Hammering Hank Needs You

By Clarence George on August 17, 2013
Hammering Hank Needs You
Henry Armstrong became Lightweight Champion of the World by defeating Lou Ambers.

“Case in point, he swallows his own blood for six rounds to win that third title from Lou Ambers and make boxing history on August 17, 1938…”

“Almost every Monday I have a charity thing. I like that. I do.”—Yogi Berra

Seventy-five years ago today—August 17, 1938—Henry Armstrong became Lightweight Champion of the World by defeating Lou Ambers via split decision at Madison Square Garden.

The Henry Armstrong Foundation is asking fans of “Homicide Hank” to honor both his memory and his victory by making tax-deductible donations that will be used to assist the homeless of Los Angeles’ Skid Row.

Founded in 2005, the Foundation partners with other charities, such as Feed the Children and the Midnight Mission, to improve the quality of life of those less fortunate. Indeed, the latter came to Armstrong’s aid “when circumstances rendered him homeless, penniless, and in need of basic sustenance,” says Edward Scott Jr., founder of the organization and Armstrong’s grandson. Seeking to return the kindness, the Champ established the Henry Armstrong Youth Foundation, precursor of the current organization, shortly after leaving the ring.

“His determination not to give up in spite of his circumstances is one of the things I admired about him,” says Scott. “Case in point, he swallows his own blood for six rounds to win that third title from Lou Ambers and make boxing history on August 17, 1938. To date, he is the only boxer in boxing history to hold three world boxing titles simultaneously, in three different weight divisions.”

Armstrong (150-21-10, 101 KOs) fought from 1931 to 1945, becoming featherweight champion in 1937 by stopping Petey Sarron via sixth-round TKO, the welterweight champ the following year by defeating Barney Ross via unanimous decision, and the lightweight king the same year by beating Ambers via split decision.

In fact, Armstrong came awfully close to winning four titles at a time when there were only eight weight divisions when he fought Ceferino Garcia for the middleweight title in 1940. Although the bout was declared a draw, the consensus then and now is that Armstrong was robbed.

Perhaps a way of making it up to him is by donating to the organization that bears his name. Those interested in contributing may do so at www.HenryArmstrongFoundation.org.

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  1. Clarence George 03:03am, 08/30/2013

    Great reminiscences, Beaujack, as always.

  2. beaujack 07:09am, 08/24/2013

    The great Henry Armstrong ! I saw Henry Armstrong twice in person and each time he lost…In 1943 my dad and I saw Henry Armstrong lose a decision to the new sensation Beau Jack, who just outsped Armstrong.
    And then after we saw the great young Ray Robinson “play” with his fading idol, Armstrong…Robinson towered over Henry Armstrong, kept Henry at bay and never tried to hurt Henry. We in the audience were aware what was going on, but there were no boos from the fans, out of respect to one of the greatest little men that ever lived. Armstrong was way past his prime by this time….

  3. Mike Casey 08:08am, 08/18/2013

    No argument there!

  4. Clarence George 05:51am, 08/18/2013

    Pretty much in a class by himself, Mike.  And, yes, a wonderfully dirty fighter, as made particularly clear in his first match with Fritzie Zivic, that master of naughtiness.

    A favorite fantasy bout of mine is Henry Armstrong vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.  “Money” wouldn’t know what hit him.  Actually, he would—Armstrong.

  5. Mike Casey 05:00am, 08/18/2013

    Terrific champion, Clarence, who never really stopped being a featherweight. Hank’s achievements were remarkable. Must have been hell to fight him, because he knew all the dirty tricks too!

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