SOME people box for glory, others for the money, but Mickey Walker did it simply because he loved to fight. The Elizabeth, New Jersey man enjoyed drinking and living the high-life nearly as much as brawling in the ring. A true character, he competed in 150 bouts during a career spanning over two decades. His crowning glories came when he secured the World welterweight title in 1922 and the World middleweight strap in 1926. He also fought for the World light-heavyweight title and met some of the top heavyweights of his time.
Nicknamed the “Toy Bulldog” on account of his stocky physique and doggedness, Walker would march into his rivals before unloading bombs with his squat, muscled pistons. He mastered the art of bobbing and weaving away from his opponent’s punches, which was vitally important for a fighter with such a come forward style.
Mickey made his professional debut at the age of 17 in his hometown of Elizabeth. Between 1919 and 1921, he fought over a half a century of bouts, predominantly in the New Jersey area. After winning the majority of these contests, Walker received a shot at Jack Britton’s World welterweight crown in November 1922.The pair had previously met over a year before, with Britton claiming a newspaper decision victory. In their second meeting however, Mickey demonstrated unrelenting aggression to topple his ageing foe over 15 rounds in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
With manager Jack Kearns by his side, world gold around his waist, and his popularity and wealth growing day by day, Walker found more reason than ever to indulge in the lavish lifestyle which he was so accustomed to. Nevertheless, he remained a destructive force in the squared circle, successfully defending his welterweight belt against Pete Latzo on a newspaper decision, as well as Lew Tendler (w pts 10) and Bobby Barrett (w ko 6).
In July 1925, the 5ft 7in terror stepped up to middleweight to challenge the reigning world king Harry Greb. In front of 65,000 fans at the Polo Grounds in New York, two of the game’s great warriors went to head to head over 15 exciting and brutal rounds. Walker steamed out of the blocks early on, but ultimately could not deal with Grebb’s mesmerising hand speed. Mickey showed immense bravery in the penultimate session, standing up to a devastating onslaught from the champion, who retained his title on points.
After losing his World welter strap to Pete Latzo on points in 1926, Walker faced off against Greb-conqueror Tiger Flowers for the Camilla man’s World middleweight championship. Mickey claimed the belt on a points decision and then moved up a division again to challenge World light-heavyweight boss Tommy Loughran.
Despite being outscored in his light-heavy title tilt, this did not deter Walker in his quest to succeed at the higher weights. Incredibly, he battled future World heavyweight titlist Jack Sharkey to a draw, outpointed King Levinsky and shared a ring with former heavy ruler Max Schmeling (l rsf 8).
Following a failed attempt at winning the World light-heavy title against Maxie Rosenbloom (l pts 15), Mickey defeated the same man in a non-title rematch (w pts 10) before retiring in 1935 with the majority of his boxing earnings largely used up.
Did you know?
Upon retiring, Mickey did some acting, opened a successful restaurant and later became an artist.
Beating the Bearcat
WHILE campaigning in the heavyweight division, Walker faced off against the Texas-born Bearcat Wright on April 10, 1931. Despite surrendering three stone to the Omaha-based fighter, Walker survived a first-round knockdown to win on points over 10 sessions. A crowd of 6,000 saw Mickey floor Wright in the second stanza, before boxing his way to a commendable win over the heavyweight contender. The Dubuque, Iowa Telegraph-Herald reported that Bearcat was “hanging on the ropes at the end of the final round.”
Born July 13, 1901 in Elizabeth, New Jersey Died April 28, 1981 Wins 93 Knockouts 60 Losses 19 Draws 4 No Contests 1 No Decisions 46 Best win Jack Britton (II) w pts 15 Worst loss Harry Greb l pts 15 Pros Tenacity, courage, head movement Cons Major height disadvantage at higher weights, playboy lifestyle