Name: Ernie Vigh
Birthplace: Carteret, New Jersey, USA
Died: 1951-07-23 (Age:32)
Hometown: New York, New York, USA
Height: 5′ 7½″ / 171cm
Boxing Record: click
Photo #2, Photo #3, Cartoon
Ernie Vigh was a world ranked middleweight contender from January 1941 until February 1943, his highest ranking being #2.
He was considered one of the hardest punchers in the middleweight division at the time, if not the hardest. In 1941 he gave Billy Soose such a tough fight in their first bout, and had enough people questioning the verdict, that he got a rematch. He was dropped hard in the first round and spent the next eight rounds fighting on pure heart.
He also had big fights scheduled with guys like Tony Zale and a possible title shot that never materialized for various reasons. He had a string of bad luck--losing a close one to Steve Mamakos, then a possible hometown robbery loss to Coley Welch in Portland, Maine, and just missing a KO win over Tony Martin in Chicago.
Then the War came and Vigh asked for a deferment, which was not granted. He ended up joining the Coast Guard in early 1942.
He later made a couple of half-hearted comebacks in 1944 and 1946 before trying to get his old world rating back in 1947. He brutalized three club fighters before stepping into the ring with Anton Raadik in Raadik's New York debut. Vigh succumbed in the 7th round after going down for only the second time in his career. Vigh had agreed to a percentage of the gate for this fight and ended up with only $400, while the semi-final fighters made almost four times that amount. Disgusted, Vigh had one more fight then retired and used his savings to open a tavern called Ernie's at 65-05 Metropolitan Avenue in Ridgewood, New York.
Vigh, like most fighters, simply could not get boxing out of his blood and made one more attempt at a comeback in 1949. He cobbled together a few wins but he wasn't as sharp or as strong. After dropping a decision to Tony Bertucci at the end of the year he called it quits.
In the early morning hours of July 23, 1951, Vigh lost control of his car on the Midtown highway on Long Island and crashed into a telephone pole. He lingered for five hours in a hospital before dying of traumatic head injuries. He was 32. For decades afterward newspapers from his hometown of Newburgh ran stories honoring him as one of the best fighters ever to have come out of Hudson Valley.