweight carnival from which a worthy challenger for champion Jack Dempsey could be selected. The 6’ 6” Willard who was 41 and not active at the time was brought in to face the young Johnson who was 38-2.  Willard trained hard and was good for a few rounds, pounding Johnson with uppercuts until the younger fighter took control. Somehow, Willard made it to the eleventh and caught Johnson with a huge punch to end the round, and Johnson couldn’t answer the bell for round twelve. 63,000 were there to see it.
  • Max Schmeling defeated Joe Louis by knockout in round twelve on June 12, 1936.  The experienced Schmeling (59 pro bouts) used timing and counter-punching to conquer the young and powerful Louis, sending him down with a big right hand before an estimated 60,000. Louis would later get a title shot, defeating Jim Braddock in 1937. 
  • Joe Louis defeated Max Schmeling by knockout in the first round on June 22, 1938.  In their much anticipated rematch, Louis pounded Schmeling in front of a sell-out crowd, knocking him down three times in 56 seconds. The third time, the German’s corner threw in the towel as the referee continued the count, and Schmeling could not get up. 
Max Schmeling versus Joe Louis … The Rematch
Continue reading Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 2 of 2)

Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 1 of 2)

By Bob Quackenbush /

In the world of boxing, indoor arenas are the venues that typically come to mind.  These locations with their traditional images of sweat, cigar smoke, and packed crowds close to the ring are what is envisioned when “prize fighting” is the topic of discussion.  Wonderful examples would be Philadelphia’s Blue Horizon, The Olympic Auditorium and Hollywood Legion Stadium in Los Angeles, and, on a larger scale, Madison Square Garden.

Firpo versus Dempsey at the Polo Grounds by George Bellows

However, many title fights have been held in the “great outdoors” at facilities such as baseball and football stadiums. Some even took place in temporary structures built for specific events, the most famous being the “Fight of the Century” between Jack Johnson and James Jeffries in Reno, Nevada, on July 4, 1910.  

Most of the famous outdoor bouts took place in New York City, with several more in Chicago.  There were others, too, but for the purposes of this article, the focus will be on the Big Apple and the Windy City, plus a fight in our nation’s capital.  Here’s a look at several well known contests held in some legendary outdoor venues from years gone by.  [Note: This is not an exhaustive list.]


  • Gene Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey by unanimous decision on September 22, 1927.  This was the famous “Long Count” bout where Tunney went down after a combination in the seventh round, but the referee did not start the count until Dempsey went to a neutral corner. Tunney, “The Fighting Marine”, who took the heavyweight title from Dempsey a year before, defended it successfully as he dropped the “Manassa Mauler” in the eighth and controlled the remaining rounds. This was the first fight in history where the gate exceeded $2,000,000.
“The Long Count” at Soldier Field
Continue reading Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 1 of 2)

Jack Dempsey vs. Jess Willard … and Brief History

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /

The Fight – Heavyweight Championship

Date – July 4, 1919

Site – Bay View Park Arena, Toledo, Ohio

Distance – Scheduled for 12 rounds

Knockdowns – Willard down seven times in Round 1

Result – 3rd round stoppage (KO3) as Willard called a halt after Round 3 ended

Attendance – 19,650

Purses – Willard $100,000 and Dempsey $27,500.

Promoters – Tex Rickard and Frank Flournoy

Known as “Kid Blackie” and “The Manassa Mauler”, Jack Dempsey was certainly one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of boxing.

Born William Harrison Dempsey on June 24, 1895 in Manassa, Colorado, he competed from 1914 to 1927 and reigned as the world heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926 with five successful title defenses, against Billy Miske (KO3), Bill Brennan (KO12), Georges Carpentier (KO4), Tommy Gibbons (W15), and Luis Ángel Firpo (KO2), before losing the title to Gene Tunney (L10).  

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Jack Root

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian /
A highly successful boxer from the past was certainly Jack Root, born on May 26, 1876 in Frahelz, Bohemia, Czech Republic.
He was not only a top ranking middleweight, but he was the first to win the light heavyweight title.  This division came about in 1903 when Root’s manager, Lou Housman, conceived the idea that a weight class should be established between middleweight and heavyweight.

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