Inducted on September 12, 1971
The former lightweight champion was born in Brunswick, Georgia, on August 2, 1923, his family moving to Trenton, N. J. while Ike was a youngster. Started his boxing career as an amateur in 1938 and joined the punch-for-pay ranks in 1940.
Hard punching Ike. started moving in 1942 and 1943, winning all his bouts and became a top rated contender in 1944, defeating Sammy Angott twice, Cleo Shas and Lu Lu Constantino. On April 18, 1945, Ike kayoed Juan Zurita in two rounds to gain the N.B.A. lightweight championship. After ten more wins. In 1947 Ike knocked out Bob Mongomery in six rounds to become lightweight champion of the world. Ike held the title until 1951, meeting and beating Beau Jack, Kid Gavilan, Enrique Bolonas, until dethroned by Jimmy Carter.
Williams received the Edward J. Neil Memorial Award on January 12, 1949, for contributing most to boxing in and out of the ring during 1948. He was also named “Fighter of the Year” for 1948.
After 15 active years the likeable and good humored ex-champ retired in 1955. Ike engaged in 154 bouts, won 65 by decisions, and scored 60 knockouts, with many of his bouts in the heavier welterweight class.
Ike is now Physical Education Director at the Kilmer Skill Center in Edison, N. J.
Welcome into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, Champion Ike Williams. Congratulations and good luck.
- Won the featherweight championship at the 1938 Trenton Times Golden Gloves Tournament.
- Defeated such men as Kid Gavilan, Beau Jack, Bob Montgomery, Sammy Angott, Juan Zurita, Johnny Bratton, Tippy Larkin, Freddie Dawson, Joe Miceli, Gene Burton, Lulu Costantino, Dave Castilloux, Luther (Slugger) White, Lester Felton, John L. Davis, Charley Salas, Livio Minelli, Eddie Giosa, Enrique Bolanos, Bobby Ruffin, Fitzie Pruden, Cleo Shans, Ralph Zannelli, Rudy Cruz and Jesse Flores.
- Knocked out Juan Zurita in two rounds to win the NBA Lightweight Championship on April 18, 1945.
- Blackballed by the Managers Guild after he broke with his manager, Connie McCarthy. Williams later said, “Any fighter who tried to stand up to his manager in those days was blackballed and labeled a troublemaker. I wanted to start my own fighter’s guild. I approached Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler. But they were too scared. Even Jake LaMotta was afraid to be seen talking to me.” At this point, Williams was approached by Frank (Blinky) Palermo, an organized crime figure who would eventually serve prison time for his activities in the boxing world. Palermo assured Williams that he could resolve all problems with McCarthy, break the boycott, and get him the bouts and purses appropriate for a champion. Facing banishment from boxing, Williams agreed to sign with Palermo.
- Knocked out NYSAC Lightweight Champion Bob Montgomery in six rounds to become the Undisputed World Lightweight Champion on August 4, 1947. The victory also avenged a twelfth-round knockout loss to Montgomery from January 25, 1944.
- Named The Ring Magazine and Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year for 1948.
- Lost the title to Jimmy Carter by a fourteenth-round knockout on May 25, 1951.
- In 1960, Williams testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee that was looking at underworld influence on boxing. He said he was offered big money to throw fights against Jimmy Carter, Kid Gavilan, Freddie Dawson, and Juste Fontaine, but he rejected each one. However, he conceded that he wished he had taken $100,000 to lose to Gavilan in 1949 and $50,000 to lose to Carter in 1951, since he lost both fights anyway. He also said that he never saw a penny of $65,000 in purses from two title fights in 1948. Palermo spent it before he get his hands on it.
- Inducted into The Ring Magazine Boxing Hall of Fame in 1978.
- Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1983.
- Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
- The Associated Press named Williams the 4th greatest lightweight of the 20th century in 1999.
- The Ring Magazine ranked Williams as the 5th greatest lightweight of all-time in 2001.
- The Ring Magazine ranked Williams as the 78th greatest puncher of all-time in 2003.
- “Ike Williams Regrets Not Having Bagged Two Bouts” – Associated Press – December 13, 1960
- “A Lightweight Who Played a Heavy Role” by Jim Murray – Los Angeles Times – August 8, 1994
- “Boxing’s Greatest Fighters” by Bert Sugar
- “A Last Interview With Ike Williams” by Bill Kelly
Boxing Record: click