One of the best pound-for-pound boxer
s of all time, Henry Armstrong is the only boxer in history to hold world championships in three different weight classes
at the same time.
Armstrong (DOB: 12/12/1912 as Henry Jackson; Columbus, Mississippi) was raised in St. Louis. His first professional fight was in 1931, and had a remarkably poor start to his career as a featherweight, losing 3 of his first 4 bouts.
However, over the next few years Armstrong had considerable success, slowly moving up the ranks. 1937 was his breakout year, as Armstrong won all 27 of his bouts, and won his world featherweight championship by knocking out Petey Sarron.
In 1938, Armstrong (who was nicknamed either "Hurricane Hank", "Homicide Hank", or both) tacked on the welterweight crown, decisioning Barney Ross in May. In August, he won his third championship, decisioning Lou Ambers for the lightweight championship. By doing so, Armstrong simultaneously held titles in 3 different weight classes, a feat that had never been accomplished before and has not been done since.
Later that year, Armstrong vacated the featherweight crown, as he no longer wanted to fight at the low weight required.
In August 1939, Armstrong lost by decision in a rematch with Ambers, losing the lightweight title and ending a 46 fight winning streak, leaving him with only the welterweight championship.
In 1940, Armstrong challenged Ceferino Garcia for the middleweight crown, but the fight ended in a draw. In October of that year, he lost his last remaining title (welterweight) by decision to Fritzie Zivic.
From that point on, Armstrong's career declined, until he retired in 1945.
His career record was 151-21-9, with 101 knockouts (according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame's website; other sites have him listed at 150-21-9 with 100 knockouts or even more varied totals).
Armstrong passed away on Oct. 24, 1988, at the age of 75. Two years later, he was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
In 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury selected Armstrong as #87 on their list of the 100 greatest North American athletes of the 20th century.