Benny Leonard

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Benny Leonard
Class of 1990
Old Timer Category
Hall of Fame bio:click
World Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee

Name: Benny Leonard
Alias: The Ghetto Wizard
Birth Name: Benjamin Leiner
Born: 1896-04-07
Birthplace: New York, New York, USA
Died: 1947-04-18 (Age:51)
Hometown: New York, New York, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 5′ 5″   /   165cm
Reach: 69″   /   175cm
Boxing Record: click

Managers: William Areton, Billy Gibson
Benny Leonard Gallery

Career Review

When he turned professional, he changed his name from "Benjamin Leiner" to Benny Leonard so his parents wouldn't find out. However, some sources report that a ring announcer who couldn't pronounce "Leiner" called him "Leonard," and thus Benny Leonard was born.

Leonard became famous for his scientific ring moves, but also for his gift for gab. He constantly spoke to his opponents during a fight.

Leonard was knocked out three times early in his career, but after he became champion, he declined rematches with those three opponents--stating that he wasn't one to seek "revenge" matches.

Leonard was such a big drawing card that many of his fights set records for the time. Against Lew Tendler on July 24, 1923, for example, 58,519 fans paid over $452,000.00 to see the fight.

After winning the World Lightweight Title on May 28, 1917, Leonard would hold the title until January 15, 1925, when he announced his retirement.

He returned to the ring in 1931, due to financial troubles caused by the stock market crash of 1929.

Leonard was a veteran of both World War I and World War II.

Leonard died of a heart attack (coronary thrombosis) after refereeing the first six bouts of the April 18, 1947 card at the St. Nicholas Arena, New York.

  • Autographed Portrait
  • Benny Leonard was a lieutenant in the United States Maritime Service during World War II.

  • Record Mystery: an entry in BoxRec, now deleted, made the following assertion (BoxRec contributing Editors: wsbuf/delisa): "11/15/31, Henry Firpo, Barry VT, W Pts 10. Exact date unk. Source 2/32 Arena Mag. (after Casper fight)." No reference to this fight has been found in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Ring, any of the record books carrying records of Leonard or Firpo, or in any other newspaper that has been researched. Firpo was, at this time, heavily involved in the NBA middleweight title competition, fighting Oddone Piazza on November 19, Gorilla Jones on December 11, and Angel Cliville on December 18 (all three fights occurring in Milwaukee, 1931). Arena was a marginal publication, little remembered. For now, it seems best to set aside this supposed fight, unless/until evidence in the form of a newspaper account is located.


  • Ring Record Book 1967, page 709: BENNY LEONARD.
  • Leonard the Magnificent, by Nat Fleischer