CLAIMED as England’s first world heavyweight champion, Bob Fitzsimmons was a remarkable character and boxer. He was the first triple title-holder in boxing history, winning the heavyweight, middleweight and light-heavyweight championships in a career that lasted 27 years.
As a young man he had worked as a blacksmith and legend has it that this developed his muscular upper body. His appearance was often described as “freakish” and “ugly”. He was bald from an early age, covered in freckles and sparse tufts of ginger hair contributed to his other nickname, “Ruby Robert”. Below the waist he had skinny legs, was knock-kneed and flat-footed. Yet he was prepared to fight men much bigger and heavier than himself while weighing not much more than a heavy middleweight. He was a mere 11st 13lbs when he beat James J. Corbett for the world heavyweight title in 1897.
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