|Real name||George Godfrey|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Born||20 March 1853|
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
|Died||17 October 1901 48) (aged|
|Wins by KO||18|
George Godfrey (20 March 1853 – 17 October 1901), nicknamed Old Chocolate by the press of the day in the last stage of his long career, was a Black Canadian heavyweight boxer who held the distinction of being World 'Colored' Heavyweight Champion during his career.Godfrey was inducted into the Prince Edward Island Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
Godfrey was born to William Godfrey and Sarah Byers in an area of Charlottetown known as the Bog, a poor part of the west end. The year after Godfrey was born, his father was convicted for petty larceny and served two weeks in jail for stealing a cow.
He first received boxing instructions while still residing in Charlottetown, from Dick Cronin. Godfrey then left Canada to find employment as a porter in Boston's silk importing offices. After winning in the heavyweight class at a local boxing competition in 1879, he began boxing professionally. 5 ft 10 in (178 cm) frame, he would be considered a light-heavyweight by modern standards. However, despite being undersized and rather old at 27 years of age to begin prizefighting, Godfrey would go on to achieve tremendous success inside the boxing ring.At a fighting weight of 175 pounds on a
Godfrey went 4-0-4 in his first eight fights, which included a draw with famed pugilist Jake Kilrain. In just his ninth pro bout, he won the World 'Colored' Heavyweight Champion by beating Charles Hadley via sixth-round knockout on February 23, 1883. On August 24, 1888, at age 36, Godfrey faced off against world renowned Australian boxer Peter Jackson in San Francisco, California. He would end up losing the bout by technical knockout in the nineteenth round, subsequently losing the World 'Colored' Title.Godfrey had two more bouts with the much heavier Kilrain after their initial draw, losing both of them via knockout. He also faced Ireland's Peter Maher and California Joe Choynski towards the latter part of his career, almost 40 years old, also losing those matchups. It was during the last stages of his career, as the years took their toll and his ring skills visibly faded, that the unenlightened press of the day took to calling him by the deprecatory sobriquet of "Old Chocolate".
Godfrey spent nearly his entire career chasing eventual World Heavyweight Champion John L. Sullivan, who repeatedly refused to fight black contenders. However, in 1881 a story surfaced that a bare-knuckle fight against Sullivan had been scheduled but was stopped by the Boston police due to boxing being illegal in the state.This enhanced Godfrey's notoriety and earned him some high-profile matchups with some of the top pugilists of his time period, including the likes of Kilrain, Maher, Jackson and Choynski.
Among the notable fighters that Godfrey beat were Charles Hadley, C.C. Smith, England's "Denver Ed" Smith, McHenry Johnson ("Minneapolis Star"), Irish Joe Lannon, Canada's Patsy Cardiff, Steve O'Donnell of Australia and Joe Doherty.
Godfrey died of Tuberculosis on October 19, 1901 at his house in Revere, Massachusetts. He had reportedly accumulated considerable real estate in both the Chelsea and Revere areas at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife Clara J. Godfrey, and his son George Godfrey Jr.
American boxer Feab S. Williams would later use the ring name "George Godfrey" and claimed the same Championship 42 years after his Canadian namesake.
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.”
|Draw||Nick Burley||PTS||15||1896-03-05||Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts|
|Loss||Peter Maher||KO||6||1894-05-28||Boston Casino, Boston, Massachusetts|
|Draw||Joe Butler||PTS||4||1893-12-15||Boston, Massachusetts|
|NC||Jim Hall||NC||3||1893-11-11||Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts|
|Loss||Joe Choynski||KO||15||1892-10-31||Coney Island A.C., Coney Island, New York|
|Win||C.C. Smith||KO||4||1892-08-15||New York, New York|
|Loss||Jake Kilrain||KO||44||1891-03-13||California A.C., San Francisco, California|
|Loss||Peter Jackson||TKO||19||1888-08-24||California A.C., San Francisco, California||Lost World "Colored" Heavyweight Title.|
|Draw||C.C. Smith||PTS||6||1885-01-15||Boston, Massachusetts|
|Loss||Jake Kilrain||TKO||3||1883-05-16||Boston, Massachusetts|
|Win||Charles Hadley||KO||6 (6)||1883-02-23||Cribb Hall, Boston, Massachusetts||Won World "Colored" Heavyweight Title.|
|Draw||Charles Hadley||PTS||6||1883-01-18||New York, New York|
|Draw||Charles Hadley||PTS||4||1882-01-26||Harry Hill's, New York, New York|
|Draw||Jake Kilrain||PTS||3||1882-01-15||Boston, Massachusetts|
|Draw||Charles Hadley||PTS||6||1879-01-01||New York, New York|
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|Awards and achievements|
| World Colored Heavyweight Champion |
February 23, 1883 - August 24, 1888