Boxing Historian's (NEW) Featured Fighters  (go to next page)

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John L. Sullivan

Heavyweight Boxer, 1858-1918
Born: Roxbury, Mass.
Died: Abington, Massachusetts

One of the most famous boxers of all-time, John L. Sullivan was the first Heavyweight Champion of the World. Fighting bare-knuckled, as was the style in this era, John L. Sullivan pounded Paddy Ryan in 1882 for the title after challenging him in a newspaper ad. The two prizefighters fought for a purse of $5,000 and the London Prize Ring Championship. John L. Sullivan toured England, Ireland and the US, and took on all-comers, winning every fight during his reign as champion, 1882-1892. His greatest battle during this period was fought against Jake Kilrain in 1889. The two bare-knuckled boxers squared-off for 75 rounds until John L. Sullivan finally knocked out Kilrain. In 1892, James J. Corbett stopped John L. Sullivan. It was John L.'sonly defeat and the first fight held under the new Marquis of Queensbury Rules.

Carmen Basilio

Welterweight and Middle Weight Champion - 1950s
Record: Won 56, Lost 16, Draws 7, KOs 27

A power-packed fighter from New York, Carmen Basilio captured the attention of boxing fans across the world during the mid-to-late-1950s. Rated as one of the top fighters in boxing history, he was a three-time welterweight champ and also won a 15 round decision over Sugar Ray Robinson to collect the middleweight crown in Sept 1957. In his first try at the world title, Basilio was kayoed in the 4th round by Kid Gavilan on Sept 18, 1953. Basilio came back and beat Tony DeMarco in a World Title bout in '55, and won again in their rematch in the same year - winning both fights with TKOs in the 12th round.

Rocky Marciano

1923-1969 Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World

Rocky Marciano retired as the only undefeated heavyweight champion in boxing history. When he retired in April 1956, Marciano had a 49-0 record, and scored 43 wins by knockouts. He began boxing in the United States Army in 1943 and turned professional in 1947. Full of heart, brut power, and tenacity, Marciano wept after knocking out his boyhood hero, former heavyweight champion Joe Louis in 1951.

In 1952, Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott to win the World Heavyweight Crown. He successfully defended his crown six times between 1953-1955. The world was deeply saddened to learn the news that Marciano died in a light plane crash in 1969.

Gene Tunney

Light Heavyweight 1922-23 and Heavyweight Champion

A slick boxer with a potent punch Gene Tunney was a champion in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. He was born James Joseph Tunney in New York City in 1897 and while a member of the US Marine Corps during World War I - 1914-1918 - won the championship of the American Expeditionary Force in Paris, France in 1919.

In 1922 he was the American light heavyweight champ before losing it to Harry Greb. Tunney won the title back in 1923 in a rematch, then, abandoned it and turned heavyweight. In 1926 he won the World Heavyweight by beating Jack Dempsey. In their rematch the following year, Tunney again defeated Dempsey in a controversial bout during which Dempsey's delay in moving to

a neutral corner after knocking Tunney to the canvas resulted in the famous 'long count' that allowed Tunney time to regroup and in, and retain his heavyweight crown.

During 1928 Tunney retired after going undefeated during his heavyweight career. When World War II raged, Tunney headed the United States Navy physical fitness program.

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