Tommy BurnsTommy Burns
- May 10
), World Heavyweight Boxing Champion
Born Noah Brusso in Chesley, Ontario, Canada, but because his Italian Roman Catholic mother objected to boxing, he used the Irish sounding name of Tommy Burns to hide his participation from her.
From an impoverished family of thirteen children, he traveled to the United States where he began his prizefighting career. Although only 5 feet 7 inches tall, size did not stop him from becoming the world heavyweight boxing champion. When Tommy Burns met Marvin Hart for the Heavyweight Championship of the World on February 23
, Burns was a 17:1 underdog and the betting was 10:7 that he would not last ten rounds. Tommy Buns won, and would go on to defend his title eleven times within a period of less than two years.
In December 1908, Tommy Burns became the first fighter to agree to a championship bout with a black boxer, Jack Johnson, to whom he lost his title in a disputed championship match held in Sydney, Australia. The fight lasted fourteen rounds before being stopped by the police. The title was awarded to Johnson as a technical knockout by the referee.
Tommy Burns died destitute in Vancouver, British Columbia. Only four people attended his burial, and he was interred in an unmarked pauper's grave until 1961 when, as the result of fundraising efforts begun by a Vancouver sports writer, a memorial plaque was finally placed on his grave.
He was voted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.