Kaplan, Louis "Kid"
A member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the "Kid" was the world featherweight champion in 1925-26. The first Russian-born world champion, Kaplan was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2003 in the Old-Timer Category.
Considered one of the hardest working boxers in history, both inside the gym and in the ring, Kaplan fought the toughest boxers of his era during his 14 year professional career. A champion who relied on stamina and outworking his opponents, "Kid" defeated many of these boxers, including Jimmy Goodrich, Jackie Fields, and Sammy Mandell.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. October 15, 1901 - d. October 26, 1970
Born in Kiev at the turn-of-the-century, Kaplan settled with his family in Connecticut and began fighting as an amateur at the age of 13. In 1919, he moved up pro ranks, fighting under the name of Benny Miller. His first four fights took place in Jersey City, New Jersey (they all ended in no-decisions), but then Kaplan returned to Connecticut and fought almost exclusively in that state. By 1924, Kaplan was a contender in the featherweight division, having won 41 of 52 bouts (only three losses) since March 1921; this included a 10-round decision over future lightweight champ Jimmy Goodrich. In October 1924, Kaplan went to New York City and won three fights to set himself up for a shot at the world title.
The world featherweight title had been vacated in August 1924 by Johnny Dundee and there was still no champion by the end of 1924. On January 2, 1925, the "Kid" won the vacant title by knocking out Danny Kramer in the ninth-round. This ferocious bout is considered by no less an authority than boxing historian Nat Fleischer to be the 10th best fight of the half-century. Kaplan did not rest after becoming champ, defending his title twice in 1925, both times again top contender Babe Herman. Kaplan (who had previously lost to Herman) retained his title on August 27 when the match was declared a draw; they fought again in December, with Kaplan winning the decision.
Following his second defense again Herman, Kaplan continued to fight, but did not defend his title again. Louis won his first eight fights in 1926, including a decision over contender Billy Petrolle, but relinquished the title on July 6 when he moved up in weight to the lightweight division. Before he relinquished the crown, Kaplan was propositioned by several racketeers to lose a title fight for the sum of $50,000. Had he agreed, "Kid" would have left the ring as a wealthy man; if not, they argued, he would be giving up the title for nothing. Kaplan replied: "I can use the money but every time I box my pals bet their hard earned money on me. I would never be able to face them again, not for a million dollars."
After Kaplan moved up in weight, many people called Kaplan the "Uncrowned Lightweight Champion," a tribute accorded him because top lightweight fighters such as Tony Canzoneri, Al Singer, and Sammy Mandell refused to fight him when they were champ; "Kid" was never given a title shot in the lightweight division. Kaplan continued to fight competition though, as he was knocked out by Jimmy McLarnin in October 1927 (Mclarnin was future welterweight champion), but defeated a young Jackie Fields in June 1927, Jimmy Goodrich in a rematch in 1929, featherweight champion Battling Battalino in 1930, and the great Sammy Mandell in 1931 (the year after Mandell lost the lightweight title).
Kaplan fought professionally until 1933 and finished his career with a sterling record of 108 wins in 138 decisions. He lived in Connecticut following his retirement and remained connected to the sport by becoming a referee. He also trained young fighters at local athletic clubs. Kaplan is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Wins: 108 (26 by knockout)
No contests: 12