Regular price $145.00

HISTORY: Edward "Gunboat" Smith (February 17, 1887 – August 6, 1974) was an Irish American boxer and later a boxing referee. Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent much of his youth in orphanages, working on farms and on the railroads. He joined the U.S. Navy, where he began boxing and won the heavyweight championship of the Pacific Fleet. In 1910, Smith became known in the Oakland and San Francisco area by serving as a sparring partner for Jack Johnson and Stanley Ketchel before their Heavyweight title fight there. From 1912–1915 Smith established himself as a leading candidate for the heavyweight title, beating among others British and British Empire champion Bombadier Billy Wells and future world champion Jess Willard, and beating and losing to Sam Langford in two fights (this is especially notable since many white fighters refused to fight black opponents). He fought many other ranked fighters but, before his death, Smith was asked to name the greatest fighter he ever met. His response: Langford, in his words, “The best of all of Them.” In 1914, Smith won the "White Hope" heavyweight championship. This title, created by boxing promoters due to the unpopularity of the black heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, was never widely recognized. He lost the "title" to Georges Carpentier later that year in a bout with a purse of 9,000 pounds sterling. After 1916 Smith's career suffered a decline, in 1917 he suffered a loss by decision to future champion Jack Dempsey in a hotly contested four round fight. A year later he was knocked to the canvas nine times by Dempsey suffering a one-sided second round knock out. In 1920 and 1921 Smith suffered a string of KO losses and retired after suffering a one round knockout to the great heavyweight contender Harry Wills. He finished with a record of 81 wins, 46 losses and 13 draws, a total of 140 bouts. “Not a great record on paper,” Dave Allen remarked, “but one that becomes much more impressive when you take into consideration that he fought the very best of his era.” Smith was lean and scrappy, an excellent boxer who moved well and hit sharply with both hands. Among the men he defeated were Willard, Langford, Wells, Battling Levinsky, Carl Morris, Frank Moran and Fireman Jim Flynn. After his retirement, Smith went on to have a variety of jobs: runner on Wall Street, private policeman at Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium, and an actor in several small roles in silent films, including The Great Gatsby and Wings, the first Academy Award-winner for Best Picture. He also refereed boxing matches, such as the Harry Greb vs. Tiger Flowers middleweight championship bout in 1926 and the controversial Max Schmeling vs. Jack Sharkey return heavyweight championship contest in 1932. He died in 1974 in Florida. Offered here is an original, ink signature of Gunboat Smith which he signed in 1963.

FULL DESCRIPTION: This is an ink signature on paper. Signed in black ink, "Nov 15 1963 "Gunboat" Smith." Has a crease. Minor edge wear. Minor toning from aging. Clean. 1 3/4" x 4."

Size: 1 3/4 x 4

Condition: very good