Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1955
Won first American bantamweight title
Won first world bantamweight title - a title he would defend 12 times
Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame
His small physical stature certainly did not reflect his large stature as a boxing legend, although it helped him achieve it. At 4', 11 3/4" and all of 110 pounds, boxer Johnny Coulon had mastery over all departments of ring craft and spent his life proving it. He claimed the world's bantamweight title in 1907 and was recognized as such after the title was vacated by Jimmy Walsh and Digger Stanley. But it was on March 6, 1910, that he clinched his claim to the title when he wrested the crown from England's Jim Kendrick. He held the title continuously until 1914, when he was defeated by American boxer Kid Williams. Born in Toronto to American parents, Coulon grew up in turn of the century Chicago. He turned pro at 16 and was champion at 21. His career, managed by his father, Eugene "Pop" Coulon, stretched from 1905 to 1920, during which time he claimed to have fought over three hundred pro fights (losing only four) notwithstanding the official statistics which read 96 pro bouts, 24 by KO, 32 by decision, and four draws. After capturing the world title against Kendrick in 19 rounds, he defended the title against Earl Denning, Frankie Conley, Frankie Burns, and Kid Williams. Another notable fight took place against Charley Goldman who later trained Rocky Marciano. Coulon served in the United States Army during World War I and was assigned to instruct soldiers on how to engage in hand-to-hand combat. He boxed twice after his service stint and retired from the ring in 1920. After retirement, he began public performances with a jaw-dropping stage act. He would appear stripped to the waist and challenge anyone in the audience to try to lift him off his feet. He died without ever disclosing his secret of pressing a certain nerve which made it impossible for another man to hoist him into the air. In 1921, Coulon married Marie Maloney and together they opened Coulon's Gymnasium on the South Side of Chicago. Many of the greats trained at that gym -- Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Jim Braddock, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson. Mohammed Ali often used the gym to keep himself toned during his exile years, and even Ernest Hemingway visited Coulon's to spar with the locals. All the while, he found the time and managed junior welterweight champion Eddie Perkins and light-heavyweight contender Allen Thomas. He knew everybody in the business, trained hundreds of fighters, and enjoyed well-deserved celebrity status in 1960s Chicago.