Category Archives: History

Battling Siki

 
By David Martinez / dmboxing.com
 
Battling Siki (1887-1925) was one of the most recognizable black boxers in the early twentieth century. He was the first African to win a world championship.
 
Born Amadou M’Barick Fall on September 16, 1897, Siki was taken from St. Louis, Senegal, French West Africa to live in Paris, France by an actress. He also carried the name Baye Phal, which is a Senegalese name corresponding to Louis.   
 
To begin his boxing career in 1912, he chose the fight name of Battling Siki as it is a Senegalese word which parents apply to their children such as “darling” in English or “cherie” in French. He stated “white men could easily remember such a name.”
 
Today, one can find his legacy in the name of popular rock group, a character in Xena – Warrior Princess, a hotel in his homeland of Senegal, and various professional wrestlers who have used Battling Siki as their stage name. He fought until 1914, then would serve in the French colonial forces under the name of Louis Phal or Bayne Phal. Bayne is a Senegalese name corresponding to Louis.
 
 

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Terry McGovern – Terrible Terry

By David Martinez / dmboxing.com

At the turn of the 20th century, Brooklyn was becoming a thriving suburb of its own in the New York Metropolitan area.

It was the home of the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, the Trolley Dodgers National League baseball team, and was also the home of “Terrible” Terry McGovern who had migrated there from Johnstown, Pennsylvania at the age of six.

The first fight for the Irish-American kid was at Brooklyn’s Jackson Club in early 1897, an amateur bout that ended in a first round victory over Jack Shea. That event would officially launch a stellar career in boxing for the young McGovern who turned pro that same year.

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Boxing and Ohio

*** FLASHBACK – this article originally appeared on dmboxing.com on October 22, 2012

By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

NOTE: Jim Amato has contributed to dmboxing.com since 2008. His opinions and input to this website are honest and at the highest quality. His expertise in boxing is respected and appreciated by all. To view all of Jim’s articles – go to Categories section and click onto his name.

The history of great boxers to come out of the fine state of Ohio is rich and glorious. Many came well before my time. Jimmy Bivins and Johnny Risko. Joey Maxim, Paul Pirrone and the great Ezzard Charles. Need I go on?

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George Dixon – “Little Chocolate”

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By David Martinez / dmboxing.com
 
I recently took a vacation to eastern Canada and the New England area. One of the stops on the trip was Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada which I found to be an amazing place with lots of history.
 
When it comes to boxing history, I always think of one fighter from that area:  George Dixon.  People today think of “Little Chocolate” being Roman Gonzalez and Peter Quillin self-aor, for those that remember him, the great Cuban “Kid Chocolate” from the thirties. The first Chocolate was actually George Dixon – nicknamed “Little Chocolate.”
 
 Born in Halifax on July 29, 1870, Dixon was one of the greatest fighters of all time. He held the paperweight, bantamweight and featherweight world titles in a career than stretched 20 years, from 1886 to 1906.
 
Dixon only stood 5 feet 3 1/2 inches, but was a marvelous boxer with outstanding defensive skills, and a hard hitter with an incredibly long reach for his size.  He was the first black world champion in any weight class, while being the first ever Canadian-born boxing champion. He was also the first to win a championship in multiple weight classes and the first to regain a championship after losing it.
 

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Peter Jackson

*** FLASHBACK – this article originally appeared on dmboxing.com on August 24, 2012 

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By David Martinez / Boxing Historian / dmboxing.com

I agree with most boxing historians before me, that had Peter Jackson been born white, he would have been heavyweight champion in the John L. Sullivan era. In the late 1800’s Jackson never received a world title bout because of Sullivan’s refusal to fight black fighters, so racial prejudice was the only thing that kept Jackson from his chance to win the heavyweight crown.

Jackson was a true pioneer and the first black heavyweight, before Jack Johnson, that set the stage for the top recognition of the black boxers, which was before the turn of the 20th century.

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The 25 Greatest Boxers of All Time

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By David Martinez / Boxing Historian / dmboxing.com

I have been asked by many who I consider the greatest boxers of all time. I have my top, dynamite-dozen (12), greatest “pound for pound” listed alphabetically in my bio in the menu section of this website since its inception in July 2007, but not in order by ranking.

In this article, I rank these great fighters at the absolute prime/height/peak/pinnacle of their careers. I am not concerned with who-beat-who, and there is no bias shown for favorite fighters.  For example, my two personal favorites are Marvin Hagler and Alexis Arguello; they were great but didn’t make the list.

The fighters that I have listed can be switched around to suit your ranking, but I truly believe that these twenty-five are in that first tier. The second tier of twenty-five includes, just to name a few, Hagler, Arguello, Sugar Ray Leonard, Aaron Pryor, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, George Dixon, Abe Attell, Jose Napoles, Terry McGovern, Bob Foster, Sandy Saddler, Fighting Harada, Flash Elorde and Tommy Ryan.

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Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries “FIGHT OF THE CENTURY”

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Heavyweight Champion James J. Jeffries
Image from original cigar box, circa 1900
(gift to David Martinez from Al Nelson, Boxing Historian, 1972)
 
***** FLASHBACK – this article originally appeared on dmboxing.com on July 2, 2010

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian

July 4, 2010 will mark the 100th anniversary of Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries, “Fight of the Century”, for the heavyweight championship of the world.

Leading up to this fight, Jeffries won the title in 1899 against Bob Fitzsimmons and after defeating all challengers he retired undefeated in 1905. Johnson won the title in 1908 against Tommy Burns to become the first black fighter to win the coveted crown.

The build up to this fight was nothing less than controversial with a white champion coming out of a five-year retirement to try to win the title back from a black champion.

Scheduled for 45 rounds, the fight took place in Reno, Nevada on July 4, 1910, with Tex Rickard as the promoter and referee. Prior to the fight, Rickard had invited United States president William Howard Taft to be the referee, but Taft declined.
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Frazier vs. Ali – Fight of the Century

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By David Martinez / dmboxing.com

Last week was a date that I will never forget in boxing – March 8th. It was 45 years ago that Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali fought in the Fight of the Century.

The bout was the most eagerly anticipated championship fight that I have ever been involved with in my 55 years in boxing. Two unbeaten fighters, both having legitimate claims to the heavyweight title, Frazier (26-0 / 23 by KO) and Ali 31-0 / 25 by KO).

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The Greatest Boxers From Each Country

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By David Martinez / Boxing Historian / dmboxing.com

Picking the greatest boxers of all time, from different countries around the world, was really an easy and fun task. Over the years I have researched this topic at great length and interviewed many people. I have spoken to the older generations of fans and fighters who personally saw many of the boxers fight that were before my time. Their expertise and the input they offered was invaluable.

For each fighter my main basis for ranking them was the height, peak, prime, and pinnacle of their careers regardless of weight or eras in which they fought. The level of their competition played a huge factor, but not necessarily their ring record.
Alphabetically by geographic area/country, here are my picks, with the runners up included:

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World Colored Heavyweight Championship

***** FLASHBACK ~ This article originally appeared on dmboxing.com in November 2012

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By David Martinez / Boxing Historian

Let me bring you a feature story that you will probably not read any where regarding, all together, the five best black heavyweights at the turn of the 20th century.

I got the idea when I over heard some mutual friends talking about the best black baseball players that never got the chance to play in the major leagues, and had to settle playing against each other in the old negro league.

I have rated many boxers in many categories throughout my over 50 years of boxing … on this website alone you will find that I have rated the best heavyweights, the best lightweights, the best Mexicans fighters, and now I will personally rate the best black heavyweights in a time period that but only one of them, Jack Johnson, had the opportunity to fight for the heavyweight championship.

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