View Full Version : Jack Blackburn

11-07-2009, 05:51 AM
Next on the list (http://sweetboxing.com/showthread.php?t=614)... Jack Blackburn:


Jack Blackburn was one of the greatest Lightweights to never win a world title. Strike that, Jack Blackburn was one of the greatest Lightweights period. It's not like he ever got a shot at the World Title either. Then again, the Champion was Joe Gans after all... Anyways, for all his in ring accomplishments, he actually did not make the hall of fame for his own boxing career. Rather, he made the hall of fame for the career of the great Joe Louis, whom he trained. Sometimes justice simply isn't served. Such was the case with many great Philadelphia fighters, of which Blackburn is certainly considered one of the very best.

Blackburn, while born out of Versailles, KY, spent his boxing career fighting out of Philadelphia, PA. He amassed an impressive official record of 37 – 8 – 7, with six of the eight losses coming after getting out of prison (more on that later). The two official losses he sustained in his youth came at the hands of the top ten caliber all time greats Joe Gans and Sam Langford. Prior to the Langford loss, Blackburn unofficially defeated and drew with Langford, who was considerably larger than Blackburn.

Also unofficially, Blackburn had an additional record of 65 – 17 – 11 (newspaper decisions). Twelve of the seventeen losses, once again, came after Blackburn left prison (after doing a five and a half year stint no less). Of the men who unofficially beat Blackburn in his youth include Philadelphia Jack O'Brien (natural Middleweight, top twenty all time great material), George Gunther (lost to Blackburn six times, two of them official), Joe Gans (possibly the greatest Lightweight of all time), George Cole (one of the forgotten Philadelphian elites who beat top fighters from Welterweight to Heavyweight), and Dave Holly (yet another great Philadelphia fighter who beat Langford and Joe Walcott in addition to Blackburn).

Of all the people who beat a non-faded Blackburn, unofficially and officially, only Gans beat him more than once. And only Gans and O'Brien managed to do it without losing. As mentioned previously, Blackburn beat Gunther six times. He also beat Holly three times and Cole twice. Other notable victories he achieved include Jimmy Gardner (Welterweight), Charley Hitte (Welterweight), Cy Flynn (Lightweight), Jack Williams (Middleweight), Herman Miller (Lightweight), Fred Bradley (Heavyweight), Jim Barry (Middleweight, who would go on to beat top Heavyweights), Harry Lewis (hall of fame Welterweight), Mike Donovan (Middleweight), Terry Martin (Welterweight), Tony Caponi (Middleweight), Tommy Howell (Welterweight), and Harry Mansfield (Lightweight).

Mansfield was Blackburn's last fight before prison. On January 12th, 1909, Blackburn's went on a shooting spree in Philadelphia (something not uncommon in the Philadelphia of today). During this fit of rage he killed three people, including his own wife. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to ten to fifteen years in prison. He managed to get out early on good behavior by giving boxing lessons to the warden and his children. But by the time he did get out of prison he was no longer the same fighter. But considering the man had already beaten credible opposition from Lightweight to Heavyweight, two hall of famers included (Langford & Lewis), it's pretty safe to say his legacy was intact before hand. A legacy he built in only 6 years...

IBHOF Article on Blackburn:

Cyber Boxing Zone had the following to say:

Blackburn was lean and lanky, quick, and clever, and knew how to fight; He possessed fast hands, a careful yet aggressive style, and utilized a lethal jab accompanied by a snapping left hook; Jack often fought bigger and heavier men and more than held his own; He claimed to have had nearly 400 bouts in his career

Blackburn fought many outstanding men of boxing and despite a size disadvantage (in many bouts) gave them all they could handle; Among them were Joe Gans (3 times), Sam Langford (6 times), George Cole (3 times), Larry Temple (2 times), Dave Holly (5 times), George Gunther (10 times), "Philadelphia" Jack O'Brien, Ed "Gunboat" Smith, Harry Greb, Joe Borrell (2 times), Kid Norfolk, and Panama" Joe Gans

Among those he defeated during his career were Steve Crosby, Howard Wilson, Vernon Campbell, Jimmy Gardner, Harry Lenny, Charles Hitte, Joe Grim, Cy Flynn, Jack Williams, George Gunther, Cleve Hawkins, George Cole, Herman Miller, Fred Bradley, Jim Barry, Harry Lewis, Mike Donovan, Jack Bonner, Terry Martin, Tony Caponi, Harry Mansfield, Tommy Howell, and Henry Hauber

After he retired from the ring, Blackburn trained fighters -- among them were Sammy Mandell, Charles "Bud" Taylor, and Jersey Joe Walcott (briefly); He is most famous for instructing the "Brown Bomber, " Joe Louis, in the finer points of pugilism

Charley Rose ranked Blackburn as the #3 All-Time Lightweight; In 1992, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame for his work as a trainer

Sweet Pea
11-07-2009, 11:40 AM
Good article. Blackburn was a great fighter and a great trainer.

Shame about the way things ended between Johnson-Blackburn-Louis.