By Harry Otty. Arguably the greatest boxer never to win a world title, Burley was the most feared fighter of his generation and one of the most avoided fighters in the history of boxing. Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row follows a trail from the Barcelona 'Friendly' Olympics in war-torn Spain to top ten contender status for world title honours during the s. Charley Burley was forced to fight out of his weight class with monotonous regularity by today's standards he would be a light-middleweight , yet he knocked out fighters from welterweight to heavyweight.
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A few years back, Springs Toledo wrote an outstanding series on some great black fighters who never got their deserved shots at a title. The only problem, though, in stating his case Mr. In telling the story of Cocoa Kid, he seems to really pick on Jimmy Leto, who was one of the most rugged and craftiest contenders in history.
First the innuendo is that the light hitting Cocoa could have knocked out Leto in the eighth round of their first match but held back to allow Jimmy to recover. This is the same Leto that was only stopped three times in his some fights against the hardest hitters of his era. I do believe his account of this incident, but most of the powerful managers in boxing at the time were incorrigible gamblers who were always looking for an edge.
I went up to the office with three friends… They waited outside the office while I talked to Mead. What are you getting at? The Cocoa Kid was truly a great fighter and when he was at his prime ranking at welter Henry Armstrong was the champ that dodged a title match with him.
In bouts in his career Cocoa Kid engaged in matches against white fighters. World War 2 changed everything. With so many white boxers serving, most of the promoters panicked and tried to preserve what was left of the top white fighters still around. And by the end of the war with incentives like the GI Bill, fewer whites returned to or entered boxing as a profession. Holman Williams boxed 58 whites before the war and only boxed nine the rest of his career.
Charley Burley boxed 30 white opponents pre-war. Lloyd Marshall met only two black foes in his first 42 matches before boxing Eddie Booker on Sept. Booker, too, had only engaged a literal handful of black fighters in his previous 70 bouts. His fights with Popeye Woods were after the LaMotta match. Woods had always taken on all comers black and white and was a terrific drawing card in New York before temporarily retiring in When he made his comeback in he was froze out of New York and seemed to be in the same boat as the feared black boxers of the era and only boxed three white fighters in his last 24 matches one being LaMotta and every fight on the road.
I am not trying to diminish the accomplishments and the tribulations that these great black boxers endured, only trying to get people to respect many of the impoverished sons of immigrants and hard white men of the Depression who took on all comers in order to provide for their families.
Check out phillyboxinghistory. Going back further, what black fighter did Jack Johnson give a title shot to?
Going forward again, what black fighter did Joe Louis give a title shot to while in his prime or their prime? As far as I can see black champions did not give black contenders any more opportunities than white champions did. Not until Sonny Liston became champion. Come on now, these fighters were widely avoided. Everybody got the benefit of the doubt over black fighters that were avoided. This article does make you think. Those who do not know boxing history will not understand much of it.
I agree with Mike Silver. Interesting when we look at the American boxing scene today, no white fighters who mean any thing. Yet Great Britain, still does produce them, and of course you do have the Eastern Europeans. Any American white fighters of any meaning appear to be in MMA.
Kind of like poetic justice or some much needed karma. I regret Norton was the knockout victim, should have been one of the ones poking fun at Duane.
Have to say that Norton was a class act in both situations. Norton always handled winning and losing equally well. RIP, Mr. There was certainly a desire to see a white American fighter become heavyweight champion. In many ways I felt the Rocky movies were really a desire for that wish. Poster below stated that Duane Bobick was made fun of by losing to Norton but Norton was not abused when he lost to Cooney.
The studio crowd went crazy because of course Cooney was from NY. Hard to say how Dempsey would have done against Wills, when they did not fight. As for Marciano against Valdez. Valdez beat Charles, yet Charles got the title shot. Valdez was a big man for the time, number one for nearly two years by ring magazine.
He certainly deserved the title shot more than Don Cockell or Charles. I found Mr. Never mind that Harry Wills was made to order for Dempsey. Seems like every story was parroted the same with maybe a slight variation here and there. It got so bad that we were told that even the great Marciano avoided the mediocre Nino Valdez. Had always read that Norfolk was all that and a bag of chips. Absolutely, Chuck, me auld warrior—you gotta share that phenomenal boxing knowledge with the rest of us.
As far as most other boxing sites are concerned, the vast pugilistic universe comprises Floyd Mayweather Jr. As for the occasional set-to…the spice of life. Why, I myself recently had a disagreement with Springs.
Personally, I found it invigorating and entertaining—just the right combination of testiness and humor. See that? I just made up a word…and damn proud of it, too. Every word out of my mouth or pen is gold, pure gold.
If I may take the role of referee in this minor set to between Springs T. Whether one agrees with everything either of you write or not is less important than reading what you both have to say which never fails to be both thought provoking and informative. Now shake hands and go back to your training camps to prepare for the next round. I think there is a lot of truth in a lot that has been written by both men. I think it is fair to say that quite often we denigrate the accomplishments of many of the white fighters back in those days.
Can anyone dispute that Willie Pep is one of the greatest featherweight fighter of all time, if not the best. Yes he did lose to Sandy Sadler 3 out of 4 times, but he was never he same after the plane crash that he suffered. Also remember that he beat many black fighters and fighters of other races at the time. Did not Lesnevich avoid fighting Moore or Charles. Springs Toledo, I came across an article, and a correspondence he had with a gentlemen regarding the myth of only one champion in the past.
The State of Ohio apparently had a 15 round fight between Charles and Moore for a Ohio Version of the light heavyweight title, because of a possible refusal of Lesnevich to fight Charles in defense of his light heavyweight title. Charles would even defend this title against Maxim. Hasson is correct that WWII had a big impact on the decline of the white fighter. Many aftr the war through the GI Bill, and other programs allowed whites to find other opportunities for the American dream, more so than minorities.
I have no idea why I lump them together. Maybe it is the same scenario where a outcast drifter romances a lonely older lady. Both good movies. Those old black and white movies are numero uno by far.
Concede defeat? Good heavens, Chuck, what an idea. Your article is challenging, thought-provoking, and iconoclastic, as I observed earlier—all of which quite befits Boxing. As I said before…much look forward to your next one. I was thinking Neal favored actor William Smith. Smith was best known for his muscular arms and playing villians like the character, Falconetti, in Rich Man, Poor Man.
Then damn, it hit me. Neal looks like a female Johnny Cash, instead of William Smith. Now that will take some work. Forget the meds my friend. Fuji-I really like the way your mind works….. And I am now wise enough to know when I have had enough. I concede defeat. I take that back too. Leto would likely not have been in on it and you as a boxing historian should know that.
Leto was not there that night and probably would not have known about that either. Be responsible and either make a real case or concede the point. You -came across- as harboring racially-motivated resentments from your title on down. If that was offensive, then I take it back. I hope you will contribute other great pieces to Boxing.
Murderers' Row (boxing)
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Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row
Murderers' Row refers to a group of middleweight boxing contenders in the United States competing in the s, primarily of an African-American background. Renowned for their toughness and great boxing ability, they were feared throughout the boxing world and never received a shot at the world title. The expression " murderers' row " had been used previously to describe the batting line-up of the New York Yankees baseball team in the late s. He was ranked in the top 10 in the Welterweight and Middleweight divisions for most of the s, without receiving a title shot. Near the end of his career Burley took to fighting Heavyweights in a bid to find meaningful contests, including J.