George (Sonny) Horne

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Sonny Horne
George Sonny Horne 2.jpeg

Name: Sonny Horne
Birth Name: George Horne Jr.
Born: 1924-01-03
Birthplace: Niles, Ohio, USA
Died: 1959-09-27 (Age:35)
Hometown: Niles, Ohio, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Boxing Record: click

George (Sonny) Horne died in a Youngstown, OH hospital in September, 27, 1959. Only 35, Sonny was a victim of amytrophic lateral sclerosis [Lou Gehrig's disease].
Never a champion, but a popular club fighter. He was good enough to step along with most of the middleweight headliners of the 40s. His outstanding performances were three gruelling ten-rounders with Rocky Graziano. Other prominent rivals he met included Rocky Castellani, Kid Gavilan, Laurent Dauthuille and Bobby Dykes.
Horne was something of a throwback to the old-time journeyman. He fought anybody, anywhere, and as often as his managers could book him, witch was quite often. From 1941, until early stages of his illness forced him to retire in 1951, he packed in 116 bouts. The total would have been even more impressive had Horne not deserted the ring for a year and a half (from early 1944 to mid-1945) to see service with the U.S. navy in European waters.
A native of Niles, OH, Horne was a protege of the town's Chief of Police, Matt McGowan, a former fighter. McGowan started Sonny boxing as an amateur when he was only 14, and in three years the youngster, with a total of 77 bouts, became a standout in A.A.U. and Golden Gloves competition.
Horne was not yet 18 when McGowan decided he was ready for the professionals. Feeling that opportunity was limited in Ohio, he shipped Sonny on to veteran manager George Sheppard in New York, late 1941.
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To keep the youngster away from temptations of the Big City, Sheppard arranged to have him live out on Long Island and trained by Al Lang in the latter's gym in Valley Stream. With Horne still under 18, Sheppard kept him busy in New England until he became old enough to qualify for a license in New York State.
In his first two years he crowded in no less than 48 fights. By modern standards, that was practically an entire career - and Horne was not yet 20 years old.
From his early career differences developed between managers and trainers, but Horne returned to Lang in 1948, who doubled as manager and trainer until the Graziano bout in Washington.
Sonny's family - wife and three children - had moved from Long Island to his home town, Niles. He decided to return there himself and renew association with his sponsor, Police Chief McGowan who arranged for Arcel to act as trainer and booker.
With his return to Ohio Horne began to fade as a fighter. The decline was gradual and it wasn't until 1951 that Sonny became worried enough to consult doctors. Still only 27, his speed had vanished, his reflexes dulled and he was fighting like a tired old man. His last bout was with Lalu Sabutin in Warren, Ohio, on August 29, 1951 - and it was his 13th straight loss.
Horne visited the Crile Hospital in Cleveland for a thorough checkup and it was there that his illness was diagnosed. As the disease progressed he was sent to a nearby Soldiers and Sailors Home. Almost completely paralyzed, he was eventually taken to the home of a friend, Russ Baxter, in Youngstown, and remained there nearly two years until his final journey to the hospital a few weeks before he died.

The Ring, December 1959, by Jersey Jones

  • 1941 won 147 lb Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions by decision vs. Robert Burns.
  • Horne was the first person to be inducted into the Trumbill County, Ohio, and Area Boxers Hall of Fame.

Preceded by:
Savior (Savey) Canadeo
Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions
Welterweight Champion

Succeeded by:
Robert Burns

Most of the linked Fight Record is courtesy of Dan Cuoco and Jim Amato of the International Boxing Research Organization. IBRO Journal #78 Page 69.