Who are other early black boxing greats?

The first black fighter on record is Joe Lashley, who fought in England. His place of birth is unknown. In 1901, Joe Walcott (1873–1935) became the first black welterweight champion, defeating Rube Ferns and winning the title at Fort Erie, Ontario, on December 18. He also won the New England lightweight and middleweight wrestling titles on the same night. Born in Barbados, he was sometimes known as the “Barbados Demon.” In 1926, Tiger (Theodore) Flowers (1895–1927) became the first black middleweight champion of the world, defeating Harry Greb in fifteen rounds to win the title in New York City on February 26. He had a habit of reading Bible verses, which earned him the nickname “Georgia Deacon.” The sole person to hold three championships and world titles at once was Henry “Hammering Hank” Armstrong (1912–1981). During a ten-month period between 1937 and 1938, he won the featherweight, welterweight, and lightweight titles and challenged for the middleweight crown, fighting to a draw. Armstrong won twenty-seven fights in 1937 alone, twenty-six by knockout. He lost the last of his three titles, the welterweight, in 1940. In 1951, he became a minister. These men, and others of that era and later, were often taken advantage of by their white managers and cheated out of their earnings. “Imitation” friends took their earnings as well, and ignored them when the money was gone.


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