Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sidney Walker, better known as Beau Jack, (April 1 1921-February 9 2000), was an American lightweight boxer, he was a world champion twice. One of the most popular fighters during the war years, he headlined at Madison Square Garden on 21 occasions, a record that still stands.
He was born in Augusta, Georgia and was raised by his maternal grandmother, who gave him the nickname "Beau Jack", following the death of his mother. From an early age Jack worked as a shoe-shine boy in Augusta, when he was 15 he look to supplement his income by participating in the brutal battles royal. These fights featured six black men fighting blindfolded until one remained, these fights were funded by rich white men for their own entertainment, the winner received a relatively meagre purse. Despite his small stature Jack was often victorious.
Following his first battle royal at the Augusta National Golf Club Jack beame a caddie at the club. He quickly befriended some of the club's members, including the golfing legend Bobby Jones, who helped fund his boxing training.
Jack turned professional in 1940, he bagan his career fighting in Massachusetts where he quickly established an impressive record of 27-4-2. It was also during these early fights that Jack earned his reputation for being a relentless and powerful fighter, two traits which endeared him to audiences.
To further his career Jack moved to New York in August 1941, where he continued to impress. By November 1942 Jack found himself in a fight against Allie Stolz to decide who would challenge for the New York version of the world title. Going into the fight Stolz was the clear favourite, he was 3-1 to win, however Jack pulled off a massive shock by knocking out Stolz in the seventh round. In the title fight, against Tippy Larkin , jack pulled off a similar surprise by knocking out the champion in the third round.
Jack only held the title for six months before dropping it to fellow hall-of-famer Bob Montgomery on an unanimous points decision. Jack did go on to regain the title from Montgomery, before losing it to him once again in March 1944.
The most famous fight of Jack's career was his fourth battle with Montgomery on August 4 1944, the so-called "War Bonds Fight" for which tickets were only available to those who purchased war bonds. Although Montgomery's title was not on the line, the gate was a record $36m with 15,822 war bonds being sold. Many people who purchased bonds left their tickets at the box office for US servicemen, indeed Montgomery and Jack, who were both serving as privates in the US army, refused to take purses for the fight. Jack took the fight on points after 10 rounds, however the highlight of the evening was when the lights dimmed and a spotlight picked out Joe Louis, who was standing in the front row, to the reception of a standing ovation.
Jack would not challenge for the title again until July 12 1948 when he fought another hall-of-famer: Ike Williams. This challenge proved to be unsuccessful as Jack was knocked out in the sixth round. This defeat marked the start of a rivalry between the pair who would go on to fight on three more occasions. However, with Jack's skills clearly waning, Williams managed to take the first match by a split decision, the second match was drawn, and Williams won the third as Jack was unable to answer the bell for the ninth round. This third fight, on August 12 1958, also marked the end of Jack's career.
Life after boxing
Immediately after his career Jack operated a drive-in barbecue stand, ran a small farm, and refereed wrestling matches. However, when his earnings ran out he returned to shining shoes at a hotel in Miami, Florida. Jack also campaigned heavily for a pension scheme for boxers, he felt that no fighter should be reduced to the impoverished fate he was. He also trained fighters at Miami's infamous Fifth Street Gym .
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