By David Martinez / Boxing Historian / dmboxing.com
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.
Upon retirement Welsh opened up a gym in Summit, New Jersey and spoke frequently as a lecturer speaker on physical education. He would also buy and managed a health farm.
In his career he fought some of the great ones of his era; Charley White, Mexican Joe Rivers, Ad Wolgast, Battling Nelson, Rocky Kansas, Johnny Kilbane, Abe Attell, Johnny Dundee, Packey McFarland, Jim Driscoll, and Philadelphia Pal Moore.
His official ring record was an outstanding one, 78 wins, 5 losses, 7 draws, 32 by knockout, 81 no contests and was only stopped once in 171 bouts. He had three memorable fights with Packey McFarland losing once by 10 round decision in 1908, a 25 round draw in 1908, a 20 round draw in 1910, and with all three bouts to have been before winning the lightweight title in 1914.
He was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1960, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997, and to my “surprise” in the 30 year existence (1980-2010) of the World Boxing Hall of Fame – he was never inducted?
Nat Fleisher Ring Magazine founder and Editor ranks him the #4 greatest lightweight of all time, Boxing Historian Bert Sugar ranks him #48 greatest boxer of all time, and I rank him the #4 greatest of British born boxer of all time … right behind (in order) Jimmy Wilde, Jim Driscoll, Bob Fitzsimmons, and just ahead of Joe Calzaghe and Lennox Lewis.
Welsh, known as the “Welsh Wizard”, is the only boxer whose last name was also his nationality. He died at the young age of 41 in New York on July 29, 1927.