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Edward "Gunboat" Smith (February 17, 1887 – August 6, 1974) was an Irish American boxer, film actor and later a boxing referee. Smith's career record reads like a veritable Who's Who of the early 20th century boxing scene, facing 12 different Hall of Famers a combined total of 23 times. Among the all-time greats he faced were the legendary Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, Sam Langford, and Georges Carpentier.

Gunboat Smith
GunboatSmithLOC.jpg
Statistics
Real nameEdward Smith
Nickname(s)Gunboat
Weight(s)Heavyweight
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Reach72 in (180 cm)
NationalityUnited States
Born(1887-02-17)February 17, 1887
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedAugust 6, 1974(1974-08-06) (aged 87)
Leesburg, Florida
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights140
Wins81
Wins by KO38
Losses49 (references vary)
Draws13

Contents

Boxing careerEdit

 
Smith (right) during his first encounter with Arthur Pelkey

Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent much of his youth in orphanages, working on farms and on the railroads. He joined the U.S. Navy, where he began boxing and won the heavyweight championship of the Pacific Fleet.

In 1910, Smith became known in the Oakland and San Francisco areas by serving as a sparring partner for Jack Johnson and Stanley Ketchel before their heavyweight title fight there. Author Jack London knew Smith and helped fund his training.

From 1912–1915, Smith established himself as a leading candidate for the heavyweight title, beating, among others, British and British Empire champion Bombadier Billy Wells and future world champion Jess Willard, and beating and losing to Sam Langford in two fights (this is especially notable since many white fighters refused to fight black opponents). He fought many other ranked fighters, but before his death, Smith was asked to name the greatest fighter he ever met. His response: Langford, in his words, “The best of all of them.”[1]

In 1914, Smith won the "White Hope" heavyweight championship. This title, created by boxing promoters due to the unpopularity of the black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, was never widely recognized. He lost the "title" to Georges Carpentier later that year in a bout with a purse of 9,000 pounds sterling.[2]

After 1916, Smith's career suffered a decline; in 1917, he suffered a loss by decision to future champion Jack Dempsey in a hotly contested four-round fight. A year later, he was knocked to the canvas 9 times by Dempsey, suffering a one-sided second-round knock out.

In 1920 and 1921, Smith suffered a string of KO losses and retired after suffering a one-round knockout to the great heavyweight contender Harry Wills. He finished with a record of 81 wins, 46 losses, and 13 draws, a total of 140 bouts. “Not a great record on paper,” Dave Allen remarked, “but one that becomes much more impressive when you take into consideration that he fought the very best of his era.”[1]

Smith was lean and scrappy, an excellent boxer who moved well and hit sharply with both hands. Among the men he defeated were Willard, Langford, Wells, Battling Levinsky, Carl Morris, Frank Moran, and Fireman Jim Flynn.

Professional boxing recordEdit

52 Wins (38 Knockouts), 28 Defeats (12 Knockouts), 10 Draws, 1 No Contest[3]
Res. Record Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes
Loss 52-28-10   Harry Wills KO 1 (20), 1:07 1921-10-10   Stadium, Havana, Cuba
Loss 52-27-10   Bob Martin KO 3 (10) 1921-05-30   Huntington, West Virginia
Loss 52-26-10   Al Roberts KO 10 (12) 1921-03-09   Commonwealth Sporting Club, New York, New York
Loss 52-25-10   Harry Greb KO 1 (10) 1920-10-21   Springbrook Park, South Bend, Indiana
Loss N/A   Bob Roper NWS 10 1920-09-06   Springbrook Park, Fort Worth, Texas Newspaper decision
Draw 52-24-10   Bob Roper PTS 15 1920-08-09   Columbus, Ohio
Win N/A   Texas Tate NWS 12 1920-08-03   Panther Park, Fort Worth, Texas Newspaper decision
Loss N/A   Chuck Wiggins NWS 10 1920-07-15   Ramona Baseball Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Tony Melchior NWS 10 1920-06-26   Ramona Baseball Park, East Chicago, Indiana Newspaper decision
Loss 52-24-9   Lee Anderson PTS 4 1920-05-13   San Francisco Coliseum, San Francisco
Loss 52-23-9   Fred Fulton KO 2 (10) 1920-04-07   Milwaukie Coliseum, Milwaukie, Oregon
Win 52-22-9   Andre Anderson PTS 4 1920-03-10   American Legion A.A, Fresno, California
Loss 51-22-9   Bill Tate PTS 4 1920-02-25   Oakland Auditorium, Oakland, California
Win 51-21-9   Willie Meehan PTS 4 1920-02-04   Oakland Auditorium, Oakland, California
Win 50-21-9   Carl Morris PTS 4 1920-01-23   American Legion A.A, Fresno, California
Draw 49-21-9   Ole Anderson PTS 4 1919-12-11   San Francisco Coliseum, San Francisco
Draw 49-21-8   Carl Morris PTS 4 1919-12-03   Oakland Auditorium, Oakland
Win 49-21-7   Fat LaRue PTS 4 1919-11-19   Oakland Auditorium, Oakland
Loss 48-21-7   Frank Farmer PTS 6 1919-11-05   Seattle Arena, Seattle, Washington
Loss 48-20-7   Noel "Boy" McCormick PTS 4 1919-10-30   San Francisco Coliseum, San Francisco
Loss 48-19-7   K.O. Kruvosky PTS 4 1919-10-23   San Francisco Coliseum, San Francisco
Loss 48-18-7   Jack Dempsey KO 2 (8) 1918-12-30   Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
Loss N/A   Billy Miske NWS 8 1918-07-12   International League Ballpark, Jersey City, New Jersey Newspaper decision
Draw 48-17-7   Tom McMahon PTS 15 1918-07-04   Highland Park, Dayton, Ohio
Loss N/A   Leo Houck NWS 6 1918-05-27   Erne Club, Lancaster, Pennsylvania Newspaper decision
Loss 48-17-6   Billy Miske PTS 10 1918-04-12   Atlanta Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia
Loss N/A   Clay Turner NWS 10 1918-04-01   Majestic Theatre, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Newspaper decision
Loss N/A   Hugh Walker NWS 12 1918-03-08   Joplin, Missouri Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Emmett Kid Wagner NWS 10 1918-02-18   Majestic Theatre, Wilkes-Barre Newspaper decision
Loss 48-16-6   Charley Weinert PTS 12 1918-01-09   Marieville Gardens, North Providence, Rhode Island
Loss 48-15-6   Fred Fulton TKO 7 (10) 1917-11-27   Arcadia Rink, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Loss 48-14-6   Jack Dempsey PTS 4 1917-10-02   Recreation Park, San Francisco
Win N/A   Frank Moran NWS 10 1917-09-07   St. Nicholas Arena, New York Newspaper decision
Loss N/A   Kid Norfolk NWS 10 1917-08-20   Airdome A.C., Rochester, New York Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Bill Tate NWS 10 1917-08-10   Brown's Gym A.A., Queens, New York Newspaper decision
Draw N/A   Kid Norfolk NWS 10 1917-08-03   Urban Liberty Park, Buffalo Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Jack Clifford NWS 10 1917-06-02   Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Draw N/A   Bob McAllister NWS 10 1917-05-29   Pioneer Sporting Club, New York Newspaper decision
Loss 48-13-6   Jack Dillon PTS 20 1917-02-16   Louisiana Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana
Draw 48-12-6   Jack Moran PTS 12 1917-01-31   Saint Louis, Missouri
Loss N/A   Battling Levinsky NWS 10 1917-01-01   Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Loss N/A   Tom Cowler NWS 10 1916-12-25   Flower City A.C., Rochester, New York Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Frank Moran NWS 10 1916-12-18   Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Loss 48-12-5   Battling Levinsky PTS 12 1917-01-01   Arena (Armory A.A.), Brooklyn
Win N/A   Joe Cox NWS 10 1916-10-03   Broadway Arena, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Tom Cowler NWS 10 1916-09-26   Broadway Arena, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Jim Coffey NWS 6 1916-09-23   National A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Newspaper decision
Win 48-11-5   Cleve Hawkins TKO 3 (10) 1916-09-18   Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn
Win N/A   Tom McMahon NWS 10 1916-07-10   Rochester, New York Newspaper decision
Win 47-11-5   Arthur Pelkey PTS 8 1916-06-07   Phoenix A.C., Memphis, Tennessee
Loss N/A   Battling Levinsky NWS 6 1916-05-15   Olympia A.C., Philadelphia Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Bob Devere NWS 10 1916-04-28   Syracuse Arena, Syracuse, New York Newspaper decision
Loss 46-11-5   Carl Morris PTS 10 1916-05-15   Tulsa, Oklahoma
Loss N/A   Dan Flynn NWS 10 1916-03-30   Manhattan Opera House, New York Newspaper decision
Loss N/A   Jack Dillon NWS 10 1916-03-14   Broadway Arena, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Loss 46-10-5   Jim Coffey KO 4 (10), 1:55 1915-11-29   Madison Square Garden, New York
Win N/A   Joe Cox NWS 8 1915-11-09   Saint Louis Coliseum, Saint Louis Newspaper Decision
Loss 46-9-5   Colin Bell PTS 10 1915-10-07   Sohmer Park, Montreal, Quebec
Win N/A   Al Reich NWS 10 1915-10-04   St. Nicholas Arena, New York Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Sailor Jack Carroll NWS 10 1915-09-04   Broadway S.C, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Jack Hemple NWS 10 1915-08-18   St. Nicholas Arena, New York Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Tom Cowler NWS 10 1915-07-28   St. Nicholas Arena, New York Newspaper decision
Loss N/A   Charley Weinert NWS 10 1915-07-01   Ebbets Field, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Dick Gilbert NWS 12 1915-05-10   National A.C, Denver, Colorado Newspaper decision
Win 46-8-5   Tom McCarty PTS 12 1915-04-20   Arena (Atlas A.A.), Boston, Massachusetts
Win N/A   Charley Weinert NWS 10 1915-04-13   Broadway Arena, Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Jack Reed NWS 10 1915-03-27   Irving A.C., Brooklyn Newspaper decision
Loss N/A   Jack Dillon NWS 10 1915-03-16   Milwaukee Auditorium, Milwaukee Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Fireman Jim Flynn NWS 10 1915-02-01   Cincinnati, Ohio Newspaper decision
Win 45-8-5   Battling Levinsky PTS 20 1915-01-27   Greenwall Theater, New Orleans
Draw 44-8-5   Battling Levinsky PTS 12 1915-01-01   Waterbury Auditorium, Waterbury, Connecticut
Win 44-8-4   Chick Carsey TKO 3 (10) 1914-12-28   Long Acre A.C, New York
Win 43-8-4   Tom McCarty TKO 4 (10) 1914-12-23   Manhattan Casino, New York
Win N/A   Jim Coffey NWS 10 1914-12-15   Madison Square Garden, New York Newspaper decision
Loss 42-8-4   Sam Langford KO 3 (12) 1914-10-20   Arena (Atlas A.A.), Boston
Loss N/A   Battling Levinsky NWS 10 1914-10-09   Manhattan Casino, New York Newspaper decision
Win N/A   Cyclone Johnny Thompson NWS 6 1914-09-28   Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Newspaper decision
Loss 42-7-4   Georges Carpentier DQ 6 (20) 1914-07-16   Olympia, Kensington, London Lost "White" heavyweight title
Win N/A   Jack Blackburn NWS 6 1914-05-20   National A.C., Philadelphia Newspaper decision
Win 42-6-4   Arthur Pelkey TKO 15 (20) 1914-01-01   Coffroth's Arena, Daly City, California Won "White" heavyweight title
Win 41-6-4   Sam Langford PTS 12 1913-11-17   Arena (Atlas A.A.), Boston
Win 40-6-4   Charley Miller KO 3 (10) 1913-10-31   Atlantic Garden A.C, New York
Win 39-6-4   Tony Ross KO 10 (12), 1:30 1913-10-21   Arena (Atlas A.A.), Boston
Win 38-6-4   Carl Morris DQ 5 (10) 1913-10-09   Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 37-6-4   Fireman Jim Flynn TKO 5 (10) 1913-08-08   Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 36-6-4   George Rodel TKO 3 (10) 1913-06-27   Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 35-6-4   Jess Willard PTS 20 1913-05-20   Eighth Street Arena, San Francisco
Win N/A   George Rodel NWS 10 1913-04-11   New Amsterdam Opera House, New York Newspaper Decision
Win 34-6-4   Fred McKay KO 2 (10) 1913-04-02   Fairmont A.C., Brooklyn
Win 33-6-4   Bombardier Billy Wells KO 2 (10) 1913-03-14   Madison Square Garden, New York

After boxingEdit

After his retirement, Smith went on to have a variety of jobs: runner on Wall Street, private policeman at Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium, and an actor in several small roles in silent films, including The Great Gatsby and Wings, the first Academy Award-winner for Best Picture.[4] He also refereed boxing matches, such as the Harry Greb vs. Tiger Flowers middleweight championship bout in 1926 and the controversial Max Schmeling vs. Jack Sharkey return heavyweight championship contest in 1932.

He died in 1974 in Florida.

Partial filmographyEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Allen, Dave, “Gunboat Smith,” Ring News, April 20, 2011 http://www.ringnews24.com/index.php/boxing-news/boxing-history/18408-gunboat-smith.html#axzz1kcXrZ1ee
  2. ^ Heller, Peter (1994). In This Corner...!. New York, New York: Da Capo Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-306-80603-7.
  3. ^ Gunboat Smith's Professional Boxing Record. BoxRec.com. Retrieved on 2014-05-03.
  4. ^ Heller, Peter (1994). In This Corner...!. New York, New York: Da Capo Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-306-80603-7.

External linksEdit