Frank Craig–also known as “The Harlem Coffee Cooler”–was a boxer known to be very technical in his approach. He was said to have great hand speed and footwork allowing for him to pick up wins either by knockout or on points.
Born in Columbus, Ohio on April 1, 1868, he headed to New York at an early age where his family settled in Harlem. Nothing is known about his life prior to entering boxing in 1891, six days after his 23rd birthday.
Frank Craig’s Early Career
For most of his career, Frank Craig fought in the middleweight division of the colored ranks. He won his debut match via KO against Seaman Fisher in Fisher’s only match. The following three matches would follow the same pattern and would also be against rookies making their debuts. Craig would suffer his first career in bout five in January 1892 against Billy Dunn. The match would go three rounds and end in a knockout.
Craig adapted very early in his career and began to utilize his speed in his in-ring style. While 1892 and 1893 were mixed years in terms of wins and loses, he proved to be a daunting opponent for many of the Black and Irish boxers he went against.
He would get his first title opportunity in March 1893 against the World Colored Middleweight champion, Joe Butler. Entering the fight, Butler was 12-0 while Craig came into the fight 10-3-2. This meeting of “The Harlem Coffee Cooler” and “The King of Middleweights” would end in with a second round knockout defeat.
Craig’s career would resume its usual path of this period with competition being more and more intense throughout the year. When he met Butler again in February 1894, he would defeat him via a fourth round knockout. He would hold the belt for some time but never defended it.