Beau Jack

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Beau Jack
Statistics
Real name Sidney Walker
Rated at Lightweight
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Nationality American
Born (1921-04-01)April 1, 1921
Augusta, Georgia
Died February 9, 2000(2000-02-09) (aged 78)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 117
Wins 88
Wins by KO 43
Losses 24
Draws 5
No contests 0

Sidney Walker, better known as Beau Jack, (April 1, 1921 – February 9, 2000), was an American lightweight boxer and two-time world champion. One of the most popular fighters during the War Years, he headlined at Madison Square Garden on twenty one occasions, a record that still stands.

Called “The greatest lightweight ever” by Cus D'Amato, trainer and manager of fighters such as Floyd Patterson, José Torres and Mike Tyson.

Early years[edit]

Born in the Waynesboro, Georgia, a boy named Sidney Walker took his first breath on April 1, 1921. The name “Beau Jack” was given to young Sidney by his maternal grandmother. After the death of his mother he moved to Augusta, Georgia, and stayed with his grandmother, Evie Mixom. During his time in Augusta he worked as a shoe-shine boy. To make extra money, he would engage in battle royales, which consisted of five to ten boys fighting each other blindfolded, until only one remained standing. The winner was given a purse by the white organisers [1]

Following his first battle royale at the Augusta National Golf Club, Jack became a caddie at the club. He quickly befriended some of the club's members, including golfing legend Bobby Jones, who helped fund his boxing training.[2]

Boxing career[edit]

Jack turned professional in 1940, he began his career fighting in Massachusetts where he quickly established an impressive record of 27-4-2. It was also during these early fights that Jack earned his reputation for being a relentless and powerful fighter, two traits which endeared him to audiences.

To further his career Jack moved to New York in August 1941, where he continued to impress under the management of Chick Wergeles. By November 1942 Jack found himself in a fight against Allie Stolz to decide who would challenge for the New York version of the world title. Going into the fight Stolz was the clear favourite, with 3-1 odds to win. However, Jack pulled off a massive shock by knocking out Stolz in the seventh round. In the title fight, against Tippy Larkin, Jack pulled off a similar surprise by knocking out the champion in the third round.[3]

Jack only held the title for six months before dropping it to fellow hall-of-famer Bob Montgomery on an unanimous points decision. Jack would go on to regain the title from Montgomery, before losing it to Juan Zurita in March 1944.

The most famous fight of Jack's career was his fourth battle with Montgomery on August 4, 1944, the so-called "War Bonds Fight", for which tickets were only available to those who purchased war bonds. Although Montgomery's title was not on the line, the gate was a record $36 million with 15,822 war bonds being sold. Many people who purchased bonds left their tickets at the box office for US servicemen. Montgomery and Jack, who were both serving as privates in the US Army, refused to take purses for the fight. Jack took the fight on points after 10 rounds, however the highlight of the evening was when the lights dimmed and a spotlight picked out Joe Louis, who was standing in the front row, to the reception of a standing ovation.

Jack would not challenge for the title again until July 12, 1948 when he fought hall-of-famer Ike Williams, protégé of Mafioso boxing promoter Blinky Palmermo, who was a partner of Murder Inc. button-man Frankie Carbo. Carbo operated a stable of fighters which later included heavyweight champion Sonny Liston.[4] This challenge proved to be unsuccessful as Jack was knocked out in the sixth round. This defeat marked the start of a rivalry between the pair who would go on to fight on three more occasions. However, with Jack's skills clearly waning, Williams managed to take the first match by a split decision, the second match was drawn, and Williams won the third as Jack was unable to answer the bell for the ninth round. This third fight, on August 12, 1958, also marked the end of Jack's career.

Life after boxing[edit]

He retired with a record of 83 wins, with 40 knockouts, 24 losses and five draws. After retirement he ran a drive-in barbecue stand, operated a small farm, and refereed wrestling matches. After all of his boxing earnings were depleted, he returned to shoe shining, working at the Fountainebleau in Miami Florida, which was reportedly run by the mafia. There, Jack would also train fighters in Miami’s Fifth Street Gym.[5]

Beau Jack had seven children, Ronald, Donald, George, Barbara Ann, Yvonne, Georgiana and Timothy. His wife was named Josephine. None of the sons became boxers. (information came directly from George Walker, 4/18/2007)

In his later years he suffered from poverty and Parkinson disease. In 1991 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He died nine years later in a Miami nursing home, on February 9, 2000, from complications relating from Parkinsons.[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Fred Apostoli
Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
1944
Succeeded by
Willie Pep