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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[1]. 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.

Ezzard Charles
Ezzard Charles 2.jpg
Statistics
Real nameEzzard Mack Charles
Nickname(s)Cincinnati Cobra
Weight(s)Middleweight
Light heavyweight
Heavyweight
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Reach73 in (185 cm)
NationalityAmerican
Born(1921-07-07)July 7, 1921
Lawrenceville, Georgia, U.S.
DiedMay 28, 1975(1975-05-28) (aged 53)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights121
Wins95
Wins by KO52
Losses15
Draws1
No contests0

Contents

CareerEdit

Charles was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia, but is commonly thought of as a Cincinnatian.[2] Charles graduated from Woodward High School in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was already becoming a well-known fighter.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.

Later careerEdit

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.[6] 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.

DeathEdit

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.[citation needed] Charles died on May 28, 1975, in Chicago.

LegacyEdit

 
Commemorative stamp honoring Charles
 
A mural honoring Charles as the Cincinnati Cobra on Liberty Street in Cincinnati, Ohio

In 1976, Cincinnati honored Charles by changing the name of Lincoln Park Drive to Ezzard Charles Drive. This was the street of his residence during the height of his career.[7]

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).[8]

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.

In 2007, ESPN online ranks Ezzard Charles as the 27th greatest boxer of all time, ahead of such notable fighters as Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and Jake LaMotta.[9]

In 2009, Boxing magazine listed Ezzard Charles as the greatest Light Heavyweight fighter ever, ahead of the likes of Archie Moore, Bob Foster, Michael Spinks and Gene Tunney.[10]

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[11]
Res. Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
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 World Heavyweight title.
Loss 88–11   Rocky Marciano UD 15 1954-06-17   New York, New York, United States For World Heavyweight title.
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 World Heavyweight title.
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 World Heavyweight title. Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 1951.
Win 74–5   Joey Maxim UD 15 1951-05-30   Chicago, Illinois, United States Retained World Heavyweight title.
Win 73–5   Jersey Joe Walcott UD 15 1951-03-07   Detroit, Michigan, United States Retained World Heavyweight title.
Win 72–5   Lee Oma TKO 10 (15) 1951-01-12   New York, New York, United States Retained World Heavyweight title.
Win 71–5   Nick Barone KO 11 1950-12-05   Cincinnati, Ohio, United States Retained World Heavyweight title.
Win 70–5   Joe Louis UD 15 (10) 1950-09-27   New York, New York, United States Retained NBA Heavyweight title. 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 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.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.boxingnewsonline.net/on-this-day-ezzard-charles-one-of-the-greatest-fighters-of-all-time-was-born/
  2. ^ "Ezzard Charles". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 2014-05-08.
  3. ^ Newsmakers Interview with Ezzard Charles Jr., WKRC Channel 12, Cincinnati, August 17, 2008
  4. ^ Detloff, William (September 2002). "The 20 Greatest Light Heavyweights of All-Time". The Ring. 81 (10): 50
  5. ^ Will Hammock. "The Champ: County to honor legendary boxer Charles today." Gwinnett Daily Post. June 5, 2010
  6. ^ Newsmakers interview with Ezzard Charles Jr., WKRC Channel 12 Cincinnati, August 17, 2008
  7. ^ Guide to 20th Century African American Resources, Cincinnati Historical Society
  8. ^ "IBRO'S 25 Greatest Fighters of All Time". Eastsideboxing.com. Retrieved 2014-05-08.
  9. ^ "Espn.Com: All-Time Greatest Boxers". Sports.espn.go.com. 1971-03-08. Retrieved 2014-05-08.
  10. ^ The Greatest Light Heavyweights of All Time Archived September 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ boxrec

Further readingEdit

  • Grace, Kevin & Grace, Joshua (2006). Cincinnati Boxing. Chicago: Arcadia. ISBN 0-7385-4112-5.

External linksEdit

Achievements
Vacant
Title last held by
Joe Louis
NBA Heavyweight Champion
June 22, 1949 – July 18, 1951
Succeeded by
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