“The Springfield Rifle” Davey Moore was a boxer who had a solid career spanning a decade who died at an early age because of ring injuries.
He was born November 1, 1933, in Lexington, Kentucky as David Schultz Moore and began his journey in boxing in the early 1950s. Moore would represent the U.S. as a bantamweight in the 1952 Olympic Games before making his professional debut in May 1953.
Based in the Great Lakes area early in his career, he fought in multiple bouts back to back for most of 1953 and 1954 losing two bouts and winning fifteen. Davey Moore would go on to have a strong career through 1955 and into 1957. In 1958 he would make his way out west and box mainly in California.
Moore dominated 1958 and 1959 as he would pick up the World Featherweight title in March 1959. A lengthy streak was ended in early 1960 at the hands of Carlos Hernandez. After this loss, Davey Moore went on another streak and racked up five successful defenses of the World Featherweight belt.
In his final bout, he would lose the title to Sugar Ramos. The match was to take place in July 1962 in Los Angeles. Due to horrible weather, the fight was moved to March 1963. The fight went a ten rounds with Moore being on the defense. One too many blows resulted in him falling and hitting the back of his neck and head on the bottom rope. The injury resulted in damage to his brain stem.
Davey Moore got back to his feet at eight but was unable to mount a comeback. The referee halted the match in the tenth round with Sugar Ramos becoming the World champion. The Springfield Rifle gave a final interview before falling into a coma once in his dressing room. He died several days later on March 23 in Los Angeles at the age of 29.
His death was the subject of several songs including two by Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. In 2013, Springfield, Ohio erected a statue in his honor in the neighborhood where he grew up. Davey Moore’s career went 68 fights with 59 victories. Of those 59 wins, he won 30 by knockout.
As it would happen he wouldn’t be the only boxing champion named Davey Moore to die before 30. We’ll explore him in part two.