Ezzard Mack Charles, known as the Cincinnati Cobra (July 7, 1921 – May 28, 1975), was an American professional boxer and World Heavyweight Champion. Known for his slick defense and precision, he is considered one of the greatest fighters of all time by boxing critics. Charles defeated numerous Hall of Fame fighters in three different weight classes. He retired with a record of 95 wins, 15 losses and 1 draw.
|Real name||Ezzard Mack Charles|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Reach||73 in (185 cm)|
|Born||July 7, 1921|
Lawrenceville, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||May 28, 1975 (aged 53)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Wins by KO||52|
Charles was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, but is commonly thought of as a Cincinnatian. Charles graduated from Woodward High School in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was already becoming a well-known fighter. Known as "The Cincinnati Cobra", Charles fought many notable opponents in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, eventually winning the World Championship in the latter. Although he never won the Light Heavyweight title, The Ring has rated him as the greatest light heavyweight of all time.
Career beginnings and military serviceEdit
Charles started his career as a featherweight in the amateurs, where he had a record of 42–0. In 1938, he won the Diamond Belt Middleweight Championship. He followed this up in 1939 by winning the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament of champions. He won the national AAU Middleweight Championship in 1939. He turned pro in 1940, knocking out Melody Johnson in the fourth round. Charles won all of his first 17 fights before being defeated by veteran Ken Overlin. Victories over future Hall of Famers Teddy Yarosz and the much avoided Charley Burley had started to solidify Charles as a top contender in the middleweight division. However, he served in the U.S. military during World War II and was unable to fight professionally in 1945.
World heavyweight championEdit
He returned to boxing after the war as a light heavyweight, picking up many notable wins over leading light heavyweights, as well as heavyweight contenders Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivins, Lloyd Marshall and Elmer Ray. Shortly after his knock-out of Moore in their third and final meeting, tragedy struck. Charles fought a young contender named Sam Baroudi, knocking him out in Round 10. Baroudi died of the injuries he sustained in this bout. Charles was so devastated he almost gave up fighting. Charles was unable to secure a title shot at light heavyweight and moved up to heavyweight. After knocking out Joe Baksi and Johnny Haynes, Charles won the vacant National Boxing Association Heavyweight title when he outpointed Jersey Joe Walcott over 15 rounds on June 22, 1949. The following year, he outpointed his idol and former World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis to become the recognized Lineal Champion. Successful defenses against Walcott, Lee Oma and Joey Maxim followed.
Charles vs. MarcianoEdit
In 1951, Charles fought Walcott a third time and lost the title by knockout in the seventh round. Charles lost a controversial decision in their fourth and final bout. If Charles had won this fight, he would have become the first man in history to regain the heavyweight championship. Remaining a top contender with wins over Rex Layne, Tommy Harrison and Coley Wallace, Charles knocked out Bob Satterfield in an eliminator bout for the right to challenge Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano. His two stirring battles with Marciano are regarded as ring classics. In the first bout, held in June 1954, he valiantly took Marciano the distance, going down on points in a vintage heavyweight bout. Charles is the only man ever to last the full 15-round distance against Marciano. A number of fans and boxing writers felt that Charles deserved the decision. In their September rematch, Charles landed a severe blow that actually split Marciano's nose in half. Marciano's cornermen were unable to stop the bleeding and the referee almost halted the contest until Marciano rallied with an eighth-round knockout.
Financial problems forced Charles to continue fighting, losing 13 of his final 23 fights (he held a record of 83 wins, 12 losses and 1 draw before financial problems became a factor in his career). He retired with a record of 93-25-1 (52 KOs). He avenged 7 losses in his career.
Charles was also a respected double bass player who played with some of the jazz greats in the 1940s and 1950s at such notable places as Birdland (jazz composer George Russell wrote the famous tune "Ezz-Thetic" in his honor). He was very close with Rocky Marciano and a neighbor and friend of Muhammad Ali when they both lived on 85th Street in Chicago. Charles also starred in one motion picture: Mau Mau Drums, an independent (and unreleased) jungle-adventure film shot in and around Cincinnati in 1960 by filmmaker Earl Schwieterman.
In 1968, Charles was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease affected Charles' legs and eventually left him completely disabled. A fund raiser was held to assist Charles and many of his former opponents spoke on his behalf. Rocky Marciano in particular called Charles the bravest man he ever fought. The former boxer spent his last days in a nursing home. A chilling 1973 commercial showed Charles in his wheelchair horribly disabled by ALS. Charles died on May 28, 1975, in Chicago.
He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
In 2002, Charles was ranked #13 on The Ring magazine's list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years.
In 2006, Ezzard Charles was named the 11th greatest fighter of all time by the IBRO (International Boxing Research Organisation).
The "Cincinnati Cobra" was a master boxer of extraordinary skill and ability. He had speed, agility, fast hands and excellent footwork. Charles possessed a masterful jab and was a superb combination puncher. He was at his peak as a light-heavyweight. His record is quite impressive. Against top rate opposition like Archie Moore, Charley Burley, Lloyd Marshall, Jimmy Bivins, and Joey Maxim he was an impressive 16-2 combined. Despite being a natural light-heavy he won the heavyweight title and made 9 successful title defenses. Nearly 25% of voters had Charles in the top 10. Half of the voters had him in the top 15. Two thirds of voters had him inside the top 20.
Prominent boxing historian Bert Sugar listed Charles as the seventh greatest Heavyweight of all time.
Professional boxing record (Incomplete)Edit
|93 Wins (52 knockouts, 41 decisions), 15 Losses|
|Win||93–16||Toxie Hall||UD||10||1955-12-06||Rochester, New York, United States|
|Loss||92–16||Toxie Hall||UD||10||1955-11-14||Providence, Rhode Island, United States|
|Loss||92–15||Tommy Hurricane Jackson||UD||10||1955-08-31||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|Loss||92–14||Tommy Hurricane Jackson||UD||10 (10)||1955-08-03||Syracuse, New York, United States|
|Win||92–13||Paul Andrews||UD||10 (12)||1955-07-13||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Win||91–13||Johnny Holman||UD||10 (10)||1955-06-08||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Loss||90–13||Johnny Holman||KO||9||1955-04-27||Miami Beach, Florida, United States|
|Win||90-12||Vern Escoe||UD||10||1955-04-11||Edmonton, Alberta, Canada|
|Win||89–12||Charley Norkus||UD||10||1955-02-18||New York, New York, United States|
|Loss||88–12||Rocky Marciano||KO||8 (10)||1954-09-17||New York, New York, United States||For NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|Loss||88–11||Rocky Marciano||UD||15||1954-06-17||New York, New York, United States||For NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|Win||88–10||Bob Satterfield||KO||2 (10)||1954-01-13||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Win||87–10||Coley Wallace||KO||10||1953-12-16||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Loss||86–10||Harold Johnson||UD||10||1953-09-08||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Loss||86–9||Nino Valdez||UD||12||1953-08-11||Miami Beach, Florida, United States|
|Win||86–8||Larry Watson||KO||5 (12)||1953-05-26||Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States|
|Win||85–8||Billy Gilliam||UD||10 (12)||1953-05-12||Toledo, Ohio, United States|
|Win||84–8||Rex Layne||UD||10 (12)||1953-04-01||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Win||83–8||Tommy Harrison||SD||12||1953-02-04||MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Harrison suffers the first knockdown of his career in round 11.|
|Win||82–8||Wesbury Bascom||TKO||9 (12)||1953-01-14||St.Louis, Missouri, United States|
|Win||81–8||Frank Buford||TKO||7 (10)||1952-12-15||Boston, Massachusetts, United States|
|Win||80–8||Jimmy Bivins||UD||10||1952-11-26||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Win||79–8||Cesar Brion||UD||10||1952-10-24||New York, New York, United States|
|Win||78–8||Bernie Reynolds||KO||2 (10)||1952-10-08||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Loss||77–8||Rex Layne||UD||10||1952-08-08||Ogden, Utah, United States|
|Loss||77–7||Jersey Joe Walcott||UD||15||1952-06-05||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States||For NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|Win||77–6||Joe Kahut||KO||8 (10)||1951-12-21||Portland, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||76–6||Joey Maxim||UD||15||1951-12-12||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Win||75–6||Rex Layne||TKO||11 (12)||1951-10-10||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Loss||74–6||Jersey Joe Walcott||KO||7 (12)||1951-07-18||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States||Lost NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 1951.
|Win||74–5||Joey Maxim||UD||15||1951-05-30||Chicago, Illinois, United States||Retained NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|Win||73–5||Jersey Joe Walcott||UD||15||1951-03-07||Detroit, Michigan, United States||Retained NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|Win||72–5||Lee Oma||TKO||10 (15)||1951-01-12||New York, New York, United States||Retained NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|Win||71–5||Nick Barone||KO||11||1950-12-05||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States||Retained NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|Win||70–5||Joe Louis||UD||15 (10)||1950-09-27||New York, New York, United States||Retained NBA heavyweight title;|
Won vacant The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles;
Declared sole Heavyweight champion following the fight.
|Win||69–5||Freddie Beshore||TKO||14 (12)||1950-08-15||Buffalo, New York, United States||Retained NBA heavyweight title.|
|Win||68–5||Pat Valentino||KO||8 (12)||1949-10-14||San Francisco, California, United States||Retained NBA heavyweight title.|
|Win||67–5||Gus Lesnevich||TKO||7 (10)||1949-08-10||New York, New York, United States||Retained NBA heavyweight title.|
|Win||66–5||Jersey Joe Walcott||UD||15 (10)||1949-06-22||Chicago, Illinois, United States||Won vacant NBA heavyweight title.|
|Win||65–5||Joey Maxim||UD||15 (15)||1949-02-28||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||64–5||Johnny Haynes||KO||8 (15)||1949-02-07||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||63–5||Joe Baksi||KO||11 (15)||1948-12-10||New York, New York, United States|
|Win||62–5||Walter Hafer||KO||7 (15)||1948-11-14||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||61–5||Jimmy Bivins||UD||10||1948-10-13||Washington, D.C., United States|
|Win||60–5||Erv Sarvin||UD||10||1948-05-20||Buffalo, New York, United States|
|Win||59–5||Elmer Ray||KO||9 (10)||1948-05-07||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Win||58–5||Sam Baroudi||KO||10||1948-02-20||Chicago, Illinois, United States||Baroudi knocked out in the tenth round. Baroudi died from injuries sustained in the bout.|
|Win||57–5||Archie Moore||KO||8 (10)||1948-01-13||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|Win||56–5||Hilton "Fitzie" Fitzpatrick||KO||4 (10)||1947-12-02||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|Win||55-5||Teddy Randolph||UD||10 (?)||1947-11-03||Buffalo, New York, United States|
|Win||54–5||Clarence Jones||KO||1 (10)||1947-10-27||Huntington, West Virginia, United States|
|Win||53–5||Al Smith||KO||4 (10)||1947-10-16||Akron, Ohio, United States|
|Win||52–5||Lloyd Marshall||KO||2 (10)||1947-09-29||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||51–5||Joe Matisi||UD||10||1947-09-16||Buffalo, New York, United States|
|Loss||50–5||Elmer Ray||PTS||10||1947-07-25||New York, New York, United States|
|Win||50–4||Hilton "Fitzie" Fitzpatrick||KO||5 (10)||1947-07-14||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||49-4||Archie Moore||UD||10||1947-07-14||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||48–4||Erv Sarlin||UD||10||1947-05-05||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||47-4||Jimmy Bivins||KO||4 (10)||1947-03-10||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|Win||46–4||"Oakland" Billy Smith||KO||5 (10)||1947-02-17||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||45–4||Jimmy Bivins||UD||10||1946-11-12||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||44–4||"Oakland" Billy Smith||UD||10||1946-09-23||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||43–4||Lloyd Marshall||KO||6 (10)||1946-07-29||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||42–4||Shelton Bell||KO||5 (10)||1946-06-13||Youngstown, Ohio, United States|
|Win||41–4||Archie Moore||UD||10||1946-05-20||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||40–4||Tommy "Lee" Hubert||KO||4 (10)||1946-05-13||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||39–4||George Parks||KO||6 (10)||1946-04-15||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||38–4||Billy Duncan||KO||4 (10)||1946-04-01||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||37–4||Tommy "Lee" Hubert||UD||10||1946-03-25||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||36–4||Al Sheridan||KO||2 (10)||1946-02-18||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Loss||35–4||Lloyd Marshall||TKO||8 (10)||1943-03-31||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|loss||35–3||Jimmy Bivins||UD||10||1943-01-07||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|Win||35–2||Joey Maxim||UD||10||1942-12-01||Cleveland, Ohio, United States|
|Win||34–2||Joey Maxim||UD||10||1942-10-27||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||33–2||Mose Brown||KO||6 (10)||1942-09-15||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||32–2||Jose Basora||KO||5 (10)||1942-08-17||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||31–2||Booker Beckwith||KO||9 (10)||1942-06-27||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||30–2||Steve Mamakos||KO||1 (10)||1942-06-14||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||29–2||Charley Burley||UD||10||1942-06-29||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||28–2||Charley Burley||UD||10||1942-05-25||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Loss||27–2||Evelio "Kid" Tunero||UD||10||1942-05-13||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||27–1||Billy Pryor||UD||10||1942-04-08||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||26–1||Ken Overlin||PTS||10 (?)||1942-03-02||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||25–1||Anton Christoforidis||KO||3 (10)||1942-01-13||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||24–1||Teddy Yarosz||UD||10||1941-11-07||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||23–1||Pat Mangini||KO||1 (?)||1941-09-13||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||22–1||Al Gilbert||KO||6 (10)||1941-07-21||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Loss||21–1||Ken Overlin||UD||10||1941-06-09||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||21–0||Rudy Kozole||UD||10||1941-05-12||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||20–0||Joe Sutka||UD||10||1941-03-31||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||19–0||Floyd Howard||KO||7 (10)||1941-03-10||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||18–0||Slaka Cavrich||KO||2 (10)||1941-02-22||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||17–0||Billy Bengal||UD||10||1941-02-10||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||16–0||Charlie Jerome||KO||2 (10)||1940-12-02||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||15–0||Fidel Navarro||KO||1 (10)||1940-11-31||Columbus, Ohio, United States|
|Win||14–0||Bill Hood||KO||2 (?)||1940-10-03||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||13–0||Martin Simmons||UD||10||1940-09-23||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||12–0||Bradley Lewis||KO||3 (10)||1940-06-24||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Win||11–0||John Reeves||KO||4 (10)||1940-06-12||Columbus, Ohio, United States|
|Win||10–0||Frankie Williams||KO||7 (10)||1940-06-05||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||9–0||Pat Wright||KO||4 (?)||1940-05-17||Middletown, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||8–0||Eddie Fowler||KO||3 (10)||1940-05-10||Portsmouth, Ohio, United States|
|Win||7–0||Remo Fernandez||KO||6||1940-04-24||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||6–0||Charley Banks||KO||2||1940-04-16||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||5–0||Kid Ash||KO||3 (10)||1940-04-10||Portsmouth, Ohio, United States|
|Win||4–0||Charley Banks||UD||6||1940-04-02||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||3–0||John Reeves||UD||6||1940-03-27||Cincinnati, Ohio, United States|
|Win||2–0||Jimmy Brown||PTS||2||1940-03-20||Reading, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Win||1–0||Medley Johnson||KO||3 (6)||1940-03-15||Middletown, Pennsylvania, United States||Ezzard's Professional debut.|
- "Ezzard Charles". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 2014-05-08.
- Newsmakers Interview with Ezzard Charles Jr., WKRC Channel 12, Cincinnati, August 17, 2008
- Detloff, William (September 2002). "The 20 Greatest Light Heavyweights of All-Time". The Ring. 81 (10): 50
- Will Hammock. "The Champ: County to honor legendary boxer Charles today." Gwinnett Daily Post. June 5, 2010
- Newsmakers interview with Ezzard Charles Jr., WKRC Channel 12 Cincinnati, August 17, 2008
- Guide to 20th Century African American Resources, Cincinnati Historical Society
- "IBRO'S 25 Greatest Fighters of All Time". Eastsideboxing.com. Retrieved 2014-05-08.
- "Espn.Com: All-Time Greatest Boxers". Sports.espn.go.com. 1971-03-08. Retrieved 2014-05-08.
- The Greatest Light Heavyweights of All Time Archived September 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
Title last held byJoe Louis
| NBA Heavyweight Champion
June 22, 1949 – July 18, 1951
Jersey Joe Walcott
| NYSAC Heavyweight Champion|
September 27, 1950 – July 18, 1951
| The Ring Heavyweight Champion|
September 27, 1950 – July 18, 1951
| World Heavyweight Champion|
June 16, 1951 – July 18, 1951