Sport: Boxing Inducted: 1979 Country: United States Born: December 23, 1909 in New York, New
Died: January 17, 1967
U.S. Marine Ross, second from left, with featherweight champion Willie Pep, in suit.
was the World Lightweight and Junior Welterweight
Champion from 1933 to 1935 and World Welterweight Champion
in 1934 and 1935 to 1938. He was the first professional boxer
to hold the Lightweight and Welterweight crowns simultaneously
and the first boxer to hold three World titles at the same
Ross beat Tony Canzoneri for the World Lightweight and World
Junior Welterweight titles on June 23, 1933. On May 28, 1934,
he defeated Jimmy McLarnin for the World Welterweight crown,
giving him his third World Championship belt.
Three months later, Ross lost the Welterweight title to McLarnin.
He relinquished his World Lightweight crown in April
1935, but barely a month later, regained the World Welterweight
title from McLarnin. He then gave up his Junior Welterweight
title. Ross held on to the Welterweight crown until May 31,
1938, when he lost it to Henry Armstrong.
Barney Ross was not the picture perfect teenager. The Rosofskys
moved to Chicago when young Beryl was a schoolboy, and at
age 14, his father was shot to death in a petty holdup. Angry
and bitter, Beryl became a street tough, scratching and scraping
for his family’s living as well as his own turf. Luckily,
he found the prize ring, and although
an amateur for some 250 bouts, he sold his medals and trophies
for enough cash to support his family. After Beryl’s
first few professional fights, his managers changed
his name to Barney Ross.
Restless for action after retiring from the ring, Ross
joined the U.S. Marines in 1942 and found himself a hero
in the storied World War II battle of Guadalcanal. Barney
was awarded the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry
and intrepidity in action” and received the
Distinguished Service Cross and Presidential Unit Citation
from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Hollywood version of his battleground heroism
was portrayed in the motion picture Monkey on My Back.
A personal account of that chilling chapter in Ross’ life
is found in his autobiography, No Man Stands Alone.
Including his extraordinary amateur boxing career,
Ross fought 329 bouts, 81 of them as a professional. His
pro record: won 74 (22 KOs), lost 4 (all by decision),
Ross was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1956 and
to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.