A professional featherweight in the 1930s and 1940s, Denner was one of the top New England boxers in his weight class during his career. He was described as a "stand-up type of fighter, employing the fine footwork which glides him around the ring without any effort. He jabs well, blocks, and is good at infighting - a short right chop does a lot of damage in close...a cutting, annoying fighter who tosses plenty of gloves."
Birth and Death Dates:
Tall for a featherweight (5'8"), Denner was nicknamed the "Boston String Bean," and was a terrific amateur in New England before turning professional in 1938. Considered an up-and-coming prospect, Denner defeated a number of opponents early in his career as he fought in Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Washington D.C., and Rhode Island. In December 1939, he fought New England featherweight champion (and future world champ), Sal Bartolo. Denner lost the bout in a split decision, but in the rematch two months later, he defeated Bartolo on a technical knockout after the fight was stopped in the eighth round due to Bartolo's ruptured ear drum.
After his victory over Bartolo, Denner found himself without worthy featherweight opponents in the New England area. In April 1940, he fought New Yorker Mike Belloise in Providence, Rhode Island -- the bout ended in an eight-round draw. Following the Belloise fight, Denner did not step into the ring again for five months and when he did, it was only as a member of welterweight Mike Kaplan's stable of fighters. Fighting on Kaplan's undercard, Denner began to lose interest in the ring and looked to be on the verge of retirement.
That changed when he joined up with matchmaker Jack O'Brien, who matched Denner up with Maine featherweight champion Lefty LaChance. In Denner's first bout in Boston in almost a year, he defeated LaChance in January 1942 on a seventh-round knockout. His impressive victory set up a non-title bout with NBA world featherweight champion Jackie Wilson in February 1942. Denner defeated the champion in a close ten-round decision.
Five months later, Denner fought the great Willie Pep for the New England featherweight title in Hartford, Connecticut (Pep's hometown), but lost a 12-round decision to the future world featherweight champ. In October 1942, Denner fought Allie Stolz, a top lightweight, and lost a ten-round decision. A few weeks later, Denner was knocked out by future world junior welterweight champion Tippy Larkin. He then lost a rematch to Lefty LaChance and retired soon after.
5'8", 129 pounds
Professional record (incomplete):
Wins: 23 (8 by knockout)
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