Billy Graham (boxer)

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This article is about the Welterweight boxing champion of the world. For the winner of four New Zealand titles at light welterweight, see Billy Graham (NZ boxer).
Billy Graham
Real name William Walter Graham Jr.
Rated at Welterweight
Nationality American
Born (1922-09-09)September 9, 1922
New York, New York, U.S.
Died January 22, 1992(1992-01-22) (aged 69)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 126
Wins 102
Wins by KO 27
Losses 15
Draws 9
No contests 0

Billy Graham (September 9, 1922 - January 22, 1992) was an American boxer from New York City, New York. Graham had the remarkable distinction of never having been knocked off his feet in his long career. He was elected into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1987, and is also in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

He was undefeated in his first 58 fights, going 52-0-6, until he fought Tony Pellone, where he lost by a split decision.

Graham fought the legendary Kid Gavilan four times. In the first fight, held at Madison Square Garden, he beat Gavilan by a split decision. In the second fight, he lost at Madison Square Garden by a medical decision. The third fight was for the National Boxing Association World welterweight title and was again held at Madison Square Garden; this time, Gavilan won by a split decision. The final fight was for the World Welterweight Title in Havana, Cuba at Stadium Ball Park; Gavilan was again the victor, winning in a unanimous decision.

In a 2002 interview with The Observer, Budd Schulberg talked about mob involvement in boxing in the 1950s and how Gavilan both won and lost the welterweight championship due to mob interference.

"...Frankie Carbo, the mob's unofficial commissioner for boxing, controlled a lot of the welters and middles.... Not every fight was fixed, of course, but from time to time Carbo and his lieutenants, like Blinky Palermo in Philadelphia, would put the fix in. When the Kid Gavilan-Johnny Saxton fight was won by Saxton on a decision in Philadelphia in 1954, I was covering it for Sports Illustrated and wrote a piece at that time saying boxing was a dirty business and must be cleaned up now. It was an open secret. All the press knew that one - and other fights - were fixed. Gavilan was a mob-controlled fighter, too, and when he fought Billy Graham it was clear Graham had been robbed of the title. The decision would be bought. If it was close, the judges would shade it the way they had been told."[1]

Billy Graham also fought Carmen Basilio three times in his career. The first fight was held at Chicago Stadium; Graham won by a unanimous decision. Basilio won the second fight, held for the New York State Welterweight Title at Memorial Stadium in Syracuse, by a unanimous decision. The third and final fight was deemed a draw; Basilio kept his New York State Welterweight Title.


  1. ^ Hagerty, Bill. "Budd the wiser". Observer. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 

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