Camden Reached Peak in Boxing in 1919-20

Boxing Stock Photo

Camden Courier-Post – July 26, 1955

Standout Performers Appeared in Bouts Held at Armory

Camden has had its ups and downs in the boxing game, but probably reached its peak so far as performers are concerned when bouts were held at the Haddon Avenue Armory during 1919-20.

However, a number of clubs flourished in the city for short periods.

During World War I, bouts were held at the Pusey & Jones Shipyard, Gloucester on Saturday afternoons. In 1925, Eddie Markovits promoted bouts at the old Star Theater, while Lew McFarland, a featherweight boxer formerly of California, and Jack Lakin, Philadelphia, held bouts at the old Public Service field, 12th and Federal Streets.

Two Clubs in Operation

In 1926, the Camden AC was organized by Tommy Doyle, Arthur Carabine, Tommy James, and Bill Higgins and used Public Service field for outdoor bouts and Convention Hall for indoor bouts. Carabine later sold his share to Morris Kaplan.

At the same time, New York Shipyard AA was formed by Walter Cook and Oscar Kennedy and ran outdoor shows at the old Fairview Ball Park and indoor shows at the old Temple Theater.

Both clubs operated about three years, the folded as the Depression began in earnest in 1930.

The old Broadway Theater also was used for a short time and a hall at 2nd and Kaighn Avenue also was utilized for a few bouts.

C-P Held Amateur Tourneys

The Courier-Post held two amateur tourneys starting in 1926 and later the Camden Lodge of Moose held yearly tourneys.

Several attempts were made late on to revive the game at the Convention Hall, but all ventures lasted only about a few shows.

It was early in 1945 that boxing came back to last about three years.

Felix Bocchicchio received a license to promote bouts at the Convention Hall and later shifted to the Armory, but had to close the doors in the winter of 1947-48 because of lack of attendance.

Smith Promoted at Armory

John Smith, a former Camden County detective, was the state commissioner of the Armory bouts during the winter of 1919-20 and Herman “Muggsy” Taylor, now a Philadelphia promoter, was the promoter.

Taylor signed many outstanding fighters to appear in the Armory bouts.

Among them were Benny Leonard, then world lightweight champion; Gene Tunney, who was just getting stated on his illustrious career; Clay Turner, Jimmy Wilde, world flyweight champion; Sgt. Ray Smith, Joey O’Donnell, Ralph Brady, Battling Murray and K.O. Loughlin, who gave Leonard a great fight in their first meeting, but was stopped in their second bout.

However, the club lasted only the one season despites the fact the shows drew capacity crowds.

Levens Titleholder

Although Camden had only one world champion, Jersey Joe Walcott, it had a state titleholder as far back as 1900.

He is Jack Levens, who fought under the name Jack Lansing. Jack, who now lives in Pennsauken, won the state bantamweight championship in stopping Jack Hegarty, Trenton, in a 15-rounder, at Trenton. He held the title until he retired in 1910.

Nitchie Golden, Harry Stahl, who used ‘Young Starr‘ as a ring moniker; [Daniel D.] McConnell, the Kentucky Rosebud, and Claude Brooks, a giant negro who fought under the name “Black Bill,” all were active at the time Levens was boxing.

Some of the boys who came along after that group were Eggie Plummer, Roy Hurst, Jimmy Martin, Willie Davis, Walter Kennedy “West”, Otto Huf, who used Georgie Bray as a ring name; Charley Lee and Mike Daly.

Frankie Conway, Lew Skymer, Frankie Delmont, Benny Kramer, Battling Mack, Young Lawrence, and Tommy Dundee came along during World War I.

A new group sprang up after the war, and more Camden boxers probably were developed between 1920 and 1935 than at any other period in the history of the city.

They were Roxie Allen, one of the best ever produced in this city, Eddie Chaney, Jackie Hindle, Billy Hart, Austin “Shamus” Maguire, Bernie Maguire, Mickey and Frankie Blair, Patsy Carlo, Tip Gorman, Sailor Nick Nichols, Charley Mack, Neil McLaughlin, Watson Finch, Artie McCann, Lew McFarland, formerly of California; Joey Powell, Joe “Kid” Murphy, Pee Wee Ross, Jesse Urban, Al Corbett, Patsy Mozier.

Also Frankie Rapp, Joey Allen, Leon Lucas, Camden’s only Olympic boxer; Joe “Kid” Daley, Art Rettberg, Eddie Gehringer, Eddie Kinsley, Joe “Chubby” Stafford, George Beck, Da Da Palmer, Carmen Passarella, Jersey Joe Walcott, Johnny Lucas.

Also Kid Chocolate, Earl Hartman, Sugar Babe Garlington, Frankie Robinson, Tommy Skymer, Al Daley, Joe “Kid” Fischer.

Also Young O’Connor, Joe Lawson, Frankie Youker, Joe Spearing, Johnny Attel, Freddy Welsh, Billy O’Neill, Frank Murtha, Chick Hunt, Tommy McCann, Frankie Smith, Stewart Guest.

Also Joey Straiges, Joey Allen, Sammy Dollar, Charley Arena, Joe Reno, Tommy Ricco, Bobby Zimmerman, Vince Lauria, Joe McCloskey, Pat McCarthy, and Pedro Firpo.

Out-of-Town Boxers Active

Out-of-town boxers who became active during the 1920-35 period were Lew Jackson, Young Firpo, Joe, Mickey, and Johnny Duca all of Pennsgrove; Gene and Lew Geffner, Bridgeton; “Papers” Jimmy Kelley, Atlantic City; Puggy Snyder, Vineland; Tommy Lyons, Willie Spencer, Jocko Pine, Hughey Clement, and Terrible Pine, all of Gloucester City; Billy Ketchell, Bridgeton.

Also Frankie and Joey Webb, Roebling; Jimmy and Pete Russell, Beverly; George Abner and Tommy Boylan, Beverly; Ted Grebe, Collingswood; Duke Baylor, Moorestown; Al White, Paulsboro; Babe and Pete Kelly, Eddie Fisher, Danny Cooney, and Joey Michaels, Riverside.

Also Joe Kurtz and Paddy Lyons, Gloucester City; Gene Moretti and Young Gene Buffalo, Atlantic City.


One response to “Camden Reached Peak in Boxing in 1919-20”

  1. Michael Manning. Avatar
    Michael Manning.

    That was a very interesting article. Heard so many of these names from my Dad who grew up in that neighborhood. I now know where he got his skills.

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