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Forgotten Champions: Johnny Jadick


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Probably THE most forgotten champion I have written about yet, Johnny Jadick was actually the world light welterweight world champion between 1932 and 1933. He made a great upset when he won the world NBA title, beating the hall of famer Tony Canzoneri and also beating him in the rematch, in his first defense. Jadick was not a puncher but a good technical fighter who was tough and game and tall for 140 division at 5'8 1/2 or 174 cm. As he also was a skinny guy, his fighting alias was "Kensington Stringbean". Jadick ultimately lost his world title in his second defense and ended his career with 99 wins, 54 losses and 8 draws. Only 15 of those 99 wins were by knockout.


Unbeknownst to many boxing historians and lovers of the science, Jadick was actually born in Ukraine, though it is not specified where. His official birth records say he was born in Philadelphia, on 16 June 1908, but Boxrec says something different; according to them, he was born in Ukraine and his real last name was Jadich. John J. Jadick grew up in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, hence his nickname. He started fighting already at 15, in 1923 and won his first fight by KO 3. That would be one of not many fights he would win that way. He won his 7 first fights before losing to Steve Nitchie and then Jack Metz, both on points. Note however that, like with many other old-time boxers, his record is a matter of debate. In his first relevant fight in 1928, he beat Bruce Flowers by a 10-round decision. In January 1929, he fought the famed Louis "Kid" Kaplan and was disqualified for holding after 7 rounds. In September that year, he was knocked out in one round by Eddie Reed, but he avenged that loss in the next fight by winning on points. He also defeated the famous King Tut twice, first by TKO 8 and then on points. He also fought the hall of famer Benny Bass in December 1930 and lost to him by UD 10. In his next fight, he was again knocked out in one round, this time by Ray Miller and his famous left hook. He then suddenly got a shot at the world (NBA) junior welter title against Tony Canzoneri, the defending champion. The fight happened 18 January 1932 at the Arena in Philadelphia and Jadick was floored in the first round but got up quickly. He had better luck in the next rounds, obviously, and was also helped by the fact that he was fighting at home, in front of partisan crowd. In the end, deservedly or not, he was proclaimed as the winner and new champion after 10 rounds!


He had 5 non-title fights before finally defending his title in a rematch with Canzoneri, 18 July same year at Baker Bowl in Philly. This time, the fight ended a split decision but again in favor of Jadick, the unlikely champion. In September later that year, the NBA foolishly decided not to recognize the "junior divisions", so Jadick found himself stripped of his title. However, he was still recognized as a champion by others, such as the Louisiana athletic commission, which staged the fight between him and Battling Shaw, which was billed for the world title. It happened on 20 February 1932 at the Coliseum Arena in New Orleans and in the end, Jadick lost by a razor-thin majority decision to the very experienced Mexican-born opponent. His second most significant victory came on 18 February 1935, when he beat Fritzie Zivic on points in 10 rounds. He would later lose their rematch by KO 6 and also lost the rubber match to Canzoneri but on points. He also fought Lou Ambers, who was then 32-0-3 and dropped a 10-round decision to him. He lost 19 of his last 21 fights and retired after the last one on 24 September 1937, after having fought for 14 years. Needless to say, Jadick fought a lot, but that was common back then. He was however only stopped 6 times in his 54 losses (according to Boxrec).


John J. Jadick died on 3 April 1970 in his home in Philadelphia, 61 years old, only 2 months shy of his 62nd birthday. Before that, in 1963, he was elected to the Pennsylvania boxing hall of fame. His career was rather extraordinary in the way he managed to get two nods over one of the greatest fighters in history and at the same time become the world champion, after having a rather mixed career. That is probably why so few know of him today. He came to the world stage suddenly and didn't stay long either.

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