Inducted on June 15, 1969
Name: Gus Lesnevich
Birthplace: Cliffside Park, New Jersey, USA
Died: 1964-02-28 (Age:49)
Hometown: Cliffside Park, New Jersey, USA
Height: 5′ 9″ / 175cm
- Named Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year in 1947.
- Lesnevich served in the United States Coast Guard from 1943 to 1945.
- 1934 won the Intercity Golden Gloves at middleweight (2nd Div.) vs. Fred Caserio.
Lesnevich turned pro in 1934 and in 1940 took on National Boxing Association World Light Heavyweight Title holder Billy Conn, but lost a decision. In 1941 he took on Anton Christoforidis, winning the title by decision. Later that year he defended the title twice against Tami Mauriello, winning both decisions. In 1948 he lost a decision to Freddie Mills along with his title recognition. In 1949 he took on Ezzard Charles, but was TKO’d in the 7th, and retired after the bout.
In addition to his various accolades, Lesnevich was named Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year in 1947.
Lesnevich served in the United States Coast Guard from 1943 to 1945.
- via Associated Press. “Billy Conn Punches Out Decision Over Lesnevich: Pittsburgh Fighter Successfully Defends Light-heavyweight Title Through Superior Boxing Ability Before Small Crowd at Detroit”, Hartford Courant, June 6, 1940. Accessed March 22, 2011. “Billy Conn, the smiling, dancing Irishman from Pittsburgh, successfully defended his world’s light heavyweight boxing championship tonight by beating out a close 15-round decision over Gus Lesnevich, plodding challenger from Cliffside Park…”
Gus Lesnevich, Boxer, 49, Dies
CLIFFSIDE PARK, N. J., Feb. 28 (AP)—Gus Lesnevich, former light‐heavyweight boxing champion of the world, collapsed and died of a heart attack in his doctor’s office tonight. He was 49 years old. His wife was at his side. She had driven him to the doctor after Lesnevich had complained of stomach pains earlier in the evening.
Lesnevich was granted a divorce from his first wife, the former Georgianna Dobson, in January, 1954. The grounds were desertion. He retained custody of their four children, two sons and twin daughters.
Lesnevich remarried in June, 1954. He was employed in public relations work for a trucking concern, the Arrow Carrier Corporation of Carlstadt.
Held Title 7 Years
In an era of big‐name boxers ‐ the nineteen‐forties ‐ Gus Lesnevich reigned alongside such champions in other weight divisions as Joe Louis, Rocky Graziano and Sugar Ray Robinson.
He broke into boxing as an amateur and beeame a New York Golden Gloves champion. At the age of 19, he turned professional, fighting as a middleweight. In his first fight, May 5, 1934, he knocked out Justin Hoffman in the second round. He went on to win his next 10 fights, 4 by knockouts.
He followed the minor league trail of boxing the next three years, fighting in arenas in Brooklyn, Fort Lee, N. J.; Newark, Seattle and San Francisco. He broke into big time in February, 1937, but he did not win as consistently as he had when he was in the minors.
He defeated Tony Celli in an eight‐rounder in New York, but three weeks later he was knocked out in the fifth round by Young Corbett in a feature fight in San Francisco.
After two years, he gained a reputation as a battler, and he began to gain a following and draw crowds. He was given choice fights and, finally, Nov. 17, 1939, he gained a shot at the world’s light‐heavyweight title, then held by Billy Conn.
Lost Twice to Conn
Lesnevich lost the fight, a 15‐round decision. He bounced back to defeat Dave Clark Jan. 1, 1940, for another chance at the title. He lost again to Conn in a 15‐round decision on June 5.
Five fights and a year later, he gained the National Boxing Association’s light heavyweight title by defeating Anton Christoforidis in 15 rounds. On Aug. 26, 1941, he won the world’s 175‐pound title by defeating Tami Mauriello in. 15 rounds.
He secured his title by defeating Mauriello again in 15 rounds three months later in a return bout. But then came the war, and Lesnevich joined the Coast Guard.
He fought a few bouts while in service. When he was dis‐
In his first major fight after his discharge, Lesnevich was knocked out by Lee Oma in the sixth round.
He came back, however, and knocked out Freddie Mills of London in 10 rounds for the world’s light‐heavyweight crown. Shortly thereafter, he was upset by Bruce Woodcock of London, who knocked him out in the eighth round.
Though the knockout was due to cuts rather than overpowering blows, sports writers predicted that he would retire.
But much to the boxing world’s surprise, 1947 turned out to be Lesnevich’s best year. In defense of his crown, he knocked out the highly rated Billy Fox, who had come into the fight with a record of 43 straight victories, all by knockouts.
‘Fighter of Year’
His comeback in 1947 earned him Ring Magazine’s designation as “fighter of the year.” He also was awarded the Edward J. Neil Memorial Plaque that year by the Boxing Writers’ Association of New York as “boxer of the year.”
His success continued into 1948, when he knocked out Billy Fox in the first round in defense of his title. But he lost his title to Freddie Mills in a 15‐rounder in London that summer. He tried to regain the title the next year, but lost to Joey Maxim in 15 rounds.
His last fight was as a heavyweight against Ezzard Charles for the world’s title on Aug. 10, 1949. Charles knocked him out in the seventh round.
In his 15‐year career. Lesnevich fought 76 fights, winning 57, 21 by knockouts, and losing 14. He fought 5 draws. He later was a referee in New York and New Jersey.
New York Times
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