Bob Armstrong (boxer)

Last updated

Bob Armstrong
Bob Armstrong, Eddie McGoorty, Ed McMahon 2830853220 b04a9667f0 o.jpg
Armstrong, Eddie McGoorty, and Ed McMahon in 1914
Statistics
Nickname(s)The King of the Battle Royal
Weight(s) Heavyweight
Height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Nationality American
Born(1873-09-04)September 4, 1873
Rogersville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJanuary 5, 1933(1933-01-05) (aged 59)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights33
Wins17
Wins by KO15
Losses11
Draws5

Bob Armstrong (September 4, 1873 – January 5, 1933), was a heavyweight boxer known as the "King of the Battle Royal". He was born in Rogersville, Tennessee, but he moved with his family to Washington, Ohio when he was three years old.

Contents

Before he got into boxing, Armstrong worked with racing horses in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He made his debut on September 19 in a six-rounder against Joe Choynski in Chicago, Illinois. He lost the decision on points.

Choynski used him as a sparring partner, as did world heavyweight champion pretender Tom Sharkey and the true heavyweight champs Bob Fitzsimmons and Jim Jeffries. [1]

World Colored Heavyweight Champ

On December 21, 1896, he won the World Colored Heavyweight Championship vacated by long-time colored champ Peter Jackson by knocking out Charley Strong in the 19th round in a fight held in New York City (although some sources claim the bout took place in Philadelphia on March 25, 1897). On New Year's Day 1897 he fought Joe Butler in Philadelphia and was knocked out in the second round. They met again on the sixth of March in a title bout, and Armstrong prevailed, winning by a technical knock-out in the 6th round. The following day, he fought Frank Childs and lost to him on points in a non-title bout.

His next fight was a title bout with Sam Pruitt in San Francisco on April 23, 1897, which he won via a 1st round knock-out. His next official fights resulted in a loss on points to Joe Sheehy in a four-rounder in June and a win against Jack Douglass via a TKO in the 2nd round on September 13. Some sources also report that he beat Jack McCormick on September 25. In 1897, he also fought two exhibitions against Tom Sharkey in May and fought two exhibitions against two different opponents, Jimmy Barry and Childs, on May 29. He fought an exhibition against Joe Choynski in August and finished out the year with an exhibition against John Holtman in November.

In the new year of 1898, Armstrong put his championship on the line in a rematch with Childs. On January 29, 1898, and Childs took the title by knocking Armstrong out in the second round.

Post-Championship

On August 5, 1898, Armstrong fought top white heavyweight contender James J. Jeffries, who was less than a year away from winning the world's heavyweight championship, in a 10-round bout at the Lenox Athletic Club in New York City. Armstrong lost on points.

He fought colored heavyweight champ Denver Ed Martin for the colored heavyweight title in the Crystal Palace in London on July 25, 1902. According to the Associated Press coverage of the fight:

"Martin proved the cleverer and never gave his opponent a chance, being declared an easy winner on points at the close of the fifteenth round; Martin, it is announced, will challenge the winner of the Jeffries-Fitzsimmons fight in San Francsico."

Martin was not given a title shot and met Armstrong for a rematch in Philadelphia on December 10 According to the Daily Gazette and Bulletin:

"The bout was fast from the start and both men narrowly escaped a knockout. The bell saved Armstrong in the third and fifth and Martin was floored six times in the fourth round."

The six-round bout ended in a no decision. In his next fight, Martin lost his title to Jack Johnson, who would one day break the color bar and become the first African American heavyweight champion of the world.

Armstrong retired after being KO-ed by Walter Johnson in Haverhill, Massachusetts on December 26, 1904. He ended his career with an official record of 17 wins (with 15 KOs) against 11 losses (in which he was KO-ed six times) and five draws. He also had a newspaper decision record of one win and one draw. [2]

On January 29, 1932, he worked the corner for King Levinsky in his fight against Max Baer.

He died on January 5, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois.

Legacy & Honors

In 2020 award-winning author Mark Allen Baker published the first comprehensive account of The World Colored Heavyweight Championship, 1876-1937, with McFarland & Company, a leading independent publisher of academic & nonfiction books. This history traces the advent and demise of the Championship, the stories of the talented professional athletes who won it, and the demarcation of the color line both in and out of the ring.

For decades the World Colored Heavyweight Championship was a useful tool to combat racial oppression-the existence of the title a leverage mechanism, or tool, used as a technique to counter a social element, “drawing the color line.”

Related Research Articles

Jack Johnson (boxer) American boxer, became the first African-American world heavyweight champion

John Arthur Johnson, nicknamed the "Galveston Giant", was an American boxer who, at the height of the Jim Crow era, became the first Black American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). Widely regarded as one of the most influential boxers of all time, one of the period's most dominant champions, and as a boxing legend, his 1910 fight against James J. Jeffries was dubbed the "fight of the century". According to filmmaker Ken Burns, "for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth". Transcending boxing, he became part of the culture and history of racism in the United States.

Tommy Burns (Canadian boxer) Canadian world champion boxer (1881–1955)

Tommy Burns was a Canadian professional boxer. He is the only Canadian-born World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. The first to travel the globe in defending his title, Burns made 13 title defences against 11 different boxers, despite often being the underdog due to his size. Burns famously challenged all comers as Heavyweight Champion, leading to a celebrated bout with the American Jack Johnson. According to his biographer, Burns insisted, "I will defend my title against all comers, none barred. By this I mean white, black, Mexican, Indian, or any other nationality. I propose to be the champion of the world, not the white, or the Canadian, or the American. If I am not the best man in the heavyweight division, I don't want the title."

Bob Fitzsimmons British boxer

Robert James "Bob" Fitzsimmons was a British professional boxer who was the sport's first three-division world champion. He also achieved fame for beating Gentleman Jim Corbett, and he is in The Guinness Book of World Records as the lightest heavyweight champion, weighing just 165 pounds when he won the title. Nicknamed Ruby Robert and The Freckled Wonder, he took pride in his lack of scars and appeared in the ring wearing heavy woollen underwear to conceal the disparity between his trunk and leg-development.

Sam Langford Canadian boxer

Samuel Edgar Langford, known as the Boston Tar Baby, Boston Terror, and Boston Bonecrusher, was a Black Canadian boxing standout of the early part of the 20th century. Called the "Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows", by ESPN, many boxing historians consider Langford to be one of the greatest fighters of all time. Originally from Weymouth Falls, a small community in Nova Scotia, Canada. He was known as "The Boston Bonecrusher", "The Boston Terror", and his most famous nickname, "The Boston Tar Baby". Langford stood 5 ft 6+12 in (1.69 m) and weighed 185 lb (84 kg) in his prime. He fought from lightweight to heavyweight and defeated many world champions and legends of the time in each weight class. Considered a devastating puncher even at heavyweight, Langford was rated No. 2 by The Ring on their list of "100 greatest punchers of all time". One boxing historian described Langford as "experienced as a heavyweight James Toney with the punching power of Mike Tyson". He has been ranked among BoxRec's 10 best heavyweights in the world fourteen times, and was ranked No.1 from 1910 to 1913. He was also ranked as the best middleweight in 1907 and fifth best welterweight in 1903.

James J. Corbett American boxer

James John "Jim" Corbett was an American professional boxer and a World Heavyweight Champion, best known as the only man who ever defeated the great John L. Sullivan Despite a career spanning only 20 bouts, Corbett faced the best competition his era had to offer; squaring off with a total of 9 fighters who would later be enshrined alongside him in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Corbett introduced a truly scientific approach to boxing, in which technique triumphed over brute force, he pioneered the daily boxing training routine and regimen, which, being adopted by other boxers elsewhere, almost intact survived to modern days. A "big-money fighter," Corbett was one of the first athletes, whose showmanship in and out of the ring was just as good as his boxing abilities, also being arguably the first sports sex symbol of the modern era after the worldwide airing of his championship prizefight versus Robert Fitzsimmons popularized boxing immensely among the female audience, and did so in an era while the prizefighting was illegal in 21 states and still considered among the most infamous crimes against morality.

James J. Jeffries American boxer

James Jackson "Jim" Jeffries was an American professional boxer and World Heavyweight Champion.

Harry Wills American boxer

Harry Wills was a heavyweight boxer who three times held the World Colored Heavyweight Championship. Many boxing historians consider Wills the most egregious victim of the "color line" drawn by white heavyweight champions. Wills fought for over twenty years (1911–1932), and was ranked as the number one challenger for the throne, but was denied the opportunity to fight for the title. Of all the black contenders between the heavyweight championship reigns of Jack Johnson and Joe Louis, Wills came closest to securing a title shot. BoxRec ranks him among 10 best heavyweights in the world from 1913 to 1924, and as No.1 heavyweight from 1915 to 1917.

George Godfrey (boxer, born 1897) American boxer

George Godfrey (II) The Leiperville Shadow was the ring name of Feab Smith Williams, a heavyweight boxer from the state of Alabama who fought from 1919-1937. He named himself after George "Old Chocolate" Godfrey, a Black Canadian boxer from the bare-knuckle boxing days who had been a top name during the John L. Sullivan era. Old Chocolate had been the fourth fighter to reign as World Colored Heavyweight Champion while the second George Godfrey was the 20th fighter to hold the colored heavyweight title.

Tom Sharkey Irish boxer

Thomas "Sailor Tom" Sharkey was a boxer who fought two fights with heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. Sharkey's recorded ring career spanned from 1893 to 1904. He is credited with having won 40 fights, 7 losses, and 5 draws. Sharkey was named to the Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

Joe Choynski American boxer

Joseph Bartlett Choynski was an American boxer who fought professionally from 1888 to 1904.

Jack Root American boxer

Janos Ruthaly, or known professionally as Jack Root, was a light heavyweight champion and also fought for the world heavyweight title. He fought out of Chicago. He was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011. His uncle, Janos Rutt, immigrated to Minnesota. Today, his descendants in and around south-central Minnesota evolved the spelling of their last name to Rutt. There are some descendants based in the Chicago area and have relocated around the United States to Arizona, California, Indiana, and Northern Michigan. A great-great-grandson, Travis Rutt, is a well-known wrestler from New Prague, MN.

George Gardiner (boxer) Irish boxer

George Gardner was a famous Irish boxer in America who was the first undisputed World Light Heavyweight Champion. He held claims to both the World Middleweight Title as well as the World Heavyweight Title. He was the second man in history to hold the World's Light Heavyweight title, defeating the first Light Heavyweight Champion, Jack Root, by KO after 12 rounds.

Floyd Johnson American boxer

Floyd Johnson, nicknamed "The Auburn Bulldog", was an American heavyweight boxer who was known for his stiff punch. His (incomplete) boxing record comes out to: 38 wins, 13 losses, and 11 draws. In 1923, he was considered a leading contender, and described in Time magazine as "possibly the fifth-best heavyweight in the ring." His manager was Alec Greggains. After his boxing career ended, he went into promotion in White Center, Washington. and served as a deputy sheriff in King County, Washington in the mid-1920s.

Herbert Lewis Hardwick Puerto Rian boxer

Herbert Lewis Hardwick Arroyo a.k.a. "Cocoa Kid" was a Puerto Rican boxer of African descent who fought primarily as a welterweight but also in the middleweight division. Hardwick won the World Colored Championships in both divisions. He was a member of boxing's "Black Murderers' Row" and fought the best boxers of his time. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012.

Frank Childs, "The Crafty Texan", was an African American boxer who fought professionally out of Chicago from 1892 to 1911 and twice held the World Colored Heavyweight Championship. Fighting at a weight of between 160 and 185 lbs., the short, stocky Childs fought middleweights, light-heavyweights and heavyweights. He had a powerful punch.

Ed Martin (boxer) American boxer

Ed "Denver Ed" Martin was an American boxer who was the World Colored Heavyweight Champion from 24 February 1902, when he beat Frank Childs, until 5 February 1903, when he lost his title to Jack Johnson, the only Colored Heavyweight Champion to win the world's heavyweight championship.

George Byers was a Canadian boxer who won the World Colored Middleweight Championship in 1897 and held the World Colored Heavyweight Championship from September 14, 1898 to March 16, 1901, a reign of 913 days. The 5′ 8½″ fought out of Boston from 1895 to 1904 at a weight of between 120 and 165 lbs., in many weight classes and frequently against men that were much larger than himself. On 9 December 1897 in Waterbury, Connecticut, he faced Harry Peppers in a title match for the World Colored Middleweight Championship. Byers knocked out the undefeated Peppers, the Pacific Coast Middleweight Champion of the Pacific Coast in the 19th round of a 20-round contest. He took up US citizenship in 1917

Klondike Haynes was an African American boxer billed as "The Black Hercules" who declared himself the black heavyweight champion. Born John Haines or John W. Haynes, the 6' tall Klondike fought out of Chicago as a heavyweight at a weight of 190 to 200 lbs. from 1898 to 1911. He took the nickname because he was supposed to be a great find.

The World Colored Welterweight Championship was a title that existed during the time of the color bar in professional boxing.

The Black Heavyweight Championship was a title in pretense claimed by the African American boxer Klondike, who was born John Haines or John W. Haynes and by two-time colored heavyweight champ Frank Childs.

References

  1. "Bob Armstrong ("King of the Battle Royal")". Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  2. "Bob Armstrong (Record)". BoxRec. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Peter Jackson
(Vacated title)
World Colored Champion
December 21, 1896 – January 29, 1898
Succeeded by
Frank Childs