GM – FBF – When boxers are in the ring, they’re simple. It’s when the fight is over, that’s when the other fight, the real fight, begins. That’s the problem.
Remember – You’ll pardon me gentlemen if I make the fight short. I have a train to catch. – Sam Langford
Today in our History – ( July 17 1886 – January 12, 1956) Pound for pound, who was the world’s greatest boxer?
fans debate the question, the name most often mentioned is that of Sugar Ray.
However, many boxing historians would argue in favor of Sam Langford, a
lesser-known fighter born in Weymouth, Nova Scotia, in 1886.
During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the prospect of facing the five-foot-seven-inch dynamo, who weighed no more than 175 pounds at his peak, struck terror in the hearts of most of his contemporaries, including heavyweight champions Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey.
In June 1916, the 21-year-old Dempsey quickly declined an opportunity to face an aging Langford. Recalling the incident years later in his autobiography, Dempsey wrote, “The Hell I feared no man. There was one man, he was even smaller than I, and I wouldn’t fight because I knew he would flatten me. I was afraid of Sam Langford.”
Jack Johnson, on the other hand, did face Langford, once, in April 1906, when Langford was only a 20-year-old lightweight who gave up over 40 pounds to the 28-year- old heavyweight contender. Johnson won a convincing 15-round decision over the youngster, but discovered just how tough the smaller fighter was and what kind of dynamite he carried in his fists.
Two and a half years later, Johnson won the heavyweight championship by defeating Tommy Burns. Over the ensuing years, Langford and his manager, Joe Woodman, hounded Johnson in futile pursuit of an opportunity to fight for the title.
“Nobody will pay to see two black men fight for the title,” Johnson said However, when Johnson grew weary of Australian boxing promoter Hugh “Huge Deal”’ McIntosh’s efforts to arrange a match with Langford, he admitted that he had no wish to face Langford again. “I don’t want to fight that little smoke,” said Johnson. “He’s got a chance to win against anyone in the world. I’m the first black champion and I’m going to be the last.”
Years later, Johnson confided to New England Sports Museum trustee Kevin Aylwood, “Sam Langford was the toughest little son of a bitch that ever lived.”
Despite participating in over 300 professional bouts in a 24-year ring career (from 1902 to 1926), Langford never won a world title. He defeated reigning lightweight champion Joe Gans by decision in December 1903 but was not recognized as the new champion because he came into the fight two pounds over the lightweight limit. Nine months later Langford fought the world welterweight champion, Joe Walcott, to a 15-round draw in a contest that the majority of those in attendance felt he deserved.
Surprisingly, Langford would never receive another opportunity to fight for a world title. Although he faced middleweight champion Stanley Ketchel in a six-round fight in April 1910, this was a predetermined no-decision contest that was rumored to be a preview for a 45-round title bout on the West Coast later that year. Unfortunately, Ketchel was murdered before that event could be held.
Although Langford began competing as a lightweight and then as a welterweight, once he matured physically, it became more difficult for him to keep within those weight limits. He was also aware of the fact that there was more money in fighting big fellows and subsequently went after heavyweights. Over the years he met and defeated many men much larger than himself: men like “Battling” Jim Johnson, Sam McVey, Sandy Ferguson, Joe Jeannette, Sam McVey, “Big” Bill Tate, George Godfrey and Harry Wills. Some of these fighters towered over Langford, who often also gave up as much as 40 pounds in weight. Reserch more about this great Canadian and share with your babies. Make it a champion Day!