Titles: World lightweight champion 1917-1923 Record: 85-5-1 with 121 no decisions Born: April 6, 1896 in New York City, New York, USA Years active: 1911-1932 Nickname: The Ghetto Wizard Benny Leonard is generally considered one of the 3 best lightweights of all time. Benny Leonard set himself apart from the everyone else with his defensive skills in a era dominated by sluggers like Dempsey, Ketchel, Walker and Greb. Leonard was a thinking mans fighter whose feints regularly threw world class boxers off balance and into his traps, his footwork was unsurpassed. The reflexes of Leonard were simply amazing as he would have his opponent miss by mere inches with the shift of a toe. While Leonard certainly did not lack power in either hand his boxing skills were at such a advanced level for his time he was not given as much credit for his power as he should have. Later in his career like other great fighters Leonard started to slow down and power became a more important and recognized part of his arsenal, still Leonard will always be remembered for his tactical skills. His record would be much more impressive if he had not fought in the no decision era where boxers where not given victories unless one boxer was knocked out. In Leonard's career he fought over 80 non title bouts while holding on to the title for a 7 1/2 year reign defeating such notable boxers as Rocky Kansas, Freddie Welsh, Jack Britton, Johnny Dundee, Johnny Kilbane and Lew Tendler. Leonard also got out of boxing while he was still a champion on the urging of his mother who never wanted him to box, but was forced back into the sport when he lost all his money in the great depression. Leonard was the only son of Jewish immigrants and was raised on the tough lower east side of New York City. By the age of 15 Leonard was boxing as a pro and keeping it a secret from his parents. Leonard was not a instant hit as he was knocked out twice early in his career by Joe Shugrue and Frankie Fleming whose names were lost to history while Leonard overcame these early setbacks. In fact Leonard is positively the best pure boxer to have started and ended his career with knockout losses. But Leonard learned by taking on the best. Early fights with veteran Johnny Dundee gave Leonard invaluable knowledge on the tricks of the ring. They boxed for over 45 rounds in 3 separate bouts before Leonard finally showed his dominance by knocking out the great Dundee in their fourth bout. By 1916 Leonard was a top contender by knocking out Ever Hammer and Joe Mandot which gave Leonard the clout to get a title shot. Two 10 round no decision fights with champion Freddie Welsh set the stage and audience for his ultimate title victory over Welsh. In the first two bouts Leonard was thought to have gotten the best of Welsh in close bouts. In their third meeting when Leonard won the title Welsh came into the fight over the weight and could not run from the fleet footed Leonard. Three knockdowns sealed the fate of Welsh and after 9 rounds of constant pounding Welsh lost his crown via knockout. In his first title defense Leonard repelled the challenge of featherweight champion Johnny Kilbane easily knocking out the smaller champ in 3 rounds. Things got harder after this title defense however and he was forced to battle and come back in some of his fights. Against Charley White Leonard was knocked out of the ring in the fifth round and had to climb back into the ring before knocking white out in the 9th. Leonard also almost lost his title when he got careless against Richie Mitchell and walked into a sucker punch after flooring Mitchell three times in the first round. It took two rounds for Leonard to recover and another 3 to knock Mitchell out. The most famous escape came when Lew Tendler rocked Leonard with a left hook and did not realize how badly Leonard was hurt because Leonard waved Tendler in and talked to him after the punch. Leonard would later say he remembered nothing of that fight after the punch and operated purely on instinct. Leonard took a step up in weight when a title shot at the welterweight level against Jack Britton presented itself. This is the one blemish in a otherwise flawless career..... in more ways than one. The fight is thought to have been a fix as Leonard outboxed Britton while obviously not at his best! Still Leonard floored Britton in the 13th round and looked to be the easy winner and new champion. Yet Leonard for some unknown reason walked over to Britton who was still on his knees and being counted over by the referee and punched him while he was down. Leonard was disqualified when Britton could not continue to box. Leonard never really explained his actions in that fight. Still Leonard fought on and even drew 60,000 fans to watch him battle Lew Tendler. The bout was eagerly anticipated as Tendler had given Leonard a hard fight in their previous non title affair. It was a close fight early but Leonard pulled away late to win a well earned decision. This was the last major bout for Leonard before he retired as the undefeated lightweight champion. In 1931 at the age of thirty five Benny came back as a welterweight after he had lost most of his ring earnings in the stock market crash. The comeback was a monetarily if not artistic success. Leonard still had enough skills to win 19 bouts in a row but retired after he lost via 6th round knockout to future champion Jimmy McLarnin. It was 3 years into his comeback and Leonard knew he was slowing down and did not want to box on if he could compete at the highest level. Benny retired but stayed active in boxing as a referee and judge during World War II Leonard became a lieutenant in the merchant marines. Leonard died at New York Cities famous St. Nick's Arena where he suffered a fatal heart attack while refereeing a fight. Perhaps the greatest legacy of Leonard is that for 50 years after he stopped boxing he was the lightweight all others were compared to until the emergence of Roberto Duran.
1911 Sep -- Mickey Finnegan New York, NY KO by 3 ----- Johnny Faulter New York, NY ND4 ----- Young Stanley New York, NY KO2 ----- Billy Meyers New York, NY KO1 ----- Frankie Pass New York, NY KO3 9 Dec Young Goldie New York, NY ND 4 25 Dec Smiling Kemp New York, NY KO1 25 Dec Sammy Marino New York, NY ND6 1912 3 Feb Joe Kane New York, NY KO5 24 Feb Young Goldie New York, NY KO2 5 Mar Joe Shugrue New York, NY KO by 4 13 Apr Packey Brennan New York, NY KO3 3 May Frankie Fleming New York, NY KO by 4 -- May Battling Travis New York, NY ND6 -- May Battling Travis New York, NY ND6 --Jun Young Cross New York, NY ND6 -- Jun Young Price New York, NY KO5 -- Jun Kid Goodman New York, NY ND6 --Jul Kid Ghetto New York, NY KO6 -- Jul Paddy Parker New York, NY KO2 - Aug Young McGowan Rutherford, NJ ND6 - Sep Willie Singer New York, NY KO1 3 Sep Ah Chung New York, NY KO6 28 Sep Herman Schneider New York, NY ND10 2 Nov Special Delivery Hirsch New York, NY ND10 - Dec Jimmy McVeigh New York, NY ND6 1913 14 Jan Johnny Lustig New York, NY ND10 3 May Eddie Powers New York, NY ND10 22 May Eddie Powers ?, NJ ND6 29 May Dave Cronin New York, NY ND10 20 Jun Johnny Carroll New York, NY KO1 12 Jul Walter Brooks New York, NY ND10 2 Aug Walter Hennessy New York, NY KO3 16 Aug Frankie Fleming New York, NY ND10 27 Sep Tommy Houck New York, NY ND10 4 Oct Young Fitzsimmons New York, NY ND10 23 Oct Willie Jones New York, NY ND10 15 Nov Jack Sheppard New York, NY ND10 8 Dec Harry Tracey New York, NY ND10 20 Dec Danny Ridge New York, NY ND10 30 Dec Special Delivery Hirsch New York, NY ND10 1914 3 Jan Charlie Barry Brooklyn, NY ND10 6 Jan Kid Black New York, NY ND10 20 Jan Phil Bloom New York, NY ND10 24 Jan Joe Stacy New York, NY ND10 3 Mar Patsy Cline New York, NY ND10 3 Apr Young Abe Brown New York, NY ND10 30 May Willie Schaefer New York, NY ND10 20 Jun Teddy Hubbs New York, NY ND10 18 Jul Billy Kraemer New York, NY ND10 14 Aug Tommy Houck Elmsford, NY KO7 22 Aug Bobby Reynolds New York, NY ND10 25 Aug Eddie Wallace Brooklyn, NY ND10 7 Sep Phil. Pal Moore Rockaway, NY ND10 16 Sep Joe Thomas New York, NY ND10 3 Oct Phil Bloom Brooklyn, NY ND10 31 Oct Young Driscoll Brooklyn, NY ND10 7 Nov Harry Condon New York, NY ND10 26 Nov Phil Bloom New York, NY ND10 12 Dec Frankie Conifrey New York, NY ND10 1915 11 Jan Jack Sheppard New York, NY WF 5 16 Jan Johnny Drummie New York, NY ND10 15 Feb Tommy Langdon Philadelphia, PA ND6 18 Feb Patsy Cline New York, NY ND10 2 Mar Johnny Dundee New York, NY ND10 20 Mar Jimmy Duffy New York, NY ND10 24 Mar Joe Goldberg New York, NY ND10 29 Apr Johnny Kilbane New York, NY ND10 18 May Franky Callahan Brooklyn, NY ND10 19 Jun Al Schumacher New York, NY KO7 13 Aug Young Drummie New York, NY ND10 8 Nov Gene Moriarty Brooklyn, NY KO3 13 Nov Banty Sharpe NY ND10 19 Nov Joe Azevedo New York, NY ND10 17 Dec Joe Mandot New York, NY KO7 1916 1 Jan Joe Welsh Philadelphia, PA KO5 8 Feb Phil Bloom Boston, MA KO8 11 Feb Shamus O'Brien Syracuse, NY ND10 21 Feb Jimmy Murphy Philadelphia, PA KO6 28 Feb Rocky Kansas Buffalo, NY ND10 8 Mar Johnny Dundee New York, NY ND15 13 Mar Sam Robideau Philadelphia, PA ND6 17 Mar Shamus O'Brien New York, NY KO7 31 Mar Freddie Welsh New York, NY ND10 1 May Charlie Thomas Philadelphia, PA ND6 20 Apr Phil Bloom New York, NY ND10 12 Jun Johnny Dundee New York, NY ND10 23 Jun Vic Moran New York, NY ND10 28 Jul Freddie Welsh Brooklyn, NY ND10 18 Aug Joe Azevedo New York, NY ND10 9 Sep Eddy McAndrews Philadelphia, PA KO5 14 Sep Frankie Conifrey New York, NY KO7 25 Sep Johnny Tillman Philadelphia, PA ND6 9 Oct Johnny Nelson Philadelphia, PA ND6 18 Oct Ever Hammer Kansas City, MO KO12 10 Nov Stanley Yokum NY ND10 15 Nov Johnny Dundee Philadelphia, PA ND6 21 Nov Harvey Thorpe St. Louis, MO KO12 28 Nov Chick Simler New York, NY ND10 1917 23 Jan Eddie Wallace Philadelphia, PA ND6 30 Jan Phil Bloom Brooklyn, NY ND10 1 Feb Frankie Callahan Brooklyn, NY ND10 7 Feb Wildcat Leonard CA KO4 28 Feb Jimmy Regan New York, NY ND10 12 Mar Johnny Tillman Philadelphia, PA ND6 22 Mar Packey Hommey New York, NY KO9 19 Apr Richie Mitchell Milwaukee, WI KO7 7 May Charley Thomas Philadelphia, PA KO6 10 May Eddie Shannon Brooklyn, NY KO6 28 May Freddie Welsh New York, NY KO9 (Won World Lightweight Title) 4 Jun Joe Welsh Philadelphia, PA ND6 18 Jun Johnny Nelson New York, NY KO3 25 Jul Johnny Kilbane Philadelphia, PA KO3 3 Sep Young Rector Toronto KO5 12 Sep Jimmy Paul New York, NY ND6 14 Sep Phil Bloom Pittsburgh, PA KO2 21 Sep Leo Johnson New York, NY KO 1 27 Sep Eddie Dorsey Buffalo, NY KO2 5 Oct Vic Moran New York, NY KO2 10 Oct Jack Britton New York, NY ND10 22 Oct Eddie Wagond Philadelphia, PA ND6 23 Oct Young Erne Buffalo, NY ND10 24 Oct Toughey Ramsey Cleveland, OH KO7 12 Nov Gene Delmont St. Paul, MN KO8 28 Nov Frank Kirk Denver, CO KO1 12 Dec Patsy Cline Philadelphia, PA ND6 17 Dec Chick Brown CT KO5 19 Dec Fred Kelley PA ND6 1918 8 Apr Young Joe Borrell Philadelphia, PA ND6 13 Apr Jack Brazzo Philadelphia, PA KO4 10 May Young McCarthy San Francisco, CA ND4 20 May Louie Rees Los Angeles, CA ND4 25 May Mike Golindo San Diego, CA W4 25 Jun Jack Britton Philadelphia, PA ND6 4 Jul Jack Brazzo Wildwood, NJ KO8 22 Jul Young Gradwell Jersey City, NJ KO5 16 Sep Harry Pierce Philadelphia, PA ND6 23 Sep Ted Lewis Newark, NJ ND8 1919 1 Jan Paul Doyle Philadelphia, PA ND6 13 Jan Eddy Kelly Philadelphia, PA ND6 20 Jan Johnny Dundee Newark, NJ ND8 31 Jan Joe Benjamin San Francisco, CA W4 5 Feb Spider Roche Oakland, CA ND4 21 Feb Willie Ritchie San Francisco, CA ND4 26 Mar Harry Thorpe Joplin, MO ND10 28 Apr Willie Ritchie Newark, NJ KO8 21 May Young Erne Trenton, NJ KO6 9 Jun Charlie Pitts Montreal, Canada ND10 16 Jun Johnny Dundee Philadelphia, PA ND6 24 Jul Joe Malone Newport, RI KO3 11 Aug Patsy Cline Philadelphia, PA ND6 4 Sep Soldier Bartfield Philadelphia, PA ND6 8 Sep Johnny Clinton Syracuse, NY ND10 17 Sep Johnny Dundee Newport, RI ND8 1 Oct Charlie Metrie Detroit, MI KO7 15 Oct Phil Bloom Detroit, MI ND10 10 Nov Soldier Bartfield Jersey City, NJ ND8 17 Nov Jimmy Duffy Tulsa, OK KO2 27 Nov Soldier Bartfield Philadelphia, PA ND6 10 Dec Mel Coogan Jersey City, NJ KO2 19 Dec Red Herring Memphis, TN KO6 22 Dec Jack Abel Atlanta, GA ND10 1920 9 Feb Johnny Dundee Jersey City, NJ ND8 5 Jul Charley White Benton Harbor, MI KO9 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 10 Sep K.O. Loughlin Camden, NJ KO9 25 Sep Pal Moran East Chicago, IN ND10 4 Oct Frankie Britt Hartford, CT KO5 8 Oct Johnny Sheppard Patterson, NJ KO3 18 Oct Johnny Tillman Akron, OH W10 11 Nov K.O. Loughlin Camden, NJ ND10 17 Nov Eddie Kelly New York, NY KO5 26 Nov Joe Welling New York, NY KO14 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 1921 14 Jan Richie Mitchell New York, NY KO6 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 21 Feb Eddie Moy Dayton, OH KO3 25 Feb Joe Welling St. Louis, MO ND8 6 Jun Rocky Kansas Harrison, NJ ND12 22 Nov Sailor Friedman Philadelphia, PA ND8 20 Dec Tim Droney Philadelphia, PA ND8 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 1922 10 Feb Rocky Kansas New York, NY W15 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 25 Feb Pal Moran New Orleans, LA ND10 20 Mar Johnny Clinton Boston, MA W10 26 Jun Jack Britton New York, NY L D.Q 13 (For World Welterweight Title) 4 Jul Rocky Kansas Michigan City, MI KO8 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 27 Jul Lew Tendler Jersey City, NJ ND12 5 Aug Ever Hammer Michigan City, MI ND10 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 1923 29 May Pinkie Mitchell Chicago, IL KO10 9 Jul Alex Hart Philadelphia, PA ND8 24 Jul Lew Tendler New York, NY W15 (Retained World Lightweight Title) 7 Sep John Mendelsohn Philadelphia, PA ND8 1924 1 Aug Pal Moran Cleveland, OH ND10 1931 6 Oct Pal Silvers Long Island City, NY KO2 27 Oct Vittorio Livan Boston, MA KO3 6 Nov Kayo Casper Burlington, VT D10 23 Nov Buster Brown Baltimore, MD W10 1932 29 Feb Billy McMahon New York, NY W10 11 Apr Buster Brown New York, NY W10 19 Apr Mike Sarko New York, NY KO6 2 May Willie Garafola New York, NY KO4 16 May Marty Goldman New York, NY KO2 23 May Jimmy Abbot Patterson, NJ KO6 8 Jun Andy Saviola New York, NY W10 16 Jun Young Billy Angelo Philadelphia, PA W10 22 Jul Eddie Shapiro New York, NY W8 28 Jul Billy Townsend New York, NY W10 11 Aug Paulie Walker New York, NY W10 19 Aug Mike Sarko New York, NY W6 2 Sep Phil Rafferty Long Beach, NY W6 8 Sep Jimmy Abbot Fort Hamilton, NY KO3 19 Aug Mike Sarko New York, NY W6 7 Oct Jimmy McLarnin New York, NY KO by 6