Eddie (Kid) Wagner
Eddie (Kid) Wagner was another of the many fine Hebrew fighters who came out of Philadelphia, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. Much of Wagner's early career has yet to be documented.
He was ranked by The Ring magazine as the #5 Junior Lightweight in the world for 1924.
The Ring, January 1957, by Jersey Jones :
Like many another capable ring mechanic in that busy era, EDDIE (KID) WAGNER never scaled the championship heights, but he was good enough to hold his own with any of the ruling title-holders he met, and had it not been for an unpopular decision in the lightweight elimination series in 1925, it is possible that Eddie would have gone on to become champion.
Wagner, who died recently in a Brooklyn hospital at the age of 55, was an active campaigner for over a dozen years, and as featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight he didn't miss many of he headliners in the divisions in which he competed. Quite a few champions--past, present and future--were included in the long list of Eddie's opponents. Several of them he met not once but often.
A native of Philadelphia, and managed by flamboyant Maxie (Boo Boo) Hoff, Wagner began fighting about 1919 and kept going until 1930. He packed in 150 professional bouts, his activities covering the entire United States. Among the good'uns he met were Johnny Dundee, Louis Kid Kaplan, Babe Herman, Jack Bernstein, Sammy Mandell, Pal Moran, Pete Hartley, Tommy O'Brien, Sid Terris, Danny Kramer, Phil McGraw, Jimmy Goodrich, Pete Latzo, Billy Petrolle and Al Singer.
As we recall, Wagner was the first fighter to take a decision from Louis Kid Kaplan, the Connecticut buzzsaw who went on to become world featherweight champion. Eddie outpointed Kaplan in a 12-rounder in 1922, and right in Louie the Kid's backyard, Meriden!
Probably the most important--certainly the most spectacular--achievement in Wagner's career was the stunning six-round knockout Eddie tossed into Sid Terris, then New York's reigning sensation, in Madison Square Garden in 1924.
ELIMINATED BY POOR DECISION
When Benny Leonard announced his retirement as lightweight champion late in 1924, Wagner was one of the starters in the elimination tournament sponsored by the New York State Athletic Commission to determine Benny's successor.
The series got under way in February, 1925, and Wagner drew Jimmy Goodrich as his opponent. After twelve keenly-fought rounds, Goodrich was declared winner, but the decision was hotly disputed. Most of the sports writers and spectators thought Wagner deserved the the verdict, and there was talk of the Commission's permitting Eddie to remain in the tourney. After discussing the matter, however, the fistic fathers decided it would be establishing a dangerous precedent if they publicly disagreed with their own officials. The decision was allowed to stand, Wagner was dropped out of the eliminations--and it was Goodrich who went on to become the eventual winner and new champion.
The wear and tear of his industrious career gradually caught up with Wagner. In 1926, he suffered his first knockout defeat when Billy Petrolle stopped him in the final session of a ten rounder in Fargo, N.D. For the next couple of years Eddie continued to be a strong factor in lightweight activities but mainly in the role of "trial-horse" for up and coming youngsters. By 1929 he was losing as often as he was winning, and when he was manhandled and stopped by Al Singer in three rounds at St Nicholas Arena here in New York in 1930, Eddie had sense enough to realize he'd reached the end of a long trail. He hung up the gloves and drifted away from the boxing scene.