Leslie (Wildcat) Carter

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Name: Leslie (Wildcat) Carter
Birth Name: Leslie Ernest Carter
Born: 1909-12-12
Died: 1985-01-31 (Age:75)
Hometown: Everett, Washington, USA
Boxing Record: click

Division: Featherweight
Trainer: Rob Grove
Managers: Rob Grove, James Malone, Biddy Bishop & Others

Introduction

Leslie (Wildcat) Carter was a popular boxer in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States circa 1925-1934. He had reportedly moved to the Everett, Washington, area from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada while still very young. He may have originally come from Oklahoma, where his mother raised him on an Indian reservation. His nickname as a little boy was "Doc." His father was William Neal (Tomcat) Carter (1873-1928).

According to the chapter "Looking Out from 2803 Hewitt," by Thomas Rice Eckstrom (as written by Phyllis Royce), of Book II of Riverside Remembers: Stories of Everett's Greater Riverside Area (1987), p. 77:

Next to the furniture store was a little office. My grandmother let Les Carter use it as a shoeshine stand weekends while he was in school. He didn't have a mother at home, he and his father lived up there on 24th and Maple. Mr. Carter worked down at the Canyon Lumber. Les "Wildcat" Carter was a pretty good athlete. He got started boxing around here and became a pretty good fighter.
In high school the kids from Riverside dominated in athletics. They were a bunch of roughnecks. A lot of them had a hard family life so that was a way of survival. This side of town was just a different kind of life from the other side (of Everett, called "Bayside").

According to pp. 25-26 of Book III, perhaps the first African-American family to come to Everett was the Scott. C. Harris family. Harris moved to Everett in 1893, as the newly-founded town was inviting all kinds of people to move there. Harris was a long-time barber and musician in Everett. In time he lost his sight and his home at 2422 Maple. So it is not improbable to suspect that he sold his home to another African-American family, the Carters, but this is not known for certain--although it is known that the Carters did live in the 24th and Maple area.

Amateur Career

The first-known mention of Carter by a local newspaper was January 30, 1925 by the Everett Daily Herald (EDH), announcing an All-Amateur Card at the Everett Arena that evening, one of which was to be a Les Carter vs. Mike Carr. The next day, the paper reported: "Mike Carr won from Les Carter at 110 pounds. Carr got down to business at the opening of the bout and had a wide margin of points when the gong sounded." Jack Richmond refereed.

His other amateur bouts are:

  • Feb. 6, 1925 @ Everett Arena: "Wildcat" Carter W Battling Erickson (of Bellingham) @ 105 pounds (First known mention of his moniker).
  • Feb. 13, 1925 @ Arena: Battling Hogar (Bellingham) W-4 Carter @ 105 lbs.
  • April 1, 1925 @ Knights of Columbus Gymnasium, Everett: Wildcat Carter W Lou Gould (Everett) in the curtain raiser (Nick Sugar: referee).
  • April 8, 1925 @ Knights of Columbus Gym: Wildcat Carter TKO-2 Joe Kruse (Seattle).
  • April 10, 1925 @ Everett Arena: Wildcat Carter KO-3 Young Erickson (Bellingham).
  • April 17, 1925 @ Everett Arena: Wildcat Carter W Jimmy Flynn (Tacoma) in curtain raiser.
  • April 28, 1925 @ Everett Arena: Wildcat Carter KO-2 Kid Manila (curtain raiser).
  • April 24, 1925 @ Everett Arena: Wildcat Carter KO-3 Kid Balty (Seattle Filipino).
  • May 29, 1925 @ Everett Arena: Wildcat Carter KO-2 Young Benny Leonard (curtain raiser).
  • June 5, 1925 @ Everett Arena: Wildcat Carter KO Young Ketchell (Seattle) (last known amateur bout for Carter).

Professional Career

According to an April 4, 1926 EDH article, Carter started his professional career a year before--in April 1925. Some of his early bouts occurred in nearby Mount Vernon. It was not unusual for Washington-state boxers during this era to fight both professional and amateur bouts, switching back and forth between the two--at least early during their careers. Until early 1933 prize-fighting--professional boxing--was illegal in Washington state. State law did permit "Sparring or fencing amongst members of private clubs for exercise only or for the enjoyment of their fraternal brothers." Thus, virtually all bouts in the state were usually held in the various American Legion posts, Eagles, Elks and other private athletic clubs for their "members." Anyone wishing to witness a match was required to obtain a membership card and levied an assessment for the seat. The boxers were paid "training expenses." The authorities generally turned a blind eye to these bouts. When pressed, the promoters termed these bouts "amateur." But most of these fights are generally included in these boxers' official fight records. Prizefighting was later legalized, effective June 8, 1933.

According to that April 1926 EDH newspaper article, Carter had fought 32 bouts--winning 29 (25 by KO), losing two, and drawing one. (He is also mentioned as a junior in the 1927 edition of the Nesika--which is the Everett High School yearbook.)

According to a February 26, 1930 EDH article, twenty-year-old Carter had drawn over $250,000 in his short three-year (five-year?) career, and his share was 25%, of which he had little to show. It reported his record so far as being 70 main event shows, and all, except four, had been fought in the Pacific Northwest. Two were in San Francisco and two were in Los Angeles. His first 15 bouts were held in Everett, according to this article, and all were won on knockouts. His then-manager, Joe Waterman, contended that "Carter's downfall," when he lost four fights in California, was due to homesickness: Carter couldn't stand to be away from his wife and two little children for even a short time. That is why, it was said, he didn't go fight on the East Coast--where he could have made a lot more money.

Carter's greatest rival during his career was Doc Snell, whom he faced eight times, in what was possibly the Northwest's greatest rivalry. Carter only defeated Snell once in eight tries, with two draws, though the bouts were almost always competitive. Carter's lone knockout victory came in 1930, when he knocked Snell out in one round, with Jack Dempsey working as the referee.

Managers

Rob Grove was Carter's early trainer and manager. Newspaper accounts of May 1927 name James (Jimmy) Malone as Carter's manager, pursuant to a contract dated March 3. His father, William Neal, nicknamed "Tom Cat," was briefly his manager. By mid-1928 his manager was George Washington Bishop, commonly known as Biddy Bishop. On September 2, 1929, Art Hudkins--brother of the Nebraska Wildcat, Ace Hudkins--announced that he had purchased the contract from Carter's then manager/father. Hudkins thus became Carter's manager. The September 1931 Ellensburg Evening Record, reporting on his bout with Doc Snell, said his manager at the time was Gus West.

Epilogue

His father, William Neal Carter, died at the Riverton Sanitarium, near Seattle, July 16, 1928, aged 56. At that time, William had a sister who living in Aberdeen, Washington, and a son in Victoria, British Columbia.

Carter worked as a maintenance worker at Birmingham Steel in Seattle after his retirement from boxing, and was working there through at least the mid-1960s. (Photo of Carter in 1964.) By the early 1980s, Leslie Carter lived at a nursing home in Seattle's Central Area and was suffering from dementia. He reportedly enjoyed playing Solitaire and joking around. His exact date of death in January 1985 is unknown.

External Links

  • Everett Public Library MP3 of George Wardell Interview (where he briefly mentions old-time boxing and Leslie Carter): [1]
  • Everett Public Library MP3 of Abe Glassberg Interview (where he also mentions old-time boxing, Travie Davis and Leslie Carter): [2]

Credits

  • The Everett Daily Herald and other local Washington state newspapers were researched by Ric Kilmer (BoxRec Editor and Member of the International Boxing Research Organization).
  • Carter's BoxRec linked career record was updated with assistance from Mike DeLisa of the Cyber Boxing Zone, and Matt Tegen--fellow members of the IBRO and BoxRec.com Editors.
  • Photo is courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer collection of the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), Seattle, Washington.