Ezzard Charles, The Cincinnati Cobra, The Baddest LHW of All Time... Educate Yourselves

Discussion in 'World Boxing Forum' started by George Crowcroft, Dec 3, 2019 at 4:46 AM.


  1. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft The Cincinnati Cobra Full Member

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    Study up, Mutha****a!

    The Cincinnati Cobra was born in... Lawrenceville?
    Yup. He was from Lawrenceville, Georgia and then moved to Cincinnati as a young kid. He was a respected pupil at Woodward High School and was a fighter by the time of graduation. He was a classy educated man, with a love Jazz music he would follow up with in later life with once he had the platform. His parents are pretty much unknown, but he grew up living with his Gran and had no siblings.
    By 1942 he would've graduated from school and had started his amateur career almost years beforehand, and would actually have been fighting professionally for 2 years. He started off weighing similar to a featherweight and would start winning awards at 15 as a welterweight.
    He would be fighting competitively against other top Ohio WWs in 1937, and would win the diamond belt 3 times in 37,38&39. He would also win the Golden Gloves at MW in 1939.

    So by 1940, he had a reported Amateur Record of 42-0, had won 3 AAU Championships, 3 Diamond Belts and won the Chicago Golden Gloves award before turning professional, at 18.

    He kicked off his career as a MW in 1940, with a KO4 over Melody Johnson. He'd go on a 17-0 win streak before losing at the hands of veteran, unheralded middleweight Ken Overlin, who also fought Ezz to a draw (which should be noted that it was in Ohio, so Ken probably deserved the nod). Two fights later he'd take on old ATG Teddy Yarosz, winning via schooling at the age of 20. In a few months, he'd find himself opponent for Charlie Burley, who was a later replacement for a rubber match against Overlin, who pulled out, I imagine we've all heard of the alleged duck by Robinson of Burley, but that's another story. Ezzard would fight Burley to a clear decision, which he would win. He'd take him on in a rematch 5 weeks later... Which Ezz would win even easier. This was in 1942, and was a test of the top 2 MW contenders, which, whilst the titles were froze, meant absolutely nothing as neither were getting a title shot for at least 3 years. Ezzard Charles would also take on underrated LHW champion at 160, Joey Maxim twice.

    So Ezz moved on, a trip up to light heavyweight was the path he'd choose. He'd campaign at LHW, taking on back to back ATGs in Marshall and Bivins, losing both. His devastating loss to Marshall (an 8th round TKO, after going down 8 times) is bad. Bad for confidence, but Ezzard had a hip injury and still got up from a big puncher's shots 8 times. Bivins seemed to catch him at the right time. Ezz didn't take these losses particularly well, and took over a year out. He'd have 2 gimme fights in December 44, in fact there were only 3 days between the bouts.

    In 1945, Ezzard was drafted to the military. He'd spend 1945 out of the ring as a consequence.
    In 1946, Ezzard became a Killer. He'd start off with a few gimmes, but would step up to take on Archie Moore (who's a certified top 20 pfp fighter and top 3 LHW), school him and then move on to avenge his loss to Marshall, with a KO6. He'd take on an underrated fighter, who has a claim to be an ATG, Oakland Billy Smith, who he'd beat easily on points then he'd finish the year off with a Clean UD over Bivins, which took his 1946 record to 10(6)-0 with wins over 4 Hall of Famers...
    1947 started off just as devastating, taking on Moore, Marshall, Smith, Bivins and Ray. Beating 4 of them, 3 by KO, but the loss to Ray and the win over Moore both being considered controversial (moreso his loss against Elmer Ray).

    In 1948, he would cold KO Moore in a trilogy fight, Ezzard beat a promising up and comer named Sam Baroudi. Sam would die in hospital due to the injuries sustained from his bout with Ezzard. Ezz would take a few months away from the sport and questioned himself. He subsequently came back, with his killer instinct still intact as he KO Elmer Ray in a rematch. Ezz would also beat Maxim and Bivins again before his move up in weights again.

    By 1949, it was clear that Gus Lesnevich wasn't planning on giving anybody decent a title shot, so instead of engaging in endless series with the same fighters he was better than, he tested the waters at HW. Taking on, number 1 contender, Jersey Joe Walcott in his first fight at HW for the vacant NBA title. From here he'd be a very dominant HW Champion, racking up 8 title defences and beating HOFers, Joe Louis, Gus Lesnevich, Jersey Joe Walcott and Joey Maxim. His fight with Joe Louis is my favourite of his career, it's a high action technical brawl that doesn't get the recognition it deserves imo.

    He'd lose the title in what I regard as the most devastating fashion ever seen in the ring. Career rival Jersey Joe Walcott dipped to the side whilst casually walking and landed a HUGE left hookercut which KOed Charles. It was painful.
    He'd then beat contender Rex Layne a couple of times, as well as another fight with Joey Maxim, and controversially lose a 4th fight with Jersey Joe Walcott. This is where he should've retired imo, he didn't do much after this point.

    Anyways, after JJW4 he would go onto fight HW Nino Valdez, and lose in a close fight. In his very next fight he would lose again, controversially to ATG LHW Harold Johnson. He'd go onto score a beautiful HL reel KO over THE Glassy Gunslinger, Bob Satterfield. This would get him his fight with Marciano, which he would do very well in and even have certain ringside writers claiming the decision was wrong, and Ezzard should've won. I wouldn't put to much stock in that without the full footage. He was granted an immediate rematch, which he would split Marciano's nose in and be on the verge of victory, before the rock came back with force and stopped Charles.

    After his final two meaningful fights with Marciano he would end up having 23 fights, going 10-13. He would retire in 1959 with a record of 95(52)-25(7)-1.


    He'd try and make the best of his life though, playing Jazz music with respected practitioners and being known as someone who could hold his own with the best on the bass. In 1968, he was being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and it would progress quickly, paralysing him from the waste down, crippling him for his final few years. He
    would be in immense pain before he passed, and there's a heartbreaking commercial from 1973 that shows Charles in a wheelchair, almost a different human from the fighting machine of the late 40s. He'd die from his condition in 1975.

    Ezzard Charles was not a very popular champion. Max Baer was once quoted saying "we've got a middleweight champ who'd lick the best heavyweight in the world... Sugar Ray Robinson". Ezzard Charles suffered from the first Larry Holmes syndrome, the guy after Joe Louis and the guy before Rocky Marciano, but in his passing he was very respected, Marciano called him the "bravest man he'd ever fought".
    In 1976, Cincinnati dedicated the street lived in whilst fighting to Ezz by changing the name of Lincoln Park Drive to Ezzard Charles Drive. He's listed as the best LHW of all time by Boxing magazine and is frequently listed in top 15 pfp lists.
    It's a shame the hand he he was dealt, in the end it didn't get better. He lost his money from boxing and worked normally, whilst battling his condition. Once his legs stopped working and his speech was impaired, he couldn't afford treatment, so the boxing community came together and 3 former champs came and paid for the legend's treatment.
    Archie Moore, Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.

    He's somewhat forgotten today, but know. That he is the greatest Light Heavyweight to ever lace them up, belt or not. And a great man, who didn't get the credit he deserved.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 8:55 AM
  2. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft The Cincinnati Cobra Full Member

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  3. roughdiamond

    roughdiamond Bebop Boxer Full Member

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    Ah, it's here. Real great thread George. I do not favour anyone over prime Ezzard at 175, though there are those who give him trouble stylistically.

    He was an enigmatic man. The Jazz / Nightclub story is an example. Ezzard was relaxed and enjoying himself, I think after winning the title, and soon was spotted and recognized by patrons and players. When this happened, he quietly fled the scene to another jazz club in an odd manner. Man seemed to value his privacy.

    And that muscular dystrophy commercial upsets me every time.
     
  4. Ted Stickles

    Ted Stickles Boxing Addict Full Member

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  5. Flo_Raiden

    Flo_Raiden Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Great thread and enjoyable read on an incredible fighter. He would have beaten every modern LHW, CW, and HW fighters IMO. He was that good.
    It's a shame how nobody outside of hardcore boxing fans know Charles. Even to this day it seems like Ezzard Charles doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He's arguably Top 5 greatest boxer to ever lace them, and his resume speaks for itself.
     
  6. Flo_Raiden

    Flo_Raiden Boxing Addict Full Member

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    That commercial still haunts me when I watch it. I was surprised that they could show such a commercial back then. I'm not even sure if they could get away with making a similar one considering the amount of recent boxing deaths.
     
  7. roughdiamond

    roughdiamond Bebop Boxer Full Member

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    That commercial is very hard hitting, and IMO that type should be shown on TV to educate others.
     
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  8. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft The Cincinnati Cobra Full Member

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    He seemed quite a humble bloke, although if he wasn't it's understandable.

    Out of interest, who do you think troubles him stylistically? For me I think Qawi, Spinks and Jones cause his biggest issues based on styles, but with Greb and Foster being his biggest threats.
     
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  9. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft The Cincinnati Cobra Full Member

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    He is my all time favourite, his style is excellent to watch from both a technical, sweet science loving perspective, or an entertainment one.
     
  10. roughdiamond

    roughdiamond Bebop Boxer Full Member

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    Yeah, you said the names I was going to.
     
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  11. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft The Cincinnati Cobra Full Member

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    Another thing about Ezzard is that whilst he was humble, quiet and underappreciated, he was calm, dedicated and focused. He said it himself:
    “When I first decided to get into boxing, I'd listen to all of the older guys in the game,” he remarked recently. “They'd all say the same thing: if you want to be a fighter, you've got to eat it and sleep it. Square that I was, I believed every word. I'd win a fight—and the very next day, I'd be back in the gym.”

    He also was quite a happy man, with a minimalist view on the world, one that more people should take on imo.
    “Just a simple, square sort of fellow, who believed in playing the game by the rules, But if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing.”
    Ezzard Charles

    He had heart in spades, the Marciano fights, Satterfield, Marshall and Walcott fights prove this. As well his comeback efforts.

    The third Moore fight is imo his greatest example of heart however, he was losing on the cards, being beaten to the punch and was hurt in the 8th round. After staggering to the ropes, the greatest finisher of all time follows up on him and in an inspiring moment of desperation lands a perfect counter, which rendered one of the greatest fighters of all time completely unconscious. Moore, was also not stopped in one punch by guys like Patterson, Ali and Marciano, so you can see how impressive this is.
     
  12. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft The Cincinnati Cobra Full Member

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    Ezzard's style was like silk, he was adaptable, but also aggressive.

    He threw excellent combinations, had power in both hands, was quick, crazy accurate, unbelievable timing and used his feet to set up shots well, he steered guys where they needed to be then unloaded brutally on them. See Satterfield & Reynolds KOs to see. His jab was good, serviceable, but his combinations and defence were his main tools to win rounds.

    He set up these tools with his feet, as you'd expect, and command range very well. He could flirt in and out of range with quick short shots or looping hooks at range, use feints to open people up, and have one of the greatest, and most underrated inside game of all time.

    His defence is something special as well, slipping shots, then taking advantage of that to get inside, parrying things off his elbows and shoulders, and blocked inside to escape most of the damage (see Marciano fight). Watching him in his prime, which is his early title defences, is a joy.

    His feet are really where his strengths start, but his strengths are really very impressive in their own right, he could throw any punch, fight at any distance, brawl or box, he could feint and parry, fight going backwards or forwards and was elusive on the ropes.

    A complete fighter if there ever was one. His only real weakness, was that he didn't have an ATG jab, which means he could be outboxed, but it rarely happened.
     
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  13. The Malibu Mauler

    The Malibu Mauler Only in America! Full Member

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    Great recap George, revising my placement of Charles because of this
     
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  14. George Crowcroft

    George Crowcroft The Cincinnati Cobra Full Member

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    Cheers man, it's about time!
     
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  15. Flo_Raiden

    Flo_Raiden Boxing Addict Full Member

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    Love reading your description on the Cincinati Cobra! He really was the complete fighter, very versatile with a nice style that was both scientific and entertaining. I'm curious to know who you would compare Ezzard Charles' style to, if there's any other fighters that fought similar to Charles.
     
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