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Four Greatest New York Boxers of All Time

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Some of the greatest fighters the world has ever known were born or raised in the Big Apple, and many come from a bygone era when New York played an important role in the golden age of boxing. Here is a look at four of the greatest New York boxers of all time.

Sugar Ray Robinson

Boxing fans almost unanimously agree that Sugar Ray is the greatest pound for pound boxer of all time. Although Robinson was born in Georgia, he grew up on the mean streets of New York. In 1940, he became a professional boxer at the age of 19. Between 1943 and 1951, Robinson was unstoppable. He was unbeaten in an incredible 91 fights. The streak was the third-longest in the history of boxing. By 1951, Sugar Ray had a record of 128-1-2, which included 84 knockouts. Robinson was the complete package. In virtually every category of boxing-attributes, he was the best. Hand speed, punching power, counter-punching skills, footwork… you name it; Sugar Ray had it. Sugar Ray Robinson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. See below, that pic gives you an idea of how sweet Harlem was on Sugar. Have you ever seen such a resplendent Caddy?

 

Jack Britton

Jack “the Boxing Marvel” Britton is one of the greatest welterweight fighters to have ever lived. He was New York born-and-bred. He grew up in Clinton and began his professional boxing career in 1905. Jack Britton is one of the pioneers of modern boxing and is undoubtedly one of the first genuinely great pound-for-pound fighters. With a 25-year career to his name, Britton holds the records for the number of title fights in a career at 37. Many of those were against his arch-enemy Ted “Kid” Lewis, who he took on 20 times. Britton never stopped learning the art of boxing. He was continually looking for ways to perfect his performance, including the art of pugilism, so that he could fool his opponents. After he was knocked out in his third professional fight, he was never knocked-out again, over an incredible 350 contests. Jack Britton was inducted as a first-class member into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

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Tony Canzoneri

Three-time world champion Tony Canzoneri held a total of five world titles during his career. He is also one of the few boxers to have won titles in three divisions. He won his first title, the World Featherweight title, against Benny Bass in 1928. Canzoneri fought an incredible number of all-time-great boxers and never shied away from a tough matchup. Indeed, Canzoneri would often box up to three or four times in a month, up to 25 times a year. He would also seldom fight outside of New York, which was the epicenter of boxing at the time. That helped secure his hero-status amongst New Yorkers. Canzoneri was also so popular due to his crowd-pleasing aggressive style, which favored power-punching more than defense.

 

Benny Leonard

Many regard Benny Leonard as the greatest Lightweight Champion to have ever lived. He held the world lightweight championship title for eight consecutive years from 1917 to 1925. Leonard was born and raised in the Jewish ghetto in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As a young boy, Benny started fighting to defend himself in his tough and poverty-ridden neighborhood. He began his professional career at the age of 15, and he changed his name from Benjamin Leiner to the Americanized name of Leonard to stop his parents from learning he had taken up the sport. Benny Leonard will always be remembered for his lightning reflexes, punching technique, and ability to think fast. He was a powerful puncher too. Out of his 89 wins, he achieved a staggering 70 knockouts. Leonard broke attendance and revenue records at arenas, and legend has it the term “pound for pound” originated from a way to describe Benny Leonard’s brilliance.

 

 

 

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