Hall of Fame Friday: Fritzie Zivic
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.
Birth date: May 8, 1913
Date of death: May 16, 1984
Birthplace: Lawrenceville, Penn.
Nickname: “The Croat Comet”
Weight class: Welterweight
Record: 159-64-9 (80 knockouts) with one no-contest
Title held: World welterweight
Best performances: Charley Burley (W 10), Mike Kaplan (W 10), Sammy Angott (W 10), Henry Armstrong (W 15, KO 12), Lew Jenkins (KO 10), Red Cochrane (W 10), Jake LaMotta (W 15), Kid Azteca (W 10, W 10, W 10), Billy Arnold (W 8), Izzy Jannazzo (KO 4).
Year of IBHOF induction: 1993
Background: Considered one of the dirtiest fighters of his generation ÔÇª One of five boxing brothers born to immigrant parents ÔÇª Raised in the hardscrabble Ninth Ward in Lawrenceville, near Pittsburgh ÔÇª Zivic once said of his childhood neighborhood, “You either had to fight or stay in the house. We went out.” ÔÇª Made pro debut in October 1931, scoring first-round TKO of Al Rettinger ÔÇª Fought during an era when pros sometimes stepped into the ring multiple times during a month ÔÇª Broke Lou Ambers’ jaw in 10-round decision loss in July 1935 ÔÇª Survived eight-fight losing streak from August 1935 through April 1936 to remain viable welterweight contender ÔÇª Had winning streak snapped at five fights by future Hall of Famer Billy Conn via 10-round split decision loss in December 1936 ÔÇª Began wonderful trilogy with Charley Burley by taking 10-round split decision in March 1938 (but would lose the next two by decision) ÔÇª Posted six-fight winning streak, topped off in August 1940 by decision victory over Sammy Angott, setting up title shot against world champion Henry Armstrong ÔÇª Captured world welterweight title with 15-round decision over Armstrong in October 1940 at Madison Square Garden. The fight was even on two cards going into the final round, which Zivic won handily to take the title ÔÇª Fought high-profile non-title bout next against Al “Bummy” Davis in November 1940 in New York, resulting in one of the dirtiest fights of all-time ÔÇª Thumbed Davis and hit him on the break in the opening round, causing Davis to respond with 10 low blows, which led to a second-round disqualification win for Zivic … Retained world title with 12-round TKO in rematch with Armstrong in January 1941. ÔÇª Title reign came to abrupt end in second defense with 15-round decision loss to Freddie “Red” Cochrane in July 1941 .. Never received another title shot ÔÇª Fought the best of his time, mixing it up with Ray Robinson twice (0-2), Bob Montgomery (0-1), Cochrane (1-1) and Armstrong (2-1) ÔÇª Great fan appeal despite reputation for low blows, gouging, thumbing and lacing as part of a straight-ahead brawling style … Ended career in January 1949 ÔÇª Fought seven future Hall of Famers and nine world champions .. Spent post-fight career working as a boilermaker and road worker for the Allegheny County Highway Department. Also gave boxing lessons … Died on May 16, 1984, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.