Lew Jenkins

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Lew Jenkins
Real name Verlin E. Jenkins
Nickname(s) The Sweetwater Swatter
Rated at Lightweight
Nationality United States American
Born December 4, 1916
Milburn, Texas
Died October 30, 1981(1981-10-30) (aged 64)
Oakland, California
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 121
Wins 74
Wins by KO 52
Losses 42
Draws 5
No contests 0

Lew Jenkins (December 4, 1916 – October 30, 1981) was an American boxer and Lightweight Champion of the World. He was born in Milburn, Texas and was raised during the Great Depression. He began fighting in carnivals and later continued his boxing in the US Army. He was an exceptionally powerful puncher and 51 of his 73 wins were by knockout. His managers included Benny Woodhall, Frank Bachman, Hymie Kaplan, and Willie Ketchum and his trainer was Charley Rose.[1]

Jenkins took the World Lightweight Championship on May 10, 1940 in a third round TKO against Lou Ambers at New York's Madison Square Garden.[2]

Early life[edit]

Verlin E. Jenkins was born on December 4, 1916 in Milburn, Texas to parents Artie James and Minnie Lee, formerly Minnie Lee White. He was the third of four children and had two older and one younger sisters. He started professional boxing around 1935 in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, but by 1938 was boxing regularly in Dallas. The biggest fights of his early career took place after he moved to New York in 1939.[2]

Professional career highlights[edit]

Jenkins defeated Lew Feldman on April 8, 1938 in a ten round split decision at the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas. Oddly, the Dallas crowd booed loudly after the decision of the judges and referees for Jenkins, the Texas native.[3]

Win over Mike Belloise, November 1939[edit]

On November 21, 1939, Jenkins scored a seventh round technical knockout against Mike Belloise, a former World Featherweight Champion, before a crowd of 12,000 at the Bronx's New York Coliseum.[4] Belloise was unable to answer the call of the bell for the eighth round due to the severe punishment he had taken to the body in the sixth and seventh rounds.[5] It was later confirmed that Belloise suffered a broken rib from the bout.[6]

On January 24, 1940, Jenkins convincingly defeated Cuban boxer Chino Alvarez in a knockout only around fifteen seconds into the first round at the Sportatorium in Dallas. Jenkins landed only two or three punches and the rowdy Dallas crowd booed when the ten count was completed, with several climbing into the ring. The victory was Jenkin's ninth straight with six by knockouts. Jenkins sudden rise to prominence as a serious World Lightweight contender was not unprecedented, as he had been fighting professionally at least five years, but the quality of his opposition had increased dramatically in the last two years as many newspapers noted. When he defeated Tippy Larkin in a first round knockout at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1940, he was finally scheduled for a World Lightweight Title bout with reigning champion Lou Ambers. In the impressive win over Larkins, Jenkins started cautiously, then flicked a few straight lefts. After Jenkins blasted with both hands, and in "2:41 of the first round Larkin was left flailing around in his own corner and down for the count."[7][8]

Taking the World Lightweight Championship, May 1940[edit]

Jenkins defeated Lou Ambers in New York City on May 10, 1940 to become World Lightweight Champion.[2][9] Ambers was down for a count of five in the first, briefly down again from a left in the second, and was down in the third before the referee stopped the bout when Jenkins landed a final solid right to Ambers' jaw.[10]

After winning the World Lightweight Championship from Ambers, Jenkins lost his boxing discipline and spent time carousing at night and buying expensive automobiles. He drank recklessly, sometimes before bouts, and crashed several motorcycles and cars.[2][1][11]

On March 8, 1940, Jenkins scored a first round knockout of Tippy Larkin in a non-title bout at New York's Madison Square Garden before a crowd of 11,542.[12] "Tearing out with the bell, the slugger from the Southwest (Jenkins) took command immediately. He threw both fists without a stop, finally connecting with a series of solid lefts and rights and Larkin dropped in his corner."[13] The knockout occurred at the end of the first, 2:41 into the round. Jenkins had scored five straight knockouts in his most recent New York fights. A noteworthy opponent, Larkin would take the World Light Welterweight Championship in 1946.[2]

On September 16, 1940, Jenkins managed to win a decision against Bob Montgomery in a non-title, ten round decision, before a crowd of 12,900 at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Jenkins was down in the third round for a count of nine. The United Press gave Jenkins five rounds to four for Montgomery, though ring officials gave Jenkins a somewhat wider margin.[2][14] Montgomery would twice hold the NYSAC World Lightweight Championship in May 1943 and November 1944.

World Lightweight Championship defense, November 1940[edit]

On November 22, 1940, Jenkins successfully defended his World Lightweight Title against Pete Lello in a second round knockout at New York's Madison Square Garden before a largely hostile audience of around 11,000. Jenkins knocked Lello down four times in the second, usually with strong blows to the jaw and at least twice for counts of nine. He said after the bout that he had little memory of the bout after his first knockdown in the second.[15] Lello had formerly knocked out Jenkins in a close bout that ended in an early seventh round victory in Chicago on March 24, 1939.[2]

Losing the World Lightweight Championship, December 1941[edit]

On December 19, 1941 Jenkins lost his World Lightweight Title against Sammy Angott before a crowd of 11,343 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Fighting with a neck injury he may have received from motorcycle and car crashes, he was outpointed over 15 rounds. From then on he lost a significant percentage of his remaining bouts, though often against quality competition.[2][16]

On September 30, 1949, Jenkins defeated Eddie Giosa in a ten round unanimous decision at the Arena in Philadelphia. He had Giosa down for a count of eight in the second from a left hook, then put him to the mat again with a right to the head. He had Giosa down again in the tenth with a left hook to the head for a count of eight, though the fight continued and was determined by a points decision.[17] Both men fought at 139 in the welterweight range. He had formerly lost to Giosa on May 2, 1949, in a fairly close split decision at the same location. The May victory was Giosa's fourth straight win.[2][18]

Military career[edit]

Jenkins served in the Coast Guard in World War II, where he participated in troop deployment, and found himself in the thick of battle during the Allied invasions of North Africa and the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. He re-enlisted in the infantry at the outbreak of America's involvement in Korean War around 1950 and was awarded the Silver Star for saving several men from enemy fire.[11]

Boxing comeback[edit]

He attempted a comeback after World War II, but was unable to regain his status as a top lightweight and welterweight. He retired from boxing in 1950. In 2003, Jenkins made the Ring Magazine's list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time.[11]

Jenkins died October 30, 1981 at the Oakland Naval Regional Medical Center after a long illness. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[19]

Boxing achievements and honors[edit]

Preceded by
Lou Ambers
World Lightweight Champion
May 10, 1940 – Dec 19, 1941
Succeeded by
Sammy Angott

Jenkins was admitted to the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1977, the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1983 and in 1999, the International Boxing Hall of Fame.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lew Jenkins Cyber Boxing Zone Biography". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Lew Jenkins Boxing Record". BoxRec. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Jenkins Beats Lew Feldman", Reno-Gazette Journal, Reno, Nevada, pg. 12, 9 April 1938
  4. ^ "Jenkins Defeats Mike Belloise", Valley Morning Star, Harlingen, Texas, pg. 12, 22 November 1939
  5. ^ "Belloise Kayoed By Lou Jenkins", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 11, 23 November 1939
  6. ^ "Breaks Rib, Loses", News-Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, pg. 6, 23 November 1939
  7. ^ "Larkin Kayo Victim", Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, New Jersey, pg. 9, 9 March 1940
  8. ^ Miller, Tom, "Dallasites Boo As Lew Jenkins Gets Quick Kayo", El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, pg. 10, 25 January 1940
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/01/obituaries/lew-jenkins-is-dead-at-64-held-lighweight-title-in-1940.html
  10. ^ Ferguson, Harry, "Lew Jenkins Blasts Way To Lightweight Laurels", Cumberland Evening Times, Cumberland, Maryland, pg. 6, 11 May 1940
  11. ^ a b c "Lew Jenkins Boxing Biography". BoxRec. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Lou Jenkins Kayoes Tippy Larkin in First", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 60, 9 March 1940
  13. ^ Feder, Sid, "Tippy Larkin Goes to Sleep During First Round", Santa Cruz Sentinel, Santa Cruz, California, pg. 4, 9 March 1940
  14. ^ Cuddy, Jack, "Lew Jenkins Shows Heart in Rough Bout", The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pg. 22, 17 September 1940
  15. ^ "Pete Lello Put Away in Second Stanza", Ames Daily Tribune, Ames, Iowa, pg. 3, 23 November 1940
  16. ^ Feder, Sid, "Louisville Slugger Scores Easy Win Over Lou Jenkins", The Ottowa Journal, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada, pg. 28, 20 December 1941
  17. ^ Webster, John, "Giosa Outpointed by Lew Jenkins", The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pg. 17, 1 October 1949
  18. ^ Fourth straight win for Giosa in "Lew Jenkins Loses Decision to Giosa", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 24, 3 May 1949
  19. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/01/obituaries/lew-jenkins-is-dead-at-64-held-lighweight-title-in-1940.html

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