Home News Current Champs WAIL! Encyclopedia
The Cyber Boxing Zone Message Board
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 22 of 22

Thread: TOMMY BURNS ANNIVERSARY

  1. #1
    writehooks
    Guest

    TOMMY BURNS ANNIVERSARY

    The following feature appeared in some Canadian newspapers today to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tommy Burns winning the world heavyweight championship ....

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



    By MURRAY GREIG
    Sun Media

    The Little Giant. Hercules of Hanover. The Canadian Crusher.
    None of the colourful nicknames Tommy Burns earned in the ring appear on the nondescript bronze plaque that marks his grave at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby, B.C. – just a single line proclaiming him "Heavyweight boxing champion of the world, 1906-1908."
    When I recently visited the cemetery office to ask directions to the champ’s final resting place, the matronly woman behind the desk seemed genuinely impressed. While checking an oversized diagram of more than 1,000 numbered gravesites in Section B of the sprawling property, she wanted to hear the request again. "A boxing champion? A real world champion is buried here? I had no idea …"
    No matter. The legacy of Tommy Burns will survive as long as the lineal world heavyweight championship remains the most prestigious title in sport. And since today marks the 100th anniversary of the only Canadian-born champ winning that title, it seems appropriate to revisit some of the highs and lows of his extraordinary career.
    For starters, Tommy Burns wasn’t his real name. He came into the world as Noah Brusso on June 13, 1881 – the second youngest of 13 children born to a cabinetmaker and his wife in tiny Hanover, Ont. An athletic prodigy as a child, "Lil’ Noah" excelled in hockey, lacrosse, long-distance running and gymnastics. In 1900 he was playing semi-pro lacrosse for a team in Detroit when a chance encounter at a professional boxing show caused him to switch vocations.
    Burns and some friends were sitting ringside when one of the main event fighters, a light-heavyweight named Jack Cowan, slipped going up the steps to his corner and sprained an ankle. Not willing to refund the ticket money, the promoter frantically appealed to the crowd for a substitute fighter to face Fred Thornton, the No. 3 ranked contender in Michigan. Egged on by his pals, Burns quickly volunteered. Though he stood only five-foot-seven and weighed just 160 pounds, he put on a masterful exhibition of boxing skills and knocked out his bigger opponent in five rounds. A career was born.
    Fighting as a middleweight, by 1904 Burns had reeled off 17 knockouts en route to winning 20 of 21 bouts. In his 22nd contest, he gave world-ranked contender Ben O’Grady such a severe beating that O’Grady was in a coma for five days before he recovered. With a growing reputation for paralyzing punching power, Burns, despite his small stature, relocated to the West Coast and set his sights on the heavyweight division.
    After notching nine wins in 10 heavyweight encounters in Washington and California, on Feb. 23, 1906, Burns was matched against Marvin Hart at the Pacific Athletic Club in Los Angeles for the title Hart had won by knocking out Jack Root six months earlier.
    A 17-to-1 betting underdog, Burns used a masterful psychological ploy to enrage Hart even before the bout started. As both men entered the ring, Hart, who stood six-foot-three and weighed 210 pounds, went over to the challenger’s corner to check the tape on his hands. When the champion demanded some of the wrapping be removed, the diminutive Burns, deliberately hunching over to make himself look even smaller, loudly replied: "Why Mr. Hart, I didn’t think a big champion like you would mind that a little man like me would use a bit of extra tape!" Burns then gave him a playful shove in the chest, and Hart exploded in rage, winging a couple of wild punches before referee James J. Jeffries separated them.
    Hart’s outburst drew a loud chorus of jeers from the huge crowd – most of who hadn’t seen the Canadian’s push and assumed the bigger man was trying to bully him. Seething with rage through most of the match, Hart never got untracked and Burns was awarded a unanimous decision.
    Within months, Burns became the first true "world" heavyweight champion by travelling abroad to successfully defend his crown against challengers in England, Ireland, France and Australia. His 88-second KO of Irish champ Jem Roche to this day remains the quickest end to a heavyweight title bout, and Burns is also the only champion to defend his title twice on the same night, scoring a pair of first-round knockouts over Jim O’Brien and James J. Walker in San Francisco just five weeks after defeating Hart.
    Burns successfully defended his crown 13 times, scoring nine knockouts. Butt it’s for his 14th title defense – the one he lost – that the Canadian’s named is forever linked to boxing history. Arriving in Sydney, Australia, in the fall of 1908, he broke with tradition and became the object of international derision by publicly declaring that he would not adhere to the sport’s long-standing "colour line."
    "I will defend my title against all comers, none barred," Burns told the astonished Australian press. "By this I mean white, black, Mexican, Indian or any other nationality. I am the champion of the world – not the white, or the Canadian or the American. If I am not the best man in the heavyweight division, I don’t want the title."
    It was a fateful proclamation.
    Two weeks later, Burns signed to fight top-ranked black American contender Jack Johnson at Rushcutter’s Bay, outside Sydney. On Dec. 26, 1908, in the first inter-racial title fight in the history of the heavyweight division, Johnson was awarded a 14th –round technical knockout.
    Though he continued fighting for another 12 years, Burns never got another title shot. Mercilessly ridiculed and shunned for allowing a black man to challenge for the crown, the little Canadian hung up his gloves for good in 1920, ending his career with a record of 48-6-8, with 39 of those victories coming by KO.
    In retirement, Burns tried his hand at several business ventures – including a clothing store in Calgary and a tavern in Tacoma, Washington. He also dabbled in promoting and managing other fighters. In his later years he became an ordained minister in California, and while attending a religious conference in Vancouver in 1955, he died of a heart attack just a few weeks short of his 74th birthday.
    Ironically, it was only in death that Burns received the acclaim so long denied him. In 1960 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, but it wasn’t until a 1961 Sports Illustrated story revealed he’d been buried in an unmarked grave that a suitable plaque was struck to mark his final resting place.
    Hockey great Fred (Cyclone) Taylor, who had played lacrosse against Burns when they were teenagers in Ontario, rounded up some old teammates and raised the funds to pay for the modest 28-x-16-inch plaque and its terse inscription.
    A more fitting epitaph for one of Canada’s true sports heroes might be the following assessment of Burns’s career, penned by Nat Fleischer, found of the The Ring, in 1970: "History shows that Tommy Burns, in addition to breaking the title’s colour barrier, was the first and only champion who was forced to dispose of every claimant, in every land where boxing was followed, before he received international recognition as possessor of the world heavyweight crown."
    And it all started 100 years ago today.
    For the little man they called the Hercules of Hanover, it was truly a gigantic achievement.

    -30-

  2. #2
    wildhawke11
    Guest

    Re

    I have always thought that little Tommy Burns was vastley underrated as a fighter. On a P4P basis i think he would have held his own with a lot of other more respected fighters. Nice to see the little man starting to be given some long overdue credit.

    Writehooks ---Thanks for that one

  3. #3
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest

    Hart

    [[[[As both men entered the ring, Hart, who stood six-foot-three and weighed 210 pounds, went over to the challenger’s corner to check the tape on his hands.]]]]
    ============================

    I too have some admiration for Burns, but Boxrec lists Hart as just under 6' and 188lbs for his Burns match. From other pics of him that's about right. He was the naturally bigger man and Burns did successfully bait him, but the article tries to make out Burns to be some kind of giant killer which he wasn't.

    Had he changed his style and chose to box and move I think he could have beat Johnson. Instead he tried to outsmuscle Johnson in many clinches which was not smart boxing like he was capable. No doubt it was part of the larger ego clash between the men and Johnson, like Burns to Hart, forced the champ to fight his fight.

  4. #4
    GorDoom
    Guest

    Re: Hart

    A Tip O' The Fedora to a great fighter. Happy anniversary & R.I.P. champ.

    GorDoom

  5. #5
    kikibalt
    Guest

    Tommy Burns


  6. #6
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: Tommy Burns

    Some fighters get a bum rap...Burns is one...what did he do but beat up on everyone he fought until he lost to an all time great, much larger Jack Johnson ? Burns showed heart, strength, a great chin, excellent stamina, underated speed and power as well as a great fighting heart. In addition, at least he had the balls to fight Johnson. He did not pull a Dempsey and hide behind his manager and promoter.

    Anyone who considers Philadelphia Jack O'Brien an all time great light heavy has to rate Burns one better since he proved better head to head.

  7. #7
    theironbar
    Guest

    Re: Tommy Burns

    Great article Murray!

  8. #8
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest

    guaranteed

    [[[[[[[Burns showed heart, strength, a great chin, excellent stamina, underated speed and power as well as a great fighting heart. In addition, at least he had the balls to fight Johnson. He did not pull a Dempsey and hide behind his manager and promoter.]]]]]
    ==============================

    It's always amusing to see the double standards you hold for certain of your favored fighters.

    But for the rushing of fate, Burns almost lost his crown to Langford in Paris. Guaranteed Langford wouldn't be ducking Jack had that happened. Johnson would've had his teeth handed to him after the bout and would have to settle for one straw, plus one car and one whore instead of a half dozen of each.

  9. #9
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    I would say it's amusing to reflect on your inability to grasp the difference between apples and oranges but I think the truth might be that you really cannot. To laugh at that is cruel and mean spirited.

  10. #10
    Cojimar 1945
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    Johnson beat Langford when they fought.

  11. #11
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    [[[[Johnson beat Langford when they fought. ]]]]
    ================================

    Brilliant. Schmeling first beat Louis and Spinks first beat Ali, and Ingo first beat Patterson.

    And your point?

  12. #12
    Cojimar 1945
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    My point is they only fought once and without a rematch there's no way of knowing how another fight would have gone.

  13. #13
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest

    Johnson knew

    [[[[My point is they only fought once and without a rematch there's no way of knowing how another fight would have gone.]]]]]
    ===============================

    Johnson knew. Jeff had the same dilemma with Griffin and gave him a non title match to see if things could turn around for Griffin. They didn't.

    Johnson turned down top money against Sam and imported Battling Jim Johnson for 1/5th the purse to France, in spite of Langford already being in Europe. Jeannette was also in Europe then. Johnson was desperate for money, but he was more desperate to hang on to his title.

    The only reason he agreed to fight Willard is because he saw Willard as an old rawboned novice with only 3 yrs experience. He had no idea what was coming.

  14. #14
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: Johnson knew

    Yawn.

  15. #15
    brutu
    Guest

    Tommy Burns

    Can you believe 2 years from now will be the 100th anniversary of Jack Johnson winning the heavyweight championship of the world?
    where does the time go?
    BTW anyone here think that the NAACP or some group should at least give Tommy Burns some type of award or regogition for giving a brother a chance and a shot at the most prostigious sports title in the history of sports-annia?
    I dont think there was any type of law back then ,that would have required that he defend the Heavyweight title against Jack Johnson or have it stripped from him,that I can think of anyway.

  16. #16
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: Tommy Burns

    Brutu...your talking like you were there.

  17. #17
    PD99
    Guest

    Re: Tommy Burns

    Brutu may be our oldest poster, he hasn't offered same but we haven't asked either.

    Actually, I think I know where he's coming from. I remember purchasing a Boxing Mag. like it was yesterday that celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Johnson - Jeffries fight. Quick calc tells me that purchase is coming up for it's own 21st anniversary. I'll echo Brutu - how time flies!

  18. #18
    Hagler04
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    Roberto, I'll forever be befuddled at your dismissive comments regarding Johnson and his ability (going against what everyone who saw him in person thought)

    Burns could've won if he'd chose to box??? :rollin What the hell are you talking about? Johnson was stronger, quicker, and twice the boxer of Burns, in pretty much everything (jab, countering, distance, timing)

    And also, you seem to suggest that Johnson would've gotten beaten badly by Langford in 1908 if he'd fought him instead of Burns, neglecting that scarcly 2 years earlier Johnson gave Langford a BEATING and dominated the man. Langford would've been heavier in the 170s but Johnson would've gone from 185 to 205, in excellent condition. The result would've been the same.

  19. #19
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    The joke is that Johnson was at his absolute peak in 1908. I can understand an argument for maybe 1913 or 1914 but 1908 is a reach......

  20. #20
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    [[[[Roberto, I'll forever be befuddled at your dismissive comments regarding Johnson and his ability (going against what everyone who saw him in person thought)

    Burns could've won if he'd chose to box??? What the hell are you talking about? Johnson was stronger, quicker, and twice the boxer of Burns, in pretty much everything (jab, countering, distance, timing)

    And also, you seem to suggest that Johnson would've gotten beaten badly by Langford in 1908 if he'd fought him instead of Burns, neglecting that scarcly 2 years earlier Johnson gave Langford a BEATING and dominated the man. Langford would've been heavier in the 170s but Johnson would've gone from 185 to 205, in excellent condition. The result would've been the same. ]]]]
    ============================

    I already knew that you were forever befuddled.

    First off I never set a time for the rematch. Sam wanted one immediately, and in that 2 yr period he has a far more impressive record than Johnson. Sam went on a tear from 1906-1915 that would make prime Tyson blush.

    I really could care less how impressed you were with Johnson's victory over a less experienced undersized fighter in Sam's first year moving from lightweight to heavy.

    2nd, Burns fought the wrong kind of fight. Please someone tell Hagler that styles make fights and Burns chose to grapple with a clearly larger and stronger man adept at infighting. Bad strategy.

    Tommy had excellent footwork and quickness and should have chosen to stick and move against a stationary Johnson. Burns knew he fought the wrong fight which is why he had a standing offer for a rematch with a different strategy. Don't know if it would bring a victory, but Burns would do much better for sure.

    I'd love to buy into the myth of invincible Johnson like I used to. It'd save me a lot of time on these boards. Jeannette, McVea, and most specially Langford had much stiffer comp from 1906 to 1915 when Johnson lost his title.

    Facts will always include Johnson took much smaller purses to defend against much inferior comp than Sam. I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted!

  21. #21
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: guaranteed

    Yawn.

  22. #22
    Cojimar 1945
    Guest

    Johnson

    Johnson clearly was not invincible but he was good enough to beat Langford.

+ Reply to Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
News Current Champs WAIL! Encyclopedia Links Home