GM – FBF – It is always good for me to return home to my native New Jersey but since the world was hit with this deadly virus I have not been back to see family or friends but I want to go back as soon as I can. I was born in Camden and from a child I had an opportunity to be proud of the man who’s story will be told. Today’s American Champion was an American professional boxer who competed from 1930 to 1953. He held the world heavyweight title from 1951 to 1952, and broke the record for the oldest man to win the title, at the age of 37. That record would eventually be broken in 1994 by 45-year-old George Foreman. Despite holding the world heavyweight title for a relatively short period of time, Walcott was regarded among the best heavyweights in the world during the 1940s and 1950s. BoxRec ranked him among top 10 heavyweights from 1944 to 1953 and gave nine of his victorious fights a 5-Star rating, a record in the heavyweight division matched only by Wladimir Klitschko.After retiring from boxing, Walcott did some acting, playing small parts in a few movies and television shows. He also refereed several boxing matches, but after the controversial ending to the second fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, Walcott was not asked to referee again. From 1971 to 1974, Walcott held the elected position of Sheriff of Camden County, New Jersey, the first African-American to do so. From 1975 to 1984, he was the chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission.Today in our History – Arnold Raymond Cream (January 31, 1914 – February 25, 1994), best known as Jersey Joe Walcott was born.Walcott was born in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey. His father was an immigrant from St. Thomas, Danish West Indies. His mother was from Jordantown (Pennsauken Township), New Jersey. Walcott was only 15 years old when his father died. He quit school and worked in a soup factory to support his mother and 11 younger brothers and sisters. He also began training as a boxer. He took the name of his boxing idol, Joe Walcott, a welterweight champion from Barbados. He added “Jersey” to distinguish himself and show where he was from.He debuted as a professional boxer on September 9, 1930, fighting Cowboy Wallace and winning by a knockout in round one. After five straight knockout wins, in 1933, he lost for the first time, beaten on points by Henry Wilson in Philadelphia.He built a record of 45 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw before challenging for the world title for the first time. Walcott lost early bouts against world-class competition. He lost a pair of fights to Tiger Jack Fox and was knocked out by contender Abe Simon. But that would change in 1945 when Walcott beat top heavyweights such as Joe Baksi, Lee Q. Murray, Curtis Sheppard and Jimmy Bivins. He closed out 1946 with a pair of losses to former light heavyweight champ Joey Maxim and heavyweight contender Elmer Ray, but promptly avenged those defeats in 1947.On December 5, 1947, he fought Joe Louis, at thirty three years of age breaking the record as the oldest man to fight for the world heavyweight title. Despite dropping Louis in round one, and again in round four, he lost a 15-round split decision. Most ringside observers and boxing writers felt Walcott deserved the win; a debate ensued, and sportswriters carried the topic throughout America. The lone official to vote for Walcott, referee Ruby Goldstein, was cast as a hero. Letters and telegrams poured in to the Goldstein household, praising his judgment. There was talk of an investigation being assembled for rule revisions in judging. Louis went into seclusion for a couple of days, then quieted dissent with the following: “I know Ruby. He calls them as he sees them and that should be good enough for anybody.” What controversy remained was the kind that builds the gate, and Jersey Joe was rightfully granted a rematch on June 25, 1948. Though dropped again, this time in the third, Louis prevailed by a knockout in round 11. The bout was the first closed-circuit telecast (CCTV) sports broadcast, distributed via theatre television. On June 22 of 1949, Walcott got another chance to become world heavyweight champion when he and Ezzard Charles met for the title left vacant by Louis. However, Charles prevailed, winning by decision in 15 rounds. Walcott, disappointed but eager to see his dream of being a champion come true, went on, and in 1950 he won four of his five bouts, including a third-round knockout of future world light heavyweight champion Harold Johnson.On March 7, 1951, he and Charles fought for a second time and again Charles won a 15-round decision to retain his world title. But on July 18, he joined a handful of boxers who claimed the world title in their fifth try, when he knocked out Charles in seven rounds in Pittsburgh to finally become world heavyweight champion at the age of 37. This made him the oldest man ever to win the world heavyweight crown (a distinction he would hold until George Foreman won the title at age 45 in 1994).Walcott retained the title with a 15-round decision victory against arch-enemy Charles. On September 23, 1952, he put his title on the line for the second time. His opponent was the undefeated Rocky Marciano. In the first round, Walcott floored Marciano with a left hook; the first time in his career that Rocky had ever been down. After twelve intense rounds, Walcott stood well ahead on two of the three official scorecards, leaving Marciano needing a knockout to win. In the thirteenth round, with Marciano pressuring Walcott against the ropes, simultaneously each threw a right hand. Marciano landed first and flush on Walcott´s jaw with what many consider the hardest punch thrown in boxing history. The title changed hands in an instant. Walcott collapsed with his left arm hanging over the ropes, slowly sinking to the canvas, where he was counted out. An immediate rematch was set for May 15, 1953 in Chicago. The second time around Walcott was again defeated by Marciano by a knockout, this time in the first round. It would be Walcott’s last bout.Walcott did not go away from the celebrity scene after boxing. In 1956, he co-starred with Humphrey Bogart and Max Baer in the boxing drama The Harder They Fall. In 1963, he tried professional wrestling, losing to Lou Thesz. Thesz pinned Walcott in the fifth round, but has stated that Walcott knocked him (Thesz) down and most likely out in that fifth round. As he fell to the floor, he relied on instinct, grabbing Walcott’s knees, taking him down with him and stretching him out for the pin.In 1965, Walcott refereed the controversial world heavyweight championship rematch between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston. Walcott lost the count as Ali circled around a floored Liston and Walcott tried to get him back to a neutral corner. Walcott then looked outside of the ring (presumably to the ringside count keeper) as Ali and Liston went at each other, before Walcott instructed them to keep on fighting. Walcott then approached the fighters and abruptly stopped the fight. Walcott was never again appointed as a referee after this bout.After retiring, Walcott worked for the Camden County corrections department. In 1968, he ran for Sheriff of Camden County, New Jersey, but lost in the Democratic primary to Spencer H. Smith Jr. That same year he was named director of community relations for Camden. In 1971, he ran again for Camden County Sheriff. He defeated Republican William Strang in the general election. He was the first African-American to serve as Sheriff in Camden County. He served as chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission from 1975 until 1984, when he stepped down at the mandatory retirement age of 70. Walcott was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. Research more about this great American champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!