When we talk about some of the greatest boxers of all time, most people’s minds directly go to the likes to Mike Tyson, Muhammed Ali and Floyd Mayweather. However, one name that is hardly ever mentioned among these greats just may be the greatest of them all. Here in this article I will introduce you to the man that was actually called “The Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows” by ESPN. I will speak about his life, career and why he doesn’t often get the respect he deserves by the public. The man I am speaking about is none other than Samuel E. Langford.
Samuel Langford was born in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia in 1883, making him a true African American pioneer in the sport. His career record is unbelievable when compared to a lot of the fighters in the modern day as he amassed a record with 178 wins (128 by KO), 32 losses and 40 draws.
Langford stood at only 5’7 and a half, yet fought in almost every weight class out there ranging from Lightweight (130 lbs) all the way up to Heavyweight (200+ in modern day, but didn’t have a limit in 19th century). Despite most heavyweights being over 200 lbs, Langford himself never weighed over 185 lbs and yet still took on and beat most heavyweights he fought. Throughout his career, he competed with and defeated many of the greatest of all time and destroyed numerous champions in the process. However, despite these huge accomplishments, Langford was never actually able to secure a world championship for himself, making him easily the best fighter of all time to never hold a title belt.
Now, the reason he didn’t ever win a title wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough, but simply due to the fact he was too good and was ducked by a large number of people. In simpler terms, this basically meant fighters were afraid to fight him. Notable fighters who are considered among the best of all time such as Jack Dempsey and Jack Johnson refused to fight Langford because of his skill. However, even without a title, many publications have Langford among their best heavyweight and pound for pound fighters of all time.
Racism was also an issue around the time he was a boxer and it is likely that had something to do with the fact he was not pushed as a star or given any help throughout his career to make a name for himself. Langford has to fight and scratch for everything he got and that resilience showed in his fights. He is said to have some of the hardest punches out there (a la Mike Tyson), while still maintaining good form and stamina to be able to take a fight as late as it needed to go.
While Langford is remembered favourably by most boxing pundits and is starting to get more respect, it is a travesty that this man isn’t mentioned as one of the best of all time as, if no one would have ducked him, he would have likely been a multi-weight world champion.