Hall of Fame Friday: Ike Williams
THE RING magazine features a thumbnail biography of a ring great who has received the ultimate honor: induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.
Birthdate: Aug. 2, 1923
Birthplace: Brunswick, Ga.
Date of death: Sept. 5, 1994
Weight class: Lightweight
Professional record: 125-24-5 (60 knockouts)
Titles: NBA lightweight (April 18, 1945-May 25, 1951); world lightweight (Aug. 4, 1947-May 25, 1951).
Best performances: Bob Montgomery (KO 6), Beau Jack (KO 6), Kid Gavilan (W 10), Johnny Bratton (W 10, KO 8), Juan Zurita (KO 2), Enrique Bolanos (KO 8), Jesse Flores (KO 10), Sammy Angott (W 10, W 10), Ronnie James (KO 9), Joe Miceli (W 10).
Year of IBHOF induction: 1990
Background: Although widely recognized as one of the greatest lightweights of all time, he would probably have accomplished even more without the involvement of organized crime figures in his career ÔÇª Moved with his mother to Trenton, N.J., when he was 9 ÔÇª Started to box at age 14 and turned pro two years later, on March 15, 1940 ÔÇª Suffered four losses in his first 15 bouts but then went on a 31-fight winning streak before he was stopped by Bob Montgomery in January ’44 ÔÇª Reestablished himself with a string of impressive victories, including wins over Sammy Angott, Lulu Costantino and Dorsey Lay to earn a crack at the NBA 135-pound title, which he won by knocking out Juan Zurita in April ’45 ÔÇª Broke with manager Connie McCarthy after winning the title, which resulted in him being blackballed by the mob-controlled Boxing Managers Guild ÔÇª Unable to get meaningful matches until he signed with gangster Frank “Blinky” Palermo ÔÇª After two defenses of the NBA belt, won universal recognition as lightweight champion by knocking out Montgomery in an August ’47 rematch ÔÇª Enhances his status with victories over future welterweight kings Kid Gavilan and Johnny Bratton in non-title bouts … Named THE RING Fighter of the Year in 1948, an incredible 12-month span in which he went 10-0 against top opposition, including three title defenses ÔÇª Recorded five successful defenses of the world title before losing it to Jimmy Carter in May ’51 ÔÇª Fought on until August ’55, when he ended his career with another win against old foe Beau Jack ÔÇª Testified before Sen. Estes Kefauver’s 1960 Senate subcommittee that the mob had asked him to throw fights and also had stolen much of his purse money, including more than $65,000 for title defense against Jack and Jesse Flores. Claimed that the only fight in which he actually took a dive was against Chuck Davey in ’52 but admitted to carrying other boxers by “putting forth less than my best” on a number of other occasions ÔÇª Worked as a $37-a-week laborer at McGuire Air Force base and lived in a $11-a-week room at the YMCA after his boxing money was all gone ÔÇª Stints as a boxing coach for the Job Corps and at the Trenton community center followed, but by the time he died of hardening of the arteries at 71, he was living alone in Los Angeles, surviving on social security.