KGB Radio: Doomed Middleweights

The middleweight division is a fun one with plenty of history. Unfortunately some of that history suggests the division has multiple examples of fighters who seemed destined to meet an early, unfortunate end.

"The Michigan Assassin" Stanley Ketchel, perhaps the patron saint of doomed middleweights

The middleweight division marks roughly the halfway point between the smallest and largest combatants in boxing. Middleweights are still large enough to seem like full-grown men, yet small enough to still be quick. And it’s a division with a boatload of history behind it.

For some reason the middleweight division is also home to an inordinate amount of controversial and tragic characters. It’s as if so many of these medium-sized men were doomed to make history in the wrong ways.

Harry Greb, “The Pittsburgh Windmill,” one of history’s doomed middleweights, poses in 1926

Despite clearly carving a niche among the greatest fighters in boxing history, Harry Greb also became known for his between-fight reveling. Greb was a boxing god in the 1920s, a decade when boxing surely became religion. In 1926 Greb met an early end following what should have been a routine surgery. It rocked boxing to its core.

The following year, Greb’s conqueror Tiger Flowers similarly died following a routine surgery. Dubbed “The Georgia Deacon,” Flowers was a deeply religious character and, at 34, was gearing up to make a final stab at recapturing a world title. But neither of them is where this apparent curse began.

Norman Selby, AKA Charles “Kid” McCoy, another of history’s doomed middleweights

Decades earlier, a fighter named Charles “Kid” McCoy held the middleweight title and became known for various antics and tricks, even if some of his reputation was puffed up. What he got into after his career ended, however, wasn’t hyperbole. In 1924 McCoy was convicted of murder, robbery and more before taking his own life in 1940.

Somewhat sadly, these are but a fraction of the characters discussed by Compubox operator Aris Pina and historian Patrick Connor this week on Knuckles and Gloves Boxing Radio.

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