Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Review: The 16TH Round: From Number 1 Contender To Number 45472

The Boxing Glove Book Review: by Peter Silkov
“The 16th Round: From Number 1 Contender To Number 45472”    By Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

The 16th Round is the extremely powerful and often moving autobiography of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. During the early to mid 1960s Rubin Carter was one of the top middleweight contenders in the world, a feared and destructive fighter, who was considered by many to be a future world champion. However, that is not the way things turned out for The Hurricane. Rubin Carter did not win the World middleweight title, instead he tried and failed in what would be his one and only world title chance. Then in a dark twist of fate, Carter saw both his remaining boxing career and his freedom snatched away from him when he was jailed in 1967 for his part in the murder of two white men and a white woman in a New Jersey bar.

Carter, and a friend John Artis, were eventually convicted of the killings on May 26, 1967, despite the apparent lack of solid evidence against the men. Also, the fact that the prosecution’s main witnesses were two petty criminals, Alfred Bello and Arthur Dexter Bradley, who admitted to being in the area that night with the intent to burgle a nearby factory. Rubin Carter and John Artis strongly claimed their innocence of these murders from the beginning, but it would take 20 long years before Carter would finally be set free and have his indictment dismissed. With Artis being released on bail in 1981.   

Between their original convictions in 1967, and Carter’s release in 1985, his case would become known internationally and made him a focus during the civil rights movement. Rubin's gained the support of many high profile celebrities from the world of both sport and entertainment, including Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan. Carter achieved a taste of freedom for a couple of months in 1976, when he was let out on bail pending a second trial.  Unfortunately for Carter, the second trial ended with the same verdict as the first, and he was returned to prison.

In “The 16th Round” Carter tells the story of his life and details the injustice of his incarceration. This book, written in 1974, behind the bars of Rahway State Prison in New Jersey, is an intense howl of anger and despair by Carter at his unjust imprisonment for murders that he claims he did not commit. 

The 16th Round is a stark and often brutal tale of Carter’s life from a troubled childhood, through to his time as middleweight contender, when he was, for a time, one of the most feared fighters in the world, onto his conviction and imprisonment for murder. It is this book that fired up much of the campaign that resulted in Rubin’s brief taste of freedom in 1976, until in the run up to his second trial. 

From early childhood, Carter was afflicted with a severe speech impediment that he would not overcome until the age of 18. This seems to have played a strong part in him growing up with an ever-deepening sense of alienation and injustice at the world around him, including his father who was a respected deacon, but could neither understand (physically or emotionally) nor control his young son.  At the age of 11 years old, Rubin was jailed in a juvenile reformatory for stabbing a man (whom Carter describes in this book as trying to sexually assault him.) It is to be the first of a number of incarcerations that featured in Carter’s life. The descriptions of these places is at times quite chilling, and Carter provides some disturbing and enlightening material upon the inhumanity and hopelessness of prison.

Rubin’s boxing career, and the rise of his alter ego “The Hurricane”, is focused on the middle part of this autobiography, with some vivid accounts of some of his most important fights. Yet, it is his experiences with authority and the justice system where this book really excels and transcends from being just another boxing autobiography. Having read "The 16Th Round," it is not hard to see why the civil rights movement took up his case and why his imprisonment was seen by many as one of the greatest injustices of the time. The whole Carter story is mired with controversy, and there are those who dispute much of what he writes within “The 16TH Round”, especially his protestations of innocence.  Even today, a year after Carter’s death, there seems to be almost an ’anti-Carter’ industry, which opposes many of the claims and assertions made by Rubin Carter and his supporters. This debate will probably continue for many years, with both sides passionate about whether “The Hurricane” was truly an innocent man or not.

After he was eventually freed in 1985, Rubin Carter’s story would become the subject of a Hollywood film starring Denzil Washington “The Hurricane”, which gained great acclaim, despite infamously taking some Hollywood liberties with the truth in some parts.

Rubin Carter himself became a powerful voice for the wrongfully imprisoned in the years after he finally achieved his freedom. 

Although there have been other books written by and about Rubin Carter since the original publication of The 16th Round, neither of them succeed in capturing the raw emotions that one can feel literally coming out of the pages at you in Carter’s original autobiography. When all the controversy is swept aside, this book stands on its own merit as a fascinating and visceral study of human nature.  Love, hate, racism, violence, despair, and courage are all to be found in here, in a autobiography that truly goes beyond the world of boxing, and looks into the darkest areas of the human condition.
Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Hurricane: Rubin Carter

By Peter Silkov

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a top middleweight contender in the 1960s, whose career was cut short by a murder conviction that would see him spend almost 20 years in jail for his alleged involvement in 3 murders.

Carter was born on May 6, 1937, in Clifton, New Jersey. Rubin was a troubled child, who struggled with a severe stutter that he would not overcome until his late teens.  At the age of 14 he was convicted of assault and sent to Jamesburg Home for Boys.  Three years later, he escaped, and while on the run enlisted in the army. It proved to be a turning point in his life and while in the army, Carter took up boxing for the first time. Rubin would eventually leave the army with a record of 51-5 with 31 knockouts.  However, Carter still found himself falling into trouble and in 1957, he was jailed for 4 and a half years for his part in an assault and two robberies. 

It was following his release from this period of incarceration that Carter finally began to take boxing seriously, making his pro debut on September 22, 1961, with a 4 rounds split points win over Pike Reed. From this point, Carter’s rise was a little less than meteoric. His ultra aggressive style attracted the fans, he would stalk his opponents, and when in range throw punches in vicious combinations. A fearsome demeanor equaled Carter’s knockout power in his fists. Some 20 years before it became fashionable for fighters to shave their heads, Carter sported a bald dome, a goatee moustache and beard, and the same kind of baleful expression that was worn by Sonny Liston. By 1963, Carter was a one of the most feared contenders in the middleweight division, with impressive wins over Florentino Fernandez, Holly Mims, Gomeo Brennan, George Benton, and Farid Salim. On December 20, 1963, Carter scored a sensational 1st round knockout victory over Emile Grffith, who at the time was the World welterweight champion and would go on to become a two-time World middleweight champion as well. Griffith certainly felt that he had been run down by a hurricane on that night of December 20, 1963. It would prove to be Carter’s greatest night in the ring.

Following his defeat of Griffith, The Hurricane started clamouring for a title fight, and in the mean time, out-pointed Jimmy Ellis, the future World heavyweight champion. Carter got his title shot on December 14, 1964, when he met Joey Giardello for the World middleweight title. Giardello was a 34-year-old veteran who was considered to be years paste his best, and many expected Carter to be too young and strong for the battle scarred champion. However, it was not to be, Giardello produced a boxing clinic, using all his skills and the experience of over a decade as a professional, to out-box and at times, out-punch the fearsome challenger.

Rubin Carter & Dick Tiger
The loss to Giardello seemed to have done something to Carter, whether it damaged his confidence or focus is not clear, but certainly Carter seemed to have peaked, and then began the long slide downhill that happens to all fighters. The Hurricane himself would blame the post-Giardello fight slump in his form upon the increasing harassment, which he was receiving, from the police and media by this time.

Following the Giardello bout, Carter would be 7-7-1 in his last 15 bouts. Carter was still a hit with the fans, and there was no shame in his point’s defeats to Luis Manuel Rodriguez, Harry Scott, Dick Tiger, and Stan Harrington, but he no longer looked like an invincible fighting machine, storming towards winning a world title. 
Then on June 17, 1966, an incident occurred which would change Hurricane Carter’s life. Two white men and a white woman were shot dead at the Lafayette Grill in Paterson. Carter and an acquaintance, John Artis, were pulled over within the hour and questioned. What followed was a case of tremendous twists, turns, and complexity, which still raises heated argument today.

Rubin Carter would have one more fight while free on bail, being out-pointed by Juan Carlos Rivero on August 6, 1966. It would turn out to be The Hurricane’s final fight.

On May 27, 1967, Carter and Artis were both sentenced to three counts of life in prison. In a debacle, which would include a second trial in 1976, when the pair were convicted again, Carter was not freed from prison until November 1985. In the mean time, his case had become a cause attracting worldwide attention, with support from celebrities from the sports and entertainment world, such as Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan.  Rubin Carter’s case became an illustration of the many wrongful imprisonment cases that occur all too often, and more often than not, due to the colour of a person’s skin. While in jail, Carter brought attention to his cause with his biography “The 16th Round”, which recounted his life and boxing career, and protested his innocence. 

In 1988, a third trial was finally cancelled and the indictments on Carter and Artis finally dropped. After his release from jail Carter would spend his time giving support to other victims of injustice in Canada and America, and giving speeches about his life and experiences.  In 1999, a film “Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington was released about Carter, focusing upon his boxing career, and his wrongful imprisonment.

After his death Rubin Carter is still a controversial figure, with some people still questioning his innocence, whatever the truth, there is no denying that Rubin Carter has highlighted the problem of wrongful imprisonment in a way that was never achieved before and upon such a large scale.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s final record was 27(19koes)-12-1.

 Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ace Hudkins: Remembering The Nebraska Wild Cat

By Peter Silkov

Ace Hudkins was one of the most colourful and feared fighters of the 1920s, an aggressive, all-action, snarling, two-fisted, beast of a fighter, who asked for, nor gave any mercy in the ring. He wasn’t given the nick name “The Nebraska Wild Cat” for being dull. If he was a wild cat inside the ring, Hudkins was no less formidable out side the roped square. Hudkins was a full-blown hell raiser who seemed to create a storm wherever he went. He was a throwback to the days of the Wild West when lawless gunslingers challenged each other on the streets to decide who was the quickest on the draw. Perhaps it will come as no surprise that Ace often got into trouble with the authorities for roaming the streets armed with a gun. 

Ace Hudkins was born Asa Hudkins on August 30, 1905, in Valparaiso, Nebraska. He soon showed he was good with his hands almost from the moment he learned how to make fists with them.  By the age of 12, he was working as a ‘newsboy’ and proved to be very adept at defending his patch.

It is likely that by the time he hit his teens, Hudkins was fighting for pay in the unofficial ’bootleg’ fights that used to take place in various back rooms of small bars and clubs in those days.

“The Nebraska Wild Cat” started his official boxing career in 1922, at the age of 17, and from the start he fought just as he had when defending his pitch on the street. He would bore into his opponents with both arms swinging and he didn’t care much where his punches landed. Ace was rough and tough with seemingly unlimited endurance and impervious to pain, in fact if anything, getting hit seemed only to strengthen the Wild Cat. He would fight with a snarl on his face and a maniacal glint in his eyes, which would become ever more fierce as his fights wore on. With his two brothers Art and Clyde working his corner, Ace set about making himself the terror of the lightweight division and by 1925, he was rated by The Ring magazine amongst the top lightweights in the world.

But, Ace hadn’t really arrived yet, with most of his fights having taken place in his own backyard of Nebraska, or in California. He was still relatively unknown in New York, and this is perhaps the reason why he was picked as an opponent for the unbeaten 19-year old prodigy Ruby Goldstein. 20 years before he would gain fame, as boxing’s premier referee; “The Rube” was an unbeaten lightweight who was being hailed as the new Benny Leonard. Goldstein was 23-0 and on verge of a world title shot when Ace was brought in as a final ‘warm up’ before Goldstein’s expected world title challenge. Goldstein’s management had been warned to keep Ruby away from Hudkins, by a former Hudkins’ opponent Sid Terris. Although Terris had out-pointed Hudkins, he knew only too well what an opponent had to go through against The Wild Cat. Hudkins never bothered to learn the ‘sweet science’ of boxing, and could be out-boxed, but it took a special kind of person to stand up to Hudkins’ savage fury, and outbox him. Also, at this point of his career Hudkins, at the age of 21-years old, was still improving, growing stronger, and gaining more experience. Goldstein was the heavy favourite in New York, he had boxing skill and a dynamite punch, and his Jewish fans believed that he was set for greatness. All those dreams were shattered on the night of June 26 1926, when Ruby entered the ring against The Nebraska Wildcat.  Goldstein dropped Hudkins in the first minute of the 1st round with one of his best punches, but the Wild Cat rose from the canvas with a snarl before the count of ten, and from then on “The Jewel of The Ghetto” was fighting for his life. Goldstein had never experienced anything like Hudkins before and was forced to go toe-to-toe with him in a desperate effort of survival. It all ended in the 4th round, when a savage left hook laid Goldstein out upon the bottom rope, unconscious to the world, but with his eyes wide open. Ace Hudkins had arrived and his decimation of Goldstein made him a sensation.  Meanwhile, Goldstein never recovered from the savage beating The Wild Cat had given him, and although he fought for another decade, he was just going through the motions.

Following his victory over Goldstein, Ace clamoured for a shot at the World lightweight championship, but to no avail. He then added some pounds to his muscular frame and went after the welterweight title, only to find he was avoided once more by the division’s titleholder. By 1928, Hudkins had moved up to the middleweight division, and it was here that he finally received a world title shot, on June 21, 1928, challenging “The Toy Bull Dog” Mickey Walker for Walker’s World middleweight title. Walker and Hudkins were in many ways mirror images of each other, both in the ring and out of it; two men who were known to raise as much hell outside of the ring as they did inside of it. Their fight was brutal and bloody, with Walker retaining his world title on a split decision after ten blood splattered rounds. The referee had voted for Hudkins, while both judges went for The Toy Bulldog.

16 months later on October 29, 1929, Hudkins was granted a rematch against Walker for the World middleweight title, but came up short again, losing on points once more, after another barnstormer. The two world title fights with Walker would represent a peak; it was all down hill from then on for Ace Hudkins. He would fight 8 more times over the next 3 years, with his weight rising to light-heavyweight proportions, he began fighting light heavyweights and heavyweights, but not with the success of old. The wild ways and wild life, both in and outside the ring, had finally taken a toll, and Ace’s thirst for fighting was now being overwhelmed by his thirst for liquor.

Hudkins was 4-4 in his last eight fights. His last good win was a 10-round point’s victory over heavyweight contender King Levinsky in 1931. The Wild Cat hung up his gloves in 1932 after losing on points to Lee Ramage and then Wesley Ketchell, with displays that showed he was becoming little more than a punching bag.

Retiring with a record of 64(25koes)-16-12, for a while it seemed that Hudkins was determined to die with his boots on. On an alcohol fuelled rampage, life for him became one bar room brawl after another. Ace’s rap sheet grew, and he was lucky not to end up being killed or killing someone else, although he certainly came close to getting killed. 

In August 1933, Hudkins had two bullets fired into him, and only survived due to two blood transfusions, and his own stubborn spirit. From this point on, Hudkins changed, he married, brought some land, and started to train and breed horses with great success. Many of Ace’s horses were used in Hollywood westerns. Roy Rogers brought his famous horse “Trigger” from Ace, while the Lone Ranger and Annie Oakley both rode horses provided by Ace. In addition, Hudkins became a Hollywood stuntman, a career that would last until the late 1960s.

Hudkins was finally counted out on April 17, (some sources claim April 9 or April 18) 1973.  It was the only time in his life that he had heard the ten count.

Hudkins might not have been a world champion during his career, but its not hard to imagine him winning a world title in most other era. Were he fighting today, Hudkins would no doubt be a sensation, a lightweight who would finish his career as a heavyweight, it’s hard to imagine Ace Hudkins ever ducking anyone.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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John Henry Lewis: The First Black American to win the World Light Heavyweight Championship

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By Peter Silkov

John Henry Lewis was an extremely talented boxer who could have been one of the all-time greats if fate had been kinder to him. Indeed, there are those who consider John Henry to have been one of the outstanding champions at his weight, despite his severely curtailed boxing career. 

Born on May 1, 1914, in Los Angeles, California, Lewis turned professional in 1930, at the age of 16 years old. Despite his youth he could fight, and just two years after turning professional, he was fighting main events. Lewis was a boxer-puncher, more in the stand up English mould, rather than the more stereotypical aggressive American brawling style. John Henry had it all, he could box and he could punch, had good speed and durability, along with an excellent boxing brain, and ring ‘smarts.‘  In many ways Lewis was a prodigy, fighting at a world class level almost from the start of his professional career. 

Standing 5’ feet 11” inches, Lewis started his career as a middleweight, but soon blossomed into a light heavyweight. As he progressed, Lewis would often fight full-fledged heavyweights as well as light heavyweights, regularly giving away 30 or more pounds. Lewis’s record reads like a who’s who of the top names of the 1930s, with him fighting men such as, Jim Braddock, Maxie Rosenbloom, Fred Lenhart, Tony Shucco, Bob Olin, Tiger Jack Fox, Jock McAvoy, Izzy Singer, Bob Goodwin, Al Gainer, Len Harvey, Al Ettore, Johnny Risko, and Elmer “Violent” Ray.

Lewis’s career was touched by tragedy early when opponent Sam Terrain died after being knocked out by Lewis in the 4th round on March 11, 1931. John Henry was a very religious man and Terrain’s death troubled him deeply, and for a time, made him question if he should carry on boxing, but boxing was what he was good at, and was his chance of a better life. So he fought on. By 1932, John Henry was a ranked contender for the world light heavyweight title. In July 1933, he underlined his status by twice out-pointing the reigning world light-heavyweight champion Maxie Rosenbloom in non-title fights. The clever and slick “Slapsie Maxie” had out-pointed Lewis in 1932 in another non-title affair, but the much young, and much less experienced, Lewis was learning fast.

Despite these wins over the reigning world champion, John Henry would have to wait over two years before finally getting a shot at the World light-heavyweight title.  Although taking into account the attitudes of the time to coloured fighters, Lewis could be classed as being lucky to receive a title shot at all. On October 31, 1935, he became the first black American to win the World light-heavyweight champion, after easily out-pointing Bob Olin (who had taken the world crown from Maxie Rosenbloom) over 15 rounds.

Lewis would be a busy champion. During a reign, which would last until his retirement in 1939, he would defend the world title five times, winning all five, but he also engaged in many non-title bouts, the vast majority of them against some of the top heavyweights in the world.  In 1936 and 1937, Lewis fought a total of 20 times each year, winning 36 against two defeats and two draws. The defeats were both avenged within a couple of months. In 1938, John Henry had 12 fights and won them all. Included in these fights were two successful defences of his World light-heavyweight title. At the comparatively young age of 24, John Henry Lewis seemed to have a bright future ahead of him, and seemed destined to be World light heavyweight champion for some time to come. However, Lewis was harbouring a dark secret. For some time he had been losing the sight in his left eye, and by 1938, despite his ring form still being impressive, Lewis was practically half-blind.

On January 25, 1939, Lewis was given a shot at Joe Louis World heavyweight title. It is said that Louis, who was good friends with John Henry, was aware of his affliction, and arranged for Lewis to have a shot at his title in order that he could collect a career high payday of 15,000 dollars. Louis also made sure that his friend didn’t suffer unnecessarily in their fight, ending the contest clinically in the first round. It was to be the only defeat inside the distance of Lewis’s career.
After the Louis defeat, arrangements were made for Lewis to travel again to London and defend his light heavyweight title again, in a rematch with Len Harvey. The match fell through when doctors from the British Boxing Board of Control became aware of John Henry’s failing sight, and the fight was vetoed. Having reached the point where he could no longer get by the medical examiners John Henry Lewis announced his retirement in June 1939, retiring as undefeated light-heavyweight champion of the world, aged just 25.

Lewis retired with a final record 103(64koes)-8-5.

If not for his eyesight problems it is likely that John Henry Lewis would have remained World light heavyweight champion for a considerable time. He would have made a much bigger mark upon boxing history. As it is, Lewis’s career and record as world champion shows that he was an outstanding fighter and champion, who had his chance of reaching his full potential cruelly taken away by blindness.

 Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kid Norfolk: The Black Thunderbolt

By Peter Silkov

William Ward is a name that generally won’t generate much response from most boxing fans today, yet, during a boxing career in which he fought under the name of “Kid Norfolk.” Kid Norfolk was one of the best fighters of his era and another coloured fighter who was denied the opportunity to fulfill his true potential, due to the colour of his skin. William Ward was born on July 10, 1893 (although some sources claim September 20, 1895, as his birth date) in Norfolk, Virginia. As Kid Norfolk, “The Black Thunderbolt” he would become one of the most formidable and feared fighters of his era. 

Ward was born to fight, and by the time he was in his teens, he had relocated to Baltimore and was fighting in the notorious ‘Battle Royals.’ At these events, a number of black fighters would be placed in a ring together and left to fight it out, with the last one standing being the winner. Ward launched his professional boxing career in 1914, in Panama, which was then a hot bed of boxing activity, and called himself Kid Norfolk, in honour of the town where he had been born. 

Kid Norfolk was a short and muscular fighter, with great physical strength and endurance. Although standing just 5’ feet 8”inches, and weighing between 165 to 185 during his career, Norfolk would fight fully fledged heavyweights, often giving away as much as 30 pounds in weight to his opponents. Norfolk had no fear of fighting anyone no matter what their size, and at the same time, he was soon being avoided by many of the top middleweights and light-heavyweights in the world. When it came to fighters such as Norfolk the colour bar would come in handy for those who wished to avoid fighting him mainly because he was so formidable an opponent. 

During his career, Norfolk would battle it out with such fighters as “Rough House” Ware, Jeff Clark, Ed “Gunboat” Smith, “Big” Bill Tate, Arthur Pelkey, Billy Miske, Sam Langford, Dan “Porky” Flynn, Joe Jeannette, “Jamaica Kid”, “Black Fitzsimmons”, Harry Greb, Harry Wills, John Lester Johnson, “Tiger” Flowers, Battling Siki, Tommy Gibbons, and Ed “Bearcat” Wright.

While in Panama, Kid Norfolk soon began running out of opponents; few middleweights and light-heavyweights could resist his powerful punches, and aggressive style. Most of Norfolk’s defeats were to heavyweights when he was usually giving away significant amounts of weight and height away. But, even at heavyweight defeats were very far and few between for Norfolk.

Sam Langford was the first (and one of the very few) fighters to knock out Norfolk, stopping him in the 2nd round of their December 17, 1917, meeting. By this time, The Black Thunderbolt had moved from Panama back to America in search of bigger challenges and larger purses, and increasingly he would fight only heavyweights.

The Langford defeat was a severe blow, but Norfolk was soon back to winning ways and working on a new string of victories. A defeat at the hands of Sam Langford was certainly no disgrace. 

One of Norfolk’s most famous victories was his contest with the legendary Harry Greb on August 29, 1921. Although the fight was a ‘no decision’ affair, meaning that there would be no official point’s decision given if the bout went the distance, Norfolk was judged the ‘winner’ in the next days newspaper verdicts. Like many of Norfolk’s contests, this was a ferocious fight, and has gone down in boxing history as being the fight in which Greb was so badly damaged in his right eye, that he soon lost the sight from it.

Kid Norfolk’s dream was to fight Jack Dempsey for the World heavyweight championship. The Kid had almost got Dempsey into the same ring in 1918, before Dempsey had won the heavyweight title, but after protracted negotiations the fight fell through, with Dempsey’s side saying that the money wasn’t right. 

After Dempsey won the World heavyweight crown, Norfolk’s pursuit of him became more acute. Many of those in the know felt that Norfolk had the strength and the style to overpower Dempsey. On December 14, 1920, Norfolk came the closest he ever would to sharing a ring with Jack Dempsey, when he fought on the undercard of Dempsey’s World heavyweight title defence against Bill Brennan. While Dempsey and Brennan fought for the richest prize in sport, Norfolk fought Dempsey’s longtime sparring partner Bill Tate for the Coloured World heavyweight title.

Ironically, Brennan was a stablemate of Norfolk’s who The Black Thunderbolt handled with ease in sparring.  Brennan was a tough fighter, but seen by most, as a clearly inferior fighter to Norfolk, but it was Brennan who gained the fight, which Norfolk craved so much. 

Norfolk had to be content with battering Dempsey’s sparring partner all over the ring for 10 rounds, before being awarded the rather cryptic Coloured Heavyweight championship on points. In the main event, Brennan gave Dempsey one of his hardest fights, until he was eventually knocked out in the 12th round, Norfolk’s own ‘Title’ victory had an even more bitter taste to it.

Things started to go wrong for Norfolk in late 1921. In a fight with Lee Anderson, (a grizzled veteran whom Norfolk had possibly underestimated) Norfolk was severely cut over and upon the left eye in the 7th round of a brutal slugfest. So bad was the cut that Norfolk was pulled out of the fight by his corner before the start of the 8th round. 

The defeat cost Norfolk his Coloured heavyweight championship, but more seriously, his left eye would never heal properly. He would steadily lose the sight from it, so that in a little while, he was rendered completely blind in that eye.

In his efforts to gain a match with Dempsey for the Heavyweight championship, Norfolk faced Harry Wills on March 2, 1922. Wills, who had himself been clamoring for a title shot against Dempsey, was knocked out in the second round by Wills, who had outweighed Norfolk by over 30 pounds.

The defeat to Wills dealt a crushing blow to Norfolk’s ambitions of fighting Jack Dempsey for the Heavyweight championship. Neither he, nor Willis, would ever corner the elusive Dempsey within a boxing ring. Norfolk’s defeat to Wills also signaled a down turn in the flow of Norfolk’s career. With his left eye deteriorating steadily, until it was soon completely sightless, Norfolk’s overall form drained significantly, and he was soon picking up defeats against fighters whom he would previously have beaten. From 1923 till the end of his career in 1926, Norfolk continued to fight regularly, but with dwindling ability. Norfolk was still dangerous and game as ever, and was still able to pull out some good results, but the defeats were increasing and by 1925, Norfolk was banned from fighting in California due to his blindness.

Norfolk finally hung up his gloves in 1926, after being stopped in 4 rounds by Ted Moore. His final record was 83(47koes)-23-6 (28-4 newspaper decisions.)

Norfolk spent his later years hanging round the gyms and advising young fighters on the fundamentals of boxing, while earning a living from an apartment building he had brought in Harlem, New York, which he rented out.

The Black Thunderbolt died on April 14, 1968. Although widely overlooked and underrated today, Norfolk is one of the ‘golden generation’ of black fighters whom had he been given the chance, would almost certainly have won a world title during his career. Unfortunately, Kid Norfolk lived and fought at a time when being good could only take you so far, if you didn’t have the right coloured skin.   

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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