Celebrating Black History Month: Henry Armstrong

In an era with just eight weight divisions, Henry Armstrong simultaneously held nearly half the titles in the fight game.

Henry Armstrong

Henry Armstrong is presented with a trophy after defending his 147-pound title against Ernie Roderick in 1939 at London's Haringay Arena.

Armstrong took the 126-pound crown from Petey Sarron in October 1937 (a year that saw Armstrong win 27 fights), then added the 147-pound belt in May 1931.

He stepped up in class again three months later to wrest the 135-pound title from Lou Ambers. The three-division champ would only reign for a matter of days before abdicating the 126-pound throne, claiming he couldn’t make weight.

Armstrong defended the 147-pound title 19 times in his career (including 18 straight, and five in one month alone), and tried to add a fourth division championship to his bursting trophy case when he took on Ceferino Garcia at 160 pounds.

After retiring in 1945, Armstrong went on to become a Baptist minister in Los Angeles. He was ranked as the third-greatest fighter ever by ESPN, and second all time by boxing historian Bert Sugar.

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