Sam Langford: Boxing's Greatest Uncrowned Champion

Author: Clay Moyle
Published: November 1, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-934733-02-8
Pages: 440
Size: 6" x 9"
Type: Hardcover
Price: $29.95
Categories: Sports & Recreation Non-Fiction

Standing no more than 5-feet 7-inches tall, Sam Langford was one of the 20th century's greatest fighters. In 1951, the great featherweight champion Abe Attell was asked if Sugar Ray Robinson was the best of all time, either as a welterweight or middleweight: he named Stanley Ketchel as the greatest welterweight he had ever seen and said that, as for the middleweights, Abe said he would take Sam Langford,whom he viewed as the greatest of them all at that poundage.

Remarkably, the man Attell felt was the greatest middleweight fighter in history fought and defeated many of the leading heavyweight contenders of his day. Over time he matured physically and grew into a light heavyweight, then began fighting heavyweights on a regular basis, but he was almost always the much smaller of the two combatants.

Founding Ring magazine editor, Nat Fleischer, called Sam one of the hardest punchers of all time, and ranked the little man seventh among his personal all-time favorites. "Sam was endowed with everything. He possessed strength, agility, cleverness, hitting power, a good thinking cap and an abundance of courage. He feared no one. But he had the fatal gift of being too good, and that "is why he often had to give away weight in early days and make agreements with opponents. Many of those who agreed to fight him, especially of his own race,wanted an assurance that he would be merciful or insisted on a bout of not more than six rounds."

Other leading sportswriters of that era had even higher opinions of Sam. Hype Igoe, well known boxing writer of the New York Journal proclaimed Sam the greatest fighter, pound for pound, who ever lived. Joe Williams, respected sports columnist of the New York World Telegram wrote that Langford was probably the best the ring ever saw, and the great Grantland Rice described Sam as "about the best fighting man I have ever watched."

At the time of Sam's induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame (October, 1955) he was the only non-champion accorded the honor. Many ring experts considered Sam the greatest pound for pound fighter in the history of boxing. Under different circumstances he might have been a champion at five different weights: lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight,and heavyweight.

Blind and penniless at the end of his life, Sam lived quietly in a private nursing home. But when one visitor expressed sympathy for his circumstances, Sam replied, "Don't nobody need to feel sorry for old Sam. I had plenty of good times. I been all over the world. I fought maybe 600 fights, and every one was a pleasure!"

Advance praise for Sam Langford, Clay Moyle's biography of the boxing legend:

"Sam Langford was, indeed, an 'uncrowned champion' - one of the greatest pount-for-pound pugilists ever to step through the ropes. The only reason Langford never held a world title was that no champion gave him a chance to fight for the crown, even though Sam was eminently qualified. This book gives Langford the recognition he has deserved for such a long time. Moyle's epic chronicle of Langford's life in and out of the rind redresses the fighter's slide into obscurity during the half-century since his death. The author deftly balances the triumphs and tragedies of this extraordinary man's career. This book is a must-read, from the opening bell to the last."

--Charles R. Saunders, Author of Sweat and Soul: The Saga of Black Boxers from the Halifax Forum to Caesars' Palace

"With his richly detailed new biography, Clay Moyle has restored the indomitable Sam Langford to his rightful place in history of American sports - and demonstrates along the way that Jack Johnson was right when he called Langford 'the toughest little son of a bitch that ever lived'."

--Geoffrey C. Ward, Author of Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson