Standing no more than 5' 7" tall, Sam Langford was one of the 20th century's greatest fighters. In 1951, the great featherweight champion Abe Attell was asked if Sugar Ray Robinson was the best of all time, either as a welterweight or middleweight. He named Stanley Ketchel as the greatest welterweight he'd ever seen and said that, as for the middleweights, he'd take Sam Langford, "the greatest of them all at that poundage." Remarkably, the man Attell felt was the greatest middleweight fighter in history fought and defeated many of the leading heavyweight contenders of his day. Over time, he matured physically and grew into a light heavyweight, then began fighting heavyweights on a regular basis, but he was almost always the much smaller of the two combatants. Nat Fleischer, founding editor of The Ring magazine, called Sam one of the hardest punchers of all time, and ranked the little man seventh among his personal all-time favorites "Sam was endowed with everything. He possessed strength, agility, cleverness, hitting power, a good thinking cap, and an abundance of courage He feared no one. But he had the fatal gift of being too good, and that's why he often had to give away weight in early days and make agreements with opponents. Many of those who agreed to fight him, especially of his own race, wanted an assurance that he would be merciful or insisted on a bout of not more than six rounds." Other leading sportswriters of that era had even higher opinions of Sam. Hype Igoe, well known boxing writer for the New York Journal, proclaimed Sam the greatest fighter, pound-for-pound, who ever lived. Joe Williams, respected sports columnist of the New York World Telegram wrote that Langford was probably the best the ring ever saw, and the great Grantland Rice described Sam as "about the best fighting man I've ever watched." At the time of Sam's induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame (October 1955) he was the only non-champion accorded the honor. Many ring experts considered Sam the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the history of boxing Under different circumstances he might have been a champion at five different weights: lightweight; welterweight, middleweight; light heavyweight; and heavyweight. Blind and penniless at the end of his life, Sam lived quietly in a private nursing home But when one visitor expressed sympathy for his circumstances, Sam replied, "Don't nobody need to feel sorry for old Sam. I had plenty of good times. I been all over the world. I fought maybe 600 fights, and every one was a pleasure " With 98 photographs and illustrations, primarily from private collections.
Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey called Sam Langford from Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia, “The greatest fighter we’ve ever had.” And champion Jack Johnson stated he “he was the toughest little son-of-a-bitch that ever lived.” Celebrated New York boxing writer Hype Igoe said he was “the greatest fighter, pound for pound, who ever lived,” while New York sports writer Joe Williams said he “was probably the best the ring ever saw.” Langford was so good that many boxers refused to fight him, so good that he took bouts with bigger men just to get a match, so good that he once fought the greatest boxer of his age, Jack Johnson, who was forty pounds heavier and a good foot taller—and still went the distance. Yet, for all the ferocity of his talent, Sam Langford (1883-1956) could not outbox fistic fate. From his first bout in 1902 until his last a quarter century later, he battled boxing’s colour barrier that kept him from being world champion in three different weight classes. Still, he refused to be knocked down and relentlessly pursued a title shot until he was nearly forty. When, in 1923, he approached Jack Kearns, the manager of then heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey, for a title bout, the wily Kearns looked over the nearly blind, well-past-his-prime boxer, and shook his head. “We were looking for someone easier,” he sighed. He was just that good. When Langford could no longer get his title shot, he retired from the ring in 1926 and soon faded from the public mind—until the serious compilers of lists that recognize boxing’s all-time greatest began including his name, and he found himself becoming a legend. His official record says he fought 250 bouts, but he remembered fighting more than 500. And he loved to talk about them all, loved the stories that shaped the contours of his life and loved the absolute truth and less-than-certain tales that wove themselves into his boxing legend. Of course, this was as it should have been, because for him, great boxing was as much about the battles’ tales as it was about the battles themselves. This is the story of Sam Langford.
Boston's Boxing Heritage: Prizefighting from 1882 to 1955 chronicles the rich history of prizefighting in Boston and the many characters that made the Hub city the home of champions. It is not only a pictorial history of the sport but also a tale of heroes and villains, gangsters and mobsters, contenders and bums, trainers and newspapermen, straight men and cheats. It is a saga of ethnicity and race, of color barriers broken and neighborhood rivalries settled and rekindled. At its core this story is truly about a city and its relationship with a sport. Boston's Boxing Heritage: Prizefighting from 1882 to 1955 covers the early bareknuckle years of boxing through the sport's post-World War II boom. When Boston's John L. Sullivan won the heavyweight crown from Paddy Ryan in 1882, he took prizefighting from an illegal, red-light district pastime to the country's most popular sport and in essence put Bean Town on the sporting map. For the next sixty years, Boston remained one of the elite cities in the boxing world spawning ring immortals such as George "Little Chocolate" Dixon, Joe "the Barbados Demon" Wolcott, William "Honey" Mellody, Rocky Marciano, Jack "the Boston Gob" Sharkey, and Sam "the Boston Tar Baby" Langford.
For six decades the World Colored Heavyweight Championship was a useful tool of racial oppression--the existence of the title far more important to the white public than its succession of champions. It took some extraordinary individuals, most notably Jack Johnson, to challenge "the color line" in the ring, although the title and the black fighters who contended for it continued until the reign of Joe Louis a generation later. This history traces the advent and demise of the Championship, the stories of the 28 professional athletes who won it, and the demarcation of the color line both in and out of the ring.
This volume presents fifteen chapters of biography of African American and black champions and challengers of the early prize ring. They range from Tom Molineaux, a slave who won freedom and fame in the ring in the early 1800s; to Joe Gans, the first African American world champion; to the flamboyant Jack Johnson, deemed such a threat to white society that film of his defeat of former champion and “Great White Hope” Jim Jeffries was banned across much of the country. Photographs, period drawings, cartoons, and fight posters enhance the biographies. Round-by-round coverage of select historic fights is included, as is a foreword by Hall-of-Fame boxing announcer Al Bernstein.
In Sydney, Australia, in 1908 the talented black fighter Jack Johnson won the heavyweight championship of the world from the Canadian Tommy Burns. There was an immediate storm of protest. It was predicted that his reign would lead to civic unrest and race riots. This is the story of sport, racism, corruption and larger-than-life characters.
The Most WantedOao series puts on the gloves and steps inside the squared circle to chronicle the best and worst of the pugilistic world plus everything in between. Authors David L. Hudson, Jr., and Mike Fitzgerald, Jr., answer the bell with fifty top-ten l"
Stanley Ketchel was an early 20th century Middleweight Champion from 1908-1910. This book tells the story of a young boy who left home to find his place in the world, and hopefully find the means by which to assist his family economically. His parents, and three sibling brothers, at the time, would not see him again for nine years. When they, finally, saw him, again, he was a newly-named pugilistic challenger whose boxing fame was building higher with each bout. This book is an excursion into the, researched, truth of both Stanley Ketchel's life, and his boxing career.
The greatest fighters of all time come to life in the pages of this carefully researched and fully illustrated guide to the sweat science. This book is packed with action, photos, and figures.
During the early years of the 20th century, San Francisco promoters served up boxing’s grandest spectacles. On February 22, 1910, a crowd of more than 15,000 braved chilly, rainy conditions to witness one such match, pitting lightweight champion “Battling” Nelson against Ad Wolgast. That epic battle came to stand virtually unchallenged as the most brutal fight of all time. This volume recaptures that historic fight while vividly illuminating the geographic, historic, and political forces that made it all possible. In chronicling these colorful boxers and their vibrant era, this work also reveals the dangers faced by workman pugilists like Nelson and Wolgast, making their tale, at its heart, a cautionary one.