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Henry Armstrong

Henry Armstrong Profile Image
  • Nickname: Homicide Hank
  • Date of Birth: 12th December 1909
  • Died: 23rd October 1988 (78 years old)
  • Career length: 13 years 6 months
  • Status: Deceased
  • Nationality: USA Flag USA
  • Birthplace: Columbus, Mississippi, USA Flag Columbus, Mississippi, USA
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California, USA Flag Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Division: Welterweight
  • Height: 166cm
  • Reach: 170cm
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • BoxRec: Henry Armstrong
  • Debut: 27th July 1931

Biography

Born Henry Jackson Jr. on December 12, 1912, in Columbus, Mississippi, Henry Armstrong would become one of the most celebrated and accomplished boxers in history. With a career spanning 13 years and 6 months, Armstrong left an indelible mark on the sport, earning the nicknames "Hurricane Henry" and "Homicide Hank" for his relentless fighting style and devastating power.

Armstrong's early life was marked by hardship and determination. The son of a sharecropper and a Native American mother, he moved with his family to St. Louis, Missouri, during the Great Migration. There, he first became involved in boxing, graduating as an honour student from Vashon High School before embarking on his professional career.

Standing at just 166cm with a reach of 170cm, Armstrong was not an imposing figure in the ring. However, what he lacked in size, he more than made up for in skill, speed, and tenacity. With an orthodox stance and a seemingly endless reserve of stamina, Armstrong quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the featherweight division.

Armstrong's professional debut came on July 27, 1931, in a loss to Al Iovino. Undeterred, he would go on to win his first fight later that year and never looked back. Over the next few years, Armstrong honed his craft in Los Angeles, Mexico City, and St. Louis, facing off against some of the top fighters of his era, including Baby Arizmendi, Juan Zurita, and Mike Belloise.

It was in 1937 that Armstrong truly hit his stride, going an astonishing 27-0 with 26 knockouts. He claimed the World Featherweight Championship that year, knocking out Petey Sarron in six rounds at Madison Square Garden. The following year, Armstrong made history by becoming the first boxer ever to hold world championships in three different weight divisions simultaneously. He defeated Barney Ross for the World Welterweight Championship and Lou Ambers for the World Lightweight Championship while still reigning as the Featherweight champion.

Armstrong's dominance in the ring was unparalleled. He defended his Welterweight title a remarkable 19 times, including a streak of 27 consecutive knockout wins that ranks among the longest in boxing history. His speed, stamina, and punching power were the stuff of legend, and he earned the respect and admiration of fans and fellow fighters alike.

Despite his success, Armstrong was not content to rest on his laurels. He continued to push himself, seeking to become the first boxer to win world titles in four different weight classes. In 1940, he challenged Ceferino Garcia for the World Middleweight Championship, but the fight ended in a controversial draw. Many observers felt Armstrong had done enough to win, but the decision made them all square.

Armstrong's career began to wind down in the early 1940s, but only after he made one last run at greatness. He defended his Welterweight title five more times before losing it to Fritzie Zivic in 1940. He retired from boxing in 1945 with a record of 152 wins, 21 losses, and 9 draws, with 101 wins coming by way of knockout.

After hanging up his gloves, Armstrong remained active in his loved sport. He briefly opened a nightclub in Harlem before returning to St. Louis, where he became a born-again Christian and an ordained Baptist minister. He worked tirelessly as a youth advocate, running the Herbert Hoover Boys Club and teaching young fighters the art of boxing.

Armstrong's legacy in the sport is secure. He was named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine in 1937 and by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1940. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and is regarded as one of the greatest fighters ever. In 2007, The Ring ranked him as the second-greatest fighter of the last 80 years, while ESPN placed him third on their list of the 50 greatest boxers ever.

But the greatest testament to Armstrong's greatness lies in the words of those who knew him best. Boxing coach and commentator Teddy Atlas has called him the greatest of all time, while historian Bert Sugar ranked him second only to Sugar Ray Robinson. For those who saw him fight, Armstrong was a force of nature, a hurricane that swept through three weight divisions and left an indelible mark on the sport he loved.