Friday, December 09, 2022  |



Hall of Fame Friday: Bobo Olson


Note: This is the second installment of a new series on in which we'll post a profile of a fighter in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.


Birthdate: July 11, 1928
Date Of Death: Jan. 16, 2002
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
Weight Classes: Middleweight, light heavyweight
Professional Record: 99-16-2 (49 knockouts)
Title Held: World middleweight (Oct. 31, 1953-May 18, 1956)
Best Performances: Randy Turpin (W 15), Kid Gavilan (W 15), Joey Maxim (W 10, W 10), Tommy Yarosz (W 10), Rocky Castellani (W15), Walter Cartier (KO 5), Joey Giambra (W 10), Wayne Thornton (W 10, W 10), Andy Kendall (W 10)
Year Of IBHOF Induction: 2000
Background: Born Carl Elmer Olson, the son of a Portuguese mother and a Swedish father ÔǪ Grew up in a tough neighborhood, where he was involved in numerous street fights ÔǪ Learned to box by participating in bootleg bouts against U.S. military personal stationed in Hawaii ÔǪ Took out a professional boxing license in 1944 when he was only 16 years old by using a fake identity card. Won three bouts before his true age was discovered ÔǪ Fought out of San Francisco in ’45 and part of ’46, winning eight straight before returning to Hawaii ÔǪ A winning streak ended at 21 in July ’47, when George Duke handed him his first pro loss. Bounced back to outpoint Duke the following month ÔǪ Fought the first of four bouts with Sugar Ray Robinson, Oct. 1950, getting knocked out in the 11th round in a fight for the Pennsylvania State world middleweight title ÔǪ Challenged Robinson again, in ’52, after Sugar Ray had won the legitimate 160-pound title, but lost a 15-round decision ÔǪ When Robinson retired in ’52, Olson defeated Paddy Young (W 15) in an eliminator, and then beat Randy Turpin for the vacant championship, putting the British ex-champ down twice and winning a unanimous 15-round decision at Madison Square Garden ÔǪ “Bobo is a cutie who slips punches, bobs and weaves, hides his face in a peek-a-boo shell and, above all, keeps punching,” wrote The Associated Press’ Jack Hand in 1953, the year Olson was selected as THE RING’s Fighter of the Year. “No great puncher, Olson wears a man down with his steady attack, throwing some of his punches with a half-open glove” ÔǪ Tallied three successful defenses of the title, but began having difficulty making the weight, and challenged light heavyweight champion Archie Moore in June in ’55. Olson was the betting favorite, but Moore knocked him out in the third round ÔǪ Lost middleweight championship in ’55, when Robinson came out of retirement and iced Olson in the second round. Also lost fourth and final bout with Robinson (KO by 4) ÔǪ Gradually worked his way into the light heavyweight ranks during the following decade, during which he scored a pair of wins over Wayne Thornton in ’64, but a knockout loss to Jose Torres later that year ended hopes of winning the 175-pound title ÔǪ Won three of his final four bouts, but retired after a majority decision loss to Don Fullmer in ’66 ÔǪ Did public relations work for the Teamsters Union after quitting the ring and later became a union elevator operator ÔǪ Suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years prior to his death.

Note: This story originally appeared in THE RING magazine.