Inducted on November 14, 2002
Joe Saddler of West Indian parents June 12, 1926, and raised in New York’s Harlem, Saddler had about 50 amateur fights before turning pro in 1944. He was 75-6-2 when he finally got a featherweight title shot against Willie Pep on Oct. 29,1948. Pep’s record was 135-1-1.
Saddler, elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, was one of the hardest punching small men in boxing history. He had a career record of 144-16-2 with 103 knockouts and held the featherweight title twice.
He had a memorable four fights series with Willie Pep, knocking Pep out three times.
Saddler dominated the match in Madison Square Garden, cutting Pep in the first round, knocking him down twice in the third and knocking him out in the fourth. The rematch was held in the Garden Feb. 11, 1949, and Pep, on what he called his greatest night, regained the title on a 15 round decision.
On Dec. 6, 1949, Saddler won the vacant junior lightweight title on a 10 round decision over Orlando Zulueta at Cleveland and defended it twice before the l30-pound weight class was dropped in 1951. It was restored in 1959.
Saddler twice beat Pep in round- and – tumble featherweight title fights in New York. He regained the title when Pep couldn’t come out for the eight round Sept. 8, 1950, and defended it, stopping Pep in the ninth round Sept. 26,1951. The 1951 fight was so rough; the New York State Athletic Commission suspended both men briefly.
Saddler was still world featherweight champion when he retired in 1957 after sustaining a serious eye injury when a taxi in which he was riding was involved in an accident. Saddler became a boxing trainer and worked with many pros, including heavyweight champion George Foreman in the 1970’s.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Joseph Saddler was, at 5ft 8.5in, He exploited his exceptionally long reach to the full. Raised in Harlem, New York he had around 50 fights as an amateur before turning professional at the age of 17.
Sandy Saddler died in his sleep on Sept. 18, 2001 at Schervier Nursing Home, where he lived after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 75.
Awards & Recognition
- His second fight with Willie Pep was The Ring Fight of the Year for 1949.
- In 1990, Saddler was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
- In 1999, The Associated Press named Saddler the 2nd greatest featherweight of the 20th century.
- In 2002, The Ring named Saddler the 15th greatest fighter of the last 80 years.
- In 2003, The Ring named Saddler the 5th greatest puncher of all-time.
Sandy Saddler retired from boxing after suffering a detached retina in a traffic accident. In time he coached amateur fighters at the Maritime Union Gym in New York. It is believed that by the early 1960s he was working as a trainer aboard the SS United States out of NYC. He later helped train a young George Foreman, along with his cousin, Dick Sadler, and Archie Moore.
Boxing Record: click