Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tommy Burns: The Little Giant of Hanover

By Peter Silkov

Tommy Burns is one of the most underrated boxers to have worn the World heavyweight championship. Born Noah Brusso in Ontario, Canada, Burns started his fighting career as a middleweight and never weighed much more than a light heavyweight, yet, he often fought fighters far bigger than himself. Standing just five feet and seven inches, Burns was a strong and clever fighter, who fought out of a crouch, and offered his opponents an elusive, busy target. Despite his lack of size, Burns had a decent dig in his punch, along with good hand speed. Unfortunately, Burns’ career will always be marked by the fact that he lost his championship to Jack Johnson on December 26, 1908, making Johnson, the first coloured man to win sports greatest prize. It was a defeat that Burns was never truly forgiven in many quarters. Yet, he deserves credit for being one of the few white champions of his time who was willing to defend his world title against a black man, rather than continue to hide behind the 'colour bar' as previous champions, from Sullivan to Jeffries, did before him.

Burns won the world title after beating Marvin Hart on February 23, 1906, and went on to make an impressive 13 defences of his title over the next two years. Throughout his time as champion, Burns was continually hounded and challenged by Jack Johnson. Johnson followed Burns through out America, then to Europe, and finally to Australia, where Burns finally agreed to put his title on the line against the determined Jack Johnson. The match was no match at all, as Johnson played with Burns, before the police stopped the one sided beating after 14 rounds. After losing his title, Burns had a few more fights and even made a short comeback in 1920 at the age of 40, but could never escape the name of Jack Johnson. Although Burns was not a great heavyweight, he was undoubtedly an outstanding fighter to have spent most of his career fighting men so much bigger than him and only being outclassed when he came up against one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Had Burns stayed at the lighter weights of middleweight or light heavyweight, he may well have gained recognition as one of the greats. Tommy Burns’ final record was 46(34koes)-4-8

Copyright © 2014 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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