George Gardiner (boxer)

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George Gardner
George Gardner portrait.jpg
Statistics
Real name George Gardiner
Rated at Middleweight
Height 5 ft 11 12 in (1.816 m)
Nationality Irish
Born (1877-03-17)March 17, 1877
Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Ireland
Died July 8, 1954(1954-07-08) (aged 77)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 68
Wins 45
Wins by KO 31
Losses 12
Draws 9
No contests 0

George Gardner (born March 17, 1877 – July 8, 1954), was a famous Irish-born American boxer who was the first undisputed Light Heavyweight Champion of the World. He held claims to both the World Middleweight Title as well as the World Heavyweight Title. He was the second man in history to hold the World's Light Heavyweight title, defeating the first Light Heavyweight Champion, Jack Root by KO after 12 rounds.

Legacy[edit]

George Gardner's name is often misspelled, "George Gardiner", which was an alias although some believe it was the correct spelling. He signed his name "George Gardner" and only newspapers at time would spell his name, "George Gardiner". However, his brother, Jimmy Gardner, signed his name, "Jimmy Gardiner" when handing out autographs. George Gardner is unfortunely most remembered as the young 26 - year old champion who lost his title to 41 - year old Bob Fitzsimmons after a questionable 20 - round decision on points. It made Fitzsimmons a legend, being the first triple title division champion in boxing history. However, George Gardner was always a highly regarded fighter and often avoided by others.

Background[edit]

George Gardner was born on March 17, 1877 at County Clare, Ireland on St. Patrick's Day. He was believed to have been the son of an Irish prize - fighter and came from poverty. George and his brothers, Billy and Jimmy Gardner were all well known professional boxers of their era.

Professional career[edit]

George Gardner began his career in 1897 when he was 20 years old. He was almost six feet tall and weighed anywhere from 150 to 175 pounds during his career. Gardner won several fights in the New England area, being noted in newspapers as the "Middleweight Champion of New England".

Middleweight champion of the World[edit]

Gardner was the number one middleweight contender in 1901 and claimed the World's Middleweight Title that year. He defeated Frank Craig, the Colored Middleweight Champion at London, England, and newspapers declared that Gardner "secured the World Middleweight Title". Afterwards, Gardner challenged Tommy Ryan for the title, but Ryan declined although Gardner was the number one contender for the title.

Gardner then claimed the title after he knocked out Kid Carter in a fight that billed as the "Middleweight Championship of the World". He then pounded Barbados Joe Walcott, the Welterweight Champion of the World, in a 20 - round rematch in 1902 and later that year he knocked out the undefeated Jack Root after 17 rounds at Salt Lake City, Utah in front of a crowd of Arizona miners. Both fighters weighed in at 165 pounds. Reports even claimed Gardner killed Root in the fight.

He then lasted 20 - rounds with Jack Johnson (boxer), the first African-American to hold the World's Heavyweight Title. Gardner weighed in at 155 and Johnson weighed in at 185, and gained the decision on points by knocking the Irishman down twice in the 8th and 14th rounds. However, despite the 30 - pound weight advantage, Johnson failed to knock out the light, fast, clever, and scrappy Irishman.

Light heavyweight champion of the World[edit]

Gardner was a contender for the newly created World's Light - Heavyweight Title in 1903, now weighing about 170 pounds. He then fought Peter Maher, the Irish Heavyweight Champion, considered to be the most dangerous hitter of his era. Gardner knocked out Maher within round one and then defeated Marvin Hart by TKO after 12 rounds.

On July 4, 1903, at Ontario, Canada, at the International Athletic Club, after 12 rounds of fighting, George Gardner knocked out Jack Root for the Light - Heavyweight Championship of the World. He was the first Irish-American to hold the title and the first undisputed champion to hold the title. Most records state that Root was the first champion of the division, but others, including George Gardner, had claimed the title before. The Root - Gardner fight was the first Light-Heavyweight Title fight caught on film. Newspapers reported that Gardner knocked Root down seven times.

George Gardner defended his title later that year at age 26 on November 25, 1903 at San Francisco, California, against the 41 - year old Bob Fitzsimmons, who had killed two men in the ring and was the former Middleweight and Heavyweight Champion. After a questionable 20 - round decision on points, Fitzsimmons knocked the young champion down twice and gained a slight decision. After losing the title, George Gardner challenged Fitzsimmons to a rematch, but was denied a second chance at the title.

Gardner was still a highly regarded contender for the Light - Heavyweight Title, even being rated above Bob Fitzsimmons. However, Gardner set his sights on the World's Heavyweight Title. It was held by Marvin Hart, whom Gardner had defeated and drawn with before.

Heavyweight champion of the World[edit]

Gardner challenged Marvin Hart for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, but again he was denied a title shot. Afterwards, his career faded by 1906 with losses and draws against Jim Flynn, Al Kaufman, Terry Mustain, and Tony Ross. Gardner retired at age 32 in 1908 with a record of 44 wins, 32 by way of knockout, 12 losses, 7 draws, and 3 no contests.

Gardner kept fighting however, but considered himself a "washed - up prize - fighter". He was said to have fought in over 300 battles. It was said in a newspaper that Gardner "has drawn from their seats in applause more fight fans than any other light - heavyweight, it is declared".

Later life[edit]

George Gardner opened a saloon in Chicago, married to Margaret Smith Born 17 Mar 1884 In South Bend, Indiana and Died 12 May 1957 in Chicago, Illinois, and fathered a son in 1905, who also became a professional boxer in the light - heavyweight division using the name, "Morgan Gardiner". Morgan Gardner later began a career as a narcotics detective. George Gardner's brother, Jimmy Gardner, claimed the World's Welterweight Title in 1908, making the Gardner brothers the first Irish - American siblings in world history to hold world titles.

George Gardner was also pictured in the summer of 1930 on the front of "Self Defense Quarterly".

George Gardner proved his was a formidable fighter at age 60 when he was "snowy haired", after he knocked out a man who pulled a gun in his saloon. The 'tough guy' was sent to the hospital. Headlines read, "OLD RING CHAMP KO'S TOUGH GUY".

Gardner was once ranked the #1 fighter in the world and he is considered one of the top fighters of all - time, as well as one of the top light - heavyweights of all time.

George Gardner died at age 77 on July 10, 1954 at Chicago, Illinois. Newspapers stated that 4 ex - champions were pallbearers at his funeral. George Gardner is still considered one of the greatest light - heavyweight fighters of all - time.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jack Root
World Light Heavyweight Champion
July 4, 1903 – November 25, 1903
Succeeded by
Bob Fitzsimmons