Name: Sam Langford
Alias: Boston Tar Baby
Birthplace: Weymouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Died: 1956-01-12 (Age:72)
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Height: 5′ 7½″ / 171cm
Reach: 74″ / 188cm
Boxing Record: click
Manager: Joe Woodman
Sam Langford Gallery
Sam Langford is regarded as one of the best boxers of all-time and arguably the greatest boxer to never win a world title. White champions drew the color line and Jack Johnson claimed a title defence against Langford wouldn't draw flies. Despite being under 5'8" tall the gnome-like Canadian was feared by even the giants of the fight game.
After Jack Johnson won the World Heavyweight Championship in 1908, Langford claimed the World Colored Heavyweight Championship. With Johnson choosing to defend against white challengers, the top black fighters fought each other repeatedly. Langford fought Joe Jeannette 13 times, Sam McVea 13 times, and Harry Wills 18 times.
In the early 1920s, when Langford was half-blind, he went to Jack Kearns, the manager of World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey, and asked for a shot at the title. Kearns said, "Sam, we were looking for somebody easier."
In his autobiography, Dempsey wrote, “There was one man . . . I wouldn’t fight because I knew he would flatten me. I was afraid of Sam Langford.”
By the end of his career, Langford could barely see. His eyes failing, Langford would fight on the inside so he could feel his opponent and know where his arms were. At the end of a round, he'd use the ropes to feel his way back to his corner. Doctors twice tried to restore his sight, but by the mid-1930s, Langford was totally blind.
In 1944, Al Laney of the "New York Herald Tribune" decided to write a story about Langford, but he had trouble finding him. Several people suggested that Langford was probably dead, but Laney persisted and finally found Langford living at a rooming house on 139th Street in New York City. Langford had 20 cents in his pocket and was subsisting on a few dollars he received each month from a foundation for the blind.
Shortly after Laney's story was published, a fund was set up for Langford. As a result, he lived relatively comfortably for the rest of his days. Langford passed away on January 12, 1956 at a private nursing home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Langford's place in history:
- Charley Rose, in the 1968 Ring Record Book, ranked Langford as the greatest heavyweight of all-time.
- Herbert Goldman ranked Langford as the second greatest light heavyweight of all-time.
- The Ring Magazine ranked Langford as the third greatest puncher of all-time in 1997.
- Langford was named Nova Scotia's top athlete of the 20th century in 1999.
- Kieran Mulvaney of ESPN.com ranked Langford as the tenth greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all-time and said Langford was "almost certainly the greatest fighter never to win, or even fight for, a world title."
Known exhibitions fought by Langford:
- 1910 March - Bob Armstrong EX 3 Los Angeles, CA
- 1910 March - George Byers EX 3 Los Angeles, CA
- 1910 October 22 - Johnny Kilbane EX 3 Boston, MA
- 1914 January 26 - Bob Armstrong EX 3 London, ENG
- 1914 November or December - Charley Short EX 6 Bakersfield, CA
- 1916 December - Hugh Walker EX 3
- 1918 November 29 - Jeff Clarke EX 10 Milwaukee, WI