Henry Woods

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Henry Woods

Name: Henry Woods
Alias: Yakima's Ghost of Joe Gans
Born: 1914-08-16
Birthplace: Yakima, Washington, USA
Died: 1990-01-30 (Age:75)
Hometown: Yakima, Washington, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 5′ 7″   /   170cm
Reach: 69″   /   175cm
Boxing Record: click

Managers: John Woods (1930-32?), Tommy Carter (1931-?), Leo Druxman (1936), Max Baer (circa 1937), Harry Fine (1938-39) (1942), Eddie Marino (1940)
Trainers: Henry Hunt, Art Milibrandt, and Mike Porter
Nicknames: "Yakima's Ghost of Joe Gans" (per April 8, 1932 Tacoma Daily Ledger); "Gan's Ghost" and "The Yakima Gans" (June 22, 1932 Tacoma News Tribune)


Henry Woods first learned to box from his grandfather Jasper P. Evans, a decorated Civil War Veteran of the 18th Colored Infantry-Union Army. Young Woods later took formal training at the local Yakima YMCA under the tutelage of Henry Hunt.

His professional career began in 1929 at the age of 14. His first fight came when he (age 12) and four other fighters (grown men) took part in a battle royal at the Central Washington State Fairgrounds. He ultimately battled a much larger fighter to a draw. With his parents' permission (John and Della Woods), Art Milibrandt, a local trainer and promoter, took him under his wing. He also was extensively coached and trained by his uncle Mike Porter, a former prizefighter.

Woods made history by becoming the first professional Lightweight Boxing Champion of Washington State at the age of 19, in 1933, when he fought and won a 10-round decision over Albie Davies of Victoria B.C. at the Capital Theater, in his hometown of Yakima, on Friday, October 27th before a sold-out crowd. From the age of 12 to 19 Woods never lost a fight.

After becoming Washington State's first Lightweight Boxing Champion, Woods went to Oakland, California, where he fought for Max Baer. During this period of time, under Baer's management, Woods became the Lightweight Champion of California. (In the mid 1980s, Larry Amadee, a trainer in Chicago, who died in his late 80s, said Woods was the best. He used to call him "that kid from Yakima." In an interview with Woods's first cousin and writer, Ed Robertson of Chicago, Barney Ross is quoted as saying about his championship bout with Woods: "Woods was a tough one; Woods was one the classiest fighters I ever met.")

After his boxing career ended, Henry Woods worked as a shipbuilder in Tacoma from 1953 until 1977. He also trained boxers at the local YMCA in Tacoma. He would later return to Yakima to be close to his mother after his father had passed away. To help others understand and perfect the skill of boxing, Woods wrote and published a booklet entitled The Fundamentals of Scientific Boxing.

Woods died January 30, 1990, of congestive heart failure at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Yakima, Washington. He is buried in Tahoma National Cemetery, alongside his parents John and Della Mae Evans-Woods.

Relationship with Nate Druxman

According to an article published in the Portland Oregonian, prior to his Portland bout with Battling Gizzy, Seattle promoter Nate Druxman would not let Woods fight unless Druxman was ringside. Woods's Portland bout had in fact been moved from Tuesday, because Druxman was promoting a show in Seattle on that evening. So it is conceivable that Druxman may have had a financial stake in Woods, like many other promoters had with top draws in their area.

Woods's relationship with Druxman reportedly ended when Woods supposedly pulled a weapon on Druxman in 1936, during a dispute over money. This ended Woods's Seattle career, as Druxman was the only promoter in Seattle. However, according to history passed down within Woods's family, his relationship with Druxman ended when he knocked Druxman down after a dispute over money. Druxman was ashamed to relate what really happened so he made up the story of Woods pulling a weapon. Whatever the reason, Woods headed to Oakland, California, to continue his boxing career.

Miscellaneous Info

  • Woods was involved in a serious car accident five miles north of Yakima, with the car overturning. Bellingham Evening News (November 30, 1935)
  • Woods was suspended in Washington State in early 1937, for the Druxman incident and several arrests according to the Seattle Times. The incidents included a January 1937 DUI arrest. Wood was also involved in a Yakima bar fight in March 1937, where he suffered a gashed ankle tendon.

Body Measurements

From the April 9, 1935 Yakima Herald:

  • Height: 5 ft, 7 in
  • Chest (normal): 36.5 in
  • Chest (expanded): 38 in
  • Waist: 29.5 in
  • Reach: 69 in
  • Thigh: 20.5 in
  • Calf: 14 in
  • Neck: 15 in
  • Biceps: 12.5 in
  • Forearm: 11 in
  • Wrist: 6.75 in


  • Yakima Herald-Republic - January 31, 1990 (Woods's obituary)
  • Woods's early Yakima record comes from research of the Yakima Herald and Yakima Republic by Matt Tegen of the International Boxing Research Organization. The Seattle record comes from Ric Kilmer's (IBRO member) research of Washington papers. The Sacramento and later California record is from the Oakland Tribune (researched by Matt Tegen).
  • Family history researched by G.L. Evans - 2nd Cousin of Henry Woods by birth. (Evans-Woods Family Historian)