Puncher to Preacher That Was Henry “Homicide Hank” Armstrong!
By Ken Hissner: This writer once did an article about when the two greatest boxers of all time met in the ring. That was when the greatest “Sugar” Ray Robinson defeated the next greatest Henry “Homicide Hank” Armstrong, with the latter past his prime.
This writer contacted “Mr. Historian” Henry Hascup who referred me to articles “From Prize Ring to Pulpit” by Henry Armstrong and “Henry Armstrong Fights for Lord by Dan Thrapp, Times Religious Editor.
This writer always goes to www.boxrec.com for information on boxer’s records, etc. Armstrong ended his professional career at 151-21-10 with 100 knockouts. He was the only boxer ever to hold three world titles at the same time.
In October of 1937, Armstrong won the world Featherweight title defeating Petey Sarron, 108-22-13, knocking him out in 6 rounds. He held the title until September of 1938, vacating it. In May of 1938, he won the World Welterweight title defeating Barney Ross, 74-3-3, by decision over 15 rounds.
He held the title until October of 1940, losing by decision to Fritzie Zivic, 100-24-5. He won the World Lightweight title in August of 1938, defeating Lou “Herkimer Hurricane” Ambers, 75-5-7, by split decision. He held the title until August of 1939, losing a rematch to Ambers. All records were at the time they fought one another.
Armstrong successfully defended his lightweight title 1 time and his welterweight title 19 times, never defended the featherweight title. He served in the US Army while still boxing. Armstrong was inducted in 1990 to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, which was their first year of operation. He didn’t get off to a good start as an amateur, 3-4, under the name Melody Jackson and as a pro being knockout out in his debut and losing 3 of his first 4 fights.
Among those he defeated were Mike Belloise, 89-22-12, Benn Bass, 186-38-9, Petey Sarron, 108-22-13, Chalky Wright, 89-20-17, Everette Rightmire, 107-10-13, Lew Feldman, 104-45-16, Barney Ross, 74-3-3, Lou Ambers, 75-5-7, Ceferino Garcia, 103-24-12, Baby Arizmendi, 84-16-14, Bobby Pacho, 115-47-19, Davey Day, 56-5-4, Pedro Montanez, 91-6-4, Paul Junior, 159-19-16, Aldo Spoldi, 99-30-8, Jackie Burke, 115-32-23, Juan Zurita, 109-19-1, Fritzie Zivic, 125-31-7, Tippy Larkin, 86-8. Some he fought more than once. In 1937 Armstrong was 27-0 with 26 knockouts, and from December of 1936 to October of 1949, 59-1-1, with 51 knockouts!
Armstrong was the eleventh of thirteen children born December 12, 1909. Upon seeing him, an older brother said, “mother, he looks like a rat!” She replied, “He’ll be the big cheese of you all.” She added, “for he’s predestined to be a preacher!” He was born Henry Jackson, Jr.
After retiring from the ring in February of 1945, he owned a Harlem night club The Melody Room, and, when that ended, moved to St. Louis, MO. He was ordained by his father-in-law, a pastor of a Baptist church. He was a youth advocate as a minister, helping to run the Herbert Hoover Boy’s Club, devoting his life to helping underprivileged kids.
This writer knows 3 former boxers, 2 amateurs, connected with Calvary Chapel churches that I have attended since 1989, whom 2, Joe Focht having 12,000, connected in NE Philly and PA Amateur GG champ Buddy Osborn’s Rock Ministry in one of the worst parts of Philly, Kensington, that are pastors and 1 a pro, Ebo Elder, an evangelist, whose from Ga., but is no longer affiliated with CC.
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