George Dixon (boxer)

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George Dixon (July 29, 1870 – January 6, 1908) was a Canadian professional boxer. After winning the Bantamweight title in 1892, Dixon became the first ever black to win a World Championship in any sport; he was also the first Canadian-born boxing champion. Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer ranked Dixon as the #1 Featherweight of all-time. Dixon was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955, the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame in 1956 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a first-class inductee in 1990.[1] In 2018 Dixon was named one of the greatest 15 athletes in Nova Scotia's history, ranking sixth.[2]

George Dixon
George Dixon boxer.jpg
Dixon, c. 1894
Real nameGeorge Dixon
Nickname(s)Little Chocolate
Height5 ft 3 12 in (161 cm)
Reach69 12 in (177 cm)
NationalityCanada Canadian
Born(1870-07-29)July 29, 1870
Africville, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
DiedJanuary 6, 1908(1908-01-06) (aged 37)
New York City, New York, USA
Boxing record
Total fights163
Wins by KO36
No contests6

Boxing career[edit]

Dixon was born in Africville, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Known as "Little Chocolate" he stood 5 feet 3.5 inches (1.613 m) tall and weighed only 87 pounds (39 kg) when he began his professional boxing career. Dixon is widely credited for developing Shadowboxing.[1]

Dixon claimed the World Bantamweight Championship on May 10, 1888, after a bout with Tommy Spider Kelly,[3] and was officially considered the champion after knocking out Nunc Wallace of England in 18 rounds two years later on June 27, 1890.

The following year, on May 31, 1891, Dixon beat Cal McCarthy in 22 rounds to win the Featherweight title. While he held the title, Dixon established a vaudeville troupe he called the "George Dixon Specialty Co." which toured Canada and the United States; it appeared at the Naylor Opera House in Terre Haute, Indiana, on November 8, 1894.

On October 4, 1897, he lost the title by decision in a rematch bout with Solly Smith, who he had previously defeated by 7th round technical knockout.

In a close bout, he lost to the British Featherweight Champion Ben Jordan on July 1, 1898, at New York's Lenox Club in a classic twenty five round points decision by referee Charley White. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Dixon did the leading but unlike many of those who had previously met the little Colored fighter, Jordan went at him and mixed it all the time." The bout was close, and many believed a draw would have been a better decision. Jordan was down on his hands and knees in the seventh from a blow by Dixon, but the bout contained relatively few knockdowns and no counts. The bout ended with a flurry by Dixon, but the referee did not feel it adequate to award him the decision. The Chronicle actually believed Dixon had the edge in the fighting.[4] The Los Angeles Times also agreed the bout was close and that "Both men fought well and there was little to choose between them".[5][1]

Dixon was in talks to face champion Solly Smith in a third meeting, however, Smith lost the world title in a surprising upset against Dave Sullivan – the bout was stopped in the fifth round after Smith sustained a broken arm.[6] Dixon instead turned his attention to newly crowned champion Sullivan, and on November 11, 1898, he reclaimed the World Featherweight Title by decisively defeating him in a tenth round disqualification at New York City's Lenox Club. Sullivan had held the title only forty-six days.[7]

Terry McGovern

At the time of the fight the betting favored Dixon, but was close, and briefly went to even odds. For nine rounds in front of eight thousand spectators, Dixon had the advantage. In the final round, Sullivan's brother Jack walked into the ring twice to speak to Jimmy Coville the referee about the time remaining in the round, eventually causing Coville to end the fight, in frustration over Jack's infraction. Sullivan could have fought on, though he would have almost certainly lost the fight.[8]

Dixon lost his featherweight title in a 15-round decision to Abe Attell on October 28, 1901, though other sources credit his loss of the title to Terry McGovern on January 9, 1900.

By that time, he had moved to Boston, where he had family; it was a destination for other immigrants from Africville.

Not long after his last fight, Dixon tragically died poor and homeless on January 6, 1908 in the alcohol ward of Bellevue Hospital. Dixon was living and begging on the streets of New York with no friends. Attempts by Dixon’s fans to get Dixon back on his feet failed and the media reported the end was near for the former champion who had fallen on dark times. Dixon would tell doctors he had no friends except for former heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan.[9] Part of his hospital bills for the illness that took his life was paid for by a charity boxing tournament put on January 23, 1908, at Bower's Minery Theatre in New York.[10] He is interred in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts. A recreation centre in downtown Halifax was named in his honor.

Notable bouts[edit]

Result Opponent Type Rd., Time Date sept 6 2015 Location Notes[11]
Loss United States Harlem Tommy Murphy KO 2 (6) 1905-09-20 United States National A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Loss United Kingdom Owen Moran PTS 6 1904-10-17 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden, London
Loss United Kingdom Jim Driscoll PTS 6 1904-02-10 United Kingdom Bristol, Avon
Win United Kingdom Pedlar Palmer PTS 20 1903-11-09 United Kingdom Ginnetts Circus, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear
Loss United Kingdom Digger Stanley PTS 6 1903-10-12 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden, London
Win United Kingdom Digger Stanley PTS 6 1903-08-01 United Kingdom Whitechapel Road, Mile End, London
Loss United Kingdom Pedlar Palmer PTS 8 1903-06-27 United Kingdom London
Loss United Kingdom Jim Driscoll KO 5 1903-06-01 United Kingdom Wales
Loss United Kingdom Jim Driscoll PTS 6 1903-01-24 United Kingdom London
Loss United Kingdom Pedlar Palmer PTS 15 1902-09-08 United Kingdom New National Athletic Club, Marylebone, London
Loss United States Abe Attell PTS 15 1901-10-28 United States West End Athletic Club, Saint Louis, Missouri
Draw United States Abe Attell PTS 20 1901-10-20 United States Grand Opera House, Cripple Creek, Colorado
Draw United States Abe Attell PTS 20 1901-08-23 United States Coliseum Hall, Denver, Colorado
Loss United States Young Corbett II PTS 10 1901-08-16 United States Coliseum Hall, Denver, Colorado
Loss United States Terry McGovern PTS 6 1900-06-23 United States Tattersall's, Chicago, Illinois
Loss United States Terry McGovern TKO 8 (25) 1900-01-09 United States Broadway A.C., New York, New York Lost World Featherweight Title
Win United States Oscar Gardner PTS 25 1898-11-29 United States Lenox A.C., New York, New York Retained World Featherweight Title
Draw United Kingdom Pedlar Palmer PTS 6 1896-01-30 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Draw Australia Young Griffo PTS 10 1895-10-28 United States Manhattan A.C., New York, New York
Draw Australia Young Griffo PTS 25 1895-01-19 United States Seaside A.C., Coney Island, New York
Win United States Solly Smith KO 7 1894-09-25 United States Seaside A.C., Coney Island, New York Retained World Featherweight Title
Draw Australia Young Griffo PTS 20 1894-06-29 United States Boston Casino, Boston, Massachusetts
Win New Zealand Torpedo Billy Murphy DQ 3 1893-12-15 United States People's Theater, Paterson, New Jersey


  1. ^ a b c "George Dixon", Cyber Boxing Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Tattrie, Jon (30 April 2018). "Sidney Crosby to headline 'greatest sports dinner' in Nova Scotia". CBC Sports. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  3. ^ Sugar, Bert (2006). Boxing's Greatest Fighters.
  4. ^ "Referee and Sports Disagree", San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California, pg. 5, 2 July 1898
  5. ^ "Donated by Dixon", The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, pg. 4, 2 July 1898
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Birthday of Dave Sullivan", The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, pg. 13, 10 May 1919
  8. ^ "George Dixon the Winner", The Record Union, Sacramento, California, pg. 1, 12 November 1898
  9. ^ March 6, 2015 By Adam StockerIn Boxing, Sports, Uncategorized
  10. ^ "Little Chocolate Greatest Boxer of Old Feathers", The San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, pg. 29, 17 August 1913
  11. ^ George Dixon's Professional Boxing Record. Retrieved on 2014-05-18.

Further reading[edit]

Laffoley, Steven (2012). Shadowboxing: The Rise and Fall of George Dixon. Pottersfield Press. ISBN 978-1897426449

External links[edit]

Inaugural Champion World Bantamweight Champion
June 27, 1890 – 1891
Title next held by
Jimmy Barry
Title last held by
Young Griffo
World Featherweight Champion
June 27, 1892 – October 4, 1897
Succeeded by
Solly Smith
Preceded by
Dave Sullivan
World Featherweight Champion
November 11, 1898 – January 9, 1900
Succeeded by
Terry McGovern