Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia “Little Chocolate” George Dixon was a Canadian featherweight boxer of the late 19th and very early 20th century. While his name should be familiar to boxing enthusiasts, his significance to sports history seems to be forgotten.
Dixon was the first Black boxing world champion of any weight class. Not only that, but he was the first Canadian boxing champion. Dixon is also said to have been very important in the development of shadowboxing in training. We’ll look at a few of George Dixon’s top bouts in this series.
Vs. Nunc Wallace
Standing 5’3 1/2 and weighing just under 90lbs, George Dixon debuted in 1886 at the age of 16. Months before his 18th birthday, Dixon would draw Jimmy Spider Kelly, the American Bantamweight champion.
The nature of who was the recognized champion during this time was often murky. This fight ended in a draw but Dixon is said to have claimed the World Bantamweight title. He wouldn’t be declared World Bantamweight Champion until claiming international accolades.
Two years later in late-June 1890, he gets closer to doing so when he traveled to England to face Nunc Wallace in a 30-round bout. This bout was noted for George Dixon’s aggression after feeling out the invincible British Bantamweight Champion.
The press had this fight as Wallace’s but George Dixon’s approach of reading his opponent and deciding how to attack was something Wallace couldn’t combat.
This match would display Little Chocolate’s ability to pace a match. He rode Wallace for 19-rounds waiting for the opportunity to finish him. Wallace tried to come back late in the match and meet George Dixon blow for blow–a critical mistake. Eventually, he gave up the match as well as the British Bantamweight title.
Vs. “The Birmingham Sparrow” Johnny Murphy
Heading into his 23rd bout at 12-1-9, Dixon was heading into hostile territory in Providence, Rhode Island against Britain’s own Johnny Murphy. This match would give a big stage glimpse at Dixon’s other ability–and perhaps his most important–incredible stamina. What really stood out about this clash was the ringside mayhem during the match.
Murphy was said to have been involved with some shady characters who were aiming to make sure he won the bout. Dixon’s manager was almost attacked by one of Murphy’s men but the Lightweight Champion, Jack McAuliffe stepped in.
It was reported that a riot actually broke out at the Gladstone Club but the referee didn’t stop the match for the safety of the fighters. In the end, Dixon would knockout Murphy in the 40th round. His manager, Tom O’Rourke was grateful for McAuliffe’s help and offered $1,000 but the reward was turned down.
In part two we will look at a series of bouts from early in Dixon’s career as well as a clash of iron horses!