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Best Boxers of the 1930s

Updated on May 1, 2017

Legends of The Ring

Joe Louis beat Jersey Joe Walcott twice in heavyweight title defenses.
Joe Louis beat Jersey Joe Walcott twice in heavyweight title defenses. | Source
Tony Canzoneri is a former Featherweight, Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight world champion.
Tony Canzoneri is a former Featherweight, Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight world champion. | Source

Who is The Best?

Who is the best boxer from the 1930s?

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Top 10 Boxers From The 1930s

1. Henry Armstrong: Homicide Hank beat Barney Ross for the welterweight title and made a division record 19 defenses. He is also the only man to hold titles in three weight classes at the same exact time. Armstrong held the Featherweight, Lightweight and Welterweight Championships together. He had power in both hands and he was constantly swarming and crowding his opponents with pressure and a high punch output. Armstrong was accurate and fast inside the ring and he beat a slew of top boxers such as: Barney Ross, Al Bummy Davis, Lewis Jenkins, Juan Zurita, Fritzie Zivic, Lou Ambers and Baby Arizmendi. Armstrong retired with a record of 150-21-10 with 101 knockouts.

2. Joe Louis: The Brown Bomber holds the record for the most title defenses in any division as he defended the heavyweight championship 25 times. Louis was champion from 1937-1949 which is a Heavyweight record for length of reign as well. Louis had a left jab that was like a battering ram and it was accurate. His right hand and short hooks were deadly and he was an offensive boxing master. His best wins came against Max Schmeling, Max Baer, James Braddock, Billy Conn (twice), Jersey Joe Walcott (twice), Jack Sharkey, Primo Carnera and Jimmy Bivins. Louis left the ring with a fantastic record of 66-3 with 52 of those wins coming via knockout.

3. Barney Ross: Ross is a former Lightweight, Jr. Welterweight and two time Welterweight World Champion. Not known for his power but, he did have pop. His jab, footwork, timing and accuracy were his trademarks inside the squared circle. He was also known for having an iron chin and he was never knocked out in his entire career. Ross had many great wins but his top victories came from beating: Al Manfredo, Cerefino Garcia, Jimmy McLarnin, Tony Canzoneri, Billy Petrolle and Jimmy Lundy. Barney Ross retired with a resume reading 72 wins, 4 losses, 3 draws with 22 knockouts.

4. Tony Canzoneri: Canzoneri is the former Featherweight Champion, two time Lightweight and two time Jr. Welterweight Champion of the world. He had solid skills on offense and defense, a solid chin and excellent stamina. He was not a whiz at defense but he was hard to hit in combination. On the other hand, Canzoneri was a very good combination puncher and he went well to the body with hooks. Canzoneri's best accomplishments came from topping: Jimmy McLarnin, Frankie Klick, Lou Ambers, Baby Arizmendi, Kid Chocolate, Billy Petrolle and Pete Nebo. Tony Canzoneri left the sport with a mark of 137-24-10 with 44 stoppages.

5. Freddie Steele: The Tacoma Assassin is a former Middleweight Champion who held the crown for two years. Steele had power in both hands especially the right. He had very good footwork and timing not to mention Steele was great at judging distance and he never backed down from a challenge. Steele beat many great champions and contenders including Solly Krieger, Gus Lesnevich, Babe Risko, Jimmy Evans and Fred Apostoli. Freddie Steele had a big heart and he retired from prizefighting with a record of 125-5-11 with 60 of those wins coming inside the distance.

6. Jimmy McLarnin: Baby Face is a two time Welterweight Champion of the World from Northern Ireland. McLarnin had descent power in his right hand and he had a hard, snappy jab. His footwork was fast as were his hands. McLarnin was excellent at using feints and setting traps for his opponents. Jimmy won his welterweight belts by knocking out Young Corbett 3 in 1 round and after losing it to Barney Ross he beat Ross in the rematch to become a two time champion at 147. His best wins came from beating Ross, Corbett 3, Lou Ambers, Tony Canzoneri, Sammy Fuller, Billy Petrolle and Al Singer. Jimmy McLarnin left boxing sporting a record of 55-11-3 with 21 knockouts.

7. Benny Lynch: This Scottish legend was a superb boxer who worked everything well off the jab. Lynch won the Flyweight Championship and made four successful defenses including beating 42-0 Peter Kane and winning the belt originally from Jackie Brown. Lynch had a stiff, accurate jab and smooth ring movements with his feet and his feints. Benny Lynch's top wins came against Kane, Brown, Mickey McGuire, Small Montana, Len Hampston and Fortunato Ortega. Lynch retired from boxing with a very respectable record of 88-14-17 with 34 knockouts on his Dasia.

8. Panama Al Brown: Panama Al was Boxing's first ever Hispanic World Champion who held the Bantamweight Championship from 1931 until 1933. He had a great jab and right cross plus he was good at blocking, slipping and parrying shots. Brown could mix it up on the inside when necessary but, he preferred boxing from long range. Al Brown's victims include: Pete Sanstol, Eugene Huat, Teddy Baldock, Emile Pladner, Johnny King and Douglas Parker. Panama Al left the prize ring with a mark of 131-19-13 with 61 of those wins coming by way of knockout.

9. Jack Berg: Kid Berg is a former Jr. Welterweight Champion who made a total of six defenses of his crown. Jackie could crack hard enough and skills were descent but, it was his heart and will that impressed his fellow Englishman. Berg had above average hand and foot speed and he was good with the old one-two. His best wins came from beating Kid Chocolate, Buster Brown, Billy Petrolle, Joe Glick, Tony Canzoneri and Mushy Callahan. Kid Berg retired from the squared circle with a record of 157-26-9 with 61 wins coming by way of knockout.

10. Kid Chocolate: This Cuban boxer was the Jr. Lightweight champion from 1931-1933 and he defended his crown four times to go along with several non title wins as well. Chocolate had good speed, reflexes and his chin and conditioning could usually get him through tough rounds. His jab, cross and hook were textbook too! Kid Chocolate's top victories have came against Lew Feldman, Pete Nebo, Fidel LaBarba, Seaman Tommy Watson, and Fillo Echevarria. Chocolate left the sport with a magnificent record that reads 135-10-6 with 51 knockouts to his credit.

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Great Bouts in Boxing!

Barney Ross and Henry Armstrong, right, fought a competitive bout which was won by Armstrong.
Barney Ross and Henry Armstrong, right, fought a competitive bout which was won by Armstrong. | Source
Freddie Steele vs. Al Holstak was contested for the middleweight championship of the world.
Freddie Steele vs. Al Holstak was contested for the middleweight championship of the world. | Source

Homicide Hank!

Henry Armstrong has the record for the most welterweight title defenses with 18.
Henry Armstrong has the record for the most welterweight title defenses with 18. | Source

Kid Chocolate!

Kid Chocolate from Cuba is a former Jr. Lightweight world boxing champion.
Kid Chocolate from Cuba is a former Jr. Lightweight world boxing champion. | Source

Great Boxing Bouts From The 1930s

1. Joe Louis K.O. 1 Max Schmeling (1938) Louis ripped into Max from the start, flooring Schmeling and then pummeling him as he clung to the ropes. Louis broke two vertebrae in Schmeling's back while gaining revenge from a previous defeat.

2. Max Schmeling K.O. 12 Joe Louis (1936) Louis was undefeated and showed plenty of power early in the bout but eventually Schmeling began to land hard, short right hands. He floored Louis two times in the match and the second time in the twelfth for the count.

3. Benny Lynch K.O. 12 Peter Kane (1938) This Scottish great spanked the then 42-0 undefeated Peter Kane outright in front of 40,000 screaming Scots until finally finishing Kane in the 12th with a barrage of punches.

4. Max Schmeling K.O. 15 Young Stribling (1931) Schmeling fought on near even terms with Syribling early on but Stribling rocked Max a few times. In the 15th round Schmeling floored Stribling for an eight count. Schmeling finished off Stribling when he arose.

5. Henry Armstrong W15 Barney Ross (1938) Armstrong beat Ross badly in this match although Ross showed a great heart and never stopped trying. Armstrong hammered Ross in the final rounds while taking a few big shots here and there.


Tony Canzoneri vs. Jimmy McLarnin Highlights

Tribute To The Brown Bomber

Birthplace of Henry Armstrong (Columbus, Georgia)

© 2013 Buster Johnson

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