Born Arnold Cream but famous as “Jersey Joe Walcott” the former heavyweight champion of the world in 1951 has been honored with a statue in Camden, New Jersey. Walcott at thirty-seven years old became the then oldest heavyweight champion when he knocked out Ezzard Charles in their fourth meeting. He lost the title to the legendary Rocky Marciano by knockout in the thirteenth round of a great fight that he was leading in. After boxing Walcott worked as a referee best known as the third man in the ring for the infamous phantom punch fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston. In retirement he spent time in front of the camera as an actor in television and film and became the first African American sheriff in Camden County and held that role from 1971 to 1974. He also was the Chairman of the NJ Athletic Commission from 1971 to 1984. He passed at the age of 80 in 1994.
Walcott finished his career with a record of 49-20 and much like New Jersey counterpart Jim Braddock had ups and downs on the way to a late career run at the title. Walcott fought a long list of hall of fame fighters with victories over Ezzard Charles, Harold Johnson, Jimmy Bivins and Joey Maxim to name a few. He is famous in classic boxing die hard circles for his controversial loss to Joe Louis in their title tilt in 1947 where he dropped the champion twice but lost a debated decision. The fight does not have its full length available online which makes it difficult to grade the scoring but a poll of thirty two writers in the press found twenty one calling Walcott the winner.
It is great to see a great boxer and someone who dedicated themselves to their community be honored in their community.