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SigniferSanctusMichael
11-18-2005, 07:08 PM
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Burns, and certainly think he's underrated. He was a real fighting champion, looks most impressive in the non-Johnson footage I've seen, and has never been given credit for defending his crown against Johnson - after all, he didn't really have to give Johnson a shot: no Heavyweight champion from Sullivan to gave Blacks a crack at the crown (though Corbett, Jeffries and Fitzsimmons, among others, were certainly willing to tackle Black Dynamite on the way up). There are impressive defensive skills on view in the Johnson clips Monte favoured us with. Also, in later life, Burns was open in condemning his own earlier racist attitude to Johnson, and rated Little Arthur as the second greatest Heavyweight champion of all time (behind Jeffries).

I've always been curious about two things: was Burns indeed suffering from a bout of jaundice going into the Johnson fight? (for the record, I think he'd have lost anyway, but he might have put up a better fight - if the story is true) And did he crack a couple of Johnson's ribs in the contest, as he claimed? Do any of our correspondents know anything about either of these points?

I wonder how a prime Burns would have fared against that other diminutive Canadian legend, Sam Langford.

I'd also be glad to hear your feedback on this brave, impressive fighter.

GorDoom
11-18-2005, 07:30 PM
Tommy Burns


Born Noah Brusso, June 17, 1881,
Chesley, Ontario,Canada
Died May 10, 1955, Vancouver, B.C.

TB KO WD WF D LD LF KO'd ND NC Exh
62 39 9 0 8 4 0 1 1 0 8


1900
----- Fred Thornton, Delray, Mich............KO 5

1901
------ Billy Walsh, Detroit...................KO 5
------ Archie Steele, Detroit.................KO 2
------ Ed Sholtreau, Detroit..................KO 1
------ Billy Walsh, Detroit...................KO 6

1902
Jan. 16 Fred Thornton, Delray..................KO 5
Mar. 3 Harry Peppers, Detroit.................KO 2
Mar. 5 George Steele, Detroit.................KO 2
May 16 Ed Sholtreau, Detroit..................W 10
Jun. 27 Dick Smith, Mt. Clemens, Mich..........KO 2
Jul. 9 Dick Smith, Mt. Clemens, Mich..........W 10
Sep. 19 Jack O'Donnell, Butler, Ind............KO 8
Oct. 24 Earl Thompson, D.A.C...................Exh. 3
Oct. 24 Billy Moore, D.A.C.....................Exh. 3
Nov. 6 Reddy Phillips, Lansing, Mich..........KO 9
Dec. 8 "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, D.A.C.........Exh. 3
Dec. 26 Tom McCune, Detroit....................KO 7*
*For Michigan State Middleweight Title

1903
Jan. 16 Mike Schreck, Detroit...................L 10


Schreck was a big surprise. Tommy knew of the "Dutchman's" experience,
but had no fore-knowledge that Schreck was a Southpaw, the first he had ever seen.

Feb. 13 Jim O'Brien, Delray....................W 10
Mar. 25 Dick Smith, Delray.....................KO 2*
Mar 25 Reddy Phillips, Delray.................KO 3*
* Retained Michigan Middleweight Title
Apr. 18 Earl Thompson, Detroit.................KO 3
Sep. 25 Jimmy Duggan, Houghton, Mich...........KO 9*
*Retained Michigan Middleweight Title
Oct. 12 Jack Hammond, S. Ste. Marie, Mich......KO 3*
*Retained Michigan Middleweight Title
Oct. 25 Billy Moore, Haughton, Mich.............D 10*
*Retained Michigan Middleweight Title
Nov 8 Jack Butler, S. Ste. Marie.............KO 2
Nov 25 Jack O'Donnell, Evanston................KO 11
Dec. 31 Tom McCune, Detroit....................W 10*
*Retained Michigan Middleweight Title

1904
Jan. 28 Ben O'Grady, Detroit...................KO 3


O'Grady came close to death due to injuries sustained
in this bout. Noah Brusso left town and commenced
fighting first under the name Ed Burns, then as "Tommy Burns".

Feb. 26 George Shrosbree, Chicago...............KO 5
Feb. 27 Mike Schreck, Milwaukee................D 6
Mar. 18 Tony Caponi, Chicago...................D 6
Apr. 9 Tony Caponi, Chicago...................W 6
Jul - Joe Wardinski, Salt Lake City..........KO 1


Tommy went up to the Yukon to see a mine he had won in
a poker game. While there, he met and fought the
legendary Klondike Mike Mahoney to a draw.


Aug. 20 Cyclone Kelly, Tacoma, Wash............KO 4
Sep. 16 Billy Woods, Seattle...................D 15
Oct. 7 "Phila. Jack O'Brien", Milwaukee.......L 6

1905
Jan. 31 "Indian Joe" Schildt, Ballard, Wash.....KO 6
Schildt was a heavyweight. At this point Tommy was
having trouble making 158 lbs.
Mar. 7 Jack "Twin" Sullivan, Tacoma............D 20
May 3 Dave Barry, Tacoma.....................W 20*
*Won Pacific Coast Middleweight Title
Jun. 7 Hugo Kelly, Detroit....................D 10
Jul. 28 Hugo Kelly, Los Angeles................D 20
Burns won comfortably, but had agreed prior to the bout
that if both were still standing at the end, it would be
declared a draw. Not uncommon in those days.

Aug. 31 Dave Barry, San Francisco..............KO 20
Oct. 17 Jack "Twin" Sullivan, Los Angeles.......L 20*
*Billed as for World Middleweight Title

1906
On Friday, January 5th, it was announced that Tommy Ryan
would defend his Middleweight Championship in early February against Tommy Burns.
Ryan set the weight at 158.

Feb. 23 Marvin Hart, Los Angeles...............W 20
(Won Heavyweight Championship)

Mar. 28 Jim O'Brien, San Diego.................KO 1
Mar. 28 James J. Walker, San Diego.............KO 1
(TWICE retains Heavyweight Championship)
Although most regard these as exhibition bouts,
these two fights both received the only official sanctioning of their day,
billing by promoter and newspapers as being for the Title

Oct. 2 Fireman Jim Flynn, Los Angeles.........KO 15
(Title Bout)
Nov. 28 Phila. Jack O'Brien, Los Angeles........D 20
(Title Bout)
Referee Jim Jeffries should have been removed after a
public declaration that he felt O'Brien was the better man.

1907
Jan. 10 Joe Grim, Philadelphia.................Exh W 3
Rounds were shortened to 1 minute at Grim's request
when Burns stripped for action!

May 7 Billy Woods, Los Angeles...............Exh 3
May 8 Phila. Jack O'Brien, Los Angeles........W 20
(Title Bout)
According to contemporary reports both scaled in under 175 lbs.,
so Tommy could've claimed O'Brien's Light-heavyweight Title as well.

Jul. 4 Bill Squires, Colma....................KO 1
(Title Bout)
Dec. 2 James "Gunner Moir", London, Eng........KO 10
(Title Bout)
Dec. 16 Charlie Wilson, London, Eng............Exh 3

1908
Feb. 10 Jack Palmer, London, Eng...............KO 4*
Mar. 17 Jem Roche, Dublin......................KO 1*
Apr. 14 Johnny Douglas, London.................Exh 3
Apr. 18 Jewey Smith, Paris.....................KO 5*
Jun. 13 Bill Squires, Paris....................KO 8*

Burns fought Squires after negotiations with Sam McVey, then
in the city, fell through.

Aug. 24 Bill Squires, Sydney, Australia........KO 13*
Sep. 2 Bill Lang, Melbourne...................KO 6*
Dec. 25 Jack Johnson, Rushcutter's Bay, Australia L 14*
*(World Heavyweight Championship)

Bout halted by police, so as per prior agreement, a decision was
awarded by referee. There is some evidence that Burns had
something like jaundice during this part of his stay downunder.

1910
Apr. 7 Bill Lang, Sydney, N.S.W...............W 20
(Won British Empire Heavyweight Championshp)
May 2 Larry Foley, Sydney....................Exh 6


1911
Oct Vacates British Empire Heavyweight Championship

1912
Aug. 8 Bill Rickard, Saskatoon, Sask..........KO 6


1913
Apr. 2 Arthur Pelkey, Calgary, Alberta........ND 6

1914
Jan. 26 Battling Brant, Taft, Calif............KO 4

1915-1917
Did not fight

1918
Sep. 19 Tex Foster, Pr. Rupert, B.C............KO 4

1920
Jul. 16 Joe Beckett, London, Eng...............KO by 7



Record compiled and annotated by Larry Roberts

GorDoom
11-18-2005, 10:40 PM
I've always felt that Burns was vastly underrated. He may not have been a great heavyweight champion - hell he was basically an oversized super middle weight - but on a P4P level he was absolutely a great fighter.

Losing the title to Jack Johnson has really tarnished him over the years but at that time who would have beaten Johnson except for maybe Langford?

An interesting factoid about Burns was that technically he was the only man to be a light heavy & heavyweight champion at the same time. He defended the heavyweight title against Philadelphia Jack O'Brien. They both came in at well under 175 & if he had wanted to he could have claimed the lightheavy title as well.

He probably didn't because that title was not held in high regard at the time.

As to Michael's questions about the Johnson fight, this is the first time I've ever heard about those claims.

GorDoom

SigniferSanctusMichael
11-18-2005, 10:50 PM
Gord:

Hell, I've been posting here some time, you might as well know my name - Rob Asch. No secrets: As everyone has a moniker, I thought the board was into confidentiality or something along those lines.

Cheers!

Rob.

HEGrant
11-18-2005, 11:05 PM
I've never underated Burns...I've always felt he was a great light heavyweight...he did soundly beat a top great in O'Brien...he hit hard enough to flatten many heavyweights...he had huge guts, took a great punch and was deceptively fast...

cyberboxingzone
11-19-2005, 12:22 AM
Larry "Cap" Roberts compiled that record for Burns and gave permission for the CBZ to use it as our offical record for Burns. He added the comment about Burns suffering something like jaundice. At the time, he explained his support, but I can't recall now. However, I have no reason to doubt him.

Roberto Aqui
11-19-2005, 12:29 AM
Burns is in the HOF I think, so apparently he was rated high enough to gather enough votes for that. I was impressed with his effort against Johnson. That may have been close to Johnson's peak. Burns had a solid build, good fluid ring movement and footwork, and a decent offense that he could've used more strategically against Johnson rather than grapple with him as he often did.

I do crack on his size which is really a crack on that time frame that allowed him to win the title, and his heavy reign was more often a series of exhibitions on the world stage. Apparently Mr. Squires was a good draw because he fought him almost every other defense it seemed.

Sam Langford had some serious power, much more than Johnson and Burns would've been KOed sooner rather than later. I understand that fight almost came off in Paris before he set sail to Australia and his ill fated Johnson encounter. My how that might have altered history.

SigniferSanctusMichael
11-19-2005, 12:46 AM
I don't think Burns was ever KO'd, incidentally. I have the Becket fight, and, as I recall, it was a stoppage rather than a ten count (it's been a long time since I saw it, and unfortunately I can't consult it as it's in storage with a lot of my gear at present). Even so, Burns was nearing forty and had been pretty inactive. Langford was certainly the sharper and more concussive hitter, but Burns' blows were nothing to smirk at and I think he had the better chin. Might have been a splendid fight.

BDeskins
11-19-2005, 08:15 AM
Burns was up there with Langford in terms of size! If Burns had fought only in his weight range, he would right now probably be among the greatest middleweights ever. Any man, the size of Burns, that can lay out heavyweights in the manner that he did is a force to be reckoned with, but I certainly think that Burns is vastly overlooked when people talk of boxings hardest hitters!

Steve McV
11-19-2005, 09:53 AM
I like what Stanley Weston wrote about Burns, that although he lies in an unmarked grave, his record is marked; the record of a man who, although he might never have been big enough to be called a heavyweight, he was fighter enough to be heavyweight champion of the world.

HEGrant
11-19-2005, 02:43 PM
I'm with BD although Burns would have ben a light heavy....he did weigh about 170 plus...I don't know if he could make 160 ... I'm not saying he beats Langford although he'd be a much better match than a Gunboat Smith, Fireman Flynn or a Ketchel...than again no one beats Langford at that time (pre 1910) to me but Johnson...

Burn's is a guy that has goten a raw deal by history...he was far better than most remember...he was an all time great light heavy...a 1900 version of a better Qwai in my book ,,, faster and much harder hitting. In addition, a much bigger heart,

DEM3
11-19-2005, 03:45 PM
My bio of Burns was called:

Tommy Burns: Canada's Unknown World Heavyweight Champion.

Tracy Callis called it a 'splendid' book.

Go to google, type in James Lorimer Co. Ltd. and you will find a web site where you can find more details, including how to order it.

Dan McCaffery

SigniferSanctusMichael
11-19-2005, 04:44 PM
I appreciate the feedback, but does anyone know whether Burns had jaundice before or during the Johnson fight and whether he fractured Johnson's ribs?

cyberboxingzone
11-19-2005, 08:31 PM
Tommy could make 158 -- hell, he fought a bout that was promoted for the middle title and jumped to the heavyweight title in his next bout.

Burns -- A vastly underrated fighter.

I have never been able to track down the bio! I'll try my limited google skills again.

Gallicrow
11-19-2005, 10:55 PM
Should be able to order it from here:
www.formac.ca/main_book.php?id=683 (http://www.formac.ca/main_book.php?id=683)

If not, www.abebooks.com have a copy listed (for $60!)

Goofy Pimple
11-20-2005, 10:35 AM
"Go to google, type in James Lorimer Co. Ltd. and you will find a web site where you can find more details, including how to order it.

Dan McCaffery"


Are you still singing with Nazareth these days, Dan?

Kid Achilles
11-22-2005, 06:51 PM
Yes, what crazy times those were, when middleweight sized men could be competitive with the heavyweights.

If only little Roy Jones and James Toney lived in those times then perhaps they too might have had a chance to say they could beat a heavyweight.

greek1237
04-26-2007, 10:30 PM
Burns lies in a unmakes grave?? How is that possible?? I think the guy would get a grave marker, He was not pennyless like say Joe Gans when retire. And Gans had a grave marker.

mike casey
04-26-2007, 10:40 PM
Tommy Burns, up until about the forties or fifties, was acknowledged as an all-time great.

He was an absolute master of short-range punching.

You know, fellas, I got quite a surprise recently when I discovered that Tommy ended up here in the UK running a pub in Newcastle!!

brutu
04-28-2007, 06:40 PM
Tommy Burns (vitumized by revisionists)has always been derided by historians like Bert Sugar.
BTW What was the Tale of the Tape with Burns?
He looked to have some long arms for his height to me against Jack Johnson.
Also in reading about that fight before I ever saw any footage,I had the impression that Johnson raked Burns over the coals until he decided he wanted to knock him out,but when Burns came out of his corner for (what turned out to be)the last round, he looked upbeat to me,he was the one who actually was the first to walk to the center of the ring to meet Johnson.
I know the camera was stopped but did Johnson actually knock Burns down?

raylawpc
04-28-2007, 07:22 PM
Tommy Burns (vitumized by revisionists)has always been derided by historians like Bert Sugar.
BTW What was the Tale of the Tape with Burns?
He looked to have some long arms for his height to me against Jack Johnson.
Also in reading about that fight before I ever saw any footage,I had the impression that Johnson raked Burns over the coals until he decided he wanted to knock him out,but when Burns came out of his corner for (what turned out to be)the last round, he looked upbeat to me,he was the one who actually was the first to walk to the center of the ring to meet Johnson.
I know the camera was stopped but did Johnson actually knock Burns down?

Here is the tale of the tape from the 1973 Ring Record Book:

Height 5' 7"
Weight 179 lbs.
Reach 74 1/2"
Chest (Exp.) 43"
Chest (Norm.) 40"
Waist 33"
Biceps 14 1/2"
Neck 16"
Wrist 7 1/4"
Calf 16 1/2"
Ankle 8 1/4"
Thigh 22"
Fist 12"
Forearm 13"

Burns was down for an eight-count in the 14th.

PeteLeo
04-29-2007, 01:49 AM
A 74.5 inch reach on a 5'7" guy is a hell of a wingspan (the general height to reach ratio established by Da Vinci is one-to-one, thus Tommy's reach SHOULD have been around 67").
I wonder if he could tie his shoes without bending over? PeteLeo.

raylawpc
04-29-2007, 10:29 AM
I appreciate the feedback, but does anyone know whether Burns had jaundice before or during the Johnson fight and whether he fractured Johnson's ribs?

According to Burns, both were true. But I have never seen any contemporaneous accounts of the fight that supported Burns' claims.

(Burns also claimed he had Johnson going and would have taken him out only a few rounds later! The stoppage, claimed Tommy, was premature.)

apollack
04-29-2007, 10:40 AM
Dan, does your book have footnotes/endnotes or just a bibliography?

brutu
04-30-2007, 05:02 PM
Few or possibly not many boxing historians even bother to mention the flagrant foul that Jack Johnson inflicted on Tommy Burns in one of the early rounds.

raylawpc
04-30-2007, 06:35 PM
brutu, are you referring to the kidney punches? I don't think kidney punches were illegal in 1908.