Al Foreman

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Al Foreman
Real nameAlbert Foreman
Nickname(s)Bert "Kid" Harris
junior lightweight
Height5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
NationalityEnglish/Canadian Canada
Born3 November 1904
London, England
Died23 December 1954 (aged 50)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Boxing record
Total fights129
Wins99 (KO 64)
Losses20 (KO 2)
No contests0

Al Foreman (3 November 1904 in London – 23 December 1954), was a British-born boxer of the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s who in the last four years of his career won the Canadian lightweight title, British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) British lightweight title, and British Empire lightweight title. He unsuccessfully contended for the Canadian Featherweight title against Leo Roy in Montreal on 8 May 1924. He first took the Canadian Lightweight title against Leo "Kid" Roy in 1928, and took the BBBofC British Lightweight Title on 21 February 1930, in a first-round knockout of reigning champion Fred Webster in the Whitechapel District of London.[1] He was an amazingly durable fighter having few if any knockouts counted against him in his career, yet knocking out an exceptionally high percentage of his opponents.

His professional fighting weight varied from 125 lb (57 kg; 8 st 13 lb), to 136 lb (61.7 kg; 9 st 10.0 lb).[2] Foreman was managed by his brothers, Maurice and Harry.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Albert Foreman was born in London, England on 3 November 1904.

He was orphaned at four years of age, and for ten years lived in an orphanage, the Hayes School for Jewish Boys in Middlesex on the outskirts of London. At fourteen, he ran away from the orphanage and attempted to join the Army in the midst of WWI. Too young for combat, the Army allowed him to join the famous Black Watch infantry regiment in a non-combat role as a drummer boy, after he obtained his orphanage's permission. When the war immediately ended, Foreman was reassigned to occupation duty in Germany. He began boxing for the British Army with considerable success.[4]

In his early career he scored an impressive record of 40 wins, 12 losses, and 7 draws, with 30 wins by knockout.[4] During his early career in England, he often fought under the name Bert "Kid" Harris.[1]

In 1924, Foreman moved to Canada from Great Britain, where in time he gained citizenship. He lived intermittently in Montreal during the next ten years of his boxing career, but settled there after his retirement from boxing in 1934. His years of boxing in the United States allowed him to hone his skills against some of the greatest boxers of the era.[4]

Boxing in the United States for the US Army[edit]

Around late 1924–26, Foreman fought for the United States Army during a two-year hitch, eventually winning the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Featherweight Championship.[1][5] During this period, though continuing to fight professionally, he fought exclusively in the United States, boxing several matches at Fort Myers in Virginia where he was probably stationed, and the Barracks in Washington, D. C. While boxing for the Army, he amassed an amazing record of wins with a high percentage of knockouts. Foreman remained boxing in the United States roughly through 1928.

On 24 January 1927, released form his Army service, Foreman faced former world junior-lightweight champion Mike Ballerino at the arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, impressively winning the close bout in a ten-round points decision. Foreman fought the bout at only 126, as a featherweight, against a heavier 133 pound lightweight Ballerino. Foreman used his right repeatedly on Ballerino, who with an effective defense withstood the blows of his opponent, but noticeably showed the effects of Foreman's punches in the first round. Ballerino fought cautiously until the tenth, when letting down his guard, he was again staggered by the blows of Foreman.[6]

Loss to Louis "Kid" Kaplan, May 1927[edit]

Louis "Kid" Kaplan

On 9 May 1927, he lost to former Featherweight World Champion, Louis "Kid" Kaplan in a ten-round points decision at the Arena in Philadelphia. Foreman was decisively beaten by his skilled Jewish opponent who "chased the Washington lad all over the ring for the entire ten rounds". Foreman still received a number of well placed punches and had difficulty finishing the bout.[7] In the eyes of many, the loss reduced Foreman's chances of taking a Lightweight or Junior Lightweight World Title.

He lost to future Junior Welterweight Champion Johnny Jadick on 21 May 1928, in an eight-round points decision at the Polo Grounds in New York. One of Foreman's better known opponents, Jadick would take the World Jr. Welterweight Championship on 18 July 1932, against the incomparable Tony Canzoneri.[8]

First taking the Canadian Lightweight Title, October 1928[edit]

Foreman first took the Canadian Lightweight title on 22 October 1928, against Leo "Kid" Roy in a second-round TKO. In a decisive victory, Foreman floored Roy four times before a crowd of 4,000 at the Forum in Montreal. The Globe of Toronto disputed Foreman's claim to the title as he had fought in the United States, and served in the US military as a boxer for a two-year enlistment. He had, however lived in Montreal for a portion of the last four years, and had obtained Canadian citizenship.[1]

Important win over former champion Johnny Dundee, September 1929[edit]

On 25 September 1929, Foreman defeated former Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight Champion Johnny Dundee in a tenth-round TKO at the Forum in Montreal. Both boxers weighed in at the lower end of the lightweight scale near 130. Foreman knocked down Dundee five times in the tenth before the referee stopped the fight.[9] Foreman led on points going into the tenth round, but Dundee skilled defense kept him in the fight up until the end when Foreman unleashed a terrific flurry of rights, lefts, and body blows on Dundee.[10]

Loss of the Canadian Lightweight Title, December 1929[edit]

On 13 December 1929, Foreman lost the Canadian Lightweight Title to Billy Townsend at the Arena in Vancouver before 3,000 fans, in a twelve-round mixed decision. There were no knockdowns in the close bout. The home boxer Townsend of Vancouver, the "Blond Tiger", used a darting left jab to the face and solid rights to the head and body effectively throughout the bout. Townsend took a commanding seven rounds, while Foreman had a decided edge in the fifth and a slight advantage in the sixth with three rounds even. Townsend appeared to have an advantage in the long range fighting and tied up Foreman effectively in the clinches. Halfway through the second, Townsend unleashed a series of blows that gained him the round. Foreman's aggression in the fifth won him the round.[11]

First taking the BBoC British Lightweight Title in London[edit]

Foreman first took the BBOC and Commonwealth British Empire Lightweight Title on 21 May 1930, defeating Fred Webster at Premierland in London in a stunning Technical Knockout that occurred only 1:05 into the first round. The decisive win was likely the greatest achievement of Foreman's boxing career.[12]

As a 129 featherweight, nearing the lightweight limit, on 30 July 1930, he met French boxer Maurice Holtzer in Montreal in a non-title bout, winning in a ten-round points decision. Holtzer would take both the French and European Featherweight Championships during his career.[1]

Defense of the British Lightweight Title against George Rose in Manchester[edit]

Foreman defended his BBOC and British Empire Lightweight Title against George Rose at Kings Hall in Manchester, England in a classic sixth-round knockout on 20 October 1930. Rose may have had the edge in the first tow rounds, but Foremans greater stamina and stronger punching turned the tide near the end of the fifth when he unleashed a flurry of blows that put Rose on the mat in a bad way. In the opening of the sixth, following a feint to the body, Foreman followed quickly with a crushing right to the head and left uppercut that send Rose to the mat for the full count. sending ending the bout with a knockout. It was the first time a contest for the Lonsdale Belt had been staged outside of London.[13]

On 17 March 1932, Foreman had a rare loss to Nel Tarleton in a twelve-round points decision at the Anfield Football Ground in Liverpool. Tarleton was the reigning British Featherweight Champion at the time, and Foreman was rated in the top two of lightweight contenders in the world, according to most standings. Foreman weighed 135, giving him a six-pound advantage over Tarleton.

Regaining the Canadian and BBoC Lightweight Championship in Sydney, Australia[edit]

Foreman defeated Jimmy Kelso in a British Empire Lightweight Title match in a third round disqualification, at Sydney Stadium in Sydney, Australia on 22 May 1933. This was the match which gave Foreman his second valid claim to the British lightweight championship, though few American newspapers covered the story. Kelso had taken the Australian lightweight title in April of that year. Taking the British Empire Lightweight Title was the greatest achievement of Foreman's boxing career.

On 19 September 1933, Foreman regained the Canadian Lightweight Championship as well as defending his Commonwealth of the British Empire Lightweight Championship, beating Tommy Bland in a ten-round mixed decision before a crowd of 5,000 at the Mount Royal Arena in his Canadian hometown, Montreal. Foreman won the bout with hard blows to the body and head of Bland, though the youthful Bland withstood the punishment. In the close bout, two judges voted for Foreman, while one voted a draw. Foreman mounted a strong right hand offensive and a careful and deliberate style against the two handed attack of Bland. Foreman had been away from Canada fighting in England, and had formerly lost the title to Billy Townshend in Vancouver on 13 December 1929.[14]

Life after boxing[edit]

Foreman's lost his last bout against Petey Sarron at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., on 29 June 1934, in a ten-round split decision.[1]

After retiring from boxing, Foreman worked for the Montreal Standard, Canada's largest weekly newspaper, gaining recognition as an outstanding photojournalist. He acted as a boxing promoter as well, working often at the Montreal Forum.[1][4]

He joined the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of WWII, receiving a Distinguished Flying Cross for flying 37 missions during the war. His unit, the "Dam Busters" bombed dams on the Ruhr as well as the Moline Dam, and even executed a raid on Hitler's Eagle's Nest. On one mission, the turret gun he operated was badly damaged by flak and he was left injured hanging from the plane's fuselage.[4][15]

After his service in WWII, he returned to photography and opened his own portrait studio in Montreal. Late in life he worked as a voluntary physical instructor at a YMHA in Montreal.

In 1954, he died in a Montreal hospital sixteen days after a second heart attack. He was 50.[4][15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Al Foreman". BoxRec. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Statistics at". 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Biography at". 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Silver, Mike, Stars in the Ring, Jewish Champions, (2016) Rowman and Littlefield, Guilford, Connecticut, pg. 49
  5. ^ Foreman's army fighting ended late 1926 in Isaminger, James C., "Pithy Tips From the Sport Ticker", The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pg. 50, 23 January 1927
  6. ^ "Al Foreman Gives Ballerino Seven Pounds and a Beating", The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 25 January 1927
  7. ^ "Kid Kaplan Dims Foreman's Hopes of Winning Title", Shamokin News Dispatch, Shamokin, Pennsylvania, pg. 6, 10 May 1927
  8. ^ "Johnny Jadick". BoxRec. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Canadian Champ Stops Johnny Dundee", The Wilkes-Barre Record, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, pg. 21, 26 September 1929
  10. ^ "Dundee Kayoed For Second Time", The Winnipeg Tribune, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, pg. 15, 26 September 1929
  11. ^ "Billy Townsend New Lightweight King of Canada", The Winnipeg Tribune, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, pg. 23, 14 December 1929
  12. ^ "Canadian Captures British Lightweight Boxing Championship", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri, pg. 18, 22 May 1930
  13. ^ "Al Foreman is Winner Famous Lonsdale Belt". Winnipeg Tribune. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 21 October 1930. p. 13.
  14. ^ "Al Foreman Regains Canadian Lightweight Title", Winnipeg Tribune, Winnipeg, Canada, pg. 14, 20 September 1933
  15. ^ a b "Soldier Fighter Al Foreman, Lightweight King Dies", The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Canada, pg. 20, 24 December 1954

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