These were the Creme de la creme of white boxers in the ring!
So what do George Chuvalo and Jack Dempsey have in common? If you guessed that they are two of the greatest white boxers of all time, you’re right. There are a lot of famous white boxers out there some you would know, others you may not have heard of. Boxing is one sport that has always been racially diverse, with champions from varied ethnic backgrounds.
Now, it’s time to introduce the 14 best white boxers of all time! These are the boxers who have made phenomenal contributions to the sport making boxing the amazing sport that it is today.
Table of Contents
The History of Boxing
So before describing some of the best white boxers of all time, it’s time to tell you more about the history of boxing. You know, how it started, and the role that white boxers played in the sport.
It turns out that boxing is definitely not a modern sport. The ancient Egyptians practiced it more than 5,000 years ago (3,000 BCE.) That was when civilization and the modern cities, city state as we know them today were first being established.
Boxing went global in the 7th BCE when the ancient Greeks incorporated the sport into their national Olympic Games. It was the ancient Greeks who brought some modernity to the game by having boxers wear leather thongs on their upper and lower arms. These thongs protected them from potentially harmful and even lethal blows from the opponent while in the ring.
The Romans Polished the Sport Some More
Ah yes, the Ancient Romans! Who can forget them? They built an empire that lasted for more than a thousand years. The culture, laws, and society that the Roman Empire established still has a great deal of influence over modern global life! Well, the Romans were into blood sports, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they were into boxing.
It was the Romans who made boxing the sport we recognize today. They were the ones who developed the gloves that boxers now wear while in the ring. Back then, they called it the Caestus.
Amazingly enough, Roman soldiers boxed to the death in the Gladiator arenas. This started to fade as Christianity took over the Roman Empire and the Empire itself waned in territorial size, power, and influence.
Boxing comes to Europe
Okay, so boxing finally came to Europe in 1681. The Royal Theater of London was holding regular boxing matches by 1698. These were informal matches. Boxers didn’t wear any protective equipment when fighting. Only one person could win and matches favored heavier men.
Boxing became regulated in the 1730s. That was when a student of a famous English boxer, James Figg, decided to make boxing safer. This student’s name was Jack Broughton. He may have fought with bare knuckles, but he implemented rules in 1743 that made the sport much safer.
His rules and regulations allowed fist fighting but not body grabs. The Queensbury rules made boxing into the sport we currently recognize by requiring padded gloves.
The 14 Best White Boxers of All Time | Legends of The Sport
This amazing heavyweight champ ruled the boxing ring more than a hundred years ago. Indeed, his heydays were in the late 19th century. It was then that he became a household name across America.
What made one of the best white boxers ever was his passion and enthusiasm for the sport. He did more than live, breathe, and practice boxing. Sullivan was also an ardent boxing teacher. He made history in the boxing world in 1883 and 1884 when he accompanied 5 other boxers on a 136 city tour during matches.
He coached the boxers and he established a reputation for being the ‘iron man’ in the boxing world when he defeated more than 30 boxers during his national tour. However, he did much more to put him firmly in the league of the best white boxers ever. For example, he sent his contemporaries including Paddy Ryan and Jake Kilrain running for cover during matches. These two weren’t the only other boxers who he triumphed.
Sullivan can be considered to be one of the best white boxers of all time because he served as a role model over the decades for many Americans who wanted to train to be boxers. In fact, he was one of the great white boxer legends in the boxing hall of fame.
So he transformed boxing into the gentler and tamer sport that it’s presently known for. Corbett’s insistence on sticking to a ‘code of honor and ethics’ while boxing in the ring earned him the nickname “Gentleman Jim!”
Just as Darwin is known as the “Father of modern biology” for his revolutionary findings in terms of evolution, James Corbett is known as the “Father of modern boxing” because of the many innovative and scientific strategies that he contributed to boxing.
He championed tactics for self-defense. Corbett didn’t just advocate ‘throwing punches in the ring! He was the one who started the tradition of daily training. Corbett’s boxing career may have only lasted for 20 fights, but he was the one who left an indelible mark on the early history of boxing in America.
He became Heavyweight Champion of the Year in 1892 after he defeated the then noted heavyweight champ, John Sullivan. Oh, and he also had a successful acting career when he was not boxing.
He was born in 1923 and died in 1969 – the same year that Buzz Aldren landed on the moon. Marciano was a noted heavyweight champ of the later part of the 20th century. He played 49 matches in his long boxing career and won 43 of them.
He won the enviable title of an ‘undefeated boxer’ when he retired. Rocky won six title defenses against the following boxers:
- Jersey Joe Walcott – He took the title from Walcott
- Roland La Starza
- Ezzard Charles – He won against Charles twice
- Don Cockell
- Archie Moore
He just didn’t give up when he was in the ring. What characterized his fighting style was a chin that could take a beating, powerful and strategically aimed punches, and great stamina. He had a knockout-to-win ratio of 87.8%. This remains the highest ration in boxing history, even some 52 years after he died. He earned 14th place in The Ring Magazine’s list of the greatest 100 boxers of all time.
Robert James Fitzsimmons
Fitzsimmons was a Brit. He was born in 1863. Fitzsimmons became the world’s first three-division world champion. Oh, and he also got mentioned in the media when he defeated Jim Corbett. In fact, he was mentioned as being the lightest heavyweight champion on record at the time by The Guinness Book of World Records.
He weighed well under 200 pounds (165) when he got his title. He was nicknamed Ruby Robert and The Freckled Wonder after that.
Fitzsimmons established a name for himself in Australia. He began his professional boxing career there in 1883. Fitzsimmons developed a unique style of fighting in the ring when he defeated Edward Robins. Robins may have punched him down to the floor, but he broke his hand while doing so. He was therefore no longer allowed to fight and Fitzsimmons was declared the boxing heavyweight champion.
Fitzsimmons had learned from one of the best boxers, Jem Mace. It Mace taught him the basics of punching and Fitzsimmons developed his own style from there. Fitzsimmons had been a blacksmith and this strengthened his muscles to the point where he could throw impactful punches in the ring.
He fought four more matches in America starting in 1890. His day for fame came on January 14, 1891. He fought Jack Dempsey in New Orleans and defeated Dempsey in the 13th round. He defeated James Hall in 1893.
He was a noted American boxer of all time in the late 19th century. His boxing career began in 1919 at age 24. He managed to win 62 out of 83 matches. He was known as the Kid Blackie and The Manassa Mauler. He ruled the boxing ring from 1914 to 1927.
Dempsey was the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926. He could throw great and powerful punches and he fought aggressively in the ring. These traits are what made him a cultural celebrity in the 1920s. Oh, and he also made a mention in the American history books of the time period.
His fights tended to set financial and attendance records. One of these was the million-dollar gate. This was the first million-dollar gate in boxing history. The Ring Magazine named him as the tenth greatest all-time heavyweight boxer. It also ranked him seventh in terms of the 100 best punchers.
The Associated Press voted him as the greatest fighter of the past 50 years in 1950. He was a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
This noted American boxer was born in 1870 and died in 1943. He held the world Bantamweight championship from 1894 to 1899. Many in the boxing world nicknamed him “The Little Tiger.” He was undefeated and had a record of 60-0-10 when he quit boxing.
The Ring magazine put him in its Hall of Fame in 2000. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. He fought with schoolboys and that was how he began to develop his noted boxing skills. He got serious about boxing and began to learn the sport formally at McGurn’s Handball Courts in Chicago.
His ability to master the basics of boxing quickly caught the attention of Harry Gilmore. Gilmore, himself, was a former featherweight boxing champ.
James’s boxing career began two years later when his mother became a widow. He won against a senior boxer, Jack Larson, in 1891. Larson was also 10 pounds heavier than Barry was at the time.
He defeated the noted Brit boxer Jack Levy in 1893. Barry became the world Bantamweight Champion then.
This famous Welsh boxer was born in 1972. He is one of the most noted boxers of contemporary times. He was one of the undisputed champions of the ring for 15 years – from 1993 to 2008.
His first boxing match was in 1993 when he officially signed up at Cardiff Arms Park. Fast forward two years and he had won 13 out of 15 fights. He easily and quickly defeated the then reigning heavyweight champs, Frank Minton and Joe Curry. The two American boxers were fighting as a team in the ring when Calzaghe defeated them.
Calzaghe won the then vacant British super-middleweight title in October 1995. He defeated Stephen Wilson. Wilson had the rare honor of always having won every match he fought in the ring before he fought against Calzaghe.
Calzaghe won the prestigious Young Boxer of the Year designation in late 1995. Both the Professional Boxing Association and the Boxing Writers’ Club gave him that designation. A senior boxer (Barry McGuigan) even praised him by saying, “He gives killer punches that combine the best of European techniques and American aggression!”
Oscar de la Hoya
He was an American legend in terms of boxing. His amazing achievement of winning 10 titles in different weight segments around the world was enough to make him one of the best white boxers of all time. That said, he accomplished much more than that during his long boxing career.
What really distinguished him from the competition was his ability to generate more than $700 million in revenue from pay-per-view revenue shows. What characterized his unique style of boxing was continuous stinging and jabs. He also delivered impactful blows and surprised his opponents with unplanned moves in and out of the ring.
De La Hoya was born on February 4. 1978. He competed in the ring from 1992 to 2008. One of his greatest achievements while fighting in the ring was winning 11 world titles in six weight classes. One of these titles was the lineal championship in three weight classes.
BoxRec once ranked him as the 29th best boxer of all time. De La Hoya represented the United States in the 1992 Summer Olympics. He was referred to as the “Golden Boy of Boxing.” then by the global media. He had recently graduated from high school and won the gold medal in the lightweight division during the 1992 Summer Olympics.
The Ring Magazine called him the Fighter of the Year in 1995. He was named as the best white boxer in the world (by the same magazine) in 1997 and 1998.
He founded a combat sport promotional firm called Golden Boy Promotions nearly 4 years later (2002.) incidentally, this firm owns 25% of Houston Dynamo. What really distinguished him from the other white boxers was the fact that he was the first Mexican-American to own a national boxing promotional firm.
He was born Thomas David Morrison on January 2, 1969. He died on September 1, 2013, after having fought a long-drawn-out battle with HIV. His boxing career lasted for two decades – from 1988 to 2008.
Morrison won the WBO heavyweight title in 1993. His career in boxing officially ended three years later when he was diagnosed with HIV. Incidentally, he did make his mark in acting as well. In fact, he starred alongside Sylvester Stallone in the 1990 film Rocky V. His character was Tommy Gunn in that movie.
Morrison’s boxing career began in 1988 when he was 18. He had just graduated from high school and had just won a full-ride football scholarship at Emporia State University. It was during that year that Morrison won the Kansas City Golden Gloves title from Donald Ellis. This was a regional title that paved the way for a stellar career in boxing.
Gene Tunney was an American professional boxer whose professional career was between 1915 and 1928. He was born on May 25, 1897, and died on November 7, 1978. Tunney was the undisputed heavyweight champion from 1926 to 1928.
He held the light heavyweight title twice in 1922 and 1923. Tunney’s strength lay in his technical skills. He fought Harry Greb in the ring 5 times and won three matches. He lost one and withdrew in one match.
Tunney defeated the undisputed American boxers of the time Georges Carpenter and Jack Dempsy twice. His first victory was in 1926. His next victory came the following year. In fact, the fact that he stole a title from Dempsey put him down in the boxing history books as The Long Count Fight.
His boxing career ended in 1928 when he won against Tom Heeney. Winning that fight gave him the designation as an undefeated heavyweight. The Ring Magazine subsequently named him the Fighter of the Year.
Interestingly enough, he enlisted in the military and served as a private in France in the 11th Regiment. He was stationed in Germany in 1919 when the Rhineland was occupied.
This legendary American boxer died at the tender age of 32 on October 22, 1926. He was born on June 6, 1984. He was one of the best white boxers of all time. In fact, he earned the nickname “The Pittsburgh Windmill” because of this.
Greb also earned himself a name in boxing history as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time. He became the undisputed light heavyweight champion for two years from 1922 to 1923. Harry was the world middleweight champion from 1923 to 1926.
Indeed, there was no boxer who he couldn’t beat. Even the most talented white boxers ran for cover when they saw him in the ring. What characterized his fighting style and allowed him to win almost all of the time in the ring was his aggressive and very fast-swarming nature. He, literally, overwhelmed his opponents in the ring.
What separated Greb from other noted boxers at the time was his penchant for using dubious fighting tactics in the ring. While they were not disallowed, they were also controversial and were referred to as ‘dirty fighting tactics.
He sustained an eye injury in a fighting match and eventually lost complete sight in that eye. What helped him make boxing history was the fact that he suffered only 2 TKO losses in his entire boxing career.
He eventually broke the radius of his left arm in a fight and this severely impaired his ability in the ring from then on. Greb did, however, win the designation as being the 9th best boxer of all time by BoxRec.
This Panamanian boxer was born on June 16, 1951. He reigned in the ring for 33 years from 1968 to 2001. He has held the lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight, and middleweight championships. Duran has also held the title of an undisputed and lineal lightweight champion.
Duran earned a mention in boxing history as a lineal welterweight champion. His entire boxing career ran for more than 50 years. His first match in the ring began with Jack Johnson. Indeed, Duran’s strengths in the ring were versatility and good technical skills.
He became known as the “Mano de Piedra” “Hands of Stone” as his boxing career progressed. His boxing career ended in 2002 after he had been involved in a nearly fatal car crash in Argentina the previous year. It was life-saving surgery that got him in decent shape.
The Ring magazine gave him the title of the ‘fifth greatest fighter over the last 80 years’ in 2002. The boxing historian Bert Sugar ranked him as the 8th greatest fighter of all time. He was voted the best lightweight boxer of the 20th century by the Associated Press.
When he retired, he had 119 fights, 108 wins, and 70 knockouts under his belt. His boxing teacher was the world-famous Ray Arcel.
What you need to know about heavyweight boxers
So before discussing the 20 best white boxers of all time, you need to understand what a heavyweight boxer is and what his or her job in the ring is. Heavyweight boxers are boxers who weigh at least 200 pounds, wow, that’s a lot! These types of boxers work hard both in the ring and during training sessions to get to their hefty weight. They have an easier time ‘throwing their weight around’ in the ring and winning matches.
These types of boxers do lots of conditioning exercises. The exercises help with their agility and balance while in the ring.
Heavyweight boxers are categorized by weight
So there are four major professional boxing organizations out there:
- World Boxing Association (WBA)
- World Boxing Council (WBC)
- International Boxing Federation (IBF)
- World Boxing Organization (WBO)
Three of these, the WBO, WBA, and IBF have created different categories for heavyweight boxers based on weight:
- Less than 106 pounds – mini flyweight
- Between 106 to 108 pounds – Light flyweight
While this is not an exhaustive list of the best white boxers of all time, it does show you that Western nations have produced some very talented boxers who have been successful in the ring. They have changed the course and destiny of boxing while doing so!