Shortest Heavyweight Boxer: The Power of Persistence

Who is the Shortest Heavyweight Boxer?

Tommy Burns, the Canadian boxer, holds this distinction.

Standing at a mere 5’7″, Burns is recognized as the shortest heavyweight champion ever.

In terms of weight, only Bob Fitzsimmons weighed less than Burns, with 168½ lbs, when he lost the championship to Jack Johnson.

Throughout his reign as champion, Burns usually maintained a weight between 170 and 180 lbs.

An image indicating The Shortest Heavyweight Boxer
Shortest Heavyweight Boxer
Source: (Wikipedia)

Shortest Heavyweight Boxer Early Life

Tommy Burns, originally Noah Brusso, was a Canadian boxer born on June 17, 1881, and passed away on May 10, 1955.

He holds the distinction of being the only Canadian-born World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.

Despite his smaller size, Burns defended his title against 11 different opponents in 13 fights, often as the underdog.

He famously declared that he would face challengers of any race or nationality, aiming to be the champion of the world, not just of one demographic.

Born in Normanby Township near Hanover, Ontario, to a large and struggling German-Canadian family, Burns faced hardships from an early age, losing five siblings before adulthood.

He began his boxing career in Detroit in 1900 and was discovered while playing lacrosse under a false name in 1903.

Tommy Burns Boxing Career

Initially fighting under his real name, Noah Brusso, Tommy Burns switched to the name Tommy Burns in 1904.

Despite being 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing around 175 pounds, he became the world heavyweight boxing champion.

He won the title by defeating Marvin Hart in 1906, despite being the underdog.

Burns defended his title 11 times in less than three years, facing opponents from around the world.

He was known for breaking racial barriers in boxing by taking on challengers of different races and nationalities.

He was the first heavyweight champion to fight a Jewish challenger, defeating Joseph “Jewey” Smith in 1908.

Burns once defended his title twice in one night, totaling 13 successful defenses if counted.

However, he lost his title to Jack Johnson in 1908, marking the first heavyweight championship bout with an African American.

After retiring, Burns joined the Canadian army during World War I.

In 1920, at the age of 39, he made a comeback but lost to British champion Joe Beckett.

Life after Boxing

After retiring from boxing, Burns ventured into promoting boxing events.

In 1928, he relocated to New York City and managed a speakeasy.

Despite his wealth from his boxing days, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression left him financially devastated.

Burns had to take up various jobs, including selling insurance and working as a security guard.

In 1948, Burns changed course and became ordained as a minister.

At the time of his passing, he was living as an evangelist in Coalinga, California.

He passed away while visiting a friend in Vancouver, British Columbia, suffering a heart attack at the age of 73.

Only four people attended his burial at Ocean View Cemetery in Burnaby, British Columbia, where he was laid to rest in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

In 1961, a Vancouver sports writer initiated a fundraising campaign to erect a memorial plaque for Burns’s grave.

Tommy Burns Legacy

Tommy Burns, the first global heavyweight champion, defended his title worldwide and held the inaugural world heavyweight championship fight outside the US in 1907.

At 5’7″, he’s the shortest heavyweight champ, with a record of 8 consecutive knockouts.

Despite his size, Burns reigned for over 2 years, facing challengers across continents.

He remains the only Canadian-born heavyweight champ.

Tommy Burns Honors

Australian boxer and Welterweight champion Geoffrey Mostyn Murphy adopted the ring name “Tommy Burns” as a tribute to the Canadian boxer.

Burns has been recognized posthumously by several sporting institutions.

He was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Shortest Heavyweight Boxer(FAQs)

1. Question: Who holds the title of the shortest heavyweight boxer in history?

Answer: Tommy Burns, a Canadian boxer, stands as the shortest heavyweight champion in history, measuring 5 feet 7 inches tall.

2. Question: How did the shortest heavyweight boxer, Tommy Burns, fare against taller opponents?

Answer: Despite his smaller stature, Tommy Burns was remarkably successful, defending his title against 11 different opponents in 13 fights, often as the underdog.

3. Question: What were some notable achievements of the shortest heavyweight boxer, Tommy Burns?

Answer: Tommy Burns’ legacy includes being the first truly international heavyweight champion, defending his title in multiple countries, and holding the record for eight consecutive title defenses by knockout or stoppage.

4. Question: How did the height of the shortest heavyweight boxer, Tommy Burns, compare to other champions?

Answer: Standing at just 5 feet 7 inches, Tommy Burns remains the shortest heavyweight champion in history, demonstrating that size doesn’t necessarily determine success in boxing.

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