Chalky Wright

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Chalky Wright
Real name Albert Wright
Nickname(s) Chalky
Rated at Featherweight
Nationality American
Born (1912-02-01)February 1, 1912
Willcox, Arizona, United States
Died August 12, 1957(1957-08-12) (aged 45)
Los Angeles, California
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 226
Wins 161
Wins by KO 83
Losses 44
Draws 19

Albert "Chalky" Wright (February 1, 1912 – August 12, 1957) was an black American featherweight boxer who fought from 1928 to 1948. His career record was 161 wins (with 83 knockouts), 44 losses and 19 draws. In 2003, Wright made The Ring magazine's list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time.


Albert Chalky Wright was the seventh child born to James Wright and Clara Martin, February 1, 1912, in Willcox [ and his Father's occupation was cattle raiser.[1] His birth certificate shows that his father was born in Mexico and his father's death certificate shows that Chalky's grandparents were African Americans born in Texas. His Mother was born in Arizona. Wright’s Grandfather, Caleb Baines Martin, was a runaway slave from Natchez, Mississippi. He came west to the Territory of Arizona, now known as Arizona, in the early 1870s, with United States Army Generals George Crook and Matthew Duncan. He was based at Fort Grant, (home of the Buffalo Soldiers at the time) and served in some of the most fierce Indian campaigns. In 1880, he established a cattle ranch and homesteaded 160 acres in Bonita, AZ, which eventually grew to 640 family acres.[1] He was the first African American Ranch owner in Southwest Arizona].[2] He supplied dairy produce to Fort Grant and surrounding settlers.[3] Caleb sold the Martin Milk Ranch to his son, William Garfield Martin, Sr., and daughter Clara (Albert’s Mother) for $1.00, when him and his wife Elizabeth Daisy Edwards divorced and she moved to California, in 1890. William, Sr., and Clara became ranch owners at eight and seven years of age, respectively under the guardingship of their father, Caleb Martin.

Wright’s Uncle, William Garfield Martin, Sr., was a cowboy on the Martin Milk Ranch in Bonita and later owned 320 acres next to his father’s property. He taught his sons to ride horses and rope cows. They progressed to participating in local rodeos. They often finished first or in the money. They also, worked at various ranches in the area, such as, Seventy-six, Hooker, O Bar O, Monk (Ned Hall), and Faraway at the foot of the Chiricahua Mountains, now a National Monument.[2][3] This was the type of environment Chalky grew up in, surrounded by his grandfather, father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunt and cousins, who were ranch owners, cowboys and cowgirls. They all spoke fluent Spanish. English was their second language. Wright could speak three languages.

Wright’s Grandfather, received his ownership deed May 3, 1918, for 320 acres of land, sold his share of the Martin ranch, moved to California and bought an orange grove.[2][4][5] His Uncle William, Sr., was born and died in the Willcox area, was a cowboy for over 50 years in the area and received his ownership deed, August 29, 1919, for 320 acres of land.[6] However, he had previously sold his 320 acres to K. L. Johnson and J. B. Cook, October 22, 1918.[7]

There is a Butte in Bonita, AZ, above where the Martin Ranch was located, in Martin Canyon, which is named after the Martin Family.

In 1991, Caleb Banks Martin (Wright’s cousin) was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame at the, Rex Allen Visitor’s Center” in Willcox, AZ.

In about 1918, at the age of six, Wright left Arizona with his Mother, Clara and her children, and moved to Colton, CA, in San Bernardino County. It was there that Wright developed a love for boxing.

According to Toledo Daily Blade, Wright was married twice. His first wife was Gertrude (maiden name unknown) Arnold. She remarried after her divorce from Wright. Not much is known about her. Wright married Jennie Batch, February 27, 1937, in Tacoma, Washington. From this union one son, Albert James Wright was born, July 1, 1945, in Los Angeles, CA.

Wright served as a chauffeur and bodyguard for actress Mae West. Wright helped West deal with a series of extortion threats in 1935 while in her employ. West, a boxing fan and one of Hollywood's wealthiest women, backed Wright's career. There were rumors that West and Wright were intimate, but both denied the rumors.

Wright was also the trainer of lightweight contender Tommy Campbell from July 1946 to late 1950.

In his later years, according to the January 14, 1954, JET Magazine, page 64, Wright told his friends he had written a book based on his life entitled, “Me an' You”, using the pen name Jay Caldwell.

In addition, Chalky White, who is a character in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" is supposedly, loosely based on Chalky Wright's life. The series premiered on September 19, 2010, and its fifth and final season began September 7, 2014. This story takes place in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the 1920s and 1930s Prohibition era. In 1930 Wright, was 18 years old, living at home with his mother and sister in Colton, CA, when this story’s timeline takes place]. He became a professional boxer in 1928, at 16 years of age, near the end of the Prohibition era.

Wright, had a non-speaking roll in an 1948 movie, “Street With No Name”, Starring Richard Widmark. He was an extra with only a view of his back.

Jet Magazine, described Wright as a "has-been of boxing, who lived as a fighter's second in Los Angeles” and went on to say that “in a courtroom in Maryland his lawyer declared he was destitute."

In 1954, as an ex-featherweight Champion, Wright opened a cocktail bar called, “Knockout Lounge,” in Los Angeles, CA. All of his bartenders were ex-boxers.

Wright, gambled away most of his ring earning during his retirement years and was working at a bakery in Los Angeles in August 1957.

Hollywood Confidential Magazine ran a story entitled "Mae West's Open Door Policy" alleging her relationship with Wright. In addition, West's ex-husband Frank Wallace claimed Wright was among those having an affair with West in his divorce filing. The magazine tried to bribe West in return for not printing the story. When she refused to give into their blackmail, the magazine ran a tell-all article, claiming that West had an "Open Door Policy when it came to dark-skinned males.” West filed suit against the magazine for defamation. In addition, California’s Attorney General filed several criminal charges against Confidential Magazine. Trial began for the criminal case on August 7, 1957, in Los Angeles. Wright was listed as a witness.

Wright and his wife, Jennie had been having martial problems and he moved in with his mother sometime in 1957.

Just before he was to testify in the criminal court case, Wright died suddenly in Los Angeles, in the bathtub at his mother's apartment. West insisted that her friend had been murdered. However, nothing was ever proven. The Los Angeles Police Department attributed his death to a heart attack or an accidental slip in the bathtub. Chalky died at age 45, August 12, 1957, Los Angeles. CA.

Professional career[edit]

Wright's boxing career started in the 1920s as a prizefighter more for survival than glory. His career as a professional boxer began February 23, 1928, at age 16 and he later became known as Chalky Wright. In his debut fight he defeated Nilo Balles in four rounds. Wright began fighting on the East Coast of the United States in 1938.[8] The five-foot, 7½-inch Wright was unusually tall for his 126-pound weight, giving him a long reach.[8] By 1941, he was among the world's top featherweight boxers.[8] He beat Sal Bartolo to get a chance at the New York State Athletic Commission featherweight championship then held by Joey Archibald.[8][9] On September 11, 1941, Wright dethroned Archibald by scoring a TKO in the eleventh round. Wright successfully defended the title against former champion Harry Jeffra (TKO 10) on June 19, 1942, but lost his title on a decision to Willie Pep on November 20, 1942.[10] In 1938, Wright also met the great Henry Armstrong, but was knocked out in three rounds. He fought for another six years after losing his title and finally retired March 9, 1948, after losing to Ernie Hunick when he did not answer the bell for the fourth round.

Wright's pre-match regimen was described as "unorthodox" by the Baltimore Afro-American:

For example, before the Terranova fight Chalky was in and out of the Hotel Theresa bar night in and day out for four days. He smoked evil smelling, twisted cigars. He drank freely of whatever his palate called for. He went where he wanted as late as 2 and 3 a.m., and then climbed into the ring at the Garden to put on a master exhibition of boxing and hitting power.[11]


Inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1976 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.

Made The Ring Magazine's list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time, in 2003.

The prominent boxing historian Herb Goldman ranked Wright as the number 24 all-time Featherweight.

Muhammad Ali paid tribute to Wright as one of the world's best fighters in his book "Muhammad Ali, the People's Champ." Page 79

On March 30, 2012, Wright was inducted into the Colton, California Sports Hall of fame.

In the May 9, 2012, issue of the "Willcox Range News", Wright finally got the recognition he deserved as a Willcox native son, who achieved national prominence.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Template:Arizona Range News
  2. ^ a b c Template:Tucson Citizen magazine
  3. ^ a b Template:Arizona Range News
  4. ^ Template:Department of the Interior, General Land Office, Washington, D.C.
  5. ^ Template:State of Arizona, County of Cochise
  6. ^ William Martin Department of the Interior, General Land Office, Washington, D.C. patent record |date=August 29, 1919 |Patent Number= 704188
  7. ^ William Garfield Martin Warranty Deed |Sold to K.L. Johnson and J.B. Cook |for $Four Thousand Dollars |date=October 22, 1918 |Page 361
  8. ^ a b c d "Albert (Chalky) Wright". International Boxing Hall of Fame. International Boxing Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  9. ^ "Willie Pep and Chalky Wright Scrap Tonight". The Spartanburg Herald (Spartanburg, SC). AP. 1942-11-20. p. 16. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  10. ^ "Chalky Wright Beaten By Pep". The Washington Reporter (20590) (Washington, PA). AP. 1942-11-21. p. 10. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  11. ^ DeLeighbur, Don (1943-06-08). "Cigar-Smoking Chalky Wright Is Entitled to Championship Bout". Baltimore Afro-American 51 (43) (Baltimore, MD: The Afro-American Company). p. 18. Retrieved 2011-07-13.