Name: Bud Ridley
Alias: Little Dempsey
Birth Name: Ralph Alva Ridley
Birthplace: Alexandria, Minnesota, USA
Died: 1979-04-06 (Age:81)
Hometown: Seattle, Washington, USA
Height: 5′ 2″ / 157cm
Reach: 63″ / 160cm
Boxing Record: click
Trainer: Sam Belkin
Managers: Lonnie Austin, Fred Winsor, Joe Waterman
Photo #2, Photo #3
Bud Ridley claimed to be 35 in 1933 (Feb. 21, 1933 edition of the Daily News Searchlight newspaper of Bremerton, Washington), and that his family was related to the famous martyr Bishop Ridley.
According to World Connect on the RootsWeb genealogical website, Ralph Alvah "Bud" Ridley was born on March 25, 1897 in Alexandria, Douglas County, Minnesota. A Mormon website states that he was born a year later (March 25, 1898) in Alexandria, Minnesota. In the 1920 U.S. Census, there was a Ralph Ridley, 21 years of age, who was living with a Fred Winsor and Winsor's wife, Gueniveve, in San Francisco. Ralph was listed as a married boxer who made his living in the prize ring. (Bud Ridley was married twice and had two daughters.) His birth-place was listed as Minnesota.
According to the 2011 book A Dream, A Buck, An Era, which includes four photos of Ridley from the Ridley Family Collection, when he was eleven-years-old, his mother Nina moved her four children from Minnesota to a community just south of Sandpoint, Idaho, where the family worked on the farm of her brother. Ridley took up boxing at that time. When he was eighteen, the family moved to the Ballard district of Seattle.
Ridley was discovered by Seattle promoter/manager/referees Dan Salt, at first, then his partner Lonnie Austin. Austin was his manager during his early career, or at least during his first few bouts. Portus Baxter, an old-time Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports-writer, tagged the young Ralph Alva Ridley with the nickname "Bud" soon after Ridley began boxing in Seattle, according to Ridley's series of articles entitled "A Decade in the Ring" published in the Daily News Searchlight in early 1933.
Ridley then went out on his own for awhile, before finding work at the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock during World War I, when he met fellow worker and boxer Jack Dempsey. They became friends. Dempsey left Seattle in July 1917 to return home to Salt Lake City when his 15-year-old brother Bruce was stabbed and killed. Soon after, Ridley moved across the water to work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. There he met and married Charlotte Tormey in late 1918.
Ridley still looked for bouts on the side, and during one trip to Seattle, he met Fred Winsor, Dempsey's former manager. Winsor managed him from 1919 through most of 1920. See Charles E. Johnston's well-researched article on Winsor in a late 2002 International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) Journal.
While in San Francisco, sportswriter Warren Brown tagged Ridley with the moniker "Little Dempsey," which Ridley proudly adopted for the remainder of his fighting days.
Ridley and Winsor had a falling out in the summer of 1920. Ridley, "homesick and cranky," had exchanged blows with Winsor and returned home to Seattle "minus a trunk, suitcase and a manager." Per Bremerton, Washington's Daily News Searchlight newspaper of Feb. 27, 1933. The book A Dream, A Buck, An Era, says that Winsor also held Ridley's scrapbook hostage for $200, which Ridley eventually paid. (Apparently, the Ridley family today still possesses that scrapbook.)
Joe Waterman was his next manager, and is listed in the New York Times Obituary Index, which covers close to 100 years. The July 4, 1922 San Francisco Chronicle reported that Ridley and Waterman had just returned the day before, aboard the Ventura, from an eight-month tour of the Philippines and Australia, and that they had cleared $11,000 from eight bouts, not including the expense of $1,000 for bringing Mrs. Ridley and the baby. There had been three bouts in Manila and five in Australia (3-3-2). Despite the three losses, Ridley was wanted for more bouts but had a bad left shoulder, and thus was going to rest for about three months. (Waterman was 61 when he died on May 5, 1949 in Tacoma, Washington. Waterman had just assumed the matchmaker duties in a boxing organization named after Dave Miller, Freddie Steele's manager. Waterman was planning to stage a show in Seattle about a week later. May 6, 1949, San Francisco Chronicle)
According to the Portland Oregonian newspaper, Ridley became the matchmaker at various small clubs in Oregon following his retirement in 1926. Ridley was working under the auspices of his manager Joe Waterman, then the matchmaker for the Portland Boxing Commission. Ridley worked with Waterman's predecessor, Harry Hansen who handled the promotional duties. The intention was to control the talent in the small clubs in similar manner to how Austin & Salt controlled the talent in Washington. Nothing is known though on how long Ridley worked in this operation. Waterman left his Portland post in March 1927, for Los Angeles.
According to a news item in a 1927 Los Angeles Times edition, Ridley had just retired after having fought about 200 times in eleven years. He is reported to have said that he had acquired a nice nest egg while boxing and was happy to get out of boxing while still healthy. The article also mentions that he was trying to learn to be a film cutter in the movie industry.
The Bremerton DNS of April 24, 1931, announced that Ridley had been appointed to teach boxing at the local Y.M.C.A. Classes were to be held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 6:00, and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 3:00. Classes were to be divided with reference to ages of 20 and over, 16 to 19, and under 16.
The Tacoma News Tribune newspaper reported January 13, 1933, the opening of the brand-new Navy Yard Athletic Club in Bremerton, WA, USA. (Bremerton has been a United States Navy town since 1898.) The Tacoma paper also reported that the boxing promoters/match-makers of the N.Y.A.C. were Ely Caston (ex-boxer and formerly the match-maker of the White Center A.C.--a suburb immediately south of Seattle) and Bud Ridley. The N.Y.A.C. sponsored boxing shows during 1933 until at least 1934 at Bremerton's Elks Temple.
According to one Arthur Ridley, Bud was killed in a traffic accident in the late 1970s in Oregon. (Perhaps this is the April 6 date.)
See the April 27, 1921 Sacramento Star for Ridley's measurements, including biceps, wrist, neck, etc.
Some biographical information and bouts in the linked Boxing Record are courtesy of Charles E. Johnston. Ridley's involvement with the Y.M.C.A., Bremerton, other bouts, and the Bremerton/Tacoma newspaper factoids are courtesy of Ric Kilmer. The Joe Waterman and Portland material are courtesy of Matt Tegen. All are International Boxing Research Organization Members and BoxRec.com Editors.