Welsh boxing in America

Jim Driscoll statue in Cardiff

Jim Driscoll statue in Cardiff

Whether rightly or wrongly, it’s often been considered that a British boxer has never really made his name until he’s crossed the Atlantic and taken on the best fighters in the US.

Many of Wales’ greatest boxers have made that journey and their records have built a rich legacy of fistic history. Here are the stories I know of Welsh professional boxers who have fought in the US. If you know of more or have anything to add, please leave your comments below…

The great stories

Joe Calzaghe

It took the US a long time to learn the extent of Calzaghe’s talent, but his final two memorable fights were against Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas and Roy Jones Jr in Madison Square Garden.

Read more on Joe Calzaghe…

Boyo Driscoll

Enjoyed a reputation as a crowd pleaser with the US fans, notably in a notoriously bloody New Year’s Day 1911 battle with Biz Mackey in the Bronx.

Read more on Boyo Driscoll…

Jim Driscoll

‘Peerless’ Jim’s dominance of Abe Attell was the highlight of his stunning tour of the US.

Read more on Jim Driscoll…

Fred Dyer

‘The Singing Boxer’s’ US career included a memorable victory over Panama Joe Gans.

Read more on Fred Dyer…

Llew Edwards

Faced the likes of Richie Mitchell in the US in the 1920s.

Read more on Llew Edwards…

Tommy Farr

Engaged in arguably the highest profile fight ever fought by a Welshman when he challenged Joe Louis at Yankee Stadium, before a series of other high-profile US fights.

Read more on Tommy Farr…

Cyril Gallie

Proved a huge hit with US fans in 1946, but it could have been so much more if the war had not robbed him of the best years of his career.

Read more on Cyril Gallie…

Colin Jones

The hard-hitting Swansea welterweight went agonisingly close to world title glory in two epic Nevada fights against Milton McCrory.

Read more on Colin Jones…

Frank Moody

The Pontypridd middleweight fought over 50 times in North America, including wins over Hall-of-Famers Lou Bogash and Kid Norfolk, plus a showdown with arguably the greatest middleweight of them all, Harry Greb.

Read more on Frank Moody…

Eddie Morgan

The Morgantown man spent most of the prime years of his career competing in the States where he faced some of the world’s leading fighters in bouts that would have been for world titles but for the ‘no-decision’ rule that then prevailed.

Read more on Eddie Morgan…

Johnny Owen

Arguably the most tragic story in Welsh sport, ‘the Matchstick Man’ lost his life when he challenged Lupe Pintor for his world title in a hostile Los Angeles arena.

Read more on Johnny Owen…

Freddie Welsh

The Pontypridd great engaged time and again in some of the biggest fights in the US as he chased, then defended, the prestigious world lightweight crown.

Read more on Freddie Welsh…

Tommy West

The Cardiff Bay man spent most of his career in the US and challenged for the world middleweight title in 1898 and 1901, and the welterweight crown in 1902.

Read more on Tommy West…

Jimmy Wilde

The diminutive ‘Ghost with the Hammer in his Hand’ amazed US audiences with his aggressive, knock-out prowess, establishing him as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

Read more on Jimmy Wilde…

Other Welsh boxing stories from the States

Eddie Avoth

The Cardiff light-heavyweight fought once in the States, losing to Mike Quarry in California in 1970.

Read more on Eddie Avoth…

Winston Burnett

The Cardiff journeyman fought multiple times in the States towards the end of his career, achieving less-than-spectacular results.

Nathan Cleverly

Has so far claimed two low-profile wins in the US and one thrilling defeat – his career across the Atlantic could become something much bigger.

Read more on Nathan Cleverly…

Gipsy Daniels

A colourful – and colourfully promoted – seven-fight US career included two wins at Madison Square Garden.

Read more on Gipsy Daniels…

Dai Dollings

Legendary trainer who took his talents to New York where he acted as a guru to – amongst many others – Ray Arcel.

Read more on Dai Dollings…

Kid Doyle, aka Cyril Austin

After a distinguished ring career in the UK, Doyle headed to America to work in mining, and also indulged in some small-scale fights.

For more on Kid Doyle, see Gareth Jones, “The Boxers of Wales: Volume Three, Rhondda” (St David’s Press, Cardiff, 2012), pp. 27-30.

Kerry Hope

Spent time training in the US in 2009 and had two professional fights, a win in Los Angeles then a defeat in Minnesota.

Read more on Kerry Hope…

Gary Lockett

Gained an Atlantic City shot at world middleweight king Kelly Pavlik, but the challenge proved too much for the Cwmbran man.

Read more on Gary Lockett…

David Pearce

After a medically enforced six years out of the ring, Pearce was tempted back to challenge Percell Davis in Michigan. The eight-round defeat would be the Welshman’s last fight.

Read more on David Pearce…

Gavin Rees

Secured a huge world title date against WBC lightweight champion Adrien Broner in Atlantic City, putting on a brave performance but coming up short against the outrageously talented champion.

Read more on Gavin Rees…

Francis Rossi

The Pontypridd man went to the US to test his talents and never returned, settling in the famous fight town of Brockton.

Read more on Francis Rossi…

Walter Rossi

As a young professional, the Pontypridd man sought his fortune in the US before he was known at home.

Read more on Walter Rossi…

Archie Rule

Fought in the US in the 1920s, when he also served as a reporter on the first Jack Dempsey v Gene Tunney showdown for the South Wales Echo.

Read more on Archie Rule…

Lee Selby

Headed to the US for the first defence of his world crown and says he is determined to become a star across the Atlantic.

Read more on Lee Selby…

James Todd

Fought two low-profile bouts in the US in 2009.

Dean Williams

The Merthyr-born cruiserweight spent almost his entire career campaigning in his adopted country of America, where he was managed by Larry Holmes. The Welshman’s only professional fight outside the US was a 2002 loss to Mikkel Kessler in Denmark.

Johnny Williams

Williams was a well-travelled heavyweight who fought twice in the US, beating Jimmy Rouse in 1952 and losing to Tommy Jackson in 1956.

Read more on Johnny Williams…

Miscellaneous

Dai Bowen

A promising young Welsh boxer who was killed en route to seek his fortune in America on the Titanic.

Gary Buckland

Has not fought in the US, but his record boasts a win over Jose Roberto Gonzalez in Jalisco, Mexico.

Read more on Gary Buckland…

Dai Dower

Dower’s American fight career was limited to the southern continent, the Abercynon man crushed in his world title challenge against Pascual Perez in Argentina.

Read more on Dai Dower…

Idwal Jones

Fought in Canada. For more on Idwal Jones, see Tony Lee, “All in my Corner: A tribute to some forgotten Welsh boxing heroes” (Ammanford, 2009), p. 54.

Ricky Owen

Spent time training with Talon Boxing in California.

Tommy Slater, aka Mog Mason

Was part of Tommy Farr’s New Jersey training camp and fought numerous times in Canada. For more on Tommy Slater, see Gareth Jones, “The Boxers of Wales: Volume Three, Rhondda” (St David’s Press, Cardiff, 2012), pp. 89-91

Pat Thomas

Thomas’s well-travelled career did not include any fights in the US, but he did compete in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Read more on Pat Thomas…

Les Williams

A promising young Welsh boxer who was killed en route to seek his fortune in America on the Titanic.

Howard Winstone

Never fought in the US, but the third of his epic trilogy against Vicente Saldivar was in Mexico City.

Read more on Howard Winstone…

See also

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