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The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia -- Lineal Champion
Carl "Bobo" Olson
(Carl Elmer Olson)
(the "Hawaiian Swede")
BORN July 11 1928; Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii DIED January 16 2002; Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii HEIGHT 5-10 1/2 WEIGHT 128 1/4 - 187 lbs MANAGERS Sid Flaherty, Billy Newman
Olson was a talented, clever boxer who was outgoing and personable in nature; He was a tough fighter, not a particularly powerful hitter, who won nearly 100 bouts during his career; He fought them all, including "Sugar" Ray Robinson four times; Throughout his ring tenure, Carl displayed grit, tenacity, skill and love of the sport; Among his accomplishments, he won the Middleweight Championship of the World
He defeated such men as Joey Maxim, Kid Gavilan, Attilio "Rocky" Castellani, Lloyd Marshall, Walter Cartier, Paddy Young, Wayne Thornton, Robert Villemain, Ralph "Tiger" Jones, Joey Giambra, Pierre Langlois, Mike Holt, Anton Raadik, Walter Cartier, Tommy Yarosz, Lee Sala, Garth Panter, Don Lee, Kenny Watkins, Earl Turner, Eugene "Silent" Hairston, Rory Calhoun, Jimmy Martinez, Andy Kendall, Jesse Bowdry, Joe Rindone, Jesse Turner, Sixto Rodriguez, Roque Maravilla, Jimmy Beau, Art Soto, Chuck Hunter, Roy Miller, Johnny Duke, Paul Lewis, George Duke, Jackie Ryan and Piero Del Papa
"Bobo" worked as recreational director for the Operating Engineers Local Union in San Francisco and in public relations for the Teamsters after retiring from the ring in 1966
Olson was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000
"This fellow just doesn't get up, does he?"
Joe DiMaggio, ringside at Robinson-Olson III
Unfortunately for Carl "Bobo" Olson, the Yankee Clipper's quote summarizes what he will most be remembered for in boxing history. Nevertheless, Bobo managed to reign longer than any other Middleweight Champion of the 1950's, taking on a steady stream of tough opponents at Middleweight and Light-Heavyweight for a span of 16 years.
Carl "Bobo" Olson was born on July 11, 1928 in Honolulu, Oahu, in the Hawaiian Islands. He was the product of a Portugese mom and a Swedish dad hence the Swede name Carl Olson. Olson's father had come to Hawaii during the first World War when he was stationed there in the military.
Bobo, like most boxers, found his interest in the ring from the streets. Bobo got into his fair share of scraps and from these fights he realized that it might help him if he got some formal boxing training. This was around the start of World War II so with the heavy presence of military personal Bobo took part in bootleg bouts. Most often, these bouts were against experienced men, including some professionals competing with a special military exemption. Bobo picked up a lot of experience from these bouts along with his two trademark tattoos.
On August 19. 1944 at the ripe old age of 16 and armed with a fake I.D. Bobo turned pro with a second round kayo of Bob Correa. Bobo's career then ended just as quickly as it began as officials found out quickly how old he was. Olson returned a little over a year later and was brought along rather slowly taking on rather easy opposition and building up a mark of 31-2 with 21 kayoes. Olson's first test came against Aussie Middleweight champ Dave Sands; Bobo dropped a close 12 round nod in Australia. Olson returned to Hawaii and racked up three straight wins, including one against Henry Brimm, who had held Sugar Ray Robinson to a draw.
Next up for Olson was none other than the man himself: Sugar Ray Robinson in a bout for the lightly regarded Pennsylvania World Middleweight Title. Robinson entered the bout with a mark of 113-1-2. In hindsite, despite his many fights, Bobo was still rather inexperienced and probably not ready for a title shot. Bobo, a notoriously slow starter, came out slow and stayed that way and in the process gave away round after round. Robinson though wasn't exactly leaving the crowd or Olson in awe. This went on for 11 rounds when Olson ran out of gas, Robinson then finished up with one of his patented combinations capitulated by a left hook and right hand to the head. Olson went down and took Charley Daggert's ten count.
While a lot of young fighter's who are rushed in to a title fight never recover from a tough kayo loss. Olson took it as if he belonged there with Robinson to begin with. In his second bout after the loss to Robinson he kayoed faded Light Heavyweight Lloyd Marshall in five. He then got himself a rematch with Dave Sands in Chicago, but Sands still proved to be his master and took the 10 round decision.
Olson was now ready for his second title shot against Robinson. Robinson in the meantime had won and lost his title from Randy Turpin but it was figured that he would have no problem with Olson. Robinson this time traveled to Olson's home base of San Francisco for the bout on March 13, 1952. The bout was much more competitive this time around as Olson took the fight to the rusty Robinson and after 10 rounds the fight was dead even on the cards. It wasn't to be for Bobo though, as Robinson swept the last five rounds and took the decision.
Olson would now have a tough road ahead of him to earn another title shot, having lost to Robinson twice there would be no reason for him to get a third shot. Olson by now was 24 and a legitimate top contender and he finished 1952 off well by defeating muscle bounded Frenchman Robert Villemain, kayoing Eugene "Silent" Hairston, and decisioning contender Norman Hayes.
On the same day that Olson decisioned Hayes in San Francisco, Sugar Ray Robinson was announcing his retirement, vacating the Middleweight title. A four man tournament was arranged with Olson squaring off against Paddy Young for the American title and former champ Randy Turpin facing Frenchman Charley Humez for the European crown. Olson dusted off Norman Hayes one more time before facing Paddy Young in the Garden. Olson had no problem handling Young as he took the 15 round decision. Meanwhile, Turpin had defeated Humez setting the stage for an October 21st showdown at the Garden for the vacant crown.
Turpin was an odd fighter who was very strong for a Middleweight. He fought on his toes and threw lunging shots almost like Prince Naseem Hamed does. He took the fight to Olson who got off to a slow start, almost ending it in the first when he caught Olson with one of his lunging hooks. After getting belted accross the ring for the first four rounds, Olson figured out what it took Robinson 25 rounds to figure out. Which was that Turpin loved it on the outside but couldn't take it in on the inside. Olson eventually progressed his way inside and as Turpin faded badly Olson scored knockdowns in the 10th and 11th and took the unanimous decision. Olson's performance against Turpin, coupled with his wins early in the year, earned Bobo Ring Magazine's Fighter of Year Award.
While 1953 was a great year Bobo; 1954 would be even better. In his first defense Olson took on the legendary Welterweight champ Kid Gavilan. Gavilan couldn't match Bobo's strength and Olson took the fight inside and banged away enough to earn a majority decision. In his second defense, Olson whipped number one contender Rocky Castellani in an easy fifteen round decision. Bobo finished the year with a 11th round TKO over another top contender, Pierre Langlois.
Meanwhile, Robinson had started the first of his many comebacks. In Ray's second bout, he lost to Ralph "Tiger" Jones. Less than a month later, Jones lost a decision to Bobo. To many it seemed that Olson was at last better than his rival Sugar Ray. During this time though Bobo had been experiencing trouble making weight. Drying down from 190 every fight had begun to bother Olson so he decided that he would make the move up to Light Heavyweight. In his first fight up at Light Heavy he took on former champ Joey Maxim at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Olson dominated the fight knocking Maxim down and taking a lopsided decision over the former champ.
Olson was now convinced along many other experts that he could win the Light Heavyweight crown and on June 22, 1955 he took on ancient Archie Moore for the crown. Moore had just had a bout in May against Nino Valdes in which he weighed 196 pounds. Insiders figured that Moore would weaken himself considerably getting down to 175. Moore whipped out his infamous Australian Secret Diet though and made weight just fine. The fight was a major disappointment for Olson and started his downfall from the top. The grand master Moore set Olson up for the kayo by feinting with his left and then blasting Olson with his right, after figuring out that he had something going Moore put it together again with a combination, and put Olson down for the count.
By now Robinson had earned the number one contender spot by beating Rocky Castellani, setting up a third match between the two. Even though Olson was slated as a 3 to 1 favorite the fight was a blowout, Robinson quickly discovered Bobo's soft chin again with a right hand in the second round and Bobo's days as a champ were quickly through. In those days the rematch clause was usually written in to title fight contracts and Olson got a fourth fight with Robinson, this time Robinson finished him off in four. Olson not to long after announced his retirement.
It wasn't to be a very long retirment as Bobo was back in the ring in June 1957, this time returning as a heavyweight. Olson returned with a win over a very faded Joey Maxim before taking on journeyman Heavyweight Pat McMurty. McMurty ended Olson's comeback scoring a second round kayo. Olson left the ring again, but returned a year later, by now even though he was just 30 he had become just another journeyman fighter. After stringing together 8 non-discrept wins, Olson was given the opportunity to be a stepping stone for rising Light Heavyweight contender Doug Jones on August 31, 1960. Olson suprised Jones though by outboxing his 19 year old opponent for the first five rounds. In the sixth round though Jones woke up and found Bobo's whiskers and Bobo went down in customary fashion and took a ten count.
In defeat, Olson reestablished himself as a contender and in the next three years he fought contenders such as Giulio Rinaldi, Sonny Ray, and Jesse Bowdry. Finally on March 27, 1964 Olson was matched against the number one contender Wayne Thornton. Olson won the bout and after losing a bout to Johnny Persol he beat Thornton again to firmly establish himself as a threat for the title.
At this point Olson was the number three rated contender in the world and he signed for a fight with blown up Middleweight Jose Torres, with the winner slated to get a shot at then champion Willie Pastrano. Torres came right after Bobo and knocked him out in the first round with a four punch combination. The loss effectively ended the 36-year-old Olson's days as a contender. He fought on for another two years finishing his career with a loss to Gene Fullmer's younger brother, Don
In retirement Bobo initially worked for Operating Engineers Union as the recreation director for it's pre-apprentice training program for troubled youth. After the government cut the program in 1969, Olson moved on to a job working for the Teamsters as a Public Relations person1944 Aug 19 Bob Correa San Francisco, Ca KO 2 -Some sources report "San Francisco, Ca" Aug 27 Ben Ramos Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 4 Sep 10 Young Pancho Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 4 1945 Nov 23 Art Robinson San Francisco, Ca TK 4 Dec 10 Bobby Jones San Francisco, Ca KO 2 Dec 21 Lavelle Perkins Sacramento, Ca TK 2 1946 Jan 7 Obie Wooten San Francisco, Ca TK 1 Jan 14 Vepe Watson San Francisco, Ca TK 1 Jan 28 Pedro Jimenez San Francisco, Ca KO 4 Feb 4 Chuck Ross San Francisco, Ca W 6 Feb 25 Delaware Bradby San Francisco, Ca KO 3 Jul 18 Ernie "Trader" Horne Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 2 Jul 26 Johnny Boski Honolulu, Oahu, Hi KO 4 Aug 19 Johnny Boski Honolulu, Oahu, Hi KO 3 Sep 9 Jackie Ryan Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 6 Oct 7 Wayne Powell Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 4 Dec 2 Wayne Powell Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 4 1947 Jan 28 Gil Mojica Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Mar 21 Candy McDaniels Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 May 2 Leroy Wade Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 4 Jun 20 Paul Lewis Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Jul 4 George Duke Honolulu, Oahu, Hi L 10 Aug 19 George Duke Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Nov 22 Boy Brooks Manila, Philippines L 10 Dec 17 Nai Mayala (Sompong Wetchasit) Manila, Philippines KO 3 1948 Jan 17 Boy Brooks Manila, Philippines W 12 Apr 7 Flashy Sebastian Manila, Philippines KO 7 May 11 Bobby Castro Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 8 -Some sources report "W 10" Jul 20 Charley Cato Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 8 Oct 12 Boy Brooks Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 3 Oct 26 Kenny Watkins Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Dec 14 Johnny Boski Honolulu, Oahu, Hi KO 1 1949 Jan 11 Paulie Perkins Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 2 Mar 15 Anton Raadik Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 7 Jun 3 Tommy Yarosz Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Jul 26 Milo Savage Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Aug 23 Art Hardy Honolulu, Oahu, Hi KO 3 Nov 22 Johnny Duke Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Dec 13 Earl Turner Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 1950 Feb 22 Don Lee Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Mar 20 Dave Sands Sydney, NSW, Australia L 12 Apr 25 Roy Miller Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 5 May 22 Otis Graham Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Sep 5 Henry Brimm Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Oct 26 "Sugar" Ray Robinson Philadelphia, Pa LK 12 -Middleweight Championship of the World (as recognized by Pennsylvania state) 1951 Mar 20 Art Soto Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 May 7 Lloyd Marshall Honolulu, Oahu, Hi KO 5 Jul 9 Chuck Hunter San Francisco, Ca W 10 Jul 27 Charlie Cato Richmond, Ca TK 3 Aug 27 Bobby Jones San Francisco, Ca W 10 Oct 3 Dave Sands Chicago, Il L 10 1952 Feb 12 Woody Harper Sacramento, Ca W 10 Feb 15 Tommy Harrison Hollywood, Ca W 10 Mar 13 "Sugar" Ray Robinson San Francisco, Ca L 15 -Middleweight Championship of the World May 6 Woody Harper Richmond, Ca TK 7 May 19 Walter Cartier Brooklyn, NY TK 5 Jun 6 Jimmy Beau New York, NY W 10 Jul 12 Robert Villemain San Francisco, Ca W 10 Aug 27 Eugene "Silent" Hairston New York, NY TK 6 -Some sources report "KO 7" Nov 20 Lee Sala San Francisco, Ca KO 2 Dec 18 Norman Hayes San Francisco, Ca W 10 1953 Feb 7 Norman Hayes Boston, Ma W 10 Mar 16 Garth Panter Butte, Mt W 10 Jun 19 Paddy Young New York, NY W 15 -Middleweight Championship of America; Middleweight Championship of the World - Elimination Bout Oct 21 Randy Turpin New York, NY W 15 -Middleweight Championship of the World 1954 Jan 23 Joe Rindone San Francisco, Ca KO 5 Apr 2 Kid Gavilan Chicago, Il W 15 -Middleweight Championship of the World Jun 15 Jesse Turner Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 8 Jul 7 Pedro Gonzalez Oakland, Ca KO 4 Aug 20 Attilio "Rocky" Castellani San Francisco, Ca W 15 -Middleweight Championship of the World Nov 3 Garth Panter Richmond, Va TK 8 Dec 15 Pierre Langlois San Francisco, Ca TK 11 -Middleweight Championship of the World 1955 Feb 1 Benny Walker Richmond, Va EX 2 Feb 1 Bull Halsey Richmond, Va EX 2 -The previous 2 bouts were held the same date Feb 16 Ralph "Tiger" Jones Chicago, Il W 10 Mar 12 Willie Vaughn Hollywood, Ca W 10 Apr 13 Joey Maxim San Francisco, Ca W 10 Jun 22 Archie Moore New York, NY LK 3 -Light Heavyweight Championship of the World Aug 13 Jimmy Martinez Portland, Or W 10 Aug 26 Joey Giambra San Francisco, Ca W 10 Dec 9 "Sugar" Ray Robinson Chicago, Il LK 2 -Middleweight Championship of the World 1956 May 18 "Sugar" Ray Robinson Los Angeles, Ca LK 4 -Middleweight Championship of the World 1957 Jun 18 Joey Maxim Portland, Or W 10 Aug 17 Pat McMurtry Portland, Or LK 2 1958 Oct 28 Don Grant Oakland, Ca TK 7 Nov 25 Paddy Young Oakland, Ca TK 6 Dec 16 Tommy Villa Fresno, Ca TK 5 1959 Mar 30 Rory Calhoun San Francisco, Ca W 10 Aug 25 George Kartalian Fresno, Ca TK 5 1960 Apr 7 Roque Maravilla Portland, Or TK 8 -Some sources report "KO 7" May 5 Al Sparks Vancouver, BC, Canada KO 5 Jun 6 Mike Holt Johannesburg, Trans, SAfrica W 10 Aug 31 Doug Jones Chicago, Il LK 6 1961 Jan 19 Bobby Daniels Spokane, Wa W 10 Feb 16 Floyd Buchanan Victoria, BC, Canada KO 3 Aug 14 Roque Maravilla Oakland, Ca W 10 Sep 11 Sixto Rodriguez San Francisco, Ca L 10 Oct 23 Sixto Rodriguez San Francisco, Ca W 10 Nov 14 Yancy D (Roy Smith) Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 8 1962 Jan 12 Al "Tiger" Williams Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Jan 19 Artie Dixon Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Apr 3 Pete Rademacher Honolulu, Oahu, Hi L 10 Jun 3 Lennart Risberg Stockholm, Sweden KO 6 Dec 14 Giulio Rinaldi Rome, Italy D 10 1963 Jan 25 Al "Tiger" Williams Eugene, Or TK 5 Apr 30 Sonny Ray Honolulu, Oahu, Hi TK 8 May 14 Jesse Bowdry Honolulu, Oahu, Hi W 10 Oct 21 Jose Humberto Menno San Francisco, Ca W 10 Dec 9 Hank Casey Oakland, Ca D 10 -Some sources report "San Francisco, Ca" 1964 Mar 27 Wayne Thornton San Francisco, Ca W 10 Jun 19 Johnny Persol New York, NY L 10 Aug 28 Wayne Thornton San Francisco, Ca W 10 -Some sources report "New York, NY" Nov 27 Jose Torres New York, NY LK 1 1965 Jun 24 Andy Kendall Reno, Nv W 10 Sep 23 Fred Roots Reno, Nv TK 3 1966 Jul 11 Piero Del Papa San Francisco, Ca W 10 Nov 22 Don Fullmer Oakland, Ca L 10 -Some sources report 11/28/66 *** Assistance Provided By Seth Callis ***
Record courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
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