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Solly Krieger


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A world champion at middleweight, Solly Krieger also fought as a light heavy later on in his career. His most notable wins were those over Billy Conn, Al Hostak, Swede Berglund, Carmen Barth, Frank Battaglia and Izzy Jannazzo. Early on, he was a cautious defensive boxer, but then developed into a free-swinging puncher with a powerful left hook. His career pretty much declined after he lost his world title in brutal fashion to big puncher Al Hostak in 1939. After that, he would never fight in a big fight again and lost many times. 

Born on 28 March 1909 in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, Solly is his real name and he came from a Jewish family. Typically for a middleweight of that era, he stood 5'8 (173 cm) and had the identical reach. Since his last name means "warrior" in German, it was only suitable that he became a boxer, after first being active in American and European football, baseball and basketball. He was the 1928 Golden Gloves champion in the amateurs (fighting as Danny Auerbach) and turned pro 22 December that year, managed by Hymie Caplan. After going 21-2-3, he faced the future world champion Vince Dundee (real name Vincenzo Lazzara) in his first important fight, 16 October 1931, and lost by a TKO 8 after breaking his left elbow and having to retire. On 18 May 1934, he first faced Swede Berglund and lost on points in 10 rounds. Because of the elbow injury he suffered against Dundee, he only had two fights that year. He then had surgery to correct the injury, but it left him with one arm shorter than the other. On 7 January 1936, he avenged an earlier loss on points to Jackie Aldare by stopping Aldare by TKO 7. Later that year, on 21 September, he beat the former world title challenger Frank Battaglia on points.

On 13 January 1937, he faced the clever Teddy Yarosz and dropped a 10-round decision to him. Only a month later, he fought the future world champion Fred Apostoli and lost 7 out of 10 rounds, according to report. He was of bad luck in their rematch on 14 April, as he suffered a bad cut on his lower lip and lost by TKO 5. Later that year, on 12 August, he knocked out the 32-1 Walter Woods in 8, but then lost to him in the rematch on points, 2 months later. After again defeating Frank Battaglia on points, his luck finally got better as he faced the great future light heavyweight champion Billy Conn, 16 December at Duquesne Gardens in Pittsburgh, Conn's hometown. Despite Conn being significantly taller at almost 6'2, Krieger was the aggressor and put Conn down for an 8-count in the eight round. Before that, Conn had slipped to the canvas twice. In the end, Krieger won on all scorecards clearly. After that, he scored 5 straight knockout victories, in the last of them stopping the solid Izzy Jannazzo by TKO 11 at the Hippodrome in New York. 

That was on 6 April 1938, but after that he would experience two straight losses on points against Glen Lee and legendary Freddie Steele. He fought Steele on 14 June at Civic Ice Arena in Seattle and Krieger bloodied his nose in round 2 and in round 10 nailed him with a big left hook that made Steele spit out his mouthpiece and then nailed him with a right behind the ear that sent him spinning, but still in the end, it turned out Steele had done enough to win. In his next fight, Krieger avenged the loss to Swede Berglund and sent him into retirement by dropping him three times before the fight was over in the 6th. And then, after winning two more fights by stoppage, he FINALLY was given a chance to win the NBA world title against hard punching Al "Savage Slav" Hostak. The fight was again at the Civic Auditorium in Seattle, 1 November '38 and Hostak broke both of his hands early in the fight and was down in the 14th round for the first time in his career. He also developed a bad swelling around his eyes as a result of Krieger frequently nailing him with his punches to the head. Krieger was deservedly proclaimed the winner after 15 rounds and so, finally had achieved his dream. 

He however had a fight above 160 against Billy Conn and this time lost clearly to the slicker Conn at Duquesne Gardens, Conn reportedly winning 6 rounds and Krieger 3 with 3 being even. After beating Carmen Barth in another fight above 160, on points, he faced Conn for the third time 12 May 1939, this time at Madison SG and this time he was clearly outboxed and dominated but lasted the distance of 12 rounds. The one-sided beating he took here probably ended his prime and when he finally got to defend his world title in the rematch against Hostak, Krieger looked poorer than usual. It was held on 27 June '39 at the Seattle Civic Auditorium and Hostak pounded Krieger at will, knocking him down twice in the third and twice in the fourth before the fight was over, after 45 seconds of round 4. It was the first true knockout loss of Solly Krieger's career. After the fight, Krieger blamed his poor performance on having to lose 20 pounds for the fight and also Hostak's own great right hand. 

He became a light heavy after that fight and stopped Texas Joe Dundee, Mario Liani and Herbie Katz, before dropping a 10-round decision to Jimmy Reeves. He then scored three more wins before losing three straight decisions to Melio Bettina, Tommy Tucker and Pat Valentino. He scored his last victory on 13 May 1941, stopping the 6-0 Dan Gill by TKO 6. In his last fight on 22 July same year, he took on the heavyweight Lee Savold, who weighed in at 188 1/2 to Krieger's 180. Savold would later briefly hold the world title, but he was unable to stop the tough warrior from Brooklyn and had to settle for an UD 10. Krieger finally retired after that, aged 32 and with a record of 82 wins, 54 by ko, 25 losses (only 3 by ko) and 6 draws. 

He also briefly worked as a referee in 1939. After retirement, he had trouble with his left eye for many years, until he had surgery in 1951 in Miami Beach and got it removed. He was married and had two children. Solly Krieger died on 24 September 1964, aged only 55. He had also been involved in gambling and lost money on it, as well as opening a tavern which did not succeed. His last job was as a parking attendant in Miami Beach. Posthumously, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Krieger was a capable boxer and slugger who could beat almost anyone on his best night, but came up short many times in close fights against some of the best fighters of that time. Still, he managed to defeat a couple of greats in Conn and Hostak.




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