Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 38
Date: 99-01-18 10:54:24 EST

The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
Edited by J Michael Kenyon

Issue Number 38
Wednesday, January 20, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A


The BAWLI Papers are periodically sent to a free-of-
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Readers are welcome to submit interesting and otherwise noteworthy articles
concerning professional boxing's long and storied past. The emphasis,
generally, should be on the foremost fighters, managers, trainers and
promoters, and events that otherwise were of some moment in the sport's
history. Either transmit the articles via e-mail or mail them to the editor at
the following addresses:

J Michael Kenyon (
244 Madison Avenue, Suite 145
New York City, New York 10016


By J Michael Kenyon

First of all, an apology. It occurs that I may have been representing myself
as some sort of boxing history expert, what with the recent publication of The
BAWLI Papers. While it may be true, as Yogi Bear used to say, that I know more
than the average bear about the 20th century history of pugilism, I bow to
some others out there who've been working in the field a lot longer and a lot
more industriously than I. Some of you may be aware that my "true" expertise,
if there is any such thing, lies in the related square circle of the
professional wrestling ring. Before anyone begins to giggle, allow me to point
out that what served as professional boxing 120 years ago would probably bear
a strong relationship to segments of Extreme Championship Wrestling today.
(Come to think of it, the first round of Tyson-Botha looked a little like ECW,
too.) The bottom line, anyhow, is twofold -- the two "disciplines" are
cousins, in that they take place in a similar setting, and in the larger realm
that they are both intended for entertainment purposes. And, as anyone who
knows who has trod the path of history (largely, through the inspection of
old, microfilmed newspapers), boxing and wrestling histories are told side-by-
side. Whilst there may not be quite as much hippodrome involved on the boxing
side, there have been plenty of times when the two blurred. And both histories
always have been rich resources for the study of extraordinary athletes,
promoters and colorful characters-at-large. The legendary wrestling promoter,
Jack Curley, may be first found in the pages of sports history, circa 1900,
taking on all comers in Cascade mountain-range railroad camps in the state of
Washington -- as a heavyweight boxer. One would have to convert a tall stand
of timber into paper in order to detail the promotional careers of people who
have made a living, throughout this century, promoting BOTH boxing and
wrestling on a regular basis. And, as I've often noted, there is scarcely a
heavyweight champion of the world who did not, at one time or another, earn a
paycheck in the wrestling ring, either as a referee or as a performer -- or

That comparison aside, and back to my originally stated deficiencies as a
boxing historian, I must admit that Mike DeLisa, founder and publisher of the
Cyber Boxing Zone ( and a BAWLI Paper subscriber, has
managed to increase the voltage in my personal lightbulb with the following

Subj: Re: The BAWLI Papers No. 34
Date: 1/17/99 11:52:59 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: DeLisa1066
To: Oldfallguy

Hi -- Great stuff with BAWLI as usual. I do want to point out that the record
you used for Burley repeats several errors that have been in the record books
for years -- i.e., Burley LOST to Charley "Doc" Williams.

The Cyber Boxing Zone has an on-line emclclopedia that includes a Black
Dynamite section -- Burley is one of the guys we profile there.

Ciao, Mike

The Cyber Boxing Zone
Now, it develops I'm such a lousy boxing historian that I'm not even keeping
up with developments on the CBZ. I've been aware of it, and its antecedents in
the AOL Boxing Newsletter, for nearly five years, but somehow or other I
hadn't bothered to plumb very deeply into the site of late. Imagine my delight
to find, with DeLisa's prodding, the "Black Dynamite" section:

"The following group of men have several things in common -- they were
outstanding fighters and they deserve to be remembered by fans of the sport.
If you would like to see a particular fighter profiled, please let us know

In addition to Burley, the list comprises the following names, many of whom
are granted biography space in the CBZ: Jack Chase, Frank Childs, Neil Clisby,
Frank Craig, Bobby Dobbs, Panama Joe Gans, Seal Harris, Peter Jackson, Joe
Jennette (ED. NOTE -- I've always spelled it "Jeannette" but I'm afraid to
contradict these guys anymore), Jack Johnson, Leo Johnson, Sam Langford, Bert
Lytell, Denver Ed Martin, Tom Molineaux, Sam McVea, Jack McVey, Kid Norfolk,
Bill Richmond, Harry Smith, Young Jack Thompson, Jack Walker aka Leone
Jacovacci, Harry Wills, Ed Unknown Winston and an "Early Black Dynamite"
section that leads you to a brief clip from The Times of London, dated April
27, 1786, which illustrates boldly the depths from which black athletes have
had to come. To wit --

"Yesterday afternoon a most desperate battle was fought in the Ring, in Hyde
Park, between a butcher's apprentice of St. James Market, and a black
stripling, who was lately a servant to the celebrated Mr. Katterselto, which
lasted upwards of three quarters of an hour, during which time the successes
of the combatants was as dubious as it was obstinate. The Honorable Mr. Booth
by happening to pass at the time, the crowd took his attention time enough to
see a sufficiency of the conflict, to prove to him, that the parties were
obstinately bent on each side not to yield. Struck with the ferocious
obstinacy, he stepped into the ring, parted the lads, and gave them a guinea
each to make up the quarrel. The Black, though he bears the character of
meekness and sobriety, has been unfortunate enough to have been obliged to
fight no less than five scuffling battles within this week, all with young men
of superior strength and proven victorious."

Elsewhere in the CBZ Encylopedia are sections devoted to: English and American
bareknuckle champs, Queensberry champions, Oldtimers, White Hopes, Cornermen-
Referees-&-Goodfellas, Laws-Rules-&-Regulations, title claimants, and current
lineal champions.

For example, the cornermen, referees and "goodfellas" section extends to
listings of guys like Ray Arcel, Bob Arum, Whitey Bimstein, Jack Blackburn,
Chuck Bodak, William Brady, Teddy Brenner, Freddie Brown, Michael Buffer,
Frankie Carbo, Ralph Citro, Cus D'Amato, Lou DiBella, Gil Clancy, One-Eyed
Connoly (sp?), Art Donovan, Don Dunphy, Angelo Dundee, Lou Duva, Wyatt Earp,
Pierce Egan, Eddie Futch, Nat Fleischer, Charlie Goldman, Ruby Goldstein,
Mitch Halpern, Pete Hamill, Ernest Hemingway, Hank Kaplan, Jack Kearns, Mike
Jacobs, Don King, Mills Lane, A.J. Leibling, Jack London, Lord Lonsdale,
Norman Mailer, Marquis of Queensberry, Bat Masterson, Harry Markson, Arthur
Mercante, Clem McCarthy, Jim Norris, George Parnassus, Davey Pearl, George
Plimpton, Tex Rickard, Damon Runyon, Budd Schulberg and Ed Sullivan (what!?!
Michael Buffer, but not Joe Humphries, Johnny Addie or Jimmy Lennon!?! . . .

Upcoming fights, current champions, CBZ Boxing Journal, current news, special
reports from boxing experts, tapes for sale, links to other good boxing sites
on the Web, reviews of books, movies, computer games, comics, etc., sound
clips -- the list goes on and on. All at the Cyber Boxing Zone site. Get thee
there, immediately, if you, like me, are not keeping up with the fine work of
this gaggle of fine boxing writers and historians!

Out of curiousity, I flipped to the "title claimant" section in the
Encyclopedia section and found the name of Dominick McCaffrey. The name is
familiar to me in that one of my "hobbies" (in a life teeming with "hobbies")
is attempting to compile a complete record of every boxing and wrestling
program presented in ALL the Madison Square Gardens (four or five buildings,
depending upon how you treat Barnum's original Hippodrome building of the
1870s). The other day, I was poking around in the accounts of John L.
Sullivan's November, 1884, appearances in the MSG of that day, namely, brief
encounters with John Laflin and Alf Greenfield (the latter bout interrupted by
the police). About the same time, McCaffrey, fighting out of Philadelphia at
that juncture, was angling for a shot at the world's first superstar which,
indeed, Sullivan was.

The two had sparred, briefly, the previous August in Boston. McCaffrey would
almost get Sullivan into a ring the following April, in Philadelphia, but the
blue-nosed police again interfered. Finally, they met in Cincinnati, with the
title at stake, and Sullivan came around with a decision win on August 29 -- a
decision that was not rendered, by the referee Billy Tate, until two days

Sullivan's record, for the most part, has long been available in the old Ring
Record books, begun by the pathfinding historian Fleischer of Ring Magazine.
But here, in the Cyber Boxing Zone, is a remarkably detailed record of
McCaffrey, who also fought such ring luminaries as Charlie Mitchell, Jim
Corbett and Peter Maher -- and was making ring appearances as late as 1903, at
age 39. Not a particularly big fellow, around five-foot-nine and 165 pounds,
he -- in the fashion of the times -- often took on larger fellows. The CBZ
account describes him as "a popular and sociable man; he was a first-class
boxer who moved quickly and boxed well." His managers are listed, along with
his birth (September 24, 1863, Pittsburgh) and death (December 30, 1926,
Pittsburgh) dates. All good stuff, and repeated, over and over, with other
ring warriors who would otherwise be lost amid the sands of time were there
not some truly serious boxing historians at work on this planet.

Someday, I would like to take a deserved place among them, but for the
meantime, as I continue my researches here and there across North America and,
occasionally, in the cradle of all sport, the British Isles, I will be content
to pass along various accounts of interest from the past and present in the
form of The BAWLI (Boxing As We Liked It) Papers.

And, I daresay, I hope there'll be more notes and letters of elucidation, such
as arrived from Mr. DeLisa.

(ED. NOTE -- Here's the Cyber Boxing Zone bio of Charley Burley. It's lovely
stuff, just like the reams and reams of other materials available at this
wonderful Web site.)


The mention of the name Charley Burley will, more often than not, draw a blank
expression from the faces of many so-called boxing buffs. While not totally
unknown, Burley has not received the recognition he deserves. While fans of
the sport extol the virtues of such fighters as Armstrong, Zale, Graziano,
LaMotta Conn, and 'Sugar' Ray Robinson, all of who were his contemparies, [and
all of whom avoided him like the plague], Charley Burley is largely ignored
and forgotten.

This Pittsburgher has the distinction of being one of the finest fighters in
the history of the game. But, like so many other talented black fighters, he
will never be remembered as readily as many of boxing's world champions,
simply because he himself was not a champion.

Often called the greatest fighter ever by such authorities as Eddie Futch,
Archie Moore and his trainer Hiawatha Grey, (who went back to the days of
Johnson and Ketchel), Burley fought some of the best fighters around, beating
most of them. Even though he was consistently rated in the top ten for over a
decade in the welterweight and middleweight divisions he never received a shot
at any title. In a career lasting from 1936 to 1950 he compiled a record of
84-11-2 with 1 no contest and 50 knockouts.

Charles Duane Burley was born in Bessemer, Pa., on September 6th 1917. His
father was a black coal miner from Virginia, his mother a feisty white Irish
woman from County Cork. Together, the Burleys had seven children, six girls
and one boy; Charles junior was the second youngest and a real handful for his
parents and his sisters. When the mines claimed his father in 1925 Charley and
his family moved to Pittsburgh.

At age 12, Charley joined the Kays Boys Club where he took up boxing under the
watchful eye of local trainers Leonard Payne and Howard Turner. Charley
enjoyed the boxing as much as he enjoyed baseball, another sport at which he
excelled, (he once received an offer to play for the Homestead Grays), and
when he wasn't playing ball or plucking chickens for pennies, (a skill he
learned in Bessemer), he could be found at the gym. City, State, and National
Junior titles were won with comparative ease, in fact the only blemish on his
amateur record came in the National Senior Championship finals in Cleveland
when he lost to Leo Sweeney at welterweight. In later years, Sweeney, also
from Pittsburgh, became a well-respected cop in the city.

In 1936, Charley was selected to represent his country at the 'World Games'
which were being held in Spain. These games were offered as an alternative to
the IXth Olympiad, which were being held at the same time in Berlin.
Unfortunately politics also became involved with these games as General Franco
staged some fighting of his own and started the Spanish Civil War. The games
were cancelled the day before they were due to commence. Charley returned
home, having never had the chance to lace on a glove for his country, and
turned to the professional ranks.

From September 1936 to September 1937 Charley was fed the usual diet of local
'talent' by his manager Phil Goldstein. Matched against boxers, punchers,
tough nuts and glass jaws, he compiled a record of 12 wins with 8 kayos before
losing to his 13th opponent, Eddie Dolan. Most of these fights took place
under the auspices of the 'Pittsburgh Fight Club' of which Charley was one of
the most talented members. 1938 saw Charley improve his win tally to 16, with
10 kayos, before he lost on points to local boy Fritzie Zivic, a veteran of
over 70 fights. A rematch just over two months later saw Charley reverse the
decision with a clear points win.

In August 1938, saw Charley win the 'Colored' Welterweight Championship from
the experienced and talented Louis 'Cocoa' Kid over 15 rounds in a thriller at
Hickey Park. The 'Kid' was dropped in the second for a nine count and was in
trouble again in the 15th and final round, but managed to hang on for the
bell. A championship belt, promised by Ring Magazine's Nat Fleischer, failed
to materialize, forcing two local business men to have one made up for the new
champion. SInce Henry Armstrong had won the 'real' welterweight championship
in May 1938, Burley's "title" was redundant and was never contested again. To
close out the year Charley added yet another future world champion to his list
of victims when he beat middleweight Billy Soose over 10 rounds. With these
wins, Burley opened 1939 as the 4th-ranked challenger for Armstrong's title.

The plague of all big punches, hand trouble, came to visit Charley during, and
after, his January 1939 fight with Sonny Jones. After stopping the Canadian in
the seventh round, Charley was forced to rest for five months after undergoing
bone graft surgery. On his return to the ring he lost over 10 uneventful
rounds to Jimmy Leto at the Millvale arena (a loss he later avenged). But the
following month he was back in action for a third and final meeting with
Fritzie Zivic, (July 17, 1939). This fight would see Charley winning by the
proverbial mile, prompting Zivic and his manager Luke Carney to buy out
Burley's contract from 'Chappie' Goldstien so as to prevent the two meeting
again in the ring. This move effectively froze Charley out of the world
picture while Zivic fought Armstrong, winning the welterweight championship,
even though he was rated behind Burley.

After 1940, a year when he would lose only once in nine outings, to Jimmy
Bivins on points, Charley was beginning to outgrow Pittsburgh and the confines
of his contract with Zivic and his manager. After going 8-0 with 6 kayos in
1941, he moved with his wife and daughter to Minnesota. It was here that his
new manager, Bobby Eton, and promoter Tommy O'Loughlin would attempt to gain
Charley universal recognition as a legitimate title challenger (with a little
help from the State Boxing Commission, who gave Charley special dispensation
to compete in any weight division above his own).

While Charley beat everyone that was put in front of him, fighters that
included the Hogue brothers 'Shorty' and 'Big Boy', the great Holman Williams
and the heavyweight J.D. Turner, his promoter sent legitimate offers to the
current champions. Title challenges to Freddie 'Red' Cochrane at welterweight,
Tony Zale at middleweight all proved fruitless, since those titles were frozen
for the duration of WW II. The offer to Cochrane was that Charley would fight
for free, with his percentage going to the war fund, still no deal. Johnny Ray
was offered $10,000 plus a percentage of the gate for Billy Conn, again no
deal. Zale's management had other plans for their man, so again, no deal.
During 1942, Charley (while weighing no more than 150 lbs.) was forced to
battle the likes of Ezzard Charles, Lloyd Marshall, (L10), the Hogue brothers,
(KO 10 and KO 6), Joe Sutka, (KO 4), Phil McQuillan, (KO1), and the
aforementioned Jay Turner. All genuine middleweights, light-heavyweights and
heavyweights. The giant Texan had a few months previous been the full 10
rounds with Billy Conn. However, on this occasion a weight advantage of a
staggering 70 lbs. could not prevent him from being busted up and stopped cold
by Burley inside of 6 rounds.

The Ezzard Charles fights were held twice in a five-week period with a points
win over Holman Williams six days before the second fight! A chance meeting
with Ray Robinson in the lobby of a hotel in New York, when Charley was in
town to fight Phil McQuillan (April 20, 1942) led to the two meeting on the
same bill at the Minneapolis Armory. Charley kayoed Sammy Wilson of Detroit in
two rounds (referred to a 'Sonny' Wilson on Charley's record), while Ray beat
Dick Banner in the same number of rounds (April 30th 1942). Watching from
ringside the 'Sugar Man' told his manager, "I'm too pretty to fight Charley
Burley". Despite great efforts to make the match the two would never meet in
the ring, although it nearly happened twice and dates were set.

Following the points defeat by Lloyd Marshall in Los Angeles (December
1942), Charley decided to stay in California with his family. After defeating
the likes of Harvey Massey, 'Tiger' Wade and Bobby Birch, Charley received a
chance to fight for the California State Middleweight title which was held by
Jack Chase, whom Charley had previously beaten over 10 rounds (February 1943).
Chase, who had never been stopped in 55 bouts, was kayoed in the 9th (April
3rd 1944). Charley repeated this feat five months later, this time putting
Chase away in the 12th. In between he won four other fights, three of which
came via the short route. The man who stayed the distance in a losing effort
was Archie Moore.

Charley took the Moore fight on very short notice. On the day of the fight he
was at work in an aircraft factory in his (then) hometown of San Diego
(Charley had a burst eardrum and was considered unfit for the military). He
received news of the opportunity, finished his shift, got on a bus to
Hollywood and bounced Archie off the canvas three times on the way to an
emphatic points victory. The 'Old Mongoose' often cites Charley as the
greatest fighter he ever fought, calling Burley "as hard as lard and as slick
as grease." Very impressive when you consider the names on Moore's record.
Charley campaigned through 1943, 44, 45, and 46 with only one loss, over 12
rounds to Holman Williams. That meeting between the two (July 11, 1945) would
be the last of seven meetings, with the final tally being three wins each with
one no contest. Charley scored the only kayo of the series, winning in the 9th
round in 1942. Other victims during this 26-fight period included, Joe Carter,
(W10), Aaron 'Tiger' Wade, (W10), Charley Banks, (W10), Dave Clark, (KO1), the
often-avoided Bert Lytel, (W10), and 'Oakland' Billy Smith, (W10, W10).

Speaking of Smith, the only, near complete, film of a Charley Burley fight
that exists is his second meeting with the light-heavyweight contender (April
24th 1946). From January 1940 up to August 1946 Charley Burley fought 60
times. He scored 31 stoppages, won 20 times over the distance, had 2 draws and
1 no-contest. The only fighter close to his own weight to beat him during this
period was Holman Williams, (L15 L12). His other losses were to Charles,
(twice), Jimmy Bivins, and Lloyd Marshall, and we all know how good they were,
even without weight advantages of ten pounds and over! Despite such good
form, the big money and high profile fights against many of the top rated
white fighters of the day still eluded Charley. Many years later Charley, who
read the bible everyday, was quoted as saying, "I used to get down on my knees
and pray for a title fight". Sadly, it was not to be, and while the so-called
world champions played their games and did their deals and plenty of lesser
fighters got their shot, Charley Burley went to work for the City of
Pittsburgh as a garbage collector.

Eight fights in four years just weren't enough and the garbage truck
eventually became his new career. After beating Pilar Bastidas in Peru in 1950
Charley travelled to Europe for a series of bouts that failed to materialize.
On his return home, his old promoter from Minnesota, Tommy O'Loughlin, took
him on the road to earn some extra cash. A tour of midwest tank towns
appearing as 'the masked marvel' almost led to him being lynched on one
occasion. By now Charley had had enough and concentrated on honest work to
keep regular money coming in. He forgot about boxing and, for many years,
boxing forgot about him. Only now, nearly 50 years after his retirement, has
Charley started to receive recogniton. In 1983, he was elected to the Ring
Hall of Fame. He was, at long last, remembered and honored by his peers and by
the boxing public. Accolades that were, unfortunately, a little late. Burley
died in 1992, the year of his induction into the International Boxing Hall of

The mystery that is Charley Burley's fighting career has often been explained
away as 'not flashy or entertaining enough', 'too many changes in management'
(Charley had at least five), or 'too good for his own good'. One could argue
that there is definitely a ring of truth to that last statement, Charley had
beaten some of the best around and feared no man. A good measure of his
gameness and ability is the fact that he was a regular sparing partner of the
Pittsburgh heavyweight Harry Bobo, a contender for Joe Louis' title. Many
people in Pittsburgh felt that Bobo could give Joe Louis a good fight yet
didn't think he could beat Burley in the ring. He had kayoed Elmer 'Violent'
Ray and 'Jersey' Joe Walcott in sparring sessions and forced middleweight
champion Marcel Cerdan out of the gym (Charley was supposed to be Cerdan's
first opponent in America!).

The real reason why Charley never became champion of the world may be simply
that he was an honest man and an honest prizefighter. Many fighters with no
flash or substance have fought for many titles over the years. Inept or
unconnected management never stopped these guys. As with everything else it
boils down to 'what is your price'. The truth is, these guys couldn't afford a
class act like Charley Burley.

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