The CBZ Newswire

‘Just Watch Mah Smoke’ — The Secret Journeys of Cocoa Kid

by on Oct.06, 2011, under Boxing News, Guest Columnists

By Springs Toledo

[Editor's Note:  The author feels passionate about inducting 'The Cocoa Kid" -- whose birth name was Herbert Lewis Hardwick -- into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, as he wrote below:

"After spending months researching Cocoa Kid and writing The Sweet series "Just Watch Mah Smoke: The Secret Journeys of Cocoa Kid" this year, I have become absolutely convinced that he deserves a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. I am not one who makes a habit of trying to influence my peers, but this case is special.

Cocoa Kid competed during all three decades of the heralded golden era (1920~1950) and faced fierce competition even after he was debilitated by dementia pugilistica. His condition, which appeared later in his career, has only recently come to light; it is sobering. He was a great fighter and a deserving contender who sacrificed more in the ring than anyone knew and yet never received a world title shot. After retiring from the ring (with eight times as many bouts as some of his fellow IBHOF nominees) Cocoa Kid spent the last decade of his life unsure of who he was. He was destitute on the streets of New York City in the 50s and in the early 60s was in a mental institution in Chicago. He died in 1966.

The grave of Herbert Lewis Hardwick was never identified as Cocoa Kid's until this year. Let's lay a wreath on it -let's show that we the scribes know who he was. It would be fitting to enshrine him in the IBHOF and see his memory receive a little of that glory that unjustly eluded him over a twenty year career."

Here, then, is his piece, "Just Watch Mah Smoke".]
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


Cocoa Kid was only eighteen years old when he signed to meet Connecticut‟s Louis Kaplan, a
former world featherweight champion with 160 professional fights. Most believed that the
teenager was in too deep, too soon. Kaplan was not only a veteran -he was as relentless as
nature in a news clip. He‟d rush in hurling both fists at an opponent like “breakers against storm
swept rocks” until a bloody towel was thrown in from the opposite corner. That‟s what happened
on the night he took the title and the gym rats believed it was going to happen again. Kaplan,
they said, had “too many guns” for this gangly newcomer with premature aspirations.

“Lawd, the way some people talk you‟d think I needed sympathy,” Cocoa Kid told reporters, “It‟s
Kaplan who needs it. He was good once and he still may be good. But ah intend to prove ah‟m
bettah. Just watch mah smoke.”

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