Billy Papke

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Billy Papke
Class of 2001
Old Timer Category
Hall of Fame bio:click

Name: Billy Papke
Alias: The Illinois Thunderbolt
Birth Name: William H. Papke
Born: 1886-09-17
Birthplace: Spring Valley, Illinois, USA
Died: 1936-11-26 (Age:50)
Hometown: USA
Height: 5′ 9″   /   175cm
Boxing Record: click

Managers: Tom Jones, Al Lippe
Photo #2

Career Highlights

Born in Spring Valley, Illinois, he was the son of German immigrants to the USA. Papke was an abnormally hard boxer. He began his boxing career in 1906, winning 23 and drawing four times. His first loss was a 10-round decision to Stanley Ketchel, his first of four fights with Ketchel. He won the second meeting, and the World Middleweight title, largely by the expedient of punching Ketchel in the throat when he stepped forward to shake hands at the beginning of the bout. Two months later, he lost his title to Ketchel and received a terrific beating in the process. After the bout, Papke's own wife did not recognize him after it was over. Papke lost the final meeting, which the 4th was a particularly savage encounter.

After Ketchel's death Papke was one of several middleweights contesting the right to be called World Middleweight Champ. He travelled to Paris where he thrashed future champion Georges Carpentier but was beaten by another American, and Ketchel victim, Frank Klaus, ending his title hopes. He continued fighting until 1919, losing a four rounder to Soldier Barfield.

Papke's life ended tragically. He shot and killed his wife, then committed suicide by turning the gun on himself.

Billy Papke, who was also known as the "Kewanee Thunderbolt" during his boxing days, was the father of boxer Billy Papke Jr.. He killed his ex-wife, Edna Papke (46), with a gun and committed suicide November 26, 1936, in Newport, California. In 2001, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.