View Full Version : Benny Leonard

08-04-2009, 03:21 AM
Next on the list (http://www.sweetboxing.com/showthread.php?t=614)... Benny Leonard:


Benny Leonard fought from 1911 to 1932 through boxing's apex of popularity, the roaring twenties. After Joe Gans reigned supreme in the Lightweight division for over a decade, transitioning between the 19th and 20th centuries, there wasn't another Lightweight nearly as dominant until the arrival of Benny Leonard. Leonard had the alias of the "Ghetto Wizard", and was described by some as "the brainiest fighter of them all." While these descriptions don't seem to go hand in hand, let us recall the time period and the fact that Leonard was Jewish. The ghetto then and the ghetto now meant something quite different.

Although Leonard fought in the 20s, it was far from consecutive. He retired in early 1925 and stayed out of the prize ring from mid 1924 to late 1931. Going by newspaper decisions, before retiring Leonard had amassed a record of 165 wins, 18 losses, 10 draws, and 4 no decisions. After coming back in 1931 he would actually only lose 1 of his next 20 bouts, his last bout against hall of famer Jimmy McLarnin. McLarnin aside however, the only other comeback opposition who was remotely credible was top 10 rated Paulie Walker, who had a record of 20-11-6 and had lost 4 of his last 6 fights at the time. But BEFORE his retirement, Leonard had beat the following hall of famers:

Lew Tendler (x2)
Johnny Dundee (x3)
Jack Britton (x2)
Johnny Kilbane
Freddie Welsh (x2)
Rocky Kansas (x4)

He also drew with hall of famer and fellow multi-divisional great Ted 'Kid' Lewis according to the New York times. Other publications scored it for both fighters, but the title could only change hands on a knock out regardless.

Despite being a natural Lightweight, Leonard was able to cut down for a few Featherweight bouts early in his career (a teenager at the time). His most notable opponent was contender Patsy Kline. At Lightweight, Leonard met the vast majority of his hall of fame opposition. This is also where Leonard established himself as Champion for over 7 years, retiring with the title at only 28 years of age. As a Welterweight, Jack Britton was Leonard's only hall of fame conquest, a man he met a total of 3 times in the ring, defeating him in the first two bouts Unfortunately for Leonard, not until the third meeting with Britton was a Welterweight title at stake. Leonard would lose this bout by a controversial disqualification. Although meeting Welterweights like Britton from time to time during his reign as a Lightweight, Leonard was never recorded to weigh over 140 lbs prior to coming out of retirement. Also, between 1914 and his very last fight in 1932, Leonard had actually beaten every man who had ever beat him. Even ignoring his return to the ring, that's a 10 year accomplishment which included roughly 140 bouts. Needless to say, Benny Leonard is clearly one of the all time greats.

Other pieces written on Benny Leonard:


Cyber Boxing Zone had the following to say:

Leonard was as good as they get; He was quick and shifty, clever and game, could box and punch - and was super smart; Benny spoke softly but hit hard and had great "savvy" for a foe's movements; He was one of the all-time great lightweights and pound-for-pound fighters that ever entered the ring

As a beginner, Benny lost three of his first 13 bouts by knockout; It was more than 200 bouts later (20 years) when he was stopped again - in his very last contest; In a career of more than 210 bouts, he lost just 21 official contests; He was lightweight champion for 7 years and 6-1/2 months and lost only one bout in the twenty year span from May 1912 until October 1932

Herb Goldman ranked Leonard as the #1 All-Time Lightweight; Charley Rose ranked him as the #1 All-Time Lightweight; Nat Fleischer ranked him as the #2 All-Time Lightweight; Leonard was inducted into the Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1955 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990

08-04-2009, 03:27 AM
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