Chapter Seventeen A Dozen Great Boxers Who Were Never Champions
Okay, I have given you a book with over 300 pages of mini-stories and profiles of lineal world boxing champions. But what a about the guys who were as good as, and in some cases better than the world champions of their time? Some of these boxers achieved considerable recognition, despite either being ignored by the champion, refusing to cooperate with the mob during the years the mob ran boxing, losing a title bid, by racial prejudice or simply being too good for their own good.
First on the list is the name Peter Jackson, a man that was just born too soon. Peter Jackson Jr was born in Christiansted, Danish West Indies (today the American Virgin Islands) on July 3, 1861. After establishing his boxing career, and like many of Australia's best boxers of this era, Jackson left for America. He arrived in San Francisco in May 12, 1888 and promptly beat "Old Chocolate" Godfrey to gain the world 'colored' heavyweight championship. Jackson would become an instructor at the California Athletic Club in San Francisco. He was considered one of the most "scientific" boxers of his day due to his footwork and technical proficiency. He is best remembered today for fighting future heavyweight champion Jim Corbett to a sixty-one round “no contest”. I would guess both men were pissed at the outcome.
Harry Wills is remembered as the prominent African American heavyweight of the 1920’s. Unable to secure a title shot against Jack Dempsey in the wake of the Jack Johnson era, he fought and beat many of the other top black boxers of his era as well as many white boxers.
Lew Tendler was a great southpaw lightweight boxer; clever and a good puncher. He had one flaw. He campaigned during the reign of the great Benny Leonard. Not that he wasn’t given a chance; he fought Leonard to a close newspaper decision in 1922 but came up just a little short.
The most amazing thing about Packey McFarland, the great turn of the 20th Century lightweight is his boxing record. According to boxrec.com between 1904 and 1915 he packed in 70 wins (50 by knockout) with ZERO losses and five draws. That is a pretty darn good record.
The other equally great un-titled boxers on the list include George “Old Chocolate” Godfrey, Billy Petrolle, Jack “Chappie” Blackburn, George Benton, Charley Burley, Billy Graham (not the evangelist), Newsboy Brown and the great Sam Langford.
More excerpts from this book coming soon! Stay tuned.