PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                         January 22, 2012


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We received the sad news that former Philadelphia middleweight star Jesse Smith passed away Sunday, January 22 in Chester, PA. Smith, nicknamed "Crazy Horse", was 79 years old.

Jesse Smith had a memorable boxing career that spanned 13 years (1953-1966) and produced an excellent record of 46-12-5 with 33 KOs. He faced an impressive list of opponents and was an extremely popular attraction especially in Philadelphia and Chicago, where he fought 30 and 21 bouts respectively.

In 1960, after going 29-6-3, Smith faced the rising Henry Hank at Chicago Stadium. Hank, 45-11-1, was closing in on a title shot and was heavily favored to beat the relatively unknown Smith, but Jesse took the fight to the feared slugger all night long. Although the action was close, Smith was on the brink of pulling the upset until he ran into a hard left uppercut in round ten. Hank dropped him with the punch but Smith bounced right back up and carefully counter-punched his way to the final bell. Even with the knockdown, most of the boxing media felt Smith had still won the bout. However, the officials were split and called the fight a draw. But Smith had arrived, and showed his skills during the fight - his punching power, ability to take a shot, and his clever boxing style.

Smith went on to win 11 of his next 13 fights, losing only to Joey Giardello twice by decision during the run. His victims in that stretch included Jimmy Beecham, Mel Collins, Ernie Burford, and the Alford brothers - Clarence and Johnny.

In the final 11 bouts of his career Smith went 6-4-1, losing decisions to George Benton, Luis Rodriguez (pictured at right) and Johnny Morris, and Ernie Burford by TKO. It was only the second time in his entire career that he failed to make it to the final bell.

Smith was one of those fighters who could have competed with the very best in any era of boxing history and more than held his own. One legend says that Jesse Smith even staggered Sonny Liston, a big heavyweight, in a sparring session back in the day. Whether that is true or not, if Smith was around today, he'd be a killer.

When he died, Smith was living in a nursing home in Chester, PA.

Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, February 2, 2012 at the Mitchum Wilson Funeral Home, 1412 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146.




John DiSanto - News & Notes - January 22, 2012