James Butler (boxer)

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James Butler Jr.
Nickname(s)Harlem Hammer
Weight(s)Super Middleweight
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Born (1972-12-18) December 18, 1972 (age 46)
Harlem, New York, U.S.
Boxing record
Total fights25
Wins by KO12

James Butler Jr. (born December 18, 1972 in Harlem, New York) is an American murderer and former professional boxer who competed from 1996 to 2004. He got 25 fights: 20 wins, 12 wins by KO, and 5 losses. On November 29, 2001, Butler sucker punched Richard Grant after losing and served 4 months at Rikers Island. In 2004, Butler was arrested for the murder of Sam Kellerman and was sentenced to 29 years and four months in prison.


Butler started off his career by scoring 18 wins and only 1 loss in the super middleweight division. This led to a title fight against Sven Ottke who beat Butler by unanimous decision.

Butler's next bout earned him infamy on November 23, 2001 at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, New York. The bout was a charity event to benefit surviving New York firemen and police officers of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and was televised live on ESPN2. Butler faced Richard "The Alien" Grant, a fighter who had decisioned him early in his career. After losing the rematch by unanimous decision, Butler had his gloves removed before the announcement of the winner, Grant then went to Butler's side of the ring for an expected exchange of congratulations. Instead, Butler sucker punched Grant, nailing a bare-handed right hook to his jaw. Grant suffered a temporarily dislocated jaw and a lacerated tongue that required 26 stitches.[1] Butler was arrested and charged with 2nd degree assault. Butler was later convicted and served four months at Riker's Island detention facility.[2]

Butler's last bout was a split-decision loss on August 10, 2004 to Omar Sheika.

Murder of Sam Kellerman and conviction[edit]

On October 12, 2004, writer Sam Kellerman, (brother of sports analyst Max Kellerman), was killed at his apartment in Los Angeles. His body was not found until October 17. Butler was considered a suspect; he had been friends with Kellerman for over 10 years.

On October 20, Butler, accompanied by a lawyer, sought treatment for his alleged bipolar disorder.

Butler was arrested for the Kellerman murder and slaying on October 27. Two days later, he pleaded not guilty to murder and arson. He was held on $1.25 million bail. Prosecutors claimed that Butler, the only suspect in the case, repeatedly struck Kellerman in the head with a hammer then torched Kellerman's Hollywood, California apartment in an attempted cover-up.

On July 8, 2005, a Los Angeles judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence for Butler to stand trial on the charges of murder and arson.

On March 27, 2006, Butler pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and arson in the 2004 death of Kellerman. On April 5, Butler was sentenced to 29 years and four months in prison by Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, according to Deputy Public Defender Jack Keenan.[3]

The suspected motive for the murder was that Kellerman had asked Butler to move out of his apartment because he was ruining it. Butler, who was struggling to revive his career for boxing picked up a hammer and killed Kellerman and then torched his house.[4]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
25 fights 20 wins 5 losses
By knockout 12 0
By decision 8 5
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
25 Loss 20–5 United States Omar Sheika SD 10 10 August 2004 United States Essex County College , Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
24 Win 20–4 United States Dan Sheehan UD 6 4 June 2004 United States Promo West Pavilion, Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
23 Win 19–4 United States Reggie Strickland UD 6 7 May 2004 United States Farm Bureau Building, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
22 Loss 18–4 United States Thomas Reid UD 8 27 February 2004 United States Key Skating Center, Bronx, New York, U.S.
21 Loss 18–3 Jamaica Richard Grant UD 10 29 November 2001 United States Roseland Ballroom, New York, New York, U.S.
20 Loss 18–2 Germany Sven Ottke UD 12 1 September 2001 Germany Bördelandhalle, Magdeburg, Germany For IBF super-middleweight title
19 Win 18–1 United States Jerry Williams UD 8 24 March 2001 Germany Bördelandhalle, Magdeburg, Germany
18 Win 17–1 United States Jose Spearman TKO 6 (12), 0:59 29 September 2000 United States Station Casino, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S. Retained USBA super middleweight title
17 Win 16–1 United States Arthur Allen TKO 2 (12), 2:03 24 March 2000 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. Retained USBA super middleweight title
16 Win 15–1 United States Bryant Brannon KO 7 (12), 0:55 29 October 1999 United States Farm Bureau Building, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. For USBA super middleweight title
15 Win 14–1 Dominican Republic Merqui Sosa TKO 2 (10), 1:02 16 July 1999 United States Hampton Beach Casino, Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, U.S.
14 Win 13–1 United States Thomas James TKO 2 (6) 24 June 1999 United States Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
13 Win 12–1 United States Jose Hiram Torres TKO 7 (10) 15 May 1999 United States Leominster, Massachusetts, U.S.
12 Win 11–1 United States Calvin Moody KO 1 (10) 22 April 1999 United States Virginia, U.S.
11 Win 10–1 Uzbekistan Rufat Baku UD 10 9 October 1998 United States Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York, U.S.
10 Win 9–1 United States Hector Rosario TKO 6 (8) 11 September 1998 United States Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, New York, U.S.
9 Win 8–1 United States Tim Dendy UD 6 24 March 1998 United States Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, U.S.
8 Win 7–1 United States Knowledge Bey KO 3 (4) 24 January 1998 United States Elks Lodge, Queens, New York, U.S.
7 Win 6–1 United States Malcolm Brooks PTS 6 10 October 1997 United States Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York, U.S.
6 Win 5–1 United States Louis March PTS 4 19 September 1997 United States Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York, U.S.
5 Win 4–1 United States Robert Muhammad KO 6 (6) 18 June 1997 United States Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, New York, U.S.
4 Win 3–1 United States Gerald Holmes KO 1 (4) 11 April 1997 United States Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York, U.S.
3 Loss 2–1 Jamaica Richard Grant PTS 4 31 January 1997 United States Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, New York, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 United States Derrick Whitley PTS 4 2 November 1996 United States Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 United States Eddie Johnson TKO 1 (4) 18 October 1996 United States Bronx, New York, U.S. Professional debut


  1. ^ Wong, Edward (November 27, 2001). "BOXING; Boxer Barred and Charged For Sucker Punch After Loss". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  2. ^ Smith, Tim (February 24, 2004). "A sucker no longer boxer back after punch led to jail, ban". New York Daily News. Daily News L.P. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "Boxer pleads guilty to death of sportswriter Kellerman". ESPN.com. ESPN Inc. March 27, 2006. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  4. ^ "Boxer sentenced to nearly 30 years for killing". ESPN.com. ESPN Inc. April 5, 2006. Retrieved March 8, 2017.

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