Jack Kid Berg

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Jack Kid Berg
Jack Kid Berg.jpg
Statistics
Real name Judah Bergman
Nickname(s) "Kid"
Rated at Lightweight
Welterweight
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Nationality English
Born (1909-06-28)June 28, 1909
Whitechapel, London
Died April 22, 1991(1991-04-22) (aged 81)
London
Boxing record
Total fights 192
Wins 157
Wins by KO 61
Losses 26
Draws 9

Judah Bergman, known as Jack Kid Berg or Jackie Kid Berg (June 28, 1909 – April 22, 1991), was an English boxer born in the East End of London.

Biography[edit]

Blue plaque for Jack Kid Berg

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.

Career[edit]

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. 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.[1] 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.[2] He unsuccessfully challenged Canzoneri again for the title in September 1931.

After the Canzoneri bout, Berg continued boxing with mixed results. He became British lightweight champion in 1934 by beating the holder Harry Mizler, and he lived to be the oldest British boxing champion. He was thrust back into the limelight as a replacement for the injured Canzoneri against Cleto Locatelli at Madison Square Garden, but his hopes of challenging for the world title faded after a points defeat to Gustave Humery in Paris in February 1935, also losing a return bout in London in April, although Berg was still British champion at this point.[3][4] Later that year he lost to Laurie Stevens in a fight for the British Empire lightweight title in Johannesburg.[5] He returned to fighting at welterweight in the United States with some success.[6] In August 1936, after three straight defeats, he announced his retirement, but returned in January 1937 with a victory against Ivor Pickens, the first of a nine fight unbeaten run.[7] In January 1941 he moved up to middleweight to fight Harry Craster.[8] He again beat Mizler in February 1941 and defeated British lightweight champion Eric Boon on a disqualification due to a low blow in a non-title fight in April 1941.[9] After a victory over Eric Dolby in March 1945, Berg expressed a desire to once more challenge for a title, saying "What I need is fights. I'm a bad gymnasium worker, but I'll show what I can do in the ring. When I've had a few warm up fights I'll know where I stand. If I'm no good I'll quit."[10] He had two further fights, the last a win by knockout against Johnny MacDonald in May 1945, before retiring.

Berg's brother Teddy was also a boxer, and the two fought on the same bill in 1941.[11]

After retiring from boxing, he worked as a film stunt man, joined the Royal Air Force, and owned a restaurant in London.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In 1930 Berg's marriage to New York university student Eleanor Kraus, the daughter of a New York silk merchant, was announced, although by November 1931 the relationship had ended.[13][14] In September 1930 Berg was served with a writ claiming £10,000 for breach of promise by Sophia Levy, who claimed the two had a relationship.[15] Berg married Bunty Pain, a dancer at the Trocadero, on 11 August 1933 at Prince's Row register office in London.[16][17]

In October 1940 he was awarded £500 damages for slander after John Macadam suggested in a BBC broadcast that Berg would fight Eric Boon after "drawing his old-age pension" and "tottering along to Earl's Court", although the decision was overturned on appeal.[18][19]

Hall of Fame[edit]

Berg was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Berg was also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Berg, who was Jewish, was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.[20]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Academic Howard Fredrics wrote an opera about Kid Berg's life.[21]
  • The non-religious Berg used his Jewishness to get the crowd on his side, entering the ring wearing tephillin.[21]
  • Alongside "The Battling Levinsky" is mentioned in the title track of Madness' "The Liberty of Norton Folgate"

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Kid Berg's Victory: British Boxer to Return to England". Nottingham Evening Post (British Newspaper Archive). 8 August 1930. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Mullan, Harry (1987). The Great Book of Boxing. New York, New York: Crescent Books. p. 299. ISBN 0-7517-6295-4. 
  3. ^ "Kid Berg's World Title Hopes Fade In Paris". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette (British Newspaper Archive). 26 February 1935. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Big Chance for Kid Berg". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette (British Newspaper Archive). 4 January 1934. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ ""Kid Berg" In Quest of Further Boxing Honours". Gloucestershire Echo (British Newspaper Archive). 29 November 1935. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ ""Kid Berg": Another U.S. Win: Now Ready for Canzoneri". Lancashire Evening Post (British Newspaper Archive). 26 October 1938. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "Kid Berg to Retire". Western Daily Press (British Newspaper Archive). 27 August 1936. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ "Kid Berg's Fight". Derby Daily Telegraph (British Newspaper Archive). 4 January 1941. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ ""Kid" Berg Carried Off". Aberdeen Journal (British Newspaper Archive). 22 April 1941. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ "Kid Berg's Prospects". Evening Telegraph (British Newspaper Archive). 3 March 1945. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ "Kid Berg's Brother to Fight". Evening Telegraph (British Newspaper Archive). 14 February 1941. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "Kid Berg to Marry: Boxer's Romance with New York University Girl". Western Daily Press (British Newspaper Archive). 27 August 1930. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ "End of Kid Berg's Romance". Western Daily Press (British Newspaper Archive). 7 November 1931. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ "Kid Berg Served with Writ for Breach of Promise". Hull Daily Mail (British Newspaper Archive). 13 September 1930. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ "Kid Berg to Wed". Aberdeen Journal (British Newspaper Archive). 14 July 1933. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ "Kid Berg Married". Lancashire Evening Post (British Newspaper Archive). 11 August 1933. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ "Kid Berg Awarded £500 Damages for Slander". Lancashire Evening Post (British Newspaper Archive). 8 October 1940. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  19. ^ "Kid Berg Loses £500". Aberdeen Journal (British Newspaper Archive). 4 March 1941. Retrieved 12 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  20. ^ "International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". Jewishsports.net. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  21. ^ a b Andrew Pulver (10 May 2007). "Jews who boxed clever | Film | The Guardian". London: Film.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 

Sources[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]