Freddie Steele

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For the English footballer, see Freddie Steele (footballer).
Freddie Steele
Freddie Steele.jpg
Steele training for the fight against Charley "Hobo" Williams in 1937
Real name Frederick Earl Burgett
Nickname(s) Tacoma Assassin
Rated at Middleweight
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Reach 72 in (183 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1912-12-18)December 18, 1912
Seattle, Washington
Died August 22, 1984(1984-08-22) (aged 71)
Boxing record
Total fights 142
Wins 125
Wins by KO 60
Losses 5
Draws 1
No contests 1

Freddie Steele (December 18, 1912 – August 22, 1984) was a boxer and film actor born Frederick Earle Burgett in Seattle, Washington. He was recognized as middleweight champion of the world between 1936 and 1938. Steele was nicknamed "The Tacoma Assassin" and was trained by Jack Connor, Johnny Babnick, and Ray Arcel, while in New York. He also appeared as an actor in a number of Hollywood films in the 1940s, including Preston Sturges's Hail the Conquering Hero.


A good boxer and a hard hitter, Steele lost only two fights during his first ten years in the ring. Among those he defeated during his career were Ceferino Garcia, Ralph Chong, Leonard Bennett, Joe Glick, Bucky Lawless, Andy Divodi, "Baby" Joe Gans, Vince Dundee, Gorilla Jones, Swede Berglund, Young Stuhley, Meyer Grace, Henry Firpo, Eddie "Babe" Risko, Jackie Aldare, Gus Lesnevich, Paul Pirrone, Frank Battaglia, Ken Overlin, Carmen Barth, and Solly Krieger.

He fought two memorable bouts with Fred Apostoli, winning the first, but suffering a TKO in a non-title match. He lost the middleweight crown to Al Hostak in his next to last fight, at the Seattle Civic Arena in July 1938, with Jack Dempsey refereeing. Steele lost his next and last fight to Jimmy Casino in 1941. His final record included 125 wins (60 KOs), 5 losses, 11 draws and 1 No Contest.

Life after boxing[edit]

Freddie Steele was also known for his footwork, and waist-down shots of his footwork can be seen in the 1942 film Gentleman Jim in which he performed as boxing double for star Errol Flynn.

Steele went on to appear in a number of Hollywood films as an actor throughout the 1940s, notably as "Bugsy", one of the six Marines central to the plot of the Oscar-nominated Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), directed by Preston Sturges. He also appeared as Sergeant Steve Warnicki in The Story of G.I. Joe, 1945, and in Whiplash and I Walk Alone, both in 1948.

He left Hollywood in the 1950s, and returned to the Pacific Northwest. He owned and operated Freddie Steele's restaurant in Westport, Washington with his wife, Helen, for over 20 years until illness forced his retirement.


Steele died at a nursing home in Aberdeen, Washington on August 22, 1984; he had suffered a stroke in 1980. He is interred in the Fern Hill Cemetery, Aberdeen, WA.


Freddie Steele is an honored member of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame (1999) and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. He is one of the three original inductees into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame when it opened in 1957.


Preceded by
Eddie (Babe) Risko
NBA World Middleweight Champion
11 Jul 1936 – 26 Jul 1938
Succeeded by
Al Hostak
NYSAC World Middleweight Champion
11 Jul 1936 – Feb 1938
Recognition withdrawn
Title next held by
Fred Apostoli
Title last held by
Marcel Thil
The Ring Middleweight Champion
September 23, 1937 – 1938
Title next held by
Tony Zale