Friday, April 22, 2016

On This Day: Remembering Jack Kid Berg: The Whitechapel Whirlwind

By Peter Silkov

Jack ‘Kid’ Berg was one of the most exciting, all-action fighters ever to come out of Britain.  Born Judah Bergman, he was inspired to become a boxer by the ring exploits of Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis. Berg turned professional at the age of fifteen, in 1924, and soon became a top attraction in London due to his relentless, non-stop, windmill-style of fighting, which gained him the nickname ‘The Whitechapel Windmill.’ In 1928, Berg moved to America to fight, where he was trained by Ray Arcel. Berg’s style and out-of-the-ring charisma made him an instant hit in America, and he was soon fighting the top lightweights in the world, including Tony Canzoneri, Billy Petrolle, Mushy Callaghan, Joe Glick, Buster Brown, Sammy Fuller and Kid Chocolate. 

On February 18, 1930, Berg won the World light-welterweight championship when he out-pointed Mushy Callahan in London. Over the next 14 months, Berg defended the world title successfully nine times, before losing his championship to Tony Canzoneri, when he was knocked out in the 3rd round.  Berg’s defeat to Canzoneri was controversial, as Canzoneri’s World lightweight championship was also at stake. Both men scaled under the lightweight limit, so Berg argued that his light-welterweight title was not at stake in the fight. However, according to Berg, his light welterweight title was not supposed to be at stake, but it was, so Berg lost his championship.

Five months later, Berg and Canzoneri fought again, with both Lightweight and Light-welterweight world titles at stake once more, and this time Canzoneri won a narrow 15 rounds point’s decision.  Berg returned to London to fight in 1933, and won the British lightweight title on October 29, 1934, when he knocked out Harry Mizler in 10 rounds; a title he held for two years.  Berg would return to fight in America in 1938 to 1939, although he failed to secure another world title shot. Berg carried on fighting until 1945, when he finally retired with a record of 157(57koes)-26-9.

After he retired Berg had a new career as a movie stuntman in various films, and remained a well known character in the boxing scene until his death in 1991 at the age of 82. 

Watch Jack 'Kid' Berg "This is your Life":

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