Jump to content

Jack Britton: Boxing Marvel


Recommended Posts

Jack Britton, despite being one of the most accomplished boxers ever, is rarely talked about today, among modern boxing fans anyway. He is credited with 237 wins (!), yet Boxrec recognizes only 103. He was a technical boxer, so he only scored 30 ko's. He defeated the great Ted "Kid" Lewis no less than FOURTEEN times and fought him in altogether 20 bouts. He held the world title 3 times, holding it the longest in the 3rd reign, making 12 defences and holding it for 3 years. Britton has fought in more world title bouts than any other boxer in history-37 in all. 

Born William J. Breslin in Clinton, New York state, October 14 1885. He stood 5'8 and had a reach of 70 inches, fighting from orthodox stance. He came from Irish background, so fighting came natural for him, he was a street fighter from young age who made his way into the boxing gym. He had his first professional fight on October 7 1905 and dropped a 6-round decision to Tommy Shea. Only 13 days later, he lost to Steve Kinney by KO2. He won his first fight on November 11, by decision against Jack Nolan. He remained unbeaten for a long time after that and won 64 straight fights with 2 draws! On January 30 1911, he faced his first great opponent in Packey McFarland, one of the best boxers never to get a world title fight. The fight ended a draw after 8 rounds. They fought again on March 7 1913 and this time McFarland won by a newspaper decision. Also their third fight ended in a newspaper decision win for McFarland, who however came in weighing over the lightweight limit. 

After moving up to welterweight, Britton fought Ted Kid Lewis for the first time on March 26 1915 and won by a newspaper decision. They had a rematch with the world title at stake (which Lewis was holding) on August 31, in Boston and Lewis won by a 12-round decision. They had another world title fight on September 28 and again Lewis won by a 12-round decision. Third time proved to be the charm, as they met again on January 20 1916 and Britton became a world champion by way of newspaper decision. He again beat Lewis the same way in his first defence only a month later, February 15. On April 24, they for the first time fought in a 20-rounder with the world title at stake and Britton reportedly outclassed the Englishman, winning clearly on points in New Orleans. He also defended against Joe Welling and won by another decision before again facing Lewis at the Boston Arena on October 17 and winning by PTS12. They would face each other again already in November and this fight ended a draw. Amazingly-just a WEEK later, Britton again defended against Charley White and won on points. 

After making two more defences against Lockport Jimmy Duffy and Albert Badoud, on points of course, he finally lost the world title in another fight against his nemesis Ted Kid Lewis, on March 26 1917, by a 10-round newspaper decision. He would then lose to him FOUR STRAIGHT world title fights on points, before finally beating him again on March 6 1918 by newspaper decision and reclaiming his title. On June 25 that year, he faced the lightweight world champ Benny Leonard in a non-title fight in Philadelphia and lost a 6-round decision in what was reported to be by a small margin in a close fight. On March 17 1919, he astonishingly managed to drop Ted Kid Lewis five times and stop him by KO9 in another world title defence, thus winning against him by ko for the first time. They had their last fight on February 7 1921 and Britton sealed their rivalry with a 15-round unanimous decision, one of the first such results. Britton had fought so many fights that it was starting to catch up with him and he struggled in his title defence against Dave Shade on June 3 that same year, getting floored in the fourth round and barely escaping with a draw. 

On July 18 that year, he fought Mickey Walker and drew against him, but the reports said he was lucky to get a draw. It was a non-title fight. On February 17 '22, he once again drew against Dave Shade in another world title defence. He made his final successful defence against Benny Leonard, winning by DQ13 in a controversial fight; Britton had been doing well until round 13, when he was dropped by a body blow. As he got up to one knee, the overzealous Leonard rushed at him and hit him with a light blow, but enough to earn him a disqualification. He would finally lose the title to Mickey Walker on November 1 that year, getting knocked down in the 12th but making it through the 15 rounds and losing on points. Britton continued fighting until 1930 but would never again fight at world level and for a world title. He finally retired after 25 years in the ring and aged 45!

Jack Britton aka William Breslin died on March 27 1962, aged 76. He was an original inductee into the IBHOF in 1990 and was described as a masterful boxer who was quick, slick, shifty and elusive. He also could take a good punch and was actually only stopped once in his career, in his second fight. In his 37 world title bouts, he never came close to being knocked out, which says a lot about his toughness. He was also rather good looking and popular as a champion. Here's to you Jack Britton!


  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...