Boxing Across the Nation: Kentucky – Davey Moore: Losing It All In The Ring
Boxing has been apart of the American sports scene since the 1700s by way of England. It started by infiltrating the larger port towns before eventually working its way into the lexicon of America. Now it showcases some of the most talented combat sports athletes in the world. We will embark on a 50 part saga exploring the best boxers representing the United States. Some states will have more athletes to choose from than others but the journey will be quite the ride. Let’s embark on the journey looking at an interesting fighter or bout from each state. Our 17th entry is the state of Kentucky.
(WRITER NOTE: Obviously, Muhammad Ali is the greatest boxer born in the state of Kentucky. The point of the series is to introduce us to the deeper stories in the boxing world and learn about those fighters and events not necessarily on the top of boxing fans’ minds.)
Check out the 16 states we have covered by clicking below:
Kentucky, the 15th state to join the Union, ranks 26th in the United States in total population as of 2020. Known for University of Kentucky basketball and the Kentucky Derby, which has been run since 1875, in the sports world, arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, was born in Kentucky. Other boxers like Bill Brennan and hall of farmer Jack Blackburn also call Kentucky their home state. There is one boxer from the state who falls under the shadow of Ali.
Early Life and the Build-Up to the Olympics
David Schultz Moore (known as Davey Moore) was born on November 01, 1933, in Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington is the second-largest city in the state and is home to the University of Kentucky Wildcats sporting programs. There is another Davey Moore who is famous in the world of boxing but he was born in 1959 in New York. Moore was the son of the Reverend Howard Moore and was the youngest of 10 children (8 boys and 2 girls.)
A young scrapper growing up on the streets of Springfield, Ohio, Moore continuously got into street fights around the age of 14. Eventually, five of his older brothers, who were amateur boxers, were able to influence Moore to shift from street fighting to fighting in the ring. He falsified his age to be 16 in order to compete in bouts. A winner of four regional Golden Gloves tournaments, Moore won the bantamweight Golden Gloves national tournament in Boston in 1952 with a first-round KO. Two months later in June, Moore earned his spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
1952 Olympic Games
The 1952 Olympic Summer Games were held in Helsinki, Finland. With 32 boxers from around the world competing in the bantamweight division, Moore received a first-round bye, automatically entering the field of 16. The American looked impressive, defeating the West German, Egon Schidan by decision (3-0.) The quarterfinals would end up being the end of the road for Moore, losing to eventual bronze medalist, South Korean Kang Joon-Ho. The United States would still dominate as a team earning five gold medals compared to five other countries earning one each. Moore’s teammates consisted of boxers such as gold medalists Floyd Patterson and Ed Sanders.
In May of the following year (May 1953) Moore made his professional debut where he was victorious by unanimous decision. He looked stellar in his debut with the Associated Press even stating, “Moore, who is fast as lightning and has great footwork, blasted Reese with both rights and lefts and had the Cincinnati fighter in trouble several times. However, Moore couldn’t put Reese out for keeps although he had him on the go several times during the bout. Reese was hurt in almost every round by uppercuts which Moore seemed to bring up from the floor.”
Entering his bout with Russell Tague with a record of 6-0, Davey Moore would take his first loss by points. Many of the press and fans in attendance went into an uproar after the decision was announced, clearly believing the only reason Tague won was that he was the sizeable favorite.
On December 07, 1954, Moore earned his first opportunity for gold, facing off with Eddie Burgin for the Ohio Featherweight Title. Moore’s hooks landed big in the ninth round, leading to the stoppage of action by the referee after he started his 10-count but decided to just call off the bout.
World and Lineal Champion
Moore’s shot at the NBA, The Ring, and Lineal featherweight championships finally came on March 18, 1959, in Los Angeles, California. Hogan “Kid” Bassey, Nigeria’s first world boxing champion, was in control of the matchup early. As he bout went on, Moore started to find his mark with big body shots and hard headshots. Bassey’s corner held him back from answering the bell in the 14th round, crowing Moore as the new champion. Bassey was well behind on points and had a major cut over each eye. Moore was up 126-119 and 125-121 on the scorecards of the judge and the referee.
Five months later on August 19, 1959, Bassey now entered the ring as the challenger to try and take back his featherweight crown. The two competed in the same arena in Los Angeles, Olympic Auditorium, as their first encounter. In another fairly close contest, Bassey was unable again to answer the bell, this time in the 11th round. The scorecards stood as 96-93, 98-91, and 98-94 all in Moore’s favor.
The Final Bell
After five successful title defenses, Davey Moore was scheduled to face Sugar Ramos (38-1-3) at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. More than 26,000 fans packed the one-year-old Dodger Stadium for the triple-header of championship bouts. Unfortunately for Moore, it would be the last time he would step into a boxing ring. Though he was the 2-to-1 favorite, Moore was battered around the ring by Ramos. In the 10th round, Ramos knocked out Moore, leading him to crash into the ropes. The contest was called to a stop and Ramos was declared the new champion. After speaking to reports in his locker room, Moore stated he was having severe headaches and was rushed to the hospital. 75 hours later, Moore passed away due to whiplash to the brain stem from hitting the bottom rope during the 10th-round knockout.
Prior to Moore’s body being transported to its final resting place in Springfield, nearly 10,000 came to pay their respects to the former champion during the 10 hours the body was laid out for viewing in a Los Angeles funeral home on Tuesday, March 26. Moore now rests at Ferncliff Cemetary in Springfield, Ohio. On the 50th anniversary of Moore’s last fight, (September 21, 2013), an eight-foot statue of Moore was erected in Springfield near his old neighborhood in his honor. Sugar Ramos was in attendance for the statue’s unveiling. A pair of Moore’s boxing gloves are also on display at a Helsinki restaurant, which was located in a closed gym that was renovated. Just recently, the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) announced Moore will be a member of the 2021 class which is set for induction in the summer of 2022.
I am a life-long MMA fan who has been a fan since UFC 1. I was born in Illinois but raised in South Louisiana, home of many great mixed martial artists. I started martial arts at the age of 4 and continued into my adult years where I served nearly 10 years in law enforcement. I feel my job is to convey the stories of the MMA fighters we enjoy to watch and share their stories with the world.
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