Ezzard Charles

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Ezzard Charles
Ezzard Charles 2.jpg
Statistics
Real name Ezzard Mack Charles
Nickname(s) Cincinnati Cobra
Rated at Middleweight
Light Heavyweight
Heavyweight
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Reach 73 in (185 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1921-07-07)July 7, 1921
Lawrenceville, Georgia
Died May 28, 1975(1975-05-28) (aged 53)
Chicago, Illinois
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 119
Wins 93
Wins by KO 52
Losses 25
Draws 1
No contests 0

Ezzard Mack Charles (July 7, 1921 – May 28, 1975) was an American professional boxer and former World Heavyweight Champion.

Charles defeated numerous Hall of Fame fighters in three different weight classes. He retired with a record of 93 wins, 25 losses and 1 draw.

Career[edit]

He was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, but is commonly thought of as a Cincinnatian.[1] Charles graduated from Woodward High School in Cincinnati where he was already becoming a well-known fighter.[2] Known as "The Cincinnati Cobra", Charles fought many notable opponents in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, eventually winning a championship in the latter. Although he never won the Light Heavyweight title, The Ring has rated him as the greatest light heavyweight of all time.[3]

Career beginnings and military service[edit]

Charles started his career as a featherweight in the amateurs, where he had a record of 42–0. In 1938, he won the Diamond Belt Middleweight Championship. He followed this up in 1939 by winning the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament of champions. He won the national AAU Middleweight Championship in 1939. He turned pro in 1940, knocking out Melody Johnson in the 4th round. Charles won all of his first 15 fights before being defeated by veteran Ken Overlin. Victories over future Hall of Famers Teddy Yarosz and the much avoided Charley Burley had started to solidify Charles as a top contender in the middleweight division. However, he served in the U.S. military during World War II and was unable to fight professionally in 1945.

World heavyweight champion[edit]

He returned to boxing after the war as a light heavyweight, picking up many notable wins over leading light heavyweights, as well as heavyweight contenders Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivins, Lloyd Marshall and Elmer Ray. Shortly after his knock-out of Moore in their third and final meeting, tragedy struck. Charles fought a young contender named Sam Baroudi, knocking him out in Round 10. Baroudi died of the injuries he sustained in this bout. Charles was so devastated he almost gave up fighting. Charles was unable to secure a title shot at light heavyweight and moved up to heavyweight. After knocking out Joe Baksi and Johnny Haynes, Charles won the vacant National Boxing Association World Heavyweight title when he outpointed Jersey Joe Walcott over 15 rounds on June 22, 1949. The following year, he outpointed his idol and former World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis to become the recognized Lineal Champion. Successful defenses against Walcott, Lee Oma and Joey Maxim would follow.

Charles vs. Marciano[edit]

In 1951, Charles fought Walcott a third time and lost the title by knockout in the seventh round. Charles lost a controversial decision in the fourth and final bout. If Charles had won this fight, he would have become the first man in history to regain the heavyweight championship. Remaining a top contender with wins over Rex Layne, Tommy Harrison and Coley Wallace, Charles knocked out Bob Satterfield in an eliminator bout for the right to challenge Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano. His two stirring battles with Marciano are regarded as ring classics. In the first bout, held in June 1954, he valiantly took Rocky the distance, going down on points in a vintage heavyweight bout. Charles is the only man ever to last the full 15-round distance against Marciano.[4] In their September rematch, a severely cut Marciano rallied to KO Charles in the 8th round, in a bout that was named The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year."

Later career[edit]

Financial problems forced Charles to continue fighting, losing 13 of his final 23 fights (He held a record of 83 wins, 12 losses and 1 draws before financial problems became a factor in his career). He retired with a record of 93-25-1 (52 KOs).

Charles was also a respected double bass player who played with some of the jazz greats in the 1940s and 1950s at such notable places as Birdland (jazz composer George Russell wrote the famous tune "Ezz-Thetic" in his honor). He was very close with Rocky Marciano and a neighbor and friend of Muhammad Ali when they both lived on 85th Street in Chicago.[5] Charles also starred in one motion picture: Mau Mau Drums, an independent (and unreleased) jungle-adventure film shot in and around Cincinnati in 1960 by filmmaker Earl Schwieterman.

Death[edit]

Ezzard Charles, age 53, died on May 28, 1975 in Chicago from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and was interred in the historic Burr Oak Cemetery, in Alsip, Illinois.

Legacy[edit]

Commemorative stamp honoring Charles

In 1976, Cincinnati honored Charles by changing the name of Lincoln Park Drive to Ezzard Charles Drive. This was the street of his residence during the height of his career.[6]

He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

In 2002, Charles was ranked #13 on The Ring magazine's list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years.

In 2006, Ezzard Charles was named the 11th greatest fighter of all time by the IBRO (International Boxing Research Organisation).[7]

The "Cincinnati Cobra" was a master boxer of extraordinary skill and ability. He had speed, agility, fast hands and excellent footwork. Charles possessed a masterful jab and was a superb combination puncher. He was at his peak as a light-heavyweight. His record is quite impressive. Against top rate opposition like Archie Moore, Charley Burley, Lloyd Marshall, Jimmy Bivins, and Joey Maxim he was an impressive 16-2 combined. Despite being a natural light-heavy he won the heavyweight title and made 9 successful title defenses. Nearly 25% of voters had Charles in the top 10. Half of the voters had him in the top 15. Two thirds of voters had him inside the top 20.

In 2007, ESPN online ranks Ezzard Charles as the 27th greatest boxer of all time, ahead of such notable fighters as Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and Jake LaMotta.[8]


In 2009, Boxing magazine listed Ezzard Charles as the greatest Light Heavyweight fighter ever, beating the likes of Archie Moore, Bob Foster and Gene Tunney.[9]

Prominent boxing historian Bert Sugar listed Charles as the 7th greatest Heavyweight of all time.

Professional boxing record[edit]

93 Wins (52 knockouts, 41 decisions), 25 Losses[10]
Res. Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Win 93–16 United States Toxie Hall TKO 3 (10) 1955-12-06 Mexico Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Loss 92–16 United States Toxie Hall UD 10 1955-11-14 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 92–15 United States Tommy Hurricane Jackson UD 10 (10) 1955-08-31 Mexico Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico
loss 92–14 United States Tommy Hurricane Jackson UD 10 (10) 1955-08-03 United States Don Haskins Convention Center, El Paso, Texas
Win 92–13 United States Paul Andrews UD 10 (12) 1955-07-13 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 91–13 United States Johnny Holman UD 10 (10) 1955-06-08 United States Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut
Loss 90–13 Mexico Johnny Holman KO 9 1955-04-27 Mexico Plaza de Toros, Mexico City, Distrito Federal For vacant WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 90-12 United States Vern Escoe UD 10 1955-04-11 United States MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 89–12 United States Charley Norkus UD 10 1955-02-18 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 88–12 United States Rocky Marciano KO 8 (10) 1954-09-17 United States Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, California
Loss 88–11 United States Rocky Marciano UD 15 (12) 1954-06-17 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada Lost WBC Light Welterweight title. Doctor Stoppage
Win 88–10 United States Bob Satterfield KO 2 (10) 1954-01-13 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Win 87–10 Kenya Coley Wallace KO 10 1953-12-16 United States Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Loss 86–10 United States Harold Johnson UD 10 1953-09-08 United States Horizon, Rosemont, Illinois, United States
Win 86–9 Italy Nino Valdez UD 12 1953-08-11 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 86–8 United States Larry Watson KO 5 (12) 1953-05-26 Mexico Estadio de Beisbol, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 85–8 United States Billy Gilliam UD 10 (12) 1953-05-12 United States MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 84–8 United States Rex Layne UD 10 (12) 1953-04-01 United States MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Won WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 83–8 United States Tommy Harrison SD 12 1953-02-04 United States MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Lost WBC Light Welterweight title.
Chavez suffers the first knockdown of his career in round 11.
Win 82–8 England Wesbury Bascom TKO 9 (12) 1953-01-14 Mexico Estadio Cuauhtemoc, Puebla, Puebla, Mexico Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Longest undefeated streak.
Win 81–8 United States Frank Buford TKO 7 (10) 1952-12-15 Mexico Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Win 80–8 United States Jimmy Bivins UD 10 1952-11-26 United States Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, United States For WBC & Lineal Welterweight titles.
Win 79–8 Guyana Cesar Brion UD 10 (12) 1952-10-24 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Longest winning streak.
Win 78–8 Argentina Bernie Reynolds KO 2 (10) 1952-10-08 Mexico Auditorio Benito Juarez, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Loss 77–8 United States Rex Layne TKO 5 (12) 1952-08-08 Mexico Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Loss 77–7 United States Jersey Joe Walcott UD 15 (10) 1952-06-05 United States Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 77–6 United States Joe Kahut KO 8 (10) 1951-12-21 Mexico Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Win 76–6 Puerto Rico Joey Maxim UD 15 1951-12-12 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 75–6 United States Rex Layne TKO 11 (12) 1951-10-10 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Loss 74–6 Puerto Rico Jersey Joe Walcott KO 7 (12) 1951-07-18 Mexico El Toreo, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 74–5 Mexico Joey Maxim UD 15 (10) 1951-05-30 Mexico La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Win 73–5 Mexico Jersey Joe Walcott UD 15 (10) 1951-03-07 Mexico Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Win 72–5 Argentina Lee Oma TKO 10 (10) 1951-01-12 Mexico Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Win 71–5 United States Nick Barone KO 11 1950-12-05 United States Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 70–5 United States Joe Louis UD 15 (10) 1950-09-27 Mexico Estadio General Angel Flores, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Win 69–5 United States Freddie Beshore TKO 14 (12) 1950-08-15 United States Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained NBA heavyweight title.
Win 68–5 South Korea Pat Valentino KO 8 (12) 1949-10-14 United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Retained NBA heavyweight title.
Win 67–5 Mexico Guy Lesnevich TKO 7 (10) 1949-08-10 Mexico Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico Retained NBA heavyweight title.
Win 66–5 United States Jersey Joe Walcott UD 15 (10) 1949-06-22 Mexico Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico Won NBA heavyweight title.
Win 65–5 Ghana Joey Maxim UD 15 (10) 1949-02-28 Spain Madrid, Comunidad de Madrid, Spain
Win 64–5 United States Johnny Haynes KO 8 (12) 1949-02-07 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC & won IBF Light Welterweight titles.
The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1990).
Win 63–5 Argentina Joe Baski KO 11 (12) 1948-12-10 Mexico Palacio de Deporte, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 62–5 Puerto Rico Walter Hafer KO 7 (12) 1948-11-14 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBC Light Welterweight title.
Win 61–5 Mexico Jimmy Bivins KO 3 (?) 1948-10-13 Mexico Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico Broke Nino Benvenuti's 65 win undefeated streak.
Win 60–5 Mexico Erv Sarvin UD 10 (10) 1948-05-20 Mexico Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
Win 59–5 United States Elmer Ray KO 9 (10) 1948-05-07 United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 58–5 United States Sam Baroudi KO 10 (12) 1948-02-20 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, United States Baroudi knocked out in the tenth round. Baroudi died from injuries sustained in the bout.
Win 57–5 Mexico Archie Moore KO 8 (12) 1948-01-13 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBA & won WBC & vacant The Ring Lightweight titles.
Win 56–5 United States Hilton "Fitzie" Fitzpatrick KO 4 (10) 1947-12-02 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, United States
Win 55-5 Mexico Teddy Randolph UD 10 (?) 1947-11-03 Mexico Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Win 54–5 Panama Clarence Jones KO 1 (12) 1947-10-27 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Retained WBA Lightweight title.
Win 53–5 United States Al Smith KO 4 (10) 1947-10-16 Mexico Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
Win 52–5 Puerto Rico Lloyd Marshall KO 2 (12) 1947-09-29 United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Won WBA Lightweight title.
Win 51–5 United States Joe Matisi UD 12 1947-09-16 United States Buffalo, New York, United States
Loss 50–5 United States Elmer Ray PTS 10 (12) 1947-07-25 United States New York, New York City, United States
Win 50–4 United States Hilton "Fitzie" Fitzpatrick KO 5 1947-07-14 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 49-4 United States Archie Moore UD 10 1947-07-14 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 48–4 United States Erv Sarlin UD 10 (12) 1947-05-05 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 47-4 United States Jimmy Bivins KO 4 (12) 1947-03-10 United States Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Win 46–4 United States "Oakland" Billy Smith KO 5 (?) 1947-02-17 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 45–4 United States Jimmy Bivins UD 10 (10) 1946-11-12 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 44–4 United States "Oakland" Billy Smith UD 10 1946-09-23 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 43–4 United States Lloyd Marshall KO 6 (12) 1946-07-29 United States Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 42–4 United States Shelton Bell KO 5 (12) 1946-06-13 United States Youngstown, Ohio, United States
Win 41–4 United States Archie Moore UD 10 (?) 1946-05-20 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 40–4 United States Tommy "Lee" Hubert KO 4 (12) 1946-05-13 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 39–4 United States George Parks KO 6 (10) 1946-04-15 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 38–4 United States Billy Duncan KO 4 (?) 1946-04-01 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 37–4 United States Tommy "Lee" Hubert UD 10 (?) 1946-03-25 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 36–4 United States Al Sheridan KO 2 1946-02-18 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Loss 35–4 United States Lloyd Marshall TKO 8 (?) 1943-03-31 United States Cleveland, Ohio, United States
loss 35–3 United States Jimmy Bivins UD 10 (10) 1943-01-07 United States Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Win 35–2 United States Joey Maxim UD 10 (?) 1942-12-01 United States Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Win 34–2 United States Joey Maxim UD 10 (?) 1942-10-27 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 33–2 United States Mose Brown KO 6 (?) 1942-09-15 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 32–2 United States Jose Basora KO 5 (?) 1942-08-17 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 31–2 United States Booker Beckwith KO 9 (?) 1942-06-27 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 30–2 United States Steve Mamakos KO 1 (?) 1942-06-14 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 29–2 United States Charley Burley UD 10 (?) 1942-06-29 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 28–2 United States Charley Burley UD 10 (?) 1942-05-25 United States Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Loss 27–2 United States Evelio "Kid" Tunero UD 10 (?) 1942-05-13 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 27–1 United States Billy Pryor UD 10 1942-04-08 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 26–1 United States Ken Overlin PTS 10 (?) 1942-03-02 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 25–1 Greece Anton Christoforidis KO 3 (?) 1942-01-13 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 24–1 United States Teddy Yarosz UD 10 (?) 1941-11-07 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 23–1 United States Pat Mangini KO 1 (?) 1941-09-13 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 22–1 United States Al Gilbert KO 6 (?) 1941-07-21 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Loss 21–1 United States Ken Overlin UD 10 1941-06-09 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 21–0 United States Rudy Kazole UD 10 1941-05-12 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 20–0 United States Joe Sutka UD 10 1941-03-31 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 19–0 United States Floyd Howard KO 7 (10) 1941-03-10 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 18–0 United States Slaka Cavrich KO 2 (10) 1941-02-22 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 17–0 United States Billy Bengal UD 10 1941-02-10 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 16–0 United States Charlie Jerome KO 2 (?) 1940-12-02 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 15–0 United States Fidel Navarro KO 1 (?) 1940-11-31 United States Columbus, Ohio, United States
Win 14–0 United States Bill Hood KO 2 (?) 1940-10-03 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 13–0 United States Martin Simmons UD 10 1940-09-23 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 12–0 United States Bradley Lewis KO 3 (?) 1940-06-24 United States San Francisco, California, United States
Win 11–0 United States John Reeves KO 4 (?) 1940-06-12 United States Columbus, Ohio, United States
Win 10–0 United States Frankie Williams KO 7 (?) 1940-06-05 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 9–0 United States Pat Wright KO 4 (?) 1940-05-17 United States Middletown, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 8–0 United States Eddie Fowler KO 3 (?) 1940-05-10 United States Portsmouth, Ohio, United States
Win 7–0 United States Remo Fernandez KO 6 1940-04-24 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 6–0 United States Charley Banks KO 2 1940-04-16 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 5–0 United States Kid Ash KO 3 (10) 1940-04-10 United States Portsmouth, Ohio, United States
Win 4–0 United States Charley Banks UD 6 1940-04-02 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 3–0 United States John Reeves UD 6 1940-03-27 United States Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Win 2–0 United States Jimmy Brown PTS 2 1940-03-20 United States Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 1–0 United States Medley Johnson KO 3 (6) 1940-03-15 United States Middletown, Pennsylvania, United States Ezzard's Professional debut.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ezzard Charles". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  2. ^ Newsmakers Interview with Ezzard Charles Jr., WKRC Channel 12, Cincinnati, August 17, 2008
  3. ^ Detloff, William (September 2002). "The 20 Greatest Light Heavyweights of All-Time". The Ring 81 (10): 50 
  4. ^ Will Hammock. "The Champ: County to honor legendary boxer Charles today." Gwinnett Daily Post. June 5, 2010
  5. ^ Newsmakers interview with Ezzard Charles Jr., WKRC Channel 12 Cincinnati, August 17, 2008
  6. ^ Guide to 20th Century African American Resources, Cincinnati Historical Society
  7. ^ "IBRO'S 25 Greatest Fighters of All Time". Eastsideboxing.com. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  8. ^ "Espn.Com: All-Time Greatest Boxers". Sports.espn.go.com. 1971-03-08. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  9. ^ The Greatest Light Heavyweights of All Time[dead link]
  10. ^ Ezzard Charles's Professional Boxing Record – BoxRec.com

Further reading[edit]

  • Grace, Kevin & Grace, Joshua (2006). Cincinnati Boxing. Chicago: Arcadia. ISBN 0-7385-4112-5. 

External links[edit]

Achievements
Vacant
Title last held by
Joe Louis
NBA Heavyweight Champion
June 22, 1949 – July 18, 1951
Succeeded by
Jersey Joe Walcott
NYSAC Heavyweight Champion
September 27, 1950 – July 18, 1951
The Ring Heavyweight Champion
September 27, 1950 – July 18, 1951
World Heavyweight Champion
June 16, 1951 – July 18, 1951
Awards
Preceded by
Ike Williams
Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
1949, 1950
Succeeded by
Sugar Ray Robinson
Preceded by
Ike Williams
Edward J. Neil Trophy
(BWAA Fighter of the Year)

1949
Succeeded by
Sugar Ray Robinson