Freddie Steele (December 18, 1912–August 22, 1984) was a boxer and film actor born Frederick Earle Burgett in Seattle, Washington. He was recognized as middleweight champion of the world between 1936 and 1938. Steele was nicknamed "The Tacoma Assassin" and was trained by Jack Connor, Johnny Babnick, and Ray Arcel, while in New York. He also appeared as an actor in a number of Hollywood films in the 1940s, including Preston Sturges's Hail the Conquering Hero.
Boxing Record: Wins=125 (60 by KO). Losses=5 (3 by KO). Drawn=11. Total=141.
A good boxer and a hard hitter, Steele lost only two fights during his first ten years in the ring. Among those he defeated during his career were Ceferino Garcia, Ralph Chong, Leonard Bennett, Joe Glick, Bucky Lawless, Andy Divodi, "Baby" Joe Gans, Vince Dundee, Gorilla Jones, Swede Berglund, Young Stuhley, Meyer Grace, Henry Firpo, Eddie "Babe" Risko, Jackie Aldare, Gus Lesnevich, Paul Pirrone, Frank Battaglia, Ken Overlin, Carmen Barth, and Solly Krieger.
He fought two memorable bouts with Fred Apostoli, winning the first, but suffering a TKO in a non-title match. He lost the middleweight crown to Al Hostak in his next to last fight, at the Seattle Civic Arena in July 1938, with Jack Dempsey refereeing. Steele lost his next and last fight to Jimmy Casino in 1941. His final record included 125 wins (60 KOs), 5 losses, 11 draws and 1 No Contest.
Life after boxing
Steele went on to appear in a number of Hollywood films as an actor throughout the 1940s, notably as "Bugsy", one of the six Marines central to the plot of the Oscar-nominated Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), directed by Preston Sturges. He also appeared as Sergeant Steve Warnicki in The Story of G.I. Joe, 1945, and in Whiplash and I Walk Alone, both in 1948.
He left Hollywood in the 1950s, and returned to the Pacific Northwest. He owned and operated Freddie Steele's restaurant in Westport, Washington with his wife, Helen, for over 20 years until illness forced his retirement.
Steele died at a nursing home in Aberdeen, Washington on August 22, 1984; he had suffered a stroke in 1980. He is interred in the Fern Hill Cemetery, Aberdeen, WA.
Freddie Steele is an honored member of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. He is one of the three original inductees into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame when it opened in 1957.
Eddie (Babe) Risko
|NBA Middleweight Champion
11 Jul 1936– 26 Jul 1938
Eddie (Babe) Risko
|NYSAC World Middleweight Champion
26 Jul 1938– Feb 1938
- Professional boxing record for Freddie Steele from BoxRec
- The Career of Freddie Steele Revisited, by Dan Cuoco, (IBRO)
- CBZ's version of Steele's Fight Record
- Steele's Death Certificate
- Guide to the Nate Druxman Seattle Boxing Photograph and Ephemera Collection
- Freddie Steele filmography, at Internet Movie Database