October 22nd in African American History – Henry Armstrong

Henry Armstrong

Henry Armstrong

October 22, 1988 Henry Armstrong, the first boxer to hold world titles in three weight classes at the same time, died.

Armstrong was born Henry Jackson, Jr. on December 2, 1912 in Columbus, Mississippi. He assumed the surname of his mentor and trainer, Harry Armstrong, in 1931. Because the fight purses were small, Armstrong usually fought at least twelve times a year. On October 29, 1937, he won the World Featherweight Championship, on May 31, 1938 the World Welterweight Championship, and on August 17, 1938 the World Lightweight Championship.

Ring Magazine named Armstrong Boxer of the Year for 1938. In 1939, Armstrong produced and starred in an autobiographical movie, “Keep Punching.” After losing his titles, Armstrong retired from boxing with a professional record of 145 wins and 29 losses. In 1951, Armstrong was ordained a Baptist minister and he created the Henry Armstrong Youth Foundation which he funded with the profits from the two books he had written, “Twenty Years of Poem, Moods, and Mediations” (1954) and his autobiography “Gloves, Glory, and God” (1956). Armstrong was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.


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