Did you know?
Boxing fans who meet around a fire on cold winter evenings often play a game of did-you-know; showing off their knowledge of the sport they love.
SuperBoxing has compiled a list of fascinating facts that can be tossed about on such occasions.
Here they are:
South Africa’s first two Olympic Games boxing gold medal winners, Clarence Walker and Willie Smith , and the first three SA fighters to win world titles in professional boxing, Willie Smith, Vic Toweel and Arnold Taylor, were all bantamweights.
Dennis Adams never lost his Empire flyweight title in the ring. He was deposed as champion on May 31, 1961 when South Africa became a republic. One result was that SA boxers were no longer eligible to hold or fight for British Commonwealth titles.
Max Gornik, an Australian of limited ability, is best remembered for the unusual result of his fight with Charlie Smith in the Johannesburg city hall on January 15, 1927. The fight started late and the boxers were in the 14th round when the clock struck midnight. A Board of Control member, Ludwig Japhet, pointed out to Tiny Dean that they would be infringing the Sunday Observance Act if the bout continued. Dean, secretary of the board, replied: “The clock’s fast.” But just then the Post Office clock also began chiming. The bout was stopped, with Smith ahead on points. However, the official result was a draw over 14 rounds.
When Gerald Dreyer was 16 years old, he won five amateur titles in eight weeks. One of them was the senior Transvaal lightweight championship. Dreyer was only a fraction over the featherweight limit at the time. A year later he won the SA senior lightweight title. He won the lightweight gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. As a professional he held the SA lightweight and British Empire welterweight titles.
The heavyweight fight between SA champion Johnny Ralph and world light-heavyweight champion Freddie Mills of England drew about 40 000 spectators to the Wembley Stadium in Johannesburg on November 6, 1948. They paid a record amount for tickets – about R85 000 in today’s terms.
Jewey Smith, who fought Tommy Burns for the world heavyweight championship in Paris on April 18, 1908, is often referred to as a South African. However, according to available records he was born in Aldgate, London, on July 1, 1884.
James Robertson Couper, who was born in Edinburgh in Scotland on March 12, 1855 was recognised as South Africa’s first heavyweight champion. Often referred to as “the father of SA boxing”, Couper also wrote a novel that was published in 1892. The title was Mixed Humanity – A Story of Camp Life in South Africa. The book was about life in Johannesburg and Kimberley during the early days.
When Jimmy Murphy of New Zealand stopped Jim Holloway in the 17th round of their fight for the SA lightweight title at the Amphitheatre in Johannesburg on
October 28, 1893, Clem Webb became the first referee to get into the ring with the boxers. Until then, referees had operated from outside the ring.
Little George Harris became the first SA flyweight champion when he stopped Marius Henning in the seventh round of their fight in Kimberley on November 12, 1909. He remained undefeated in this division until his retirement about 12 years later.
During 1890, Jan Silberbauer, a muscular heavyweight, fought Barney Malone, who seldom weighed more than 140 pounds (63.50 kg), in the Orange Free State for a side stake of 400 pounds.
After five hours and thirty minutes of fighting, the two men stumbled to the centre of the ring for the 212th round. Silberbauer just stood there, unable to raise his hands, and Malone was declared the winner of the longest fight under London Prize Ring Rules. Silberbauer did not fight again for three years and it took Malone 12 months to recover from his injuries.
Ben Foord, the South African who won the heavyweight championship of Great Britain on August 17, 1936 had such large hands that promoters of his early fights had problems to obtain gloves for him. When he fought Johnny Squires in a six-rounder, the gloves had to be cut at the palms before he could put them on.
One of the shortest reigns as SA champion was George Angelo’s. He won the national welterweight title when he beat Alf James on points at the Wembley Stadium in Johannesburg on January 24, 1948. Only 28 days later, on February 21, James reversed the result by beating the young Angelo over 12 rounds.
was 18 years old when he won a bronze medal at the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Ring’s monthly ratings in December 1933 listed Don McCorkindale as the fifth best heavyweight in the world. It was the highest ranking given to an SA heavyweight until the era of Gerrie Coetzee and Kallie Knoetze about 45 years later.
Look, Ma! No bare hands! Boxing gloves were first used in 1818, according to a report in a French publication on October 9 that year.
The journalist wrote: “Yesterday a great exhibition was made by English boxers. The two champions were built like Hercules and were naked to the waist. They entered the ring with their hands guarded with huge padded gloves.”
Skin-tight gloves were used during the last part of the nineteenth century and were made to order to fit snugly over the hands of the boxers.
The old “feather-bed gloves” or “mufflers” were first tried out during the Broughton era of boxing in England in 1743. The first gloves weighed 10 ounces, which was later reduced to eight ounces; then to six and to four. “Stake matches” were fought with one-ounce gloves.