If asked, most boxing fans wouldn’t take long to pick out some of the dirtiest fighters of recent decades. But who are the dirtiest fighters of all time? It’s a question we attempt to answer on this week’s episode of Knuckles and Gloves Boxing Radio.
“The Croat Comet” Fritzie Zivic was said to have fought with a pair of thumbs and a forehead. Everyone from “Sugar” Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong to Lou Ambers and Charley Burley got a bigger piece of Zivic than they realized they wanted.
The 1940s and 50s were home to another fighter who often employed questionable tactics: Sandy Saddler.
Nat Fleischer, founder and then-editor of The Ring, said of Saddler’s fourth meeting with featherweight great Willie Pep that the men used “wrestling, heeling, eye gouging, tripping, thumbing–in fact every dirty trick known to old timers.”
But what even makes a fighter dirty in the first place? Where does one draw the line between “dirty” and “crafty?” Without a doubt, skirting the rules in a boxing ring and doing so seamlessly takes serious skill and experience. And those are two things many of these fighters had by the boatload.
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