Nelson c. 1900s
|Real name||Oscar Mathæus Nielsen|
|Nickname(s)||The Durable Dane|
5 June 1882|
7 February 1954 (aged 71)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Wins by KO||40|
Nelson was born Oscar Mathæus Nielsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 5, 1882. He emigrated to the United States the following year and he was raised in Hegewisch, a neighborhood on the far southeast side of Chicago.
Nelson began boxing professionally at fourteen in 1896. He fought for the vacant lightweight title against Jimmy Britt on December 20, 1904, but lost a twenty-round decision. He lost to Abe Attell in 1905 but beat Jack O'Neill to secure another shot at the title on September 9, 1905, finally beating Britt by an 18 round knockout.
He defended the title against Terry McGovern but then faced a greater challenge against former champion Joe Gans on September 3, 1906, in Goldfield, Nevada. Gans dropped Nelson repeatedly during the bout, but could not knock him out. Finally, in the forty-second round, Nelson hit Gans below the belt, receiving a disqualification, and lost his title.
In 1907 and 1908, Nelson split a pair of bouts with Britt and fought Attell to a draw. He then challenged Gans for the title on July 4, 1908. This time he knocked Gans out in the seventeenth round. Two months later, Nelson knocked out Gans in the twenty-first round.
In 1909 Nelson fought Ad Wolgast in a fight held over the lightweight limit. Wolgast beat him and Nelson gave Wolgast a chance at his title on February 22, 1910. Eventually unable to see due to the accumulation of punches, Nelson lost the title when the referee stopped the fight in either the fortieth or the forty-second round.
Nelson continued to fight and in 1917 challenged Freddie Welsh for the lightweight title. He lost a twelve-round decision and retired from fighting in 1920.
He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.
In 2016 award-winning biographer Mark Allen Baker published the first comprehensive biography on Battling Nelson with McFarland, a leading independent publisher of academic & nonfiction books.
The second Gans-Nelson battle in Colma was the subject of a four-reel motion picture that played in major cities around the country.
- Roberts, James and Alexander Skutt (1997). The Boxing Register, 1st ed. Ithaca, New York: McBooks Press. p. 128. ISBN 0-935526-23-4.
- Roberts, James and Alexander Skutt (1997). The Boxing Register, 1st ed. Ithaca, New York: McBooks Press. p. 129. ISBN 0-935526-23-4.
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| World Lightweight Champion
August 4, 1908 – February 22, 1910
|Titles in pretence|
| World White Lightweight Champion
September 9, 1905 – July 31, 1907