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Jersey Joe Walcott
*On this date in 1914, Jersey Joe Walcott was born. He was a Black boxer.
Born Arnold Raymond Cream near Camden, New Jersey, he was raised with eleven brothers and sisters in Merchantville, New Jersey. After the death of his father (when he was fourteen), he began working in a soup factory to support his family; at this time, he also began training as a boxer. In 1930 he started his professional career as a lightweight, quickly taking the name “Jersey Joe Walcott” in honor of Joe Walcott, a well-known Barbadian welterweight champion.
He became the light-heavyweight champion of south Jersey by knocking out Al King in 1933, yet Walcott fought in obscurity for nearly fifteen years. In 1945, after a two-year job in the Camden shipyards, Walcott returned to the ring. He then won 11 of 14 bouts, including seven by knockout, and on December 5, 1947, he fought a heavyweight bout against champion Joe Louis. Walcott knocked Louis down twice but lost in a split decision. The decision was appealed unsuccessfully, and they fought again, with Walcott knocking Louis down, but Louis knocked him out in the eleventh round.
After Louis’ retirement, Walcott fought Ezzard Charles three times for the heavyweight championship. He lost the first two and won the third, becoming the oldest man to hold the title until that time. He lost his title in 1952 to Rocky Marciano. He was elected to The Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1955 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.
After retirement, Walcott worked as a fight referee and had an acting part in the 1956 film The Harder They Fall. He became a sheriff in Camden in 1972 and was on the New Jersey State Athletic Commission in 1975. Jersey Joe Walcott died of complications of diabetes in 1994.
To become a Professional Athlete
Boxing Album: An Illustrated History
by Peter Brooke Bell
Smithmark Publisher, 1995