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Georges Carpentier

Georges Carpentier Profile Image
  • Nickname: The Orchid Man
  • Date of Birth: 12th January 1894
  • Died: 27th October 1975 (81 years old)
  • Career length: 17 years 10 months
  • Status: Deceased
  • Nationality: France Flag France
  • Birthplace: Lievin, Pas-de-Calais, France Flag Lievin, Pas-de-Calais, France
  • Residence: Paris, France Flag Paris, France
  • Division: Light-heavyweight
  • Height: 181cm
  • Reach: 185cm
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • BoxRec: Georges Carpentier
  • Debut: 1st November 1908

Biography

Georges Carpentier was a French boxer, actor, and World War I pilot who left an indelible mark on the sport in the early 20th century. Born on January 12, 1894, in Liévin, Pas-de-Calais, France, Carpentier began his boxing career at the age of 14 and quickly rose through the ranks, winning titles in multiple weight classes.

Carpentier's early career was marked by his dominance in Europe. He held the French professional championship on several occasions and became the European heavyweight champion before the outbreak of World War I. During this period, he also claimed the title of "White Heavyweight Champion of the World" after defeating Ed "Gunboat" Smith in London in 1914.

During World War I, Carpentier served as a sergeant aviator in the French Air Force, earning the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille Militaire for his service. His wartime experiences only increased his popularity in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Upon returning to the ring in 1919, Carpentier, now known as "le grand Georges" ("the great Georges"), continued to cement his status as a symbol of French sporting excellence. His most significant achievement came on October 12, 1920, when he knocked out Battling Levinsky in Jersey City, United States, to claim the world light heavyweight championship.

Carpentier's legendary status was further enhanced by his bout against Jack Dempsey on July 2, 1921, in Jersey City. Although he suffered a fourth-round knockout defeat, the fight garnered boxing's first million-dollar gate, bringing Carpentier worldwide fame. The Dempsey fight marked the beginning of Carpentier's decline, with a controversial loss of his titles to Battling Siki in 1922 and a defeat by Gene Tunney in 1924.

Despite the setbacks, Carpentier remained a prominent figure in French boxing until his retirement in 1926. His charisma and style earned him the nickname "The Orchid Man," his fighting weight ranged from 147 to 175 pounds (67 to 79 kg) throughout his career.

After retiring from boxing, Carpentier pursued an entertainment career. He appeared as a vaudeville song-and-dance man and starred in several motion pictures in Hollywood, England, and France. He also became the proprietor of a chic Parisian bar, Chez Georges Carpentier, which he operated until shortly before his death.

Carpentier's friendship with Jack Dempsey, forged during their 1921 bout, remained strong throughout their lives. The two regularly visited each other, commemorated the anniversary of their famous fight, and exchanged birthday greetings.

Georges Carpentier died of a heart attack on October 28, 1975, at the age of 81. He was buried in the cimetière de Vaires-sur-Marne, Seine-et-Marne, France. In 1991, in recognition of his contributions to the sport, Carpentier was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Along with Marcel Cerdan, Georges Carpentier is one of France's greatest boxers. His legacy continues to inspire generations of fighters, and his impact on boxing, both in France and internationally, remains unparalleled.