• U.S.

Sport: Armstrong v. Ambers

2 minute read

A year ago Negro Henry Armstrong wore three crowns: world’s featherweight, lightweight and welterweight boxing championships. Last winter, staggering under the responsibility of this multiple headdress, he tossed off the featherweight crown because he considered it too bothersome to get his weight down to the required maximum of 126 Ibs. Last week, before a crowd of 30,000 in New York’s Yankee Stadium, another crown—the lightweight—toppled off when onetime Champion Lou Ambers (Luigi D’Ambrosio), whom he had dethroned a year ago, was awarded the nod in a 15-round match for the title.

After 15 rounds of tireless punching on both sides, Referee Arthur Donovan and the two judges agreed that Ambers had won. Quick to felicitate the new champion was Rev. Gustave Purificato, the priest under whose wing he learned to fight in a Herkimer, N. Y. church basement. But some of the other spectators were not so pleased with the decision. Some thought Armstrong was robbed of victory by the referee who took away five rounds for low blows which looked like unavoidable and harmless borderline punches. Others thought Armstrong had thrown the fight (fouling Ambers deliberately). Big, bombastic Eddie Mead, Armstrong’s manager, brayed that his boy was “jobbed,” accused one of the New York boxing commissioners of making the referee foul-conscious.

After the verbal smoke had cleared away, at least two things were apparent to impartial eyes: Lou Ambers is not a great fighter, Henry Armstrong is losing his steam. Although last week’s defeat was his first in 47 fights, the little black dynamo who knocked out 35 of 37 opponents within 18 months has chalked up only three knockouts in his last nine matches.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com