Ezzard Charles

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Name: Ezzard Charles
Alias: The Cincinnati Cobra
Birth Name: Ezzard Mack Charles
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Birthplace: Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA
Died: 1975-05-28 (Age:53)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 183cm
Reach: 185cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Amateur Career

During his first year as a professional, various newspapers mention his long winning streak dating all the way back to 1937 as an amateur. On July 26, 1940 before his 8th scheduled pro bout, Cincinnati Enquirer says if Charles is beaten it'll be his first defeat in 40 fights. Prior to his 10th pro bout with Billy Hood, Cincinnati Enquirer mentions Ezzard having been unbeaten in 48 starts. After his 12th pro bout, when he knocked out Charley Jerome of Memphis, Tenn., Associated Press reports it being his 50th straight win and he hasn't been on the losing side of a bout since he dropped a close, three round decision in the finals of a 1937 regional amateur tournament in Cincinnati.

  • 1936 On Mar. 16, Northern Kentucky amateur boxing tournament Lightweight Champion.
    • Semifinals 135-Pound class: Defeated Charles Johnson, Pastime A.C. by decision.
  • 1936 On Mar. 26, lost to Dodo Woods by decision at amateur boxing show held at Hartwell Country Club.
  • 1936 On Dec. 2, lost to Jim Shuffleberger by decision at A.A.U. amateur boxing show held at Music Hall in Cincinnati.
  • 1937 The Times Star Diamond Belt boxing tournament Welterweight Champion.
    • 1st Round 147-Pound class: Defeated Robert McKibben, Times-Star A.C. by decision.
  • 1937 On Feb. 25 6th Annual Greater Cincinnati junior novice boxing tournament Welterweight Champion
    • 1st Round 147-Pound class: Defeated Charley Morris, Times-Star A.C. by decision.
    • Quarterfinal 147-Pound class: Defeated Ras Lamb Times-Star A.C. by decision.
  • 1937 On Mar. 3 2nd annual Cincinnati Golden Gloves tournament lost a decision to Johnny Castro, Miami University in welterweight semi finals.
    • Quarterfinals 147-Pound class: Defeated George Craft by decision.
    • Consolation bout 147-Pound class: Defeated Israel Clemons, Williams A.C. by decision.
  • 1937 On Mar. 29 Ohio AAU district Welterweight Champion
    • 1st Round 147-Pound class: Defeated Rex Johnson of Toledo, Oh. by decision.
    • 2nd Round 147-Pound class: Defeated H. Fisher of Dayton, Oh. by knockout first round.
    • Semifinals 147-Pound class: Defeated Ernest Banks of Columbus, Oh. by decision.
    • Finals 147-Pound class: Defeated Paul Jones of Wilberforce University by technical knockout in second round.
  • 1937 On Apr. 13 in Boston, Mass., 35th National AAU tournament lost a decision to Freddy Lewis of Philadelphia, PA. in welterweight second round preliminaries.
  • 1938 Jan 19 The Times Star Diamond Belt boxing tournament Welterweight Champion.
    • 1st Round 147-Pound class: Defeated Tony Milillo Times-Star A.C. by technical knockout in second round
    • Quarterfinals 147-Pound class: Defeated Charles Wilson by decision.
    • Semifinals 147-Pound class: Defeated Ray McDonald Times-Star A.C. by decision.

Charles was knocked down early in the fight but was able to come back and win it by decision. It was reportedly the only time Ezzard touched the canvas during his entire amateur career.

    • Finals 147-Pound class: Knocked out Henry Wright C.Y.O. in second round.
  • 1938 On Feb 24 3rd annual Cincinnati Golden Gloves tournament welterweight champion
    • Finals 147-Pound class: Won by default over Johnny Castro. Illness forced Castro to default. He pleaded to go on, but Boxing Commission physician ruled otherwise.
  • 1938 On Mar. 1 Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions lost a decision to Artie Dorrell of Fort Worth, Tx. in welterweight second round preliminaries.
  • 1938 On Mar. 28 at National AAU Junior championships lost a decision to Sam Amico of Detroit, Mich. in welterweight first round preliminaries.
  • 1938 Ohio AAU district Welterweight Champion
    • 1st Round 147-Pound class: Defeated James Johnson of Toledo, Oh. by decision.
    • 2nd Round 147-Pound class: Defeated Chris Williams of Springfield Oh.
  • 1939 Diamond Belt Middleweight Champion.
  • 1939 On Feb 9 4th annual Cincinnati Golden Gloves tournament Middleweight champion
    • Opening Round 160-Pound class: Defeated Walter Scott by decision.
    • Semifinals 160-Pound class: Knocked out James Brown of Cincinnati, Oh. in third round.
    • Finals 160-Pound class: Knocked out Edward Fowler of Williams A.C. in first round.
  • 1939 On Mar. 10 Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions Middleweight Champion
    • 1st Round 160-Pound class: Defeated Leroy Bolden of St. Louis, Mo. by decision.
    • 2nd Round 160-Pound class: Defeated Rocco Volento of Madison A.C., Chicago, Ill. by decision.
    • Quarterfinals 160-Pound class: Defeated Luther Brent of Rockford, Ill. by decision.
    • Semifinals 160-Pound class: Defeated Paul Frazier of Savoy A.C. Chicago, Ill. by decision.
    • Finals 160-Pound class: Defeated Pete Hantz of Davenport, Ill. by decision.
  • 1939 On Mar. 29 Ohio AAU district Middleweight Champion
    • Opening Round 160-Pound class: Defeated Bill Richardson of Dayton, Oh. by decision.
    • Semifinals 160-Pound class: Defeated Perry Mason of Toledo, Oh. by decision.
    • Finals 160-Pound class: Knocked out James Brown of Cincinnati, Oh. in third round.
  • 1939 On Apr. 14 National AAU Middleweight Champion
    • 1st Round 160-Pound class: Defeated the defending champion Bradley Lewis of Albany, NY by decision.
    • 2nd Round 160-Pound class: Defeated Ray Williams of Muskogee, Ok. by decision.
    • Quarterfinals 160-Pound class: Defeated Ralph Di Castro of Rome, N.Y. by decision.
    • Semifinals 160-Pound class: Defeated James Toney of Detroit, Mich. by decision.
    • Finals 160-Pound class: Defeated Leroy Bolden of St. Louis, Mo. by decision


Preceded by:
Cornelius Young
Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions
Middleweight Champion

1939
Succeeded by:
Joey Maxim
Preceded by:
Bradley Lewis
National AAU Middleweight Champion
1939
Succeeded by:
Joey Maxim


Record Issues

The previously published 1940 record for Charles is inaccurate, evidently because his first manager, Bert Williams of Cincinnati, padded it with fights that did not occur. Checks of two newspapers (The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Ohio State Journal of Columbus, Ohio) by historian Herbert Goldman, using the facilities of the Library of Congress and a Cincinnati newspaper by Jack Kincaid, found the following fights untraceable:

  • Eddie Fowler, Portsmouth, Ohio, May 10, 1940.
  • Pat Wright, Middletown, Ohio, May 17, 1940.

Other untraceable professional fights:

  • Al Woodridge, Portsmouth, Ohio, February 26, 1940. This was reported as an upcoming amateur bout in the February 24, 1940, edition of The Portsmouth Times, and the bout is listed as an amateur contest by The Cyber Boxing Zone.
  • Jimmy Brown, Reading, Pennsylvania, March 20, 1940. This bout was not reported in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (search by Luckett Davis). Charles knocked out James Brown in the third round on March 28, 1939, at Cincinnati, winning State AAU middleweight title.
  • Bradley Lewis, San Francisco, California, June 24, 1940. This was actually an amateur bout that occurred on April 12, 1939.

Even in 1940 and 1941, Charles' record still listed these untraceable fights, although the details given were varied and conflicted from one telling to another. It seems best to omit all of these fights from Charles' record, at least until they can be verified.

Professional Career

  • Defeated Joe Louis, Teddy Yarosz, Anton Christoforidis, Gus Lesnevich, Charley Burley twice, Lloyd Marshall twice, Oakland Billy Smith twice, Jersey Joe Walcott twice, Archie Moore three times, Jimmy Bivins four times, and Joey Maxim five times.
  • Put his boxing career on hold while serving in the U.S. Army in 1944 and 1945.
  • Was ranked as the No. 1 light heavyweight contender by The Ring in 1947.
  • Knocked out Sam Baroudi on February 20, 1948. Baroudi died from injuries sustained in the fight.
  • Defeated Jersey Joe Walcott by a fifteen-round unanimous decision on June 22, 1949, to win the vacant National Boxing Association World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Defeated Joe Louis by a fifteen-round unanimous decision on September 27, 1950, to gain universal recognition as World Heavyweight Champion.
  • Successfully defended the title against 8 fighters.
  • Lost the title to Jersey Joe Walcott by a seventh-round knockout on July 18, 1951.
  • Attempted to regain the World Heavyweight Championship three times, losing once to Walcott in 1952 and twice to Rocky Marciano in 1954.
  • From 1955 until his retirement in 1959, Charles fought twenty-three times and only won ten of those bouts.
  • Charles died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, on May 28, 1975. Charles said he first noticed the ailment in 1955. "After a guy hit me, I didn't seem to be able to get away," he recalled. "I didn't have the same coordination."

Professional Record

Championship record

Awards & Recognition


Preceded by:
Joe Louis
Retired
World Heavyweight Champion
NBA World Heavyweight Champion

1949 Jun 22 – 1951 Jul 18
Succeeded by:
Jersey Joe Walcott
Preceded by:
Joe Louis
Retired
NYSAC World Heavyweight Champion
1950 Sep 27 – 1951 Jul 18
Succeeded by:
Jersey Joe Walcott