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*Jimmy Bivins was born on this date in 1919. He was a Black heavyweight boxer whose professional career ran from 1940 to 1955.
James Louis Bivins was born in Dry Branch, Georgia. Although he was born in Georgia, Bivins fought out of Cleveland, Ohio, for the entirety of his career. He made his professional debut on January 15, 1940, winning by knockout in the first round. He won his first nineteen fights in 1940 before losing a split decision to Anton Christoforidis, whom he had previously beaten. Bivins won his first four fights of 1941 but lost three of his other four contests that year.
He began 1942 with wins against Billy Soose and Gus Lesnevich and a split-decision loss to Bob Pastor. After this loss, Bivins had a twenty-seven-fight undefeated streak that lasted for four years; during this period, Bivins established himself as one of the great heavyweights of his era, given that, at 5' 9", he was often significantly smaller than his opponents.
Bivins's first fight after losing to Pastor was a split-decision win against Joey Maxim, a fellow Cleveland fighter who became a Hall of Fame member. Bivins fought four more contests in 1942, including a rematch with Bob Pastor and a bout with Lee Savold, and won them all. He began 1943 with a remarkable win against Ezzard Chars, in which he recorded seven knockdowns against the future heavyweight world champion. On February 23, 1943, he defeated Anton Christoforidis on points for the duration light heavyweight title; this was the closest he ever came to holding the Belt.
Three years after this fight, Bivins defeated Tami Mauriello, Pat Valentino, Lloyd Marshall, Melio Bettina, Curtis Sheppard, and Archie Moore, whom he knocked down six times en route to a knockout victory. Bivins served with the United States Army from March 1944 until his honorable discharge in November of the same year; during 1944, he fought only one professional fight, a points victory over Lee Q. Murray. On February 25, 1946, Bivins lost to Jersey Joe Walcott at the Cleveland Arena.
After losing his long unbeaten streak, Bivins' record as a fighter became somewhat average. Bivins retired following a victory over the journeyman Chubby Wright in June 1953 but returned for two final fights, both of which he won a couple of years later. Although he was never allowed to fight for a world title, despite at one point being the number one contender in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, Bivins fought and defeated many of the great fighters of his era. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999.
He was also the one-time husband of Dollree Mapp, the subject of a prominent Supreme Court case regarding search and seizure rights. Jimmy Bivins died on July 4, 2012.