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Maxie Berger (February 23, 1917 – August 1, 2000) was a Canadian boxer who fought as a flyweight, junior welterweight, and welterweight from 1935–1946. He squared off against many different Hall of Famers including the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Ike Williams, Beau Jack, Fritzie Zivic, Midget Wolgast, and Wesley Ramey. He held the Montreal version of the World Jr. Welterweight Title in 1939. His manager was Tommy Dio.[1] Statistical boxing website BoxRec rates Berger as the 14th best Canadian boxer ever across all weight divisions.[2]

Maxie Berger
Real nameMaxie Berger
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Born(1917-02-23)February 23, 1917
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedAugust 1, 2000(2000-08-01) (aged 83)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Boxing record
Total fights131
Wins by KO25
No contests1

Early life and careerEdit

Berger was born on February 23, 1917, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He began fighting in 1931 at the Montreal Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA).[3] After a strong amateur career, Berger was selected as representative for Canada in the 1934 British Empire Games. Fighting as a flyweight, he lost a close decision in the finals to Pat Palmer of England, but managed to win the silver medal. After turning pro in 1935, and winning his first ten bouts, he moved to New York City. Three quarters of his career fights took place in the United States.[4]

On July 6, 1937, Berger topped Midget Wolgast in an eighth round points decision before a crowd of 3,000 at New York's Coney Island Velodrome. Wolgast had held the World Flyweight Championship from 1930–35.[5] Berger floored Wolgast for a nine count in the fourth round with a right to the jaw.[6]

Professional career highlightsEdit

Taking the Canadian Lightweight Championship, September 1937Edit

On September 9, 1937, at 133 1/4 pounds, Berger took the Canadian Lightweight championship against Dave Castilloux in a twelve-round points decision at the Forum in Montreal.[4] One month later, he successfully defended the title against Orville Drouillard in a ten-round unanimous decision. Berger took the decision with a rally in the closing rounds to the excitement of an audience just over 2000.[7]

On March 22, 1938, Berger defeated Enrico Venturi in an exciting upset before 12,000 at the New York Coliseum in an eight-round points decision. Venturi, who got in his best shots in the final round, was returning to boxing after a three-month suspension.[8]

Bouts against Wesley Ramey, and taking the World Jr. Welterweight ChampionshipEdit

On March 28, 1939, Wesley Ramey defeated Berger in their second meeting, an eight-round points decision at the New York Colliseum in the Bronx, New York before an impressive crowd of 10,000. Ramey took five of the eight rounds.[4][9] In their first meeting on February 21, 1939 Ramey defeated Berger more decisively at the Bronx's Colliseum in an eight-round points decision though Ramey was down for nine counts in the third and fifth rounds.[4] Ramey was able to stage a comeback in the sixth through eighth rounds and win the decision, making the bout all the more memorable to fans.[10]

Taking the World Jr. Welterweight Championship, July 1939Edit

On July 5, 1939, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Berger took the World Junior Welterweight Championship as recognized by the Montreal Athletic Commission before 4000 fans in ten rounds against his former nemesis Wesley Ramey. Berger dropped Ramey in the third, fourth, and seventh rounds though he had lost to him twice previously fighting in the states.[4] Ramey, a veteran of over 200 fights, arose quickly from each knockdown, taking only short counts. At the end of the bout, Ramey had difficulty seeing from the swelling in his right eye.[11]

On September 26, 1939 Berger won over Leonard Del Genio in a crowd pleasing eight round points decision at the New York Coliseum in the Bronx.[4] He had lost to Del Genio on November 11, 1936 in an eight-round points decision at the New York Coliseum. It was a close bout and many in the crowd of 7000 were displeased with the verdict which ruined Berger's nearly perfect win record. Del Genio had an edge in the infighting which was noteworthy since he had a disadvantage of several inches in reach.[12]

On October 29, 1940, Berger defeated Billy Beauhuld in an eight-round points decision before impressed fans at the New York Coliseum in the Bronx. Berger won a decisive points margin in the feature bout extending a streak of twenty matches without a loss. He came out aggressively in the first round opening cuts above Beahhuld's eyes and avenging a loss he took to Beauhuld on February 7, 1938, when Beahuld scored an eight-round points decision against him in St. Nicholas Arena.[13]

Boxing at 143 3/4, on February 3, 1941, Berger defeated Bobby McIntire in an eight-round points decision at the New York's St. Nicholas Arena. He had previously defeated McIntire on two occasions in eight round points decisions on May 7 and June 10, 1940, at the Bronx's New York Colliseum.[1]

Losing to Sugar Ray Robinson before a huge audience, February 1942Edit

On February 20, 1942, Berger lost to Sugar Ray Robinson before 12,000 excited fans in a second-round TKO at Madison Square Garden. Berger had been sent to the mat twice before the referee intervened and stopped the fight, though many fans felt Berger could have continued the bout. It was Berger's only loss by knockout and one of his few career losses.[3] Berger was first down for a count of seven from a left to the chin, and then went down for the second time from another left by Robinson. The referee stopped the fight after a count of two.[14] It was unfortunate for his legacy that one of his most memorable and well attended bouts for American fans was a loss, even if it was to one of the greatest boxers of all time with one of the longest winning streaks in history.

On February 15, 1944, Berger lost to Beau Jack in a ten-round unanimous points decision at Public Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. In a rather one-sided bout Beau Jack took all but the sixth according to the Associated Press, and lost that only because of dealing a low blow. Berger was down for a two count in the seventh, which was easily Jack's best round.[15]

On January 22, 1945, Berger lost to talented black boxer Ike Williams in a fourth-round knockout, 2:51 into the round, at the Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before a crowd of 5,451. In the first three rounds, Berger was able to elude Williams's constant barrage of left hooks and right crosses by swiftly stepping away out of reach, but the crowd responded more favorably in the fourth when Williams began to connect with his blows at the urging of the referee for the boxers to make more contact. A left hook by Williams flush to Berger's jaw ended the bout. Berger was nine pounds heavier than his opponent, but Williams conditioning and age of 22 to Berger's 28 probably made more a difference in the bout.[16] The telling blow was to the jaw.[17] Williams became the World Lightweight Champion on August 4, 1947.

Life after boxingEdit

Berger retired after a sixth-round knockout loss to George Costner in Chicago on March 1, 1946. In a 1972 interview with the Montreal Gazette, Berger claimed he was offered $10,000 by professional gamblers shortly after his last bout to throw a fight with Johnny Greco but refused. After retiring from the ring, he worked for a time as a referee, and later opened a store for men's custom made shirts. He suffered from increasingly severe dementia for the last ten years of his life, until his death in August 2000 in Montreal. He was 83.[3][18]

Notable boutsEdit

Result Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes[1]
Loss   Ike Williams KO 4 (10) 1945-01-22   Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Loss   Beau Jack UD 10 1944-02-15   Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio
Loss   Fritzie Zivic PTS 10 1942-04-13   Duquesne Gardens, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Loss   Sugar Ray Robinson TKO 2 (12), 1:43 1942-02-20   Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win   Wesley Ramey PTS 8 1939-12-12   New York Coliseum, Bronx, New York
Win   Wesley Ramey UD 10 1939-07-05   Montreal Forum, Montreal, Quebec Won Montreal Athletic Commission World Jr. Welterweight Title
Loss   Wesley Ramey PTS 10 1939-03-28   New York Coliseum, Bronx, New York
Loss   Wesley Ramey PTS 8 1939-02-21   New York Coliseum, Bronx, New York
Win   Midget Wolgast PTS 8 1937-07-06   Coney Island Velodrome, Brooklyn, New York
Win   Dave Castilloux PTS 12 1937-09-09   Montreal Forum, Montreal, Quebec Won Canadian Lightweight Title

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Maxie Berger's Professional Boxing Record. Retrieved on 2014-05-18.
  2. ^ All-Time Pound-for-Pound Rankings (Canada). Retrieved on 2014-05-18.
  3. ^ a b c Silver, Mike, Stars in the Ring (2016), Lyons Press, Guilford, Connecticut, pg. 120
  4. ^ a b c d e f Maxie Berger - BoxRec Boxing Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2014-05-18.
  5. ^ "Berger Beats Wolgast", Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, pg. 11, 7 July 1937
  6. ^ "Maxie Berger Wins", Great Falls Tribune, Great Falls, Montana, pg. 8, 7 July 1937
  7. ^ "Maxie Berger Keeps Canadian Ring Title", The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa, pg. 19, 8 October 1937
  8. ^ "Enrico Venturi Bows to Berger in Eight", Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, pg. 24, 23 March 2938
  9. ^ "Wesley Ramey Defeats Max Berger Once More", Battle Creek Inquirer, Battle Creek Michigan, pg. 11, 29 March 1939
  10. ^ Ramey made a comeback in last three rounds in "Ramey Scores Upset", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 27, 22 February 1939
  11. ^ "Maxie Berger Gets Nod Over Wesley Ramey", The Wilkes-Barre Record, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, pg. 14, 6 July 1939
  12. ^ "Leonard Del Genio Wins Bout with Max Berger", Chicago Daily Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, pg. 27, 11 November 1936
  13. ^ "Berger Wins Over Beauhold", The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, pg. 19, 30 October 1940
  14. ^ Berger down for count of seven in Mahon, Jack, "Sugar Robinson Stops Friday Night Foe in Second Round", The Lincoln Star, Lincoln, Nebraska, pg. 8, 21 February 1942
  15. ^ "Beau Jack Gives Welter Opponent Neat Going Over", The News-Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan, pg. 6, 16 February 1944
  16. ^ Care, Bill, "Ike Williams Kayoes Berger in 4th Round", The Gettysburg Times", Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, pg. 6, 23 January 1945
  17. ^ "Williams Kayoes Maxie Berger", The Salt Lake Tribune", Salt Lake City, Utah, pg. 7, 23 January 1945
  18. ^ Moss, Marv, "Maxie Berger:Fighter and Referee," Montreal Gazette, February 23, 2972, pg. 19

External linksEdit