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Benny Leonard

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.


Benny Leonard

Career Record: 85 W, 5 L, 1 D, 121 ND (69 KO's)


     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