Levinsky, King (aka Kingfish Levinsky) : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Levinsky, King (aka Kingfish Levinsky)

Harris Krakow

Levinsky fought as a heavyweight from 1928-1939, taking on many outstanding fighters during his career, including Jimmy Slattery, Primo Carnera, and Jack Sharkey, Joe Louis, and Tommy Loughran.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. September 30, 1910 - d. September 1991

Career Highlights:
A member of the well-known Krakow fish-selling family in Chicago, Levinsky (who legally changed his name) was a famous and popular Jewish heavyweight in the late 1920s and 1930s. Beginning his career as a light-heavyweight in 1928, Levinsky fought contender Leo Lomski in 1930 and knocked him out in the fifth-round (it was the first time Lomski had ever been knocked out). Two months later in November, King fought former light-heavyweight champion Jimmy Slattery and won a 10-round decision (Slattery had lost the title earlier in the year). Following that victory, Levinsky remained busy and faced another tough fighter, Tommy Loughran, American heavyweight champ and former world light-heavyweight title-holder. Although Levinsky lost a 10-round decision, he was beginning to gain a large following because of his willingness to step into the ring with anyone.

In 1931, Levinsky continued to fight regularly against the best boxers around, losing a rematch with Slattery in January, but winning the "rubber" match in October with a 10-round decision. That year, Levinsky also fought middleweight contender Ace Hudkins (10-round loss), future heavyweight champ Primo Carnera (10-round loss), and had a rematch with Loughran (which Levinsky won in a 10-round decision). The following year, he fought future heavyweight champ Max Baer twice, Hall of Famer Mickey Walker once, had a rematch with Carnera (Levinsky lost all fights on decision). During this time, he also fought exhibitions against the Jack Dempsey, who had retired in 1928; Dempsey's showing against Levinsky convinced the former champ not to attempt a comeback.

Levinsky fought regularly in 1933 and 1934 with some success; he defeated Jack Sharkey in September 1933 just after Sharkey had lost the heavyweight title. It was 1935 though, that was the most interesting year of Levinsky's career. In August 1935, King faced 21-year old Joe Louis who had knocked out 19 of his first 23 opponents (all wins). Although the powerful Louis had knocked out Primo Carnera two months earlier, many expected Levinsky to give him a tough bout. On August 7 in Chicago, 40,000 anxious fans witnessed a slaughter as Louis shocked the boxing world by knocking Levinky out 2:21 into the first-round!

Despite the defeat to Louis, King remained in the spotlight as he then took part in the first "major" mixed bout in ring history. On November 20, 1935, Levinsky fought professional wrestler Ray Steele in a bout that attracted national interest. Unfortunately, Levinsky did not make it out of the first-round as he was pinned by Steele just 35 seconds into the fight. In his dressing room after the fight, Levinsky said, "I was robbed. Twice I lifted my shoulder off the floor while the referee was counting ten. Each time, according to the rules, he should have started all over again...Well, what do I care. I made $350,000 in the last six years in the ring. I fought 'em all..."

Levinsky fought for another four years, although less frequently and not against the type of competition he had earlier in his career. In 1937, he lost a decision to Maxie Rosenbloom, but that was the last great fighter Levinsky faced. He retired in 1939 with 79 wins in 119 career decisions.

Chicago, Illinois

Physical description:
185 pounds

Career Statistics:
Professional record:
Wins: 79 (41 by knockout)
Losses: 33
Draws: 7

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