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Hall Of Fame Nominee: Ezzard Charles

Hall Of Fame Nominee: Ezzard Charles  

  1. 1. Hall Of Fame Nominee: Ezzard Charles

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Ezzard Charles




Ezzard Mack Charles (July 7, 1921 – May 28, 1975) was an African-American professional boxer and former world heavyweight champion. He holds wins over numerous Hall of Fame fighters in three different weight classes. Charles retired with a record of 93 wins, 25 losses and 1 draw.




He was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, but is commonly thought of as a Cincinnatian.[1] Charles graduated from Woodward High School in Cincinnati where he was already becoming a well-known fighter.[2] Known as "The Cincinnati Cobra," Charles is best remembered for his wins as a heavyweight, but most experts feel[weasel words] he was in his prime as a light heavyweight. Although he never won the championship at that weight, Ring magazine has rated him as the greatest light heavyweight of all time.[3]


Ezzard Charles started his career as a featherweight in the amateurs, where he had a record of 42-0. In 1938, he won the Diamond Belt Middleweight Champion. He followed this up in 1939 by winning the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament of champions. He won the national AAU Middleweight Championship in 1939. He turned pro in 1940, knocking out Melody Johnson in the 4th round. Charles won all of his first 15 fights before being defeated by veteran Ken Overlin. Victories over future Hall of Famers Teddy Yarosz and the much avoided Charley Burley had started to solidify Charles as a top contender in the Middleweight division. However, he served in the U.S. military during World War II and was unable to fight professionally in 1945.


He returned to boxing after the war as a light heavyweight, picking up many notable wins over leading light heavyweight as well as heavyweight contenders Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivins, Lloyd Marshall, and Elmer Ray. Shortly after his knock-out of Moore in their third and final meeting, tragedy struck. Charles fought a young contender named Sam Baroudi, knocking him out in Round 10. Baroudi died of the injuries he sustained in this bout. Charles was so devastated he almost gave up fighting. Charles was unable to secure a title shot at light heavyweight, and moved up to heavyweight. After knocking out Joe Baksi and Johnny Haynes, Charles won the vacant National Boxing Association world heavyweight title when he outpointed Jersey Joe Walcott over 15 rounds on June 22, 1949. The following year, he outpointed his idol and former world heavyweight champion Joe Louis to become the recognized lineal champion. Successful defenses against Walcott, Lee Oma and Joey Maxim would follow.




In 1951, Charles fought Walcott a third time and lost the title by knockout in the seventh round. Charles lost a controversial decision in the fourth and final bout. If Charles had won this fight he would have become the first man in history to regain the heavyweight championship. Remaining a top contender with wins over Rex Layne, Tommy Harrison, and Coley Wallace, Charles knocked out Bob Satterfield in an eliminator bout for the right to challenge Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano. His two stirring battles with Marciano are regarded as ring classics. In the first bout, held in June 1954, he valiantly took Rocky the distance, going down on points in a vintage heavyweight bout. Charles is the only man ever to last the full 15-round distance against Marciano.[4] In their September rematch, a severely cut Marciano rallied to KO Charles in the 8th round, in a bout that was named Ring Magazine's "Fight of the Year." Financial problems forced Charles to continue fighting, losing 12 of his final 23 fights. He retired with a record of 96-25-1 (58 KOs).


Charles was also a respected double bass player who played with some of the jazz greats in the 40s and 50s at such notable places as Birdland. He was very close with Rocky Marciano and a neighbor and friend of Muhammed Ali when they both lived on 85th street in Chicago.[5] Charles also starred in one motion picture: "Mau Mau Drums", an independent (and unreleased) jungle-adventure film shot in and around Cincinnati in 1960 by filmmaker Earl Schwieterman.




Ezzard Charles died May 28, 1975, in Chicago from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, aged 53, and was interred in the historic Burr Oak Cemetery, in Alsip, Illinois. In 1976 Cincinnati honored Charles by changing the name of Lincoln Park Drive to Ezzard Charles Drive. This was the street of his residence during the height of his career.[6]


He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.


In 2002, Charles was ranked #13 on Ring Magazine's list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years.




In 2006, Ezzard Charles was named the 11th greatest fighter of all time by the IBRO (International Boxing Research Organisation).[7]


The “Cincinnati Cobra” was a master boxer of extraordinary skill and ability. He had speed, agility, fast hands and excellent footwork. Charles possessed a masterful jab and was a superb combination puncher. He was at his peak as a light-heavyweight. His record is quite impressive. Against top rate opposition like Archie Moore, Charley Burley, Lloyd Marshall, Jimmy Bivins, and Joey Maxim he was an impressive 16-2 combined. Despite being a natural light-heavy he won the heavyweight title and made 9 successful title defenses. Nearly 25% of voters had Charles in the top 10. Half of the voters had him in the top 15. Two thirds of voters had him inside the top 20.


ESPN online ranks Ezzard Charles as the 27th greatest boxer of all time, ahead of such notable fighters as Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Larry Holmes and Jake LaMotta.[8]


In 2009, Boxing Magazine listed Ezzard Charles as the greatest Light Heavyweight fighter ever, beating the likes of Archie Moore, Bob Foster, Gene Tunney.[9]


Prominent Boxing historian, Bert Sugar, listed Charles as the 7th greatest Heavyweight of all time.


Source: wikipedia


Full record here: http://boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=9012&cat=boxer

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Nominated by DonLevy


Ezzard Charles


"More known for his days as a heavyweight reign rather than the weight in which he was at his peak and achieved his greatest wins - the light heavyweight division.He beat top fighters(many of whom are regarded as all time greats) from the middleweight division all the way up to the heavyweight division,including:


Teddy Yarosz

Jose Basora

Charley Burley 2x

Joey Maxim 5x

Lloyd Marshall 2x

Archie Moore 3x

Jimmy Bivins 4x

Elmer Ray

Jersey Joe Walcott 2x

Joe Louis




A truly great fighter in every division he competed,and the greatest in light heavyweight divison in my view."

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