ON SAM LANGFORD

Thanks to Roy Bennett of Vintage Boxing Archives

“This is the man competent critics said was the greatest fighter in ring history, the man the champions feared and would not fight, the man who was so good he was never given a chance to show how good he really was.”

– Al Laney, New York Herald Tribune

“Quite possibly the greatest fighter who ever lived, Langford mastered every punch. His short hook on the inside and his right cross and uppercut were particularly deadly. His punishing jab was also one of the best. He was a strategist who knew how to maneuver, with the ability to explode out of an offensive or defensive position. He could instantly stop when retreating, revert to the offensive, and in the blink of an eye render an opponent unconscious with trip-hammer blows thrown in four and five punch combinations. Langford’s every move embodied the technique of a studied master boxer. During his prime he was rarely outfought, out-thought, or out-punched.”

– Mike Silver

“Langford wasn’t simply an all out slugger. He was smart and crafty and knew how to out-think guys in the ring. He could fight inside or outside and was impossibly strong. He was decades ahead of his time.”

– William Detloff

“Langford was as quick and slippery as an eel in action, highly intelligent and made up of surprising dodges from head to heels. Sam used his bulky shoulders and clever blocking arms to avoid blows and his potent punching power stayed with him until the end of his career.”

– Nat Fleischer, Ring Magazine founder

“Langford with his massive pair of shoulders and long arms was a danger to anyone. Although only a middleweight he gave weight and a beating to many heavyweights.”

– Gilbert Odd

“Langford had all the attributes of a great fighter, speed, punching power, an amazingly elusive defense, the ability to absorb punishment, and unlimited endurance.”

– R. Stockton

“Sam Langford was a great fighter in an age of great fighters. In proportion to his height and weight there never was a greater fighting man.”

– W. Diamond

“On the whole, I think Langford was the most tremendous hitter in the Ring at this time; for, whereas Jack Johnson would not, as a rule, let the heavy stuff fly until he had worn the man down, Sam always waded right in and immediately let go punches heavy enough to drop anyone. Of course, he had to work up his punch to an extent, however, and this he usually did on the giant Negro, Bob Armstrong, whom he had training with him. As he sparred with Armstrong, every now and again he would give him a dig “downstairs” that would have the big fellow gasping, and, to keep moving, he would then shadow-box for a short time before coming back to resume operations. There would be a few more exchanges, then whop! In would go another one to the body, and exclaim, “Oh”! He’s got cramp again”, Sam would do a little more shadow-boxing: and so, and so on.
For working up speed Langford had Jimmy Walsh, the bantamweight champion of the world, with him. The pair used to box together lightly, but at a great pace, and I was surprised to find that even in this sort of work Sam was every bit as fast and clever as Walsh himself.”

– Norman Clark who saw Sam fight on his tour of England

“I was knocked out three times in my career, twice by Langford and in my last fight by Paulino Uzcudun. I still don’t know, except from hearsay, what punches Sam used to knock me out. The first time it happened was 1914. We were supposed to go twenty rounds, when the fourteenth began I was going easy. Sam was in a bad way. I backed him around the ring trying to set him up for a one punch finish. His eye was bleeding and the last thing I remember was having him against the ropes just about five feet from his corner. It must have happened right then.” The Nov 27 San Francisco Chronicle reported that it was “a left hook to the jaw” that “turned the trick.”

“Two years later we were scheduled for another twenty rounder. In the eighteenth Sam was in a peck of trouble and once again I tried to set him up for a quick knockout. He finished the round okay and when the bell sounded for the start of the nineteenth I was after him again. I figured if I could get him in a corner I could finish the fight. That was all I could remember. He must have caught me as I rushed in.” The Feb 13, 1916 New Orleans Times-Picayune said it was “Langford’s mighty left hook.
I don’t know how long I was unconscious but it must have been quite a while. He was marvelous as a fighting man, I’d venture to say unbeatable in his prime.”

– Harry Wills describing in the February 1953 Boxing and Wrestling Magazine what his knockout losses to Langford were like. Wills said he was hit so hard each time that he doesn’t remember being knocked out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s