Otto von Porat
Name: Otto von Porat
Birth Name: Otto Wessel von Porat
Birthplace: Elmhult, Sweden
Died: 1982-10-14 (Age:79)
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height: 6′ 4″ / 193cm
Boxing Record: click
Otto von Porat was born in the little town of Elmhult, Sweden, into an independently wealthy family. The von Porats lived on a huge estate in Sweden. An English tutor gave Otto and his three brothers their early education, hence Otto learned to speak English with a decidedly British accent. He also learned to speak Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, German and French fluently.
While very young, Otto and his family moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, where his father organized a branch of the Berlitz School of Languages. In early 1914 the family settled in Oslo, Norway, where Otto's father made extensive maritime investments. The von Porat fortune disappeared rapidly when World War I came along, forcing the four von Porat boys to seek work.
It was while employed as a minor clerk in the office of an Oslo shipping agent that Otto became interested in boxing. He knocked out two opponents in one evening during his first amateur tournament. Shortly thereafter he knocked out the amateur middleweight champion of Denmark in two rounds. Otto went on to flatten all the best heavyweight amateurs in Europe, then won the Olympic Heavyweight Gold Medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics. He returned to Norway to serve in the Norwegian Army.
Von Porat then came to the United States in the Summer of 1926, turning professional at that time. He generally fought in the rings of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Chicago. He was a huge drawing card in the greater Chicago area. He could also be found hanging out at Den Norske club in Chicago -- a Norwegian gathering place. It is said that his fight with Paulino Uzcudun "gave rise to the wide-spread impression that von Porat lack[ed] aggressiveness and ... the 'killer instinct.' Although he had a once-promising career and was a top contender for the Heavyweight Title, von Porat apparently lacked self-confidence and thus "lost fighting strength in the rough American school."
After his boxing career ended, von Porat continued to live in Chicago into the 1970s. He died in Bærum, Norway, in 1982.
Most of the above information is courtesy of THE RING magazine, April 1930 issue, pp. 42-43. Photo courtesy of the Harry E. Winkler Photographic Collection.
- Featured on the cover of the April 1930 The Ring magazine.
- One of only four Norwegian boxers to have gained success in America during the 20th Century, along with Terry Martin, Haakon Hansen, and Pete Sanstol.
- Photo of von Porat in his later years.