|Real name||Ferdinand Henry John Zivcich|
|Nickname(s)||The Croat Comet|
May 8, 1913|
Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.
|Died||May 16, 1984 (aged 71)
|Wins by KO||80|
Fritzie Zivic (May 8, 1913 in Pittsburgh, United States – May 16, 1984), born as Ferdinand Henry John Zivcich (Croatian: Živčić, known to boxing fans as Fritzie Zivic, “The Croat Comet”), was an American boxer who held the world welterweight championship from October 4, 1940, until July 29, 1941.
Zivic was born to immigrant parents; his father was Croatian, his mother Mary Kepele was Slovenian. As a young man, he followed the example of his elder brothers. These five brothers were known as the "Fighting Zivics". Referring to his youth in the Ninth Ward of Lawrenceville, Zivic later said, "You either had to fight or stay in the house. We went out." He started with fighting professionally in October 1931 as a featherweight (at the age of 18). By 1936 he was ranked among the top ten welterweights. In 1940 Zivic beat Sammy Angott to earn a shot at the welterweight title. He upset the great Henry Armstrong on October 4, 1940 in a 15-round decision at Madison Square Garden to take the welterweight title. He won the rematch with Armstrong in January 1941, but lost in his next defense, to Freddie Cochrane in 15 on July 29, 1941. His last fight was in January 1949 (at the age of 36).
Zivic became the best known when on October 4, 1940 he battered Henry “Hammering Hank” Armstrong at Madison Square Garden, taking the world welterweight title. He was a 4-to-1 underdog going into the fight. Fritzie held the title for the next eight months, when he lost a fight with Red Cochran after 15 rounds, on July 29, 1941 in Newark, NJ.
According to Zivic's own account, the first bout with Armstrong was very dirty. Armstrong started out fighting that way: "Henry's givin' me the elbows and the shoulders and the top of the head, and I can give that stuff back pretty good, but I don't dare to or maybe they'll throw me out of the ring." By the seventh round, Zivic had had enough, and began responding in kind. The referee (still according to Zivic), then told the fighters, If you want to fight that way, it's okay with me. Armstrong had built up a good lead, but Zivic went to work, cutting both of Armstrong's eyes and opening a gash on his mouth. Zivic said "pardon me" several times while fouling his opponent. In the fifteenth and final round, Zivic hit Armstrong with a left hook-right cross combination. Armstrong went down as the bell ended the fight. Zivic won a unanimous decision.
He never challenged for a world title again, but from 1941 to 1946, he fought Sugar Ray Robinson, Lew Jenkins, Jake LaMotta, Beau Jack, Bob Montgomery, Tommy Bell, Billy Arnold and Freddie Archer. In all, he met seven future Hall of Famers and nine world champions. His career record with 158-64-9, with 80 knock outs.
Although his fighting tactics were very dirty (thumbing the opponents in the eye or punching in banned areas), he was also known for always apologizing for that to his opponent. "He had a body like a wire, a mind like a chess player, a quick wit and a splendid smile."
After ending his career, he had his own boxing school, and he became a boilermaker.
- "You're boxing, you're not playing the piano."
- Margie Carlin, "The Three Faces of Lawrenceville," Pittsburgh Press, 17 October 1976, 28
- Red Smith, "The Nose", reprinted in W.C. Heinz's The Fireside Book of Boxing, Simon and Schuster.
- John Golightly, "Boxer Fritzie Zivic Dies at 71, Former World Welterweight King," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 May 1984, 8.
- Timpav, CHAMP - Fritzie Zivcic - The life and time of the Croat Comet.