Battling Nelson

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Battling Nelson
Battling Nelson.jpg
Real name Oscar Mattheus Nielsen
Nickname(s) The Durable Dane
Rated at Lightweight
Nationality Danish
Born June 5, 1882
Copenhagen, Denmark
Died February 7, 1954(1954-02-07) (aged 71)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 135
Wins 73
Wins by KO 40
Losses 30
Draws 24
No contests 0

Oscar Mathæus Nielsen, also known as Battling Nelson, (June 5, 1882 – February 7, 1954) was a Danish boxer who held the world lightweight championship. He was nicknamed "the Durable Dane".

Personal history[edit]

Nelson was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, but emigrated to the United States the following year and he was raised in Hegewisch, a neighborhood on the far southeast side of Chicago. He died February 7, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois from lung cancer.[1]

Boxing career[edit]

Nelson began boxing professionally in 1896(14 years old). He fought for the vacant lightweight title against Jimmy Britt on December 20, 1904, but lost a twenty-round decision. He lost to Abe Attell in 1905 but then beat Jack O'Neill to secure another shot at the title. This time, on September 9, 1905, he beat Britt by an eighteenth-round knockout.

1906 Gans-Nelson fight commemorative marker.

He defended the title once against Terry McGovern but then faced former champion Joe Gans on September 3, 1906, in Goldfield, Nevada. Gans dropped Nelson repeatedly during the bout, but could not knock him out. Finally, in the forty-second round, Nelson hit Gans low and was disqualified, losing the bout and his title.

In 1907 and 1908, Nelson split a pair of bouts with old foe Britt and he and Attell fought to a draw. He then challenged Gans for the title on July 4, 1908. This time he knocked Gans out in the seventeenth round. They fought again two months later, with Nelson winning by a twenty-one round knockout.

In 1909 Nelson fought Ad Wolgast in a fight held over the lightweight limit. Wolgast beat him and Nelson gave Wolgast a chance at his title on February 22, 1910. Eventually unable to see due to the accumulation of punches, Nelson lost the title when the referee stopped the fight in either the fortieth or the forty-second round.[2]

Nelson continued to fight and in 1917 challenged Freddie Welsh for the lightweight title. He lost a twelve-round decision and retired from fighting in 1920.

He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.


  1. ^ Roberts, James and Alexander Skutt (1997). The Boxing Register, 1st ed. Ithaca, New York: McBooks Press. p. 128. ISBN 0-935526-23-4. 
  2. ^ Roberts, James and Alexander Skutt (1997). The Boxing Register, 1st ed. Ithaca, New York: McBooks Press. p. 129. ISBN 0-935526-23-4. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Joe Gans
World Lightweight Champion
August 4, 1908 – February 22, 1910
Succeeded by
Ad Wolgast
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Jimmy Britt
World White Lightweight Champion
September 9, 1905 – July 31, 1907
Succeeded by
Jimmy Britt