Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1955
Became world bantamweight champion
Became world featherweight champion
First-ever black world champion
George Dixon, who was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, held, in succession, the paperweight, bantamweight, and featherweight boxing titles. He was the first-ever black world champion in 1888 and invented the technique of shadowboxing. But in those days of post slavery-abolition in the United States, his battles didn't end with a handshake in the ring. For, among other racially-motivated pressures, he caused an outrage by marrying a white woman, raised the ire of a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob when he fought and beat a white man in Dixie, and died down-and-out at 39 in a New York City hospital. His career took off in 1888 when he claimed the world bantam title and successfully defended it twice. Moving up to the featherweight class, he fought a grueling 22 rounds against Cal MacCarthy to take that title in 1891. He defended this title three times before losing a 20-round match in 1897 but regained it the following year. He lost the title when stopped by Terry McGovern in eight rounds on January 9, 1900. George Dixon was a boxer in a time when bareknuckle boxing and 20-round matches were common. Today's relatively short championship fights of 10-12 rounds would be warmups for the fighters of Dixon's era. In 1899, in likely the most arduous year for a fighter to endure, he fought three, 25-round matches, three at 20 rounds, one at ten, and three at six. In England, against the best fighters of Britain, he fought three, 20-rounders, three at 15, 34 six-rounders, and one eight-round bout. Dixon's last fight was in 1906 at the age of 36. When he retired from professional boxing, he continued to fight what were then called barnstorming matches. In all, only 158 of the 800 times he stepped into the ring were classified as pro bouts. While his fortunes diminished, forcing him into abject poverty, his friends and fans stayed true. They rallied to collect funds to save the "little iron man" from being buried in Potter's Field, a cemetery for charity cases. He was buried instead as an esteemed equal in Boston's Mount Hope Cemetery in 1909.