History | Mar 04 2016

On This Day: Sam Langford was born

On March 4 1883 an all-time great was born. Paul Wheeler profiles Sam Langford
Sam Langford

MUCH like his old rival Harry Wills, whom he fought on an incredible 22 occasions, Sam Langford was deprived of a shot at a world title on the grounds of his skin colour. While this reasoning sounds nonsensical today, it was the sad truth during the colour bar era in which the “Boston Tar Baby” fought.

With a 32ins waist and a chest measuring 44ins, Langford was an athletic and powerfully built physical specimen. Emanating from the small community of Weymouth in Nova Scotia, Canada, he stood at only 5ft 7 1/2ins and seldom weighed more than 11st 6lbs. Nevertheless, this did not prevent him from rising through the divisions during his illustrious career; he achieved notable success at every weight from lightweight to heavyweight, striking fear into the hearts of many of those he encountered in the squared circle.

Fighting out of Boston, Massachusetts, Sam began his professional career in 1902 and rapidly ascended the ranks to earn a crack at the world lightweight king Joe Gans in 1903. In a non-title bout, Langford outscored “The Old Master” over 15 rounds. The following year, he battled former world welterweight boss “Barbados” Joe Walcott to a hard-fought draw.