The Ring Magazine's Annual Ratings

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The first ratings in the history of boxing appeared in the February 1925 issue of The Ring magazine.

In the November 1958 issue of The Ring magazine, Dan Daniel wrote an article entitled "Fleischer First to Devise Ring Ratings." The article stated that the idea of rating the fighters originated in 1924 with editor and publisher Nat Fleischer and that they were based upon Walter Camp's annual All-American college football selections. The idea had tremendous appeal, but questions arose as to who would get behind the ratings and how many boxers would be ranked in each of the nine weight divisions (the eight traditional divisions plus junior lightweight) existing at the time. Promoter Tex Rickard was asked to lend his name to the rankings and he accepted. It was agreed that Fleischer would formulate the ratings and Rickard would have the right to review them. Interestingly, Rickard did not make a single change. Publication of the ratings created a tremendous stir in the boxing world. When the time came for publishing the second annual ratings, a national weekly publication offered Rickard $5,000 for the feature and he accepted, somehow believing that the idea belonged to him. Legal action was threatened if the national magazine and Rickard went through with the plan. Rickard saw the light and signed a new authorization with The Ring for the use of his name. With Rickard's death in 1929, Jimmy Johnston sponsored the ratings, and then Fleischer took over as the sole author. Later, the staff and correspondents for the magazine got involved in the ratings. In time, Fleischer began to run monthly as well as annual ratings.

In the July 1987 issue of The Ring magazine, an article by Nigel Collins appeared, entitled "A Return to Sanity: The New Ring Ratings." This article has a slightly different version of how the ratings came about. The article states that the first ratings were selected, not by Fleischer or The Ring's editorial staff, but by Rickard. It further states that Rickard continued to make the choices for a number of years, but after his death, Jack Dempsey took over for a short period. Next came Tom McArdle, the matchmaker for Madison Square Garden, who handled the ratings until 1933 when Fleischer decided on a staff compilation from correspondents around the world. This method was used until the May 1980 issue when the "panel/ballot" system was instituted.

Almost from their inception, The Ring ratings included only the eight traditional weight divisions. The junior welterweight and junior lightweight divisions were included for a brief period in the late 1920s, but were dropped in 1931. Then, starting with the September 1962 issue, the junior welterweight and junior lightweight divisions were once again included. The December 1974 issue of the The Ring saw the inclusion of the junior middleweight division, followed by the junior featherweight (May 1979) and cruiserweight (April 1984) divisions. Beginning in the July 1987 issue of The Ring, only the traditional eight weight divisions would be rated and not the thirteen that had previously been rated. Dropped were the cruiserweight, junior middleweight, junior welterweight, junior lightweight, and junior featherweight divisions. The Ring ceased publication during 1989 and when it began publishing again in January 1990 the magazine included all thirteen previous divisions plus two new ones, super middleweight and junior bantamweight. Two more divisions would eventually be recognized, the junior flyweight (September 1991) and strawweight (1997?) divisions.

Annual Ratings: By Year

Annual Ratings: By Weight Division