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Stanley Ketchel

Titles: World middleweight champion 1908-1910

Record: 52-4-4

Born: September 14, 1886 in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA)

Years active: 1904-1910

Nickname: The Michigan Assassin   

Ketchel was perhaps the best pure fighter to ever lace up the gloves and the stories 
about Stanley Ketchel now reach almost mythical proportions. Some still insist that 
Ketchel is the greatest middleweight of all time. Ketchel's strength was simply 
tremendous and made up his lack of technical boxing skills. Ketchel as a boxer would 
simply come out at the sound of the bell and start swinging, his punches were thrown 
from every conceivable angle to any portion on the opponents body. In my opinion his 
greatest asset as a fighter was his tremendous killer instinct which I think was 
unrivaled in his time or ours. If it was not the killer instinct that made him great 
than it was his love for the sport, Ketchel simply liked to fight period! Ketchel 
had a iron will and would do anything to win, if it meant he had to foul......he 
would do so with the same kind on intensity he used while fighting. Ketchel would 
use his thumbs, butted, punched to the kidneys and bit people well before Tyson ever 
thought of doing so. Old movies of Ketchel show him to be a wild slugger with a 
murderous punch, not to mention tons of heart, Ketchel a superstitious man once shot 
at his trainer for waking him too early for a fight. His punch was hard enough to 
knock down the legendary Jack Johnson who outweighed Ketchel by some 35 pounds. His 
life outside the ring was just as hectic and fast paced as it was in it. He brawled 
and lived on the wild side that would ultimately take his life. Incredibly the 
legend that was and is Stanley Ketchel was build in the short span of 24 years, at 
the age of 24 he dead! Ketchel was the son of a Russian immigrant and his Polish 
wife and ran away from home at age 14 (some say 12) in search of adventure living 
the life of a hobo riding the railways of America. Eventually Ketchel would find his 
way to Chicago where a old fighter taught him the basics of boxing. Ketchel learned 
the rough tactics he would use in the ring as a bouncer in the Montana Rockies at a 
bar where he would also challenge all comers to boxing matches to make extra money. 
In 1903 Ketchel at the age of 16 had his first official fight knocking out Kid Tracy 
in one round. In his first 46 fights Ketchel only lost twice. Maurice Thompson was 
the man who handed Ketchel both losses, it was his iron jaw that won him those 
fights as the other 39 men were all knocked out. Like many sluggers Ketchel could 
be out boxed if he could not land his big punch. In 1907 middleweight champion 
Tommy Ryan retired and Ketchel would fight for a version of the world title against 
Joe Thomas. It was a rematch of a earlier draw and this fight was said to be a 
classic brawl of roaring intensity. On more than one occasion it looked as if 
Ketchel would be counted out but he got off the floor to outlast his strong foe. It 
took 32 rounds but the handlers of Thomas threw in the towel after he received a 
savage beating in that round and could no longer defend himself. A rematch was a 
natural and it was just as intense. Early on Ketchel cut and knocked Thomas down 
before hanging on late to get a decision win that saw Ketchel down but not out in 
the last round. The other recognized champion was Jack Sullivan and a fight was 
set up between the two to decide who the better man was. First however Ketchel 
added a bit of spice to the fight by knocking out the twin brother of Jack Sullivan, 
Mike in one round. Ketchel would prove he was the better man of both brothers by 
knocking Sullivan out in the 20th round. Another toughman with attitude to spare by 
the name of Billy Papke would now become the challenger to Ketchel and eventually 
become his most hated opponent. The animosity began when Ketchel was said to have 
struck Papke and sent him to the Canvas at the instant (some say before) the bell 
sounded. Papke recovered from the blow but would loose the decision. In 1908 the 
two men would meet again at the start of the bout Ketchel extended his hand to 
begin the bout only to have Papke take a wild swing at him and stagger the champ. 
Papke followed up the attack by knocking Ketchel down 3 times in that round, 
Ketchel would never recover and take a savage 12 round beating. After 2 months of 
stewing in his juices Ketchel was given a rematch after he had spread rumors that 
he was woefully out of shape. This time there were no handshakes and both laid 
into each other with wild abandon. Ketchel was in great shape however for the bout 
and had Papke who was surprised by the fitness of Ketchel in real trouble in the 
4th  and 8th rounds. In the 11th round after two rights to the head and a hook 
to the body Papke fell to the floor and was counted out. The 4th of their fights 
was a hotly disputed 20 round decision win for Ketchel that saw neither man on 
the floor but both men suffering broken hands! After the bouts with Papke, Ketchel 
took advantage of the publicity by traveling to New York City in a cowboy outfit 
to talk with the New York Media. Ketchel loved New York and was often seen out on 
the town sipping champagne and smoking cigars in the company of chorus girls. While 
in New York Ketchel fought tough light heavyweight Jack O'Briens. Ketchel was 
thoroughly outboxed and was cut badly when he turned things around the 9th round 
with one punch. A great punch to the stomach sent O'Brien down in his own corner, 
after O'Brien regained his feet he was greeted with a one two to the head the left 
him unconscious. O'Brien was saved by the bell and the match called a draw. A 
rematch strangely saw Ketchel dominate O'Brien and knock him out in 3 rounds. This 
fight and the media encouraged Ketchel to take on the hated black heavyweight champ 
of the time Jack Johnson. It was a boring fight (both fighters agreed before the 
fight to duel to a draw so they could reap the rewards of a rematch) before Ketchel 
caught Johnson with a wild overhand right that sent the champion the canvas. A 
enraged Johnson who knew Ketchel tried to double cross him got up and hit Ketchel 
with perhaps the greatest punch of all time! In the same round Johnson caught 
Ketchel with a right uppercut that would leave 3 of Ketchel's teeth sheered off and 
embedded in Johnson's glove! Obviously Ketchel did not get up from the blows. 
Ketchel was reported to have sunk into a depression and added the smoking of opium 
to his list of bad habits. Wins over the very talented Frank Klaus, Willie Lewis 
and Jim Smith. The ever cocky Billy Papke still lay in wait claiming a portion of 
the middleweight title that Ketchel had given up briefly when he could not make 
weight. Ketchel meet his end when he went to train in a friends farm in Missouri. 
After he arrived Ketchel reportedly took to teasing and harassing a young farmhand 
named Walter Dipley. Dipley finally gave in to his anger when Ketchel made advances 
to his girlfriend and shot Ketchel in the back. Ketchel was rushed to the hospital 
but died the same night at the age of 24. Both Dipley and his girlfriend were 
charged with murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment of which Dipley served 
24 years and his girlfriend Smith served 12. Would Ketchel whose wild lifestyle was
begining to catch up to him be considered one of the 10 best middleweights of all
time had he not been shot?

Stanley Ketchel

Career Record: 52 W, 4 L, 4 D, 4 ND (49 KO's)

                                
1904

May  2 Kid Tracy,         Butte, Mt                               KO  1
May 11 Maurice Thompson,  Butte, Mt                               L  6
Jun 20 Jimmy Quinn,       Butte, Mt                               KO  3
Jul  7 Kid McGuire,       Butte, Mt                               KO  1
Jul 15 Kid Leroy,         Butte, Mt                               KO  1
Jul 17 Young Gilsey,      Butte, Mt                               KO  4
Sep  5 Bob Merrywell,     Butte, Mt                               KO  4
Sep 15 Jimmy Murray,      Butte, Mt                               KO  3
Oct 15 Bob Merrywell,     Butte, Mt                               KO  3
Oct 21 Maurice Thompson,  Butte, Mt                               L 10
Oct 29 Jimmy Kelly,       Miles City, Mt                          KO  1
Nov  8 Kid Lee,           Lewistown, Mt                           KO  8
Nov 10 Joe Mudro,         Butte, Mt                               KO  4
Dec 16 Jack Grimes,       Butte, Mt                               KO 10
Dec 29 Maurice Thompson,  Butte, Mt                               D 10
                                     
1905

Jan  4 Kid Thomas,        Butte, Mt                               KO  1
Jan 20 Jack Bennett,      Butte, Mt                               KO  5
Mar 25 Sid LaFontise,     Butte, Mt                               KO 24
Apr 19 Rudolph Hinz,      Miles City, Mt                          D 20
May 18 Sid LaFontise,     Butte, Mt                               KO  7
Jun  4 Curley Rue,        Gregson Springs, (?)                    KO 11
Jun 13 Kid Pecor,         Butte, Mt                               KO  5
Jun 16 Kid Lee,           Helena, Mt                              KO 17
Jul  4 Young Kelly,       Miles City, Mt                          KO  8
Jul 15 Bob Sennate,       Miles City, Mt                          KO 17
Aug 19 Roy Hart,          Miles City, Mt                          KO  1
Sep 14 Bob Sennate,       Miles City, Mt                          KO 11
Dec  1 Jerry McCarthy,    Great Falls, Mt                         KO 12
Dec  2 Marysville Kid,    Butte, Mt                               KO  3
Dec  8 Kid Herrick,       Butte, Mt                               KO  7
Dec 16 Jack Bennett,      Butte, Mt                               KO  5
Dec 19 Jerry McCarthy,    Great Falls, Mt                         KO 11
Dec 24 Kid Foley,         Butte, Mt                               KO  4
                                     
1906

Feb 12 Montana Jack Sullivan, Butte, Mt                            D 20
Mar 19 Warren Zubrick,        Great Falls, Mt                      KO  2
May 11 Paddy Hall,            Gregson Springs, (?)                 KO  1
May 18 Mike Tierney,          Butte, Mt                            KO  7
Jun 16 Kid Lee,               Helena, Mt                           KO 17
Aug 29 Kid Fredericks,        Butte, Mt                            KO  7
Sep 10 Kid Foley,             Miles City, Mt                       KO 11
                                     
1907

Mar 23 Mike McClure,          Redding, Ca                          KO  7
May  3 Benny Hart,            Marysville, Ca                       KO  8
May 23 George (K.O.) Brown,   Sacramento, Ca                       KO  3
Jul  4 Joe Thomas,            Marysville, Ca                       D 20
Sep  2 Joe Thomas,            Colma, Ca                            KO 32
Dec 12 Joe Thomas,            San Francisco, Ca                    W 20
                                     
1908

Feb 22 Mike (Twin) Sullivan,  Colma, Ca                            KO  1
May  9 Jack (Twin) Sullivan,  Colma, Ca                            KO 20
       -Middleweight Championship of the World
Jun  4 Billy Papke,           Milwaukee, Wi                        W 10
       -Middleweight Championship of the World
Jul 31 Hugo Kelly,            San Francisco, Ca                    KO  3
       -Middleweight Championship of the World
Aug 18 Joe Thomas,            San Francisco, Ca                    KO  2
       -Middleweight Championship of the World
Sep  7 Billy Papke,           Vernon, Ca                           TKOby 12
       -Middleweight Championship of the World
Nov 26 Billy Papke,           Colma, Ca                            KO 11
       -Middleweight Championship of the World
                                     
1909

Mar 26 "Philadelphia" Jack O'Brien, New York City, NY              ND 10
May 18 Kid Hubert (Hugh McGann),    Pittsburgh, Pa                 ND  6
Jun  2 Tony Caponi,                 Schenectady, NY                KO  4
Jun  9 "Philadelphia" Jack O'Brien, Philadelphia, Pa               KO  3
Jul  5 Billy Papke,                 Colma, Ca                      W 20
       -Middleweight Championship of the World
Oct 16 Jack Johnson,                Colma, Ca                      KOby 12
       -Heavyweight Championship of the World;

1910

Mar 23 Frank Klaus,                  Pittsburgh, Pa                ND  6
Apr 27 Sam Langford,                 Philadelphia, Pa              ND  6
May 17 Porky Dan Flynn,              Boston, Ma                    KO  3
May 27 Willie Lewis,                 New York City, NY             KO  2
Jun 10 Jim Smith,                    New York City, NY             KO  5