King Levinsky

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King Levinsky
King Levinsky.jpg
Real nameHarris Krakow
Nickname(s)Kingfish Levinsky
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Reach74 in (188 cm)
Born(1910-09-10)September 10, 1910
Chicago, Illinois
DiedSeptember 30, 1991(1991-09-30) (aged 81)
Boxing record
Total fights117
Wins by KO40

King Levinsky (10 September 1910 – 30 September 1991), also known as Kingfish Levinsky, was an American heavyweight boxer who fought during the 1930s. He was born Harris Kraków and was a member of the Kraków fish-selling family of Maxwell Street, in Chicago's old Jewish ghetto.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Notable opposition[edit]

Levinsky was a rated heavyweight whose biggest wins came against ex-heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey on a 10-round decision, and ex-lightheavyweight champion Tommy Loughran, also on a decision. He was defeated twice by Primo Carnera,[2] and also lost to Max Baer.[3] Although he never fought for the title, Levinsky faced all of the top fighters of his era.

Levinsky is best remembered for "freezing" in his fight with Joe Louis, who knocked him out in the first round.[4][5] On February 18, 1931, Levinsky also fought a 4-round exhibition with Jack Dempsey.[6] Dempsey had embarked on a tour of exhibition bouts and was contemplating a comeback. The Levinsky fight convinced him that he was through as a fighter.


A May 1932 Time Magazine article stated: "If you defined the efficiency of a prize-fighter by his ability in the ring, Harry Krakow ('Kingfish Levinsky') would not rate better than tenth among U. S. heavyweights. Last year he had 15 fights, won only eight. If you defined efficiency as a fighter's ability to earn money at his trade, Kingfish Levinsky might rank as best fighter in the U. S. In the last 15 months, gates at his fights with Slattery, Griffiths, Camera, Paulino and an exhibition bout against Jack Dempsey have amounted to $254,124.68. He may this year earn more than Schmeling, Sharkey, Dempsey, Camera or Schaaf. Kingfish Levinsky's earning power is due partly to an engaging slapstick manner in the ring, an engaging entourage.... It is due partly to the fact that most of Levinsky's fights have been in Chicago, where everyone knows that he grew up on the West Side and entered the fish-peddling business with a pushcart on Maxwell Street."[1]

For a portion of his career, Levinsky was managed by his sister Lena (Kraków) Levy.[1] Known as "Leapin Lena", she was a colorful character who swore like a sailor, and rooted loudly for her brother during his bouts.[1] Esquire magazine, in its February 1939 issue, included an article profiling his new career as a professional wrestler.

Life after boxing[edit]

Some remember Levinsky as the punch drunk old ex-prizefighter selling ties and watches in front of his sister's fish market on Maxwell Street in Chicago and on the streets of Miami Beach, Florida. He was reputed to have offered to sell Herbert Hoover a "hot" watch.[citation needed] Before the first Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight in 1964, Levinsky would heckle Clay telling him that he had no chance, but not to worry because after the Liston fight they could sell ties together. Clay then went on to shock the world by defeating Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship. Levinsky is mentioned by name in The Honeymooners episode, "TV Or Not TV".

Levinsky was married to fan dancer Roxana Sand for just over a month in 1934.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Sport: Levinsky v. Walker". TIME. 1932-05-09. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  2. ^ "Sport: Fights". TIME. 1932-12-19. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  3. ^ Baer, California's Ex-Butcher Boy, Beats Chicago's Kingfish Levinsky Ludington Daily News - Jul 6, 1932
  4. ^ The Louis Laugh Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Aug 10, 1935
  5. ^ Obverse English, Delivering a Glancing Blow to the Cliche Ludington Daily News - Jan 30, 1978
  6. ^ "Sport: Dempsey v. Fish". TIME. 1932-02-29. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  7. ^ "King Levinsky at Boxing Rec". Archived from the original on April 21, 2006. Retrieved 2014-05-05.

External links[edit]