Homer Smith

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Homer Smith

Name: Homer Smith
Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA
Birthplace: Van Buren, Arkansas, USA
Died: 1971-05-01 (Age:75)
Pro Boxer: Record

Per the April 24, 1927 Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper, Smith had traveled 300,000 miles in 15 years of boxing. He had been to France, Germany, Belgium, England, Hawaii, Cuba and Spain. He had met Firpo, Harry Wills, Jack Sharkey, Harry Greb (who had just died), Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Willie Meehan, Bartley Madden, and many others.

Homer Smith was born May 28, 1893 on a farm near Kalamazoo, Michigan and died on May 6, 1971 in Pawpaw, Michigan. Buried in Glendale Cemetery. Death was caused from an abdominal aneurysm. He lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Grantwood, NJ and Ypsilanti, Mi. He also rented in south Dearborn, Michigan for two years while he worked as a plant protection employee at the Rouge plant for the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mi. during World War II. One summer, his son, H. James Smith worked in the steel mill. The son seldom saw his father because they worked different shifts even though they slept in the same living quarters in Dearborn. At the age of 18, Homer Smith went into professional boxing. He journeyed approximately 300,000 miles for his 187 fights He fought as many as 14 fights in one year. He received $0.75 for his first professional fight. The biggest purse for fighting he received was $5,100. He was paid $218 for the Jack Dempsey fight. Homer Smith was an accomplished boxer, who would often comment that of all of his achievements, his proudest was "I fought the 3 greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. Jack Dempsey, Jack Sharkey and Jack Johnson."

One time famous sports writer Damon Runyoun referred to Homer Smith as "Old Weeping Willow from Pawpaw." In October 1936, Homer Smith (age 41) fought his 15 year old son, H. James Smith and a 4 round technical knock out at Pawpaw, Mi as reported by a national news service. In 1937 he coached Pawpaw's Golden Gloves team. A January 19, 1960 Look Magazine article by Jack Dempsey related fight and human interest stories about Dempsey and Homer Smith. Dempsey in his biography refers to Homer Smith as "That clean living kid from Kalamazoo" because Homer Smith never smoked or drank. On April 25, 1968 Homer Smith was presented with a plaque by Ring 32, the Veteran Boxers Association at Carl's Chophouse in Detroit, Michigan. The inscription presented to Homer Smith read "Outstanding Michigan Heavyweight". On October 9, 1971 at the 19th annual dinner and reunion of the Old Time Boxer's Association, Ring 23 of the National Veteran Boxer's Association at Allentown, PA, Homer Smith was one of seven members honored in memoriam.

During WWII, Homer Smith worked in plant production for the Ford Motor Company at the Rouge plant for 2 years. In his later years he worked in a real estate office in Ypsilanti, Mi. In WWI, he was on active duty, trucking ammo and supplies to a French Artillery training camp that had been used as a military training camp since the days of Napoleon Bonaparte. One week before the Armistice of WWI, he was transferred to the First Army in France the day the Armistice was signed. A few days later, he was transferred to U.S. Second Army Headquarters. He inspected and drove tractors and trucks for 6 weeks. Then he boarded the U.S. Cruiser Montana on February 23rd and had his first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty when he landed at Hoboken, New Jersey. He then went on to Camp Custer on the boat and at Fort Custer he fought an exhibition boxing fight for the entertainment of the troops. It was a direct result of the popularity of the boxing fights at Camp Custer that the Michigan Boxing Commission was born. There is now a Smith Recreation Hall at Camp Custer.