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Jersey Joe Walcott

Raymond Arnold Cream (January 31, 1914 - February 25, 1994), better known as Jersey Joe Walcott was a world Heavyweight boxing champion. Walcott was born in Merchantville, New Jersey, and he was often compared to former world Welterweight champion Joe Walcott. Hence his nickname, Jersey Joe Walcott.

Walcott had to wait a long time to blossom as a fighter. He broke the world's record for the oldest man to win the world's Heavyweight title when he earned it at the age of 37. Before winning it, he had to face many of the best boxers of his era. His fame transcended boxing, and he became a popular New York figure after he retired as a boxer.

He debuted as a professional boxer on September 9, 1930, fighting Cowboy Wallace and winning by a knockout in round one. After five straight knockout wins, in 1933, he lost for the first time, beaten on points by Henry Wilson in Philadelphia.

He built a record of 45 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw before challenging for the world title for the first time. Among those 57 bouts, he won two out of three against future world Light Heavyweight champion Joey Maxim, he beat Jimmy Bivins and Lee Oma, and lost to Abe Simon and Al Ettore, among many others.

On December 5 of 1947, he was given his first world title try, breaking a record for the oldest man to receive a world title try at the world Heavyweight title. Despite dropping Joe Louis in round one and once again in round four, he lost a 15 round split decision. Most ringside observers and boxing writers felt Walcott deserved the win, and so a rematch was fought, on June 25, 1948. The second time around, Louis prevailed once again, but by knockout in round 11.

June 22 of 1949, Walcott got another chance to become world Heavyweight champion, when he and Ezzard Charles met for the title left vacant by Louis. Charles prevailed, however, by decision in 15 rounds. Walcott, disappointed but eager to see his dream of being a champion come true, went on, and in 1950, he won four of his five bouts, including a three round knockout of future world Light Heavyweight champion Harold Johnson.

On March 7 of 1951, he and Charles fought once again, and Charles retained the world title with a 15 round decision. But on July 18, he joined a handful of boxers who claimed the world title in their fifth try, when he knocked out Charles in seven rounds in Pittsburgh, to finally become world's Heavyweight champion, at the relatively old age of 37. This made him the oldest man ever to win the world Heavyweight crown.

Walcott retained the title with a 15 round decision victory against arch-enemy Charles, then, on September 23, 1952, he lost his title to Rocky Marciano by knockout in round 13. This fight was called by many experts as one of the greatest fights of all time. Walcott dropped Marciano in round one and was ahead on all scorecards when Marciano landed what many have called the greatest punch in boxing history, to defeat Walcott by knockout.

There was a rematch, on May 15, 1953, in Chicago, but the second time around, Marciano retained the belt by a knockout in the first round, when Walcott attempted to become the first man in history to regain the world's Heavyweight crown. Walcott retired after this bout, remaining retired for the rest of his life.

He did not go away from the celebrity scene until his death, however: In 1963, he tried wrestling, losing to Lou Thesz. In the 1960s, he refereed the controversial world Heavyweight championship bout between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston. Walcott lost the count as Clay/Muhammad Ali circled around a floored Liston and Walcott tried to get him back to a neutral corner. Then Walcott looked outside the ring (presumably to the ringside count keeper) as Clay/Ali and Liston went at each other before Walcott instructed them to keep on fighting, then Walcott approached the fighters and abruptly stopped the fight. Walcott would never be appointed as a referee after this bout. It should be said, however, that most of the controversy surrounding this fight had nothing to do with Walcott, as this was the famous fight of the phantom punch.

In the early 1980s, Walcott was appointed as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, which oversees the state's boxing, wrestling, kick-boxing and karate competition affairs. In 1984, he stepped down from that position.

His record as the oldest man ever to win the world Heavyweight title was broken in 1994 by then 44 year old George Foreman.

Walcott is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota. He had a record of 53 wins, 18 losses and 1 draw, with 33 wins by knockout.