Jack Kid Berg
|Jack Kid Berg|
|Real name||Judah Bergman|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
June 28, 1909|
|Died||April 22, 1991
|Wins by KO||61|
Judah Bergman was born in Romford Street near Cable Street, St George in the East, Stepney. He was apprenticed as a lather boy in a barber's shop, and began his boxing career at the Premierland, Back Church Lane, when he was 14. Jewish Berg boxed with a Star of David on his trunks.
The book The Whitechapel Windmill covers the handsome boxer's rise in the boxing world as well as his flamboyant out-of-the-ring life, which is said to have included an affair with Mae West and to have borne a long-lasting friendship with fellow East Ender Jack Spot, the colourful (and also Jewish) gangster.
Berg died in London on April 22, 1991.
He is commemorated by a blue plaque on Noble Court, Cable Street, close to the place where he was born. Stepney Historical Trust presented the plaque at a ceremony attended by the Chief Rabbi, the Bishop of Stepney Richard Chartres, Professor Bill Fishman, Councillor Albert lilley and the Retired Boxers Federation. Later in the evening the Trust held a Charity Ball to raise funds for the Retired Boxers Federation attended by Mr Cox, Chairman of the Boxing Association and also the local Arbour Youth and Repton Boxing Clubs Boys. Over a £1000 was raised for the Retired Boxing charity.
Between 1923 and 1936, Berg had 192 professional fights, winning 157 of them. His record was 157–26–9. Fifty seven wins were by knock out.
In 1931 he moved to the USA, where he won 64 out of 76 fights there. He became British lightweight champion in 1934 by beating the holder Harry Mizler, and he lived to be the oldest British boxing champion. During his bouts in America, he was trained by legendary boxing trainer Ray Arcel.
In 1930, Berg defeated the great Cuban fighter Kid Chocolate in ten rounds. In 1930, he knocked out the American champion Mushy Callahan to take the Light Welterweight Championship in London. The National Boxing Association (NBA) had stripped Callahan before this fight and Britain did not recognize this division, so only the New York State Athletic Commission recognized Berg as champion after this fight. The NBA only recognized Berg as champion after he beat Goldie Hess in January 1931.
Berg fought as a lightweight when he put his title on the line to meet with Tony Canzoneri in Chicago on 24 April 1931. He was quickly knocked out in three rounds, falling on his face and stumbling to get up before giving in and collapsing into the ropes. Berg, contending that he lost at lightweight and not at light welterweight, continued to claim that he was champion. Most of the boxing world recognized Canzoneri, however.
After the Canzoneri bout, Berg continued boxing with mixed results. His last notable win came in 1939 against the up-and-coming prospect Tippy Larkin.
After retiring from boxing, he worked as a film stunt man, joined the Royal Air Force, and owned a restaurant in London.
Hall of Fame
Berg was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Berg was also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.
- Academic Howard Fredrics wrote an opera about Kid Berg's life.
- The non-religious Berg used his Jewishness to get the crowd on his side, entering the ring wearing tephillin.
- Alongside "The Battling Levinsky" is mentioned in the title track of Madness' "The Liberty of Norton Folgate"
References and notes
- Mullan, Harry (1987). The Great Book of Boxing. New York, New York: Crescent Books. p. 299. ISBN 0-7517-6295-4.
- Arcel, Ray (September 1991). "Jackie "Kid" Berg: The Face of an Angel .. The Heart of a Devil ... And One Helluva Fighter". The Ring 70 (9): 69.
- "International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Jewishsports.net. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- Andrew Pulver (10 May 2007). "Jews who boxed clever | Film | The Guardian". London: Film.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
- Harold Finch The Tower Hamlets Connection – a Biographical Guide Stepney Books ISBN 0-902385-25-9
- The Whitechapel Windmill by John Harding with Jack Kid Berg 1987, Robson Books
- Professional boxing record for Jack Kid Berg from BoxRec
- Sparring with Jack Kid Berg (1934) Article.
- Internet Movie Database listing for Jack Kid Berg