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Sam McVey

Titles: Never a world champion

Record: 63-15-12 and 2 N.C's 

Born: May 17 1884, in Oxnard, California (USA)

Years active: 1902-1921

Nickname:  None 

Could Sam McVey a 5 foot 10 1/2 , 210 pound man have become the heavyweight 
champion of the world in the 1910's if it were not for the racial barriers put 
in front of him? That is a hard question to answer but good results against the 
best boxers of his time shows that he had the ability. McVey would have had to 
battle "The great foursome" of Black heavyweight of the time, that counted Jack 
Johnson, Sam Langford and Joe Jeannette as the other 3.  During his 82-bout 
career, which lasted from 1902-1920, McVey fought all over the world including, 
England, Australia, Cuba, Panama, Chile and Argentina. There are no films of 
McVey who was said to be a naturally strong man who used it to his advantage in 
the ring. McVey was built much as Tyson was in his prime. Sam also learned all 
the tricks of boxing while boxing the other great black boxer of the era in 
round robin tourneys. A very strong and powerful puncher McVey was known to be 
a  slugger who was drawn into brawls and that could usualy beat other big 
punchers. Slick boxers did give him a lot of trouble however. His own defensive 
skills were said to be above average. McVey seldom fought white fighters and 
never fought for the a world title. This was because of his great ability as 
much as his skin color. Many do not take into account that McVey's prime came 
during the heavyweight title reign of Jack Johnson. During this reign, Johnson 
put his title on the line 11 times, but only once, against a black challenger. 
Surley Johnson remembered the tough time McVey gave him in the ring and decided 
to sidestep the tough McVey. The white champions that followed and their fans 
were not in a hurry to face black challengers. In only his eighth fight as a 
pro McVey fought a spirted but losing effort against the great Jack Johnson, a 
sign that nothing would come easy for McVey. McVey would meet Johnson 3 times 
and learn from all three losses. Having met two times previous, with Johnson 
winning decisions, expectations were not high for their third meeting. Since 
the previous two bouts, held in Los Angeles, showed Johnson had badly beaten 
McVey. In the second bout; billed as the Black heavyweight Championship, one 
reporter noted that McVey went through the "worst hell" ever witnessed in a Los 
Angeles prize ring. This was to be the final match between the two, although 
some eight years later, with Johnson then world champion, McVey nearly got a 
title bout in Australia, but finances fell through and Johnson went on to fight 
Jim Flynn. In this third match, Jack Johnson put on twenty magnificent rounds 
of boxing, then with twenty seconds remaining in the twentieth and final round, 
Johnson unleashed a left right combination that knocked McVey out cold. 
Afterwards, McVey asked his manager "Was it a draw?", to which Spider 
responded, "Yes and they robbed us." It is also vital to note that McVey fought 
all three of his fights with Johnson before his 20th birthday and was only 
going to get better. The greatest rival McVey faced was Sam Langford whom he 
fought 15 times in countries like Australia, France, Argentina and of course 
America between 1911 and 1920. McVey also fought the great Joe Jeanette (my 
vote as most underrated heavy of all time) five times going 1-1-2 including a 
famous bout in 1909. It would become both of their most memorable bout, a fight 
which I think might be the greatest fight of all-time. Joe Jeannette overcame 
22 knockdowns in the first 37 rounds to stop McVey. The endurance of Jeannette 
in this fight was phenomenal as he kept coming back and in the 39th round he 
finally put McVey down for the first time. Yet Jeannette was to go down another 
18 times while McVey hit the canvas 6 more times. Finally in the 49th round a 
exhausted McVey got of his stool and collapsed without a punch being landed. 
The fight had lasted 3 hours and 12 minutes by the time the 46 knockdown fight 
had ended! There was no loser in this fight. It is a shame that there is not 
much information regarding McVey's life and many of his fights since it was not 
covered by the white press with any regularity. Also much of his prime was 
spent overseas where he fought other black fighters of the time. McVey would 
die on Dec. 23, 1921 in New York City, still a active heavyweight. He was only 
37 years old at the time of his passing. 

 

Sam McVey

Career Record: 63 W, 15 L, 12 D, 2 NC (46 K.O's)



                           1902

Apr 12 George Sullivan            Oxnard, Ca                      KO  6
Jun 19 Jack McCall                Oxnard, Ca                      KO  3
Jul 19 Herb McKell                Oxnard, Ca                      KO  5
Oct  9 Jack Fogarty               Oxnard, Ca                      KO  5
Nov  1 Fred Russell               Oxnard, Ca                      KO  5

                           1903

Jan  6 Toothpick Kelly             Los Angeles, Ca                 KO  4
Jan 31 Jack Lavelle                Oxnard, Ca                      KO  1
Feb 26 Jack Johnson                Los Angeles, Ca                  L 20     
May  5 Kid Carter                  Los Angeles, Ca                 KO 11
Sep 15 "Denver" Ed Martin          Los Angeles, Ca                 KO  1
Oct 27 Jack Johnson                Los Angeles, Ca                  L 20
       
                           1904

Apr 22 Jack Johnson                San Francisco, Ca               LK 20
Aug 12 "Denver" Ed Martin          Los Angeles, Ca                  L 10

                           1906

Jan 25 "Denver" Ed Martin         San Diego, Ca                   KO  4
Feb 24 Tornado Smith              Bakersfield, Ca                 KO  1
Nov 29 Matt Turney                Vallejo, Ca                     KO  2

                           1907

Feb 28 "Denver" Ed Martin         Sacramento, Ca                  KO 16
Apr 15 Joe Jeannette              New York, NY                    ND 10
Jun  3 Ben Taylor                 London, Eng                     KO  3
---    Frank Craig                Paris, Fr                       KO  3
---    Marc Gaucher               Paris, Fr                       KO  4
Dec 28 Jack Scales                Paris, Fr                       KO  2

                           1908

Mar 23 Joseph "Jewey" Smith       Paris, Fr                       KO  3
Apr 15 Ben Taylor                 Paris, Fr                       KO 11
---    Harry Shearing             Paris, Fr                       KO  4
Sep 19 Harry Shearing             Paris, Fr                       KO  1
---    Herbert Synott             Paris, Fr                       KO  3

                           1909

Jan 23 Billy Rikard               Paris, Fr                       KO  1
---    Herbert Synott             Roubaix, Fr                     KO  5
Feb 20 Joe Jeannette <            Paris, Fr                        W 20
Apr  9 "Cyclone" Bill Warren      Paris, Fr                       KO  2
Apr 17 Joe Jeannette              Paris, Fr                       LT 49
Jun 26 Jim Barry                  Paris, Fr                       WF 15
---    Georges Rampazzi           Biarritz, Fr                    KO  3
---    Bill Harris                Marseille, Fr                   KO  5
Dec 11 Joe Jeannette              Paris, Fr                        D 20

                           1910

Jan 27 Fred Drummond              LeHavre, Fr                     KO  5
Feb 11 Arthur Bennett             Brussels, Bel                   KO  5
Feb 26 Al Kubiak                  Paris, Fr                       KO 10
---    Arthur Bennett             Nancy, Fr                       KO  4
Apr 16 Jim Stewart                Paris, Fr                       TK  6
Jun 25 Joe Grim                   Paris, Fr                       KO 12
Jul 22 Peter Price                Paris, Fr                       KO  5
Aug  7 "Battling" Jim Johnson     Neuilly, Fr                      D 15
Oct 22 Sergeant Sunshine          Paris, Fr                       KO  1
Nov 19 "Battling" Jim Johnson     Paris, Fr                       KO 21

                           1911

Apr  1 Sam Langford               Paris, Fr                        D 20
---    Andrew Dixon               Lille, Fr                       KO  3
Jul 20 George "Boer" Rodel        Liverpool, Eng                  KO  1
Aug  3 Alf Langford               Sheffield, Eng                  KO  7
Sep 30 Jack Lester                Sydney, NSW, Aus                 W 20
Oct 28 Bill Lang                  Sydney, NSW, Aus                KO  2
Dec 11 Jack Lester                Brisbane, Que, Aus              KO  8
Dec 26 Sam Langford               Sydney, NSW, Aus                 W 20

                           1912

Mar 16 Jim Barry                  Sydney, NSW, Aus                 W 20
Apr 11 Sam Langford               Sydney, NSW, Aus                 L 20
Aug  3 Sam Langford               Sydney, NSW, Aus                 L 20
Oct 10 Sam Langford               Perth, WA, Aus                  LT 11
Dec 26 Sam Langford               Sydney, NSW, Aus                LK 13

                           1913

Mar 24 Sam Langford               Brisbane, Que, Aus               D 20
Apr 19 Colin Bell                 Adelaide, SA, Aus               TK 16
Dec 26 Colin Bell                 Sydney, NSW, Aus                KO  2

                           1914

Jun 13 Arthur Pelkey              Melbourne, Vic, Aus             KO  4
Dec 10 "Battling" Jim Johnson     New York, NY                    ND 10
Dec 20 Harry Wills                New Orleans, La                  W 20

                           1915

Feb 20 "Battling" Jim Johnson     Havana, Cu                       W 20
Apr 27 Joe Jeannette              Boston, Ma                       D 12
May 19 Harry Wills                New York, NY                    ND 10
Jun  9 "Battling" Jim Johnson     Montreal, Que, Can              ND 10
Jun 29 Sam Langford               Boston, Ma                       W 12
Aug 10 John "Sandy" Ferguson      Boston, Ma                      TK  8
Sep  7 Harry Wills                Boston, Ma                       L 12
Sep 30 Sam Langford               Denver, Co                       D 20
Oct 15 Jeff Clark                 Kansas City, Mo                  W 10
Nov 23 Sam Langford               New York, NY                    ND 10

                           1916

Feb 17 Sam Langford                New York, NY                    ND 10
Apr  7 Sam Langford                Syracuse, NY                    ND 10
Apr 14 Jack Thompson               St. Louis, Mo                   ND  8
May  2 Sam Langford                Akron, Oh                       ND 12
Aug 12 Sam Langford                Buenos Aires, Arg                D 20
Sep  3 Bob Devere                  Santiago, Chi                    D 20
Sep 20 Bob Devere                  Santiago, Chi                    W 10

                           1917

Jan 10 Kid Norfolk                Colon, Pan                      ND  6
Mar 11 Jim Barry                  Panama City, Pan                 TK 7
May 13 Jeff Clark                 Panama City, Pan                 W 20
Jul 15 Jeff Clark                 Panama City, Pan                KO 15
Aug 12 "Battling" Jim Johnson     Panama City, Pan                 W 20
Oct 14 "Battling" Jim Johnson     Colon, Pan                       W 20

                           1918

Feb 17 Harry Wills                Panama City, Pan                LK  5

                           1920

Aug  5 Pinkey Lewis               Tulsa, Ok                        L 10
Aug 14 Sam Langford               East Chicago, In                ND 10
Sep  1 Jack Ward                  Atlanta, Ga                     KO  2
Sep  8 Harry Wills                Philadelphia, Pa                NC  6

                           1921

Mar 15 Jack Thompson              Detroit, Mi                     NC  6
Mar 21 Jeff Clark                 Columbus, Oh                     W 12
Jul  7 Jeff Clark                 Atlantic City, NJ               ND 10
Aug  2 Jeff Clark                 Lancaster, Pa                   ND 10