Stanley Ketchel

Last updated
Stanley Ketchel
Stanley Ketchel American boxer loc-crop.jpg
c. 1910
Statistics
Real nameStanisław Kiecal
Nickname(s)Michigan Assassin
Weight(s) Middleweight
Height5 ft 7 in (170 cm)
Reach70 in (178 cm)
Nationality American
Born(1886-09-14)September 14, 1886
Grand Rapids, Michigan
DiedOctober 15, 1910(1910-10-15) (aged 24)
Springfield, Missouri
Boxing record
Total fights64
Wins51
Wins by KO48
Losses4
Draws4
No contests1

Stanisław Kiecal (September 14, 1886 – October 15, 1910), better known in the boxing world as Stanley Ketchel, was an American professional boxer who became one of the greatest World Middleweight Champions in history. [1] He was nicknamed "The Michigan Assassin." He was murdered at a ranch in Conway, Missouri, at the age of 24.

Contents

Biography

Ketchel in fighting pose Stanley Ketchel LOC.jpg
Ketchel in fighting pose

He was born in 1886 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Tomasz Kiecal and Julia Kiecal (née Olbinska), whose family immigrated from the village of Sulmierzyce in Piotrków Trybunalski, Guberniya, in modern-day central Poland. [2]

He avoided school, instead falling in with a gang of street kids and often getting into fist fights. At twelve years old, he ran away from home, becoming a child hobo. As a teenager he lived in Butte, Montana, where he found employment first as a hotel bellhop and then as a bouncer. This profession obviously led to many scraps that established his reputation as the best fist fighter in town. Soon enough sixteen-year-old Stanley was performing in backroom boxing matches with older locals for twenty dollars a week. He began traveling throughout Montana, offering to take on any man brave enough to face him. Between 1903 and 1906, he lost just twice in thirty-nine contests and, in 1907, moved to California, where he knew most of boxing's big names and big fights waited for him. [3]

Professional boxing career

Only a middleweight, Ketchel was also known for taking on heavyweights, who sometimes outweighed him by more than 30 pounds (14 kg). According to hearsay, before each of his fights, he would imagine that his opponent had insulted his mother, with whom he had a very close relationship; thus, his anger would motivate him to fight with fury.

He started boxing professionally in 1903, at 16, in Butte, Montana. In his first fight, Ketchel knocked out Kid Tracy in one round. In his second fight, he was beaten by decision in six rounds by Maurice Thompson. He boxed his first 41 bouts in Montana, and had a record of 36 wins, two losses, and three draws during that span. He lost once more to Thompson in their rematch and then controversially drew with him in their rubber match, in a bout that many people thought Ketchel had won. Afterwards, he went on to beat Tom Kingsley, among others, before moving his campaign on to California in 1907.

There, he won three fights that year, and drew one in Marysville against the man many considered the World Middleweight Champion, Joe Thomas. In his next bout, Thomas and he had a rematch and Ketchel won, by knockout in 32 rounds. Ketchel was then recognized by many as the World Middleweight Champion. He finished the year by beating Thomas again, this time by decision.

Middleweight champion

Ketchel standing over a downed Billy Papke during their third fight Stanley Ketchel vs. Billy Papke III.jpg
Ketchel standing over a downed Billy Papke during their third fight

On February 8, 1908, Ketchel met the man who was generally recognized as the World Welterweight Champion and one of the leading middleweights of the era, Mike "Twin" Sullivan, knocking him out in the first round and winning general recognition as World Middleweight Champion. Sullivan often fought above the welterweight limit, making him a light middleweight. Whether Ketchel became world champion when he defeated Thomas or Mike Sullivan has always been up to debate, but the fact remains that Mike Sullivan and not Thomas is historically remembered as a world champion.

He proceeded to retain the title against Mike's twin brother, Jack "Twin" Sullivan, also a former world champion, by a knockout in 20 rounds; against future world champion Billy Papke by decision in 10; against Hugo Kelly by a knockout in three and against Thomas, by a knockout in two.

Then, he lost the belt to Papke by a knockout in 12, but Papke and he had an immediate rematch and Ketchel regained the title when he beat Papke by a knockout in 11 in their third match.

Ketchel began 1909 by fighting former Light Heavyweight Champion Philadelphia Jack O'Brien. Ketchel survived a terrible beating at the hand of the slick, quick O'Brien in the early rounds, only to mount a terrific comeback and score four knockdowns in the ninth and tenth rounds. When the final bell rang at the end of the 10th round, O'Brien was lying unconscious on the mat, his head in a resin box in his corner. Under New York rules at the time, though, O'Brien had been saved by the bell and because official decisions were outlawed in New York boxing, the fight was declared a "no decision". A few weeks later, Ketchel had a rematch with O' Brien, knocking out Philadelphia Jack in three rounds. [4]

A fourth fight with Billy Papke followed. Ketchel again won in a tumultuous slugfest to defend his championship and end their series of fights with a record of 3-1 in their four encounters. This (fourth) fight took place in the outdoor Mission Street Arena in Colma, California, during a terrible thunderstorm, yet neither fighter relented in his pursuit of victory until Stanley took the 20-round decision. [5]

Ketchel fought Sam Langford on April 27, 1910. It was a hard-pressed fight by both men, each displaying terrific hitting power for all six rounds of the short bout. No knock downs were scored and both had plenty of energy in the end. Langford won by decision. A longer rematch bout was rumored, but never happened. Some disputed the decision, although a majority of people felt that Langford had won the bout, which following a decision-appealing vote, it was decided (in an uncontroversial manner) that it would stand as a decision win for Langford.

Ketchel vs. Johnson

Ketchel's 1909 battle with Jack Johnson has been called by many a modern-day "David and Goliath". In the 12th round, Ketchel floored Johnson with a right hand. Johnson got up and knocked out Ketchel with a right uppercut. [6]

Ketchel and Johnson were rumored to have been friends and to have gone gambling, as well as hit the brothels, together; they shared a love for women. Ketchel and Johnson planned to fight together. Because Ketchel was shorter than Johnson, he wore long coats to conceal the platform shoes he had worn to make him look taller at a publicity event. They set up a script for their fight to stretch it to 20 rounds, as a 20-round fight would guarantee boxing fans would pay to go to local theaters to watch the replay of the fight. After 12 rounds, Ketchel swung a surprise punch that knocked Johnson down. Regaining his feet, Jack Johnson knocked out Ketchel with a swift combination to Ketchel's head and jaw. [7] Ketchel did not wake up for many minutes and some of his teeth were knocked out by the blow, some embedded in Johnson's glove. [8]

Murder

The following year, 1910, Ketchel fought six times (including one exhibition), but his fast living had worn him down.

Hoping for a rematch with Jack Johnson, Ketchel moved to the ranch of his friend, R.P. Dickerson, near (on what is now referred to as Dickerson Ranch Road) Conway, Missouri, where he had hoped to regain his strength. Dickerson had just hired a cook, Goldie Smith, and a ranch hand, whom Smith said was her husband, Walter Kurtz.

Walter Kurtz turned out to be Walter Dipley. Walter Dipley and Goldie Smith were not married, and in fact, had just met each other a month before Dickerson had hired them.

After being upbraided by the "Michigan Assassin" for beating a horse on the morning of October 14, Dipley decided to get even with Ketchel by robbing him. The following morning, Smith seated Ketchel at the breakfast table with his back to the door and Dipley, armed with a .22 caliber rifle, came up behind him and shouted, "Get your hands up!" Ketchel stood up, and as he turned around, Dipley shot him. The bullet traveled from his shoulder into his lung and Ketchel fell to the floor mortally wounded. Dipley then took Ketchel's handgun and smashed Ketchel in the face with it. At the same time, Smith rifled Ketchel's pockets for his money.

After promising to meet Goldie Smith later that night, Dipley ran from the ranch.

Unaware that, as he lay dying, Ketchel told the former ranch foreman, C.E. Bailey, that Goldie Smith had robbed him, she told police officers that Ketchel had raped her and that that was the reason why Dipley had shot him. Her story fell apart and she admitted her complicity in the robbery, but stated she did not know Dipley was going to kill the reigning champion.

In an effort to save the young fighter's life, R.P. Dickerson chartered a special train to take Stanley Ketchel to a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, but Ketchel died around 7 o'clock that night. His last words were: "I'm so tired. Take me home to mother."

Dickerson also offered a $5,000 dead or alive reward (preferably dead) for Dipley, who was captured at a neighboring farmhouse the next day.

Upon being informed of Ketchel's death, his manager Wilson Mizner reportedly said, "Tell them to start counting ten over him. He'll get up." [9]

Aftermath

Both Walter Dipley and Goldie Smith were found guilty of murder and robbery at a jury trial in January 1911, and both were given a life sentence. Goldie Smith had her murder conviction overturned and she served 17 months for the robbery. Walter Dipley served 23 years before he was paroled. He died in 1956, 22 years after his release from prison.

Legacy

Ketchel's Gravestone Stanley Ketchel Gravestone LOC.jpg
Ketchel's Gravestone

Ketchel was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery at Grand Rapids, Michigan. His funeral was the most attended until the Ford family surpassed him during the 20th century. A plaque in his honor is at the corner of Stocking Avenue and 3rd Street, and a statue is at 438 Bridge Street Northwest. [10] The Ketchel Valley neighborhood on Grand Rapids' west side is named in Ketchel's honor.

Ketchel is now enshrined in the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.

The Ring in 2004 ranked Ketchel as the eighth-greatest middleweight of all time, behind Harry Greb, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Monzon, Marvin Hagler, Jake LaMotta, Charley Burley, and Tiger Flowers. [11] The Ring also named Ketchel number six on their list of 100 Best Punchers of All Time. [12]

Nat Fleischer, the late ring historian and founding editor of The Ring , considered Stanley to be the greatest middleweight in history. [13]

He had a record of 51 wins, four losses, four draws, one no contest, and four no decisions (newspaper decisions: 2-1-1), with 48 wins by knockout. He was the first middleweight champion to regain the world title after losing it.


Professional boxing record

Professional record summary
62 fights49 wins5 losses
By knockout463
By decision32
Draws3
No contests1
Newspaper decisions/draws 4

All Newspaper decisions are regarded as “no decision” bouts as they have “resulted in neither boxer winning or losing, and would therefore not count as part of their official fight record."

No.Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
62 Win 49–5–3 (5) Flag of the United States.svg Jim Smith KO 5 (10) Jun 10, 1910 Flag of the United States.svg National S.C., New York, New York
61 Win 48–5–3 (5) Flag of the United States.svg Willie Lewis KO 2 (10) May 27, 1910 Flag of the United States.svg National S.C., New York, New York
60 Win 47–5–3 (5) Flag of the United States.svg Porky Flynn KO 3 (12) May 17, 1910 Flag of the United States.svg Armory A.A., Boston, Massachusetts
59 Loss 46–5–3 (5) Canadian Red Ensign (1868-1921).svg Sam Langford NWS 6 Apr 27, 1910 Flag of the United States.svg National A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Newspaper Decision
58 Draw 46–5–3 (4) Flag of the United States.svg Frank Klaus NWS 6 Mar 23, 1910 Flag of the United States.svg Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
57 Loss 46–5–3 (3) Flag of the United States.svg Jack Johnson KO 12 (20) Oct 16, 1909 Flag of the United States.svg Mission Street Arena, Colma, California For world heavyweight title
56 Win 46–4–3 (3) Flag of the United States.svg Billy Papke UD 20 Jul 05, 1909 Flag of the United States.svg Mission Street Arena, Colma, California Retained world middleweight title
55 Win 45–4–3 (3) Flag of the United States.svg Philadelphia Jack O'Brien TKO 3 (6) Jun 09, 1909 Flag of the United States.svg National A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
54 Win 44–4–3 (3) Flag of the United States.svg Tony Caponi KO 4 (10) Jun 02, 1909 Flag of the United States.svg American A.C., Schenectady, New York
53 Win 43–4–3 (3) Flag of the United States.svg Hugh McGann NWS 6 May 18, 1909 Flag of the United States.svg Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
52 Win 43–4–3 (2) Flag of the United States.svg Philadelphia Jack O'Brien NWS 10 Mar 26, 1909 Flag of the United States.svg National A.C., New York, New York
51 Win 43–4–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Billy Papke KO 11 (20) Nov 26, 1908 Flag of the United States.svg Mission Street Arena, Colma, California Won world middleweight title
50 Loss 42–4–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Billy Papke TKO 12 (25) Sep 07, 1908 Flag of the United States.svg Jeffries' Arena, CoVernonlma, California Lost world middleweight title
49 Win 42–3–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Joe Thomas TKO 2 (20) Aug 18, 1908 Flag of the United States.svg San Francisco Coliseum, San Francisco, California
48 Win 41–3–3 (1) Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Hugo Kelly KO 3 (20) Jul 31, 1908 Flag of the United States.svg San Francisco Coliseum, San Francisco, California Retained world middleweight title
47 Win 40–3–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Billy Papke PTS 10 Jun 04, 1908 Flag of the United States.svg Hippodrome, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Retained world middleweight title claim;
Won Papke's world middleweight title claim
46 Win 39–3–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Jack Twin Sullivan KO 20 (35) May 09, 1908 Flag of the United States.svg Mission Street Arena, Colma, California Retained world middleweight title claim
45 Win 38–3–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Mike Twin Sullivan KO 1 (25) Feb 22, 1908 Flag of the United States.svg Mission Street Arena, Colma, California Retained world middleweight title claim
44 Win 37–3–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Joe Thomas PTS 20 Dec 12, 1907 Flag of the United States.svg Recreation Park, San Francisco, California Claimed vacant world middleweight title
43 Win 36–3–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Joe Thomas KO 32 (45) Sep 02, 1907 Flag of the United States.svg Mission Street Arena, Colma, California
42 Draw 35–3–3 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Joe Thomas PTS 20 Jul 04, 1907 Flag of the United States.svg Marysville, California
41 Win 35–3–2 (1) Flag of the United States.svg George Brown KO 2 (20) May 23, 1907 Flag of the United States.svg Sacramento, California
40 Win 34–3–2 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Benny Hart KO 8 (?) May 03, 1907 Flag of the United States.svg Marysville, California
39 Win 33–3–2 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Mike McClure KO 7 (?) Mar 23, 1907 Flag of the United States.svg Redding, California
38 Win 32–3–2 (1) Canadian Red Ensign (1868-1921).svg Kid Foley KO 11 (?) Sep 10, 1906 Flag of the United States.svg Miles City, Montana
37 Win 31–3–2 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Mike Tierney KO 7 (?) May 18, 1906 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
36 Win 30–3–2 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Paddy Hall KO 1 (?) May 11, 1906 Flag of the United States.svg Gregson Hot Springs, Montana
35 NC 29–3–2 (1) Flag of the United States.svg Warren Zurbrick ND 2 (20) Mar 19, 1906 Flag of the United States.svg Grand Opera House, Great Falls, Montana
34 Draw 29–3–2 Flag of the United States.svg Montana Jack Sullivan PTS 20 Feb 12, 1906 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
33 Win 29–3–1 Canadian Red Ensign (1868-1921).svg Kid Foley KO 4 (?) Dec 24, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
32 Win 28–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Jerry McCarthy KO 11 (?) Dec 19, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Great Falls, Montana
31 Win 27–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Jack Bennett KO 5 (?) Dec 16, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
30 Win 26–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Marysville Kid KO 3 (?) Dec 02, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
29 Win 25–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Jerry McCarthy TKO 12 (20) Dec 01, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Great Falls, Montana
28 Win 24–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Senate KO 11 (?) Sep 14, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Miles City, Montana
27 Win 23–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Fredericks KO 11 (20) Aug 29, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Miles City, Montana
26 Win 22–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Roy Hart KO 1 (?) Jul 19, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Opera House, Miles City, Montana
25 Win 21–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Senate KO 17 (?) Jul 15, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Miles City, Montana
24 Win 20–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Kelly KO 8 (?) Jul 04, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Miles City, Montana
23 Win 19–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Lee TKO 17 (20) Jun 16, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Helena, Montana
22 Win 18–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Pecor KO 5 (?) Jun 13, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
21 Win 17–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Curley Rhue KO 12 (?) Jun 04, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Gregson Springs, Montana
20 Win 16–3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Sid LaFontise KO 7 (?) May 18, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
19 Draw 15–3–1 Flag of Germany.svg Rudolph Hinz PTS 20 Apr 19, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Miles City, Montana
18 Win 15–3 Flag of the United States.svg Sid LaFontise KO 24 (20) Mar 25, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
17 Win 14–3 Flag of the United States.svg Jack Bennett KO 5 (20) Jan 20, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
16 Win 13–3 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Thomas KO 1 (10) Jan 04, 1905 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
15 Win 12–3 Canadian Red Ensign (1868-1921).svg Kid Foley KO 7 (20) Dec 23, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Casino Theater, Butte
14 Win 11–3 Flag of the United States.svg Jack Grimes TKO 10 (20) Dec 16, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Union Hall, Butte, Montana
13 Win 10–3 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Herrick KO 7 (?) Dec 08, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
12 Win 9–3 Flag of Croatia.svg Joe Mudro KO 4 (?) Nov 10, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
11 Loss 8–3 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Lee TKO 8 (?) Nov 08, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Lewistown, Montana
10 Win 8–2 Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Kelly KO 1 (?) Oct 29, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Miles City, Montana
9 Loss 7–2 Flag of the United States.svg Maurice Thompson PTS 10 Oct 21, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
8 Win 7–1 Flag of the United States.svg Bob Merrywell KO 3 (?) Oct 15, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
7 Win 6–1 Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Murray KO 3 (?) Sep 15, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
6 Win 5–1 Flag of the United States.svg Johnny Gilsey KO 4 (?) Jul 17, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
5 Win 4–1 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Leroy KO 1 (?) Jul 15, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
4 Win 3–1 Flag of the United States.svg Jim Kid McGuire KO 1 (?) Jul 07, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
3 Win 2–1 Flag of the United States.svg Jimmy Quinn KO 3 (?) Jun 20, 1904 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana
2 Loss 1–1 Flag of the United States.svg Maurice Thompson PTS 6 May 11, 1903 Flag of the United States.svg Broadway Theater, Butte, Montana
1 Win 1–0 Flag of the United States.svg Kid Tracy KO 1 (?) May 02, 1903 Flag of the United States.svg Butte, Montana

Subject of The Killings of Stanley Ketchel, a novel by James Carlos Blake.

Subject of the short story "The Light of the World," by Ernest Hemingway.

Biography Stanley Ketchel: A Life of Triumph and Prophecy, by Manuel A. Mora.

Biography The Michigan Assassin: The Saga of Stanley Ketchel, by Nat Fleischer, RING Editor 1946



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References

  1. "The Lineal Middleweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  2. Some sources list his year of birth as 1887, but 1886 is generally accepted.
  3. "Stanley Ketchel - Boxrec Boxing Encyclopaedia". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 2014-04-26.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. Johnson, Alva (1953). The Legendary Mizners. New York: Farrar, Straus. p. 148.
  5. "Stanley Ketchel - Boxrec Boxing Encyclopaedia". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 2014-04-26.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. Video on YouTube
  7. "Jack Johnson vs. Stanley Ketchel - BoxRec". boxrec.com. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  8. Lardner, John. The World of John Lardner, Simon and Schuster, 1961, p. 62. Originally in True: The Men's Magazine, "Down Great Purple Valleys", 1954.
  9. Fadiman, Clifton (31 October 2009). The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. Little, Brown. ISBN   9780316084727 via Google Books.
  10. "Collins: The rebirth of Stanley Ketchel".
  11. "Division-By-Division - The Greatest Fighters of All-Time - BoxRec".
  12. "The 100 Greatest Punchers of All-Time! - BoxRec".
  13. "Stanley Ketchel - Boxrec Boxing Encyclopaedia". Boxrec.com. Retrieved 2014-04-26.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
Achievements
Vacant
Title last held by
Tommy Ryan
World Middleweight Champion
February 22, 1908 September 7, 1908
Succeeded by
Billy Papke
Preceded by
Billy Papke
World Middleweight Champion
November 26, 1908 October 15, 1910
Died
Succeeded by
Frank Klaus
Status
Preceded by
Joe Gans
Latest Born World Champion to Die
October 15, 1910 6 July 1916
Succeeded by
Tom McCormick
Records
Preceded by
Paddy Duffy
Shortest Living World Champion
October 15, 1910 July 14, 1925
Succeeded by
Francisco Guilledo