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Thread: How good was james j corbett to you?

  1. #1
    old school student
    Guest

    How good was james j corbett to you?

    To me aside from maybe joe choynski & peter jackson, he seems the hardest to judge in history. :rolleyes
    To me he really hold a key as to how you jugde the other fighters of the early 1900's.
    my favorite victory he had was over charlie mitchell who at 158lbs regularlly gave up 30 pounds or so in weight, yet doesn't even get recognized one anyone's pound 4 pound that's courage.
    would Fitzsimmions had been counted out by a good ref, did jim deserve to win that match.
    Did he really get the best of peter jackson
    he beat choynski but clearly didn't have great power.
    Sullivan was a real drunk by the time he fought him would he have beaten a young john L, i dunno.
    the thing that truely bugs me the most is his fight with a real true legent Kid Mccoy who was clearly a phenom in his day, yet the bout appeared fixed, that could have been one of the best bouts in history, i'm not sure i have him higher than mccoy, clearly sharkey was too much for the proper Gentleman Jim, which makes me think a Young John L would have beat him Under modern rules of couse.with gloves.
    Yet all this.. any really knowledgeable fan knows that years later Tunney sparred with him and was truely amazed at his talent. Would he have been a better match for jack johnson, than the long faded forced to shed 60lbs and fight in the hot july sun, years removed from glory jim jeffries. Who didn't even look like himself, i mean physically, (he looked like a raisin who had his youth sucked out of him). At least Corbett would have been able to move gracefully.
    He is a hard one to rank for me.

  2. #2
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest
    What's so hard to rank about any of these fighters? They have records.

    Corbett was a pioneer in his day with underrated ring movement that reminded me of a young Clay. He had limited experience and likely his best fight was a draw with Jackson.

    Prime Sullivan might well have KOed him in a bare knuckled fight, as did Fitz and Jeff in gloved bouts. Oddly enough Corbett with his ring skills would have done well against Johnson and was big, strong and clever enough to win or lose close. It's a style thing.

  3. #3
    Mr E
    Guest
    My guess is that Corbett was probably better than his record indicates. All those amatuer bar fights along San Francisco's Barbary Coast iwhen he was a teenage middleweight tells me he was one tough SOB, with a lot of heart and no fear in him at all.

    He beat Dominick McCaffrey, Jake Kilrain, John L. Sullivan and Charlie Mitchell so easily that he seemed to be from another class altogether. He beat a prime Joe Choynski (same guy who, when way over-the-hill, flattened Jack Johnson). At 168, he probably got the better of the best heavyweight ever to live up to that time (190 lb. Peter Jackson), and you have to reckon that Corbett had not yet peaked.

    Then he took almost 3 years off (1894-1897) before getting in the ring with red-hot Bob Fitzsimmons (whom he only outweighed 16 lbs.) and lost a close fight. I've always thought (1) that may have been a styles thing and (2) that, but for the lay-off, Corbett could have won that fight. Corbett desparately wanted a rematch but Fitz, who would fight anyone else on the face of the earth, refused to give him one.

    At 34, he performed brilliantly against Jeffries -- far better than Fitz did -- losing only in the 23rd round of a 25 round fight.

    All in all, I rather suspect ol' Gentleman Jim might have surprised quite a few modern fighters. Just a hunch.

  4. #4
    GorDoom
    Guest
    Hey Old School, welcome to the board!

    As to Corbett, as Roberto said he was a pioneer in his day & for his time he was among the elite. But as to his success against modern fighters I don't think so ...

    His style was too antiquated to have been succesfull even in the 1920's.

    GorDoom

  5. #5
    Chuck1052
    Guest
    I can't understand how people think that an
    pioneer boxer in Marquis of Queensberry bouts
    like Jim Corbett could beat Jack Dempsey, Joe
    Louis, or Muhammad Ali. It seems that sports
    evolve over time.

    - Chuck Johnston

  6. #6
    JimmyShimmy
    Guest
    GorDoom,

    I don't believe Corbett would have much trouble with fighters after him. You gotta remember his style was all about frustrating and dragging out fights much in the same vien as Johnson.

    He was very quick and could fight all night, he was adept at blocking and fired quick/sharp punches that cut you up.

    He was fairly solid also usually weighing in the mid 180's.

  7. #7
    rocky111
    Guest
    Corbett fought a 61 round draw with the feared Peter Jackson at a time when Jackson was known all over the boxing world as a great and ducked fighter. Ya gotta respect that.

  8. #8
    GorDoom
    Guest
    Hey I respect Corbett. He was ahead of his time & he's a genuine legend & a certified Hall Of Famer.

    But boxing evolved way past the point he brought it to. & yes his style was the begining of the begining of the modern style of boxing. But by the 20's it had evolved so far ahead of where he was he would have constantly been in deep, deep, waters.

    On the Fantasy fights forum there is a thread on a match up between him & Tunney. In my view, Tunney, would have slaughtered him... Not to mention what Langford, Dempsey or Louis would have done to him.

    GorDoom

  9. #9
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest

    Corbett

    One thing about Corbett was he was always trying to improve. I think he's very trainable to modern methods and could compete with retraining though perhaps not at the championship level.

    However, like I pointed out, his career is limited, only 24 bouts and barely winning half not to mention many of his fights were 6 or less rounds. It seems he came along at the right time as a bridge between bareknuckles and gloves.

    One slam on him I don't like is the claim he refused to give Jackson a title shot. Seeing as he only had one successful title defense, that seems a little ridiculous. He and Fitz didn't hold the belts long enough to duck anyone.

    Sullivan was the one who avoided Jackson.

  10. #10
    JimmyShimmy
    Guest

    Dear GorDoom

    Boxing was quickly evolving yes, but it had it's exceptions.

    Corbett to me was one of earliest guy's who could really do it all. Speed, quickness, smart's, lateral movement, great stamina and sharp combinations.

    Gene Tunney was joined by Corbett in his training camp for his second fight with Dempsey and came away to say "He taught me things I never knew even existed".

    Corbett epitomized the word 'crafty'-he pretty much knew it all.

    Corbett is also often always noted as the first real guy to stick and move while moving laterally but many Bare-Knuckle guys who were trying out gloved fights where also reportedly very slick, fast and clever.

    This very early era is not very well documented and has gone to produce innacurate consencus'.

    Who invented what and when boxing really started to evolve is not written in stone.

  11. #11
    StingerKarl
    Guest

    Re: Dear GorDoom

    Great points made about Corbett, Sullivan, and Peter Jackson.
    I think Corbett was certainly the Best Heavyweight Boxer of his Era as far as pure boxing goes.
    I do think a peak Corbett vs a peak Jack Johnson would have been something else to see.
    Corbett was dismissed by a lot of folks at the time as a dandy; but Corbett was also as tough as nails and had great stamina and could hit hard.
    Karl

  12. #12
    handtomouth
    Guest

    Re: Dear GorDoom

    in photos in his prime... i'd also add that corbett had a impressively fluid athletic build... his body not only looked very well balanced, but he also looked to possess wiry raw boned muscle... his legs looked like the type you see today w/ the best trained track runners who combine strength w/ litheness... its obvious this guy wasnt only gifted w/ good genes, but he also took training seriously...

    also, corbett it can be argued widened the natl scope for boxing & yielded a new fan base... in a sense this allowed the golden age of mass popularity of the sport to be ushered in during the dempsey roaring '20's era... corbett brought the middle & upper class attention to the sport... by frequenting & currying favor w/ the celebrity & societal set in the social circles & theatre/film envir of the turn of the century.... he truely, moreso then sullivan or fitz, knew how to use the media to gain attention to himself & the sport...

    he may have also been the first to bring what is still a time honored tradition w/ some boxers, the well dressed classy look... this was emulated by johnson, dempsey, baer, robinson, arguello to name just a few... that if i'm not mistaken found its genesis w/ corbett...

    lastly, corbett seems the first to bring the mental & technique tools to the forefront... at the very least the first to have it keyed on by the press...

    bottomline, is corbett is overlooked today to some degree... esp when you weigh in his historical impact on the sport... again not as much what he did in the ring (although again his technique, legs & stamina were innovative), but for how he played the role of sport celebrity... he truely brought it to the front pages of accepted societal consumption... he is a key figure to point to in re to the sport becoming the huge draw it would become in the first half of the century... even by the '20's corbett's name was still huge... on par in popularity and recognition w/ the biggest stars of that generation that came after his prime.

  13. #13
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: Dear GorDoom

    He was great...judge him pre-Fitz when he was at his best. He got a bit full of himself post Sullivan and lost his edge. He never trained with the sam vigor after that bout...His fight with Jackson, then a sensational fighter, speaks for itself....

    Forget the style of the day...he would have adapted to whatever age he fought in. He had a great brain, excellent speed, decent, underated power and exceptional conditioning...

    Despite the fact that he was a nasty bigot and a true hot head, he was still a great fighter.

  14. #14
    beddows
    Guest

    Re: Dear GorDoom

    It's frustrating when one has to try and compare fighters of bygone eras to those of today because it's impossible to prove and thus essentially futile. All a fighter can be is the best of his time, which Corbett undoubtedly was. This leads me on to something I firmly believe in: that the best fighter of his time would be great in ANY era.
    Let me explain: It's easy to look at fighters today and say they would too fast, powerful and skilful for those of yesteryear. True, fighters are naturally bigger and quicker nowadays - but, and this is the crux of my argument, are they more skilful? In a word, no.
    Watch a video of Jake LaMotta and you'll see moves you don't see today and don't associate with a guy nicknamed 'Raging Bull', especially the way Jake picks off the jab. To reiterate: great fighters would be great in any era because they would adapt; a few advances in speed and strength wouldn't bother them (certainly not LaMotta).
    Put the boot on the other foot: would fighters adapt from today's diluted era, where the best fighters often avoid each other, to those eras rife with ferocious competition...say the hungry 30's.
    Again, except for the very best, I believe the answer is no.

  15. #15
    JimmyShimmy
    Guest

    Boxing supposed evolution

    Boxing and evolution are two words that should never be within a 100 feet of each other.

    Boxing has not 'evolved' and it never has/will.

    Boxing has 'changed' according to the ever changing infringements on the rules. Fighters use to work advantages they never could work now as they would be DQ'd.

    Thats the problem with allot of these fantasy fight's-If it's Jack Dempsey or Harry Greb vs a fighter 40/50 years later we need to establish when and where it's taking place as putting these guy's in times later on and they are getting disqualified as their roughness was all part of their fighting style.

    Boxing has not evolved though-the word 'evolution' always get's intertwined with the meaning of 'superior' (changing for the better etc) which it certianly has not.

    Todays paydays and flexibility creates fighter's with less desire and weaker mentality's.

  16. #16
    handtomouth
    Guest

    Re: Boxing supposed evolution

    quick someone sign matt dillon before he gets too old... strong resemblence & the perfect guy to play corbett if a movie is ever done again on his life.

  17. #17
    gazot
    Guest

    From www.kino.com

    Corbett and Courtney Before the Kinetograph The Corbett-Courtney Fight
    Filmmakers: W. K. L. Dickson and William Heise. Cast: James J. Corbett, Peter Courtney. Shot 7 September 1894; © 17 November 1894. Print: MoMA.
    Although prize fighting was illegal in every state in the Union, boxing was a national obsession. James J. Corbett, the heavyweight champion who had defeated the great John L. Sullivan, was not only a sports hero but a stage star (and for women, a matinee idol). The Corbett-Courtney Fight was far and away the most profitable film subject of the kinetoscope era. Corbett himself received over $15,000 over the course of its commercial life. Not surprisingly, the arrangements for its production and exhibition were special. The Kinetoscope Exhibiting Company was formed to handle boxing films. They arranged to film six abbreviated rounds, each of which lasted about a minute (three times the length of other films taken for the kinetoscope). These were shown in a bank of six over-sized viewing machines. Spectators would pay a nickel to see each round. Corbett played with Courtney in the early scenes but, apparently on cue, knocked out the challenger in the sixth round.

    Does the full fight still exist? I've only ever sen about 10 seconds of it.

  18. #18
    gazot
    Guest

    Corbett voice recording...

    For those of you who might of missed it, here's the link to here Corbett speaking...

    vvl.lib.msu.edu/record.cfm?recordid=303

  19. #19
    J Slade
    Guest

    Re: How good was Corbett

    In watching that Thomas Edison nitrate film (I think against Pat Courtney) he looks like a joke. Standing flat-footed, flailing his arms like a windmill, and turning his head away from punches.

    But the more I've watched that film, the more I think it was more likely a lark used to promote the nitrate film, then it was an exhibition to promote boxing. In that brief film, both Corbett and Courtney(?) are clearly grinning throughout.

    That being said, all we have to go by is the eyewitness reports of those who have seen him in action. And all those reports, that I have read, attribute great agility, defensive skill and sharp punching, to the man. So I would rate him as great as the old timers do. Because I have nothing else to compare him against.

    Gene Tunney also sparred with Corbett when the latter was an old man. And Tunney walked away from that sparring exhibition singing praises for old Jim. That in itself is testament enough to me that Corbett was great at what he did while in his prime.

  20. #20
    GorDoom
    Guest
    "That in itself is testament enough to me that Corbett was great at what he did while in his prime."

    Or that Tunney was being kind to an old champion ... & fellow Irishman. Tunney certainly never had anything good to say about Joe Louis.

    GorDoom

  21. #21
    Roberto Aqui
    Guest

    Tunney on Louis

    Actually, Tunney published a peice that I posted on the old lost forum. He rated Louis just below Dempsey in his all time rankings. He made the case that Dempsey and Louis were a grade above other greats like Corbett, Johnson, and Jeffries. He declined to rate himself, much like Ted Williams refused to rate himself when he published his top 10 greatest hitter's list.

    I don't know why he wouldn't like the patriotic Louis since Tunney was a fellow vet. I think at one point he offered up a criticism of Joe's style after the first Schmeling bout, but hey, stuff happens.

  22. #22
    handtomouth
    Guest

    tunney on louis

    i think this is the article roberto is alluding to:

    www.genetunney.org/magazine31.html

  23. #23
    J Slade
    Guest

    Re: tunney on louis

    "Or that Tunney was being kind to an old champion....And fellow Irishman."

    Could be. Those Irish dudes stick together when they aren't drinking.

    And from what I understand, Corbett and Tunney never drank in public. And their exhibition was a public event. So yeah, it could have very well been an example of keltic brotherhood.

  24. #24
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: tunney on louis

    How about how it builds up the man who bested Dempsey twice ? Kind of like how your wife thinks every other women is after you , no matter how great looking they may be, when you know it would be a looooonnnnnggggg shot at best.

  25. #25
    J Slade
    Guest

    Re: tunney on louis

    Hahaha! Right HeGrant! The allusions a woman will entertain in order to sanctify and warrant their own delusions.

  26. #26
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: tunney on louis

    Kind of like the other Tunney article I read where where he actually, seriously writes that Dempsey would have knocked out Charles, Walcott and Marciano all in about six rounds total, all in one night, one after the next......and they say Gene didn't hit the bottle ??? :rollin

  27. #27
    Monte Cox
    Guest

    Re: Corbett

    I think Corbett is getting short-changed. Exactly what did the fighters in the 1920's do so much better than what Corbett did?

    That's a myth. The only big difference is that the 1890's and early 1900 guys were better at infighting. More infighting was allowed and by infighting I dont just mean holding but hitting up the middle. Nowadays you see guys opunch to the body, like the Mexican fighters, but they come outside and around with their left hooks and not much hitting up the middle. Guys like McGovern for instance came up the middle alot, slid to the side and went to the belly.

    Corbett used hand trapping, circular hand, parry's, blocking, jabs, hooks, crosses, uppercuts and knew how to pace himself. Nowadays the Refs, who came out of the amateurs themselves, dont allow much infighting and soon as they get in close they break them up right away, which is ridiculous. The Roy Jones fight was that way with Ruiz, the Ref decided he wasnt going to let Ruiz do his thing inside and broke them up immediately when he did get inside. And inside was the only place he had any kind of a chance.

    Corbett was very clever. Grantland Rice wrote that in 1925 that Corbett (at the age of 59) sparred three rounds with Gene Tunney. Rice stated that “Tunney was on the defensive. Corbett was brilliant . He still had bewildering speed! He mixed up his punches better than practically any fighter I’ve ever seen …”. Tunney commented “It was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in the ring. I learned plenty.”

    Jim Jeffries said Corbett was “… the cleverest man I ever fought. There isn’t a fighter of any weight, living or dead, who could measure up to him as a boxer” (see Litsky 1975 p 76).

    Also he weighed around 190 for Jeffries when he outboxed him for over 20 rounds before getting nailed.

    Ring Lardner wrote, “James J. Corbett was the greatest boxer of all time among the heavyweights and one of the greatest ring generals of any weight. No heavyweight ever approached him in the ability to ride with a punch (and so remove part of its sting); slip a punch; make his opponent lead before he was ready and then counter with a series of pistonlike jabs; feint an opponent into committing a defensive maneuver and then attack the newly vulnerable area; or drift just out of reach of a punch a split second before it reached its intended target”.

    Sounds like a great boxer in any age to me.

    -Monte

  28. #28
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: Corbett

    Then keep in mind how great Peter Jackson must have been since he was outpointing Corbett over the first twenty rounds of their bout.

  29. #29
    J Slade
    Guest

    Re: Corbett

    HE, that can also be a testament to how great Corbett was since Jackson, even though in the twighlight of his career, had a very significant weight advantage on Corbett. I've heard 210lbs to 170lbs.

    Alexander Johnston, who authored '10 and out!' and supposedly saw all the early champions in action, at their best, rated him higher than Fitzimmons, Johnson, Tunney and Dempsey, and below only Jefferies.

    And judging by his round-by-round ringside report of Corbett's bout with Jefferies (Forget if it was 1st or 2nd bout) he ceratinly sounds like he was eyewitness to a boxing master. Until Jefferies caught him.

    Personally, for what my own opinion is worth, based on reports of those who saw him in action, I'd rate him between the top 10 and 20 all time great HWs. In the mix with guys like Wolcott, Charles, and Schmelling. But because there is very little film on him there is much room for error either way.

  30. #30
    HEGrant
    Guest

    Re: Corbett

    I'm with you Slade. Over a 15 round fight he would have been a very tough customer to defeat at his best.

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