South Jersey, and in particular Camden, produced many, may fine boxers in that sport's Golden Era, prior to World War II. This page started with a newspaper article, which had no byline, that was published in the Camden Courier-Post on July 26, 1955. The article is reprinted below.
I've discovered a few things that the author of the article had missed. Jack Levens was cited as Camden's first state champion, winning the bantamweight title in 1900. Research has discovered that Daniel J. "Dan" McConnell, the father of noted journalist Daniel P. McConnell, was the state champ at lightweight as early a march of 1897.
You will find that more than a few of the fighters named here have there own web-pages on this site. Pictures, stories, news clippings, and other information about ANY of the fighters mentioned here is gladly welcomed. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if a page could be set up for EVERY Camden fighter of this era, and more recent times?
Camden Courier-Post - October 22, 1931
TO HAVE NEW FIGHT CLUB
An attempt to revive boxing here at the Convention Hall will be made on Friday night, October 30, it was announced yesterday by promoters of the enterprise.
Jim Thompson, one of the best known sportsmen in the city, a former basketball star and always a strong lover of the fight game, is secretary-treasurer of the new club and made the announcement that the first show would be held on October 30.
Thompson stated that he believed boxing would be welcomed by Camden sports fans provided they were given real fights instead of merely names. He further stated that weekly shows would be held in the Convention Hall Annex and that if the patronage warranted it that the club would move into the main hall.
Besides Thompson, the other officers of the new organization are Jim Dolly, of Moorestown, president; Lou Schaub, of Haddonfield, manager of the Camden Baseball Club, general manager, and Joe Griffo, of Philadelphia, matchmaker.
Camden Courier-Post - February 28, 1936
Fairview Post No. 71, American Legion, will stage what promises to be the biggest amateur boxing tournament ever held in New Jersey on the nights of May 12, 13 and 16, at Convention Hall. The Golden Gloves Championship will be held for the Middle Atlantic states. Boxers from three states will vie with each other for the glory and the prizes that are !o be awarded. Fairview Post is a member of the Middle Atlantic Association A. A. U. and the bouts will be sanctioned by that body. Applications of amateurs who wish to compete are available at the Post home, Black Horse Pike and Collings Road, Camden. James R. Reed is general chairman of the committee. Joseph "Chubby" Stafford, undefeated amateur bantamweight champion, will assist the committee in an advisory capacity. Others named to the committee are James J. Leitch, advertising; Edward J. Bosch, Thomas Gibson and John B. Hegerich, tickets. Emerson Richards is secretary of the committee.
On Sunday. March 1 at Fairview Post, there will be a meeting. called by Department Vice Commander Jack Whomsley, of all county commanders and department executive committeemen of the counties in South Jersey on the first caucus for the national commander's visit to New Jersey to be held on April 1. The meeting is called for 2 p. m. sharp. The delegation will be the guests of the Camden county executive committee.
Camden Courier-Post - July 26, 1955
Peak In Boxing In 1919-20
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 [known after late 1950s as Convention Hall- PMC] 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.
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; Dan McConnell, the Kentucky Rosebud [Walter Edgerton- PMC], 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 [and Paulsboro- PMC]; 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.
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