List of every recognised world heavyweight champion in history
First recognized Heavyweight Champion 08/29/1885
John Lawrence Sullivan (October 15, 1858 – February 2, 1918), known simply as John L. among his admirers, and dubbed the “Boston Strong Boy” by the press, was an Irish-American boxer recognized as the first lineal heavyweight champion of gloved boxing, de facto reigning from February 7, 1882, to 1892. He is also generally recognized as the last heavyweight champion of bare-knuckle boxing under the London Prize Ring...
Heavyweight Champion 09/07/1892
James John “Jim” Corbett (September 1, 1866 – February 18, 1933) was an American professional boxer and a World Heavyweight Champion, best known as the only man who ever defeated the great John L. Sullivan (hence the “man who beat the man” concept of the championship boxing lineage.) Despite a career spanning only 20 bouts, Corbett faced the best competition his era had to...
Heavyweight Champion 03/17/1897
Robert James “Bob” Fitzsimmons (26 May 1863 – 22 October 1917) was a British professional boxer who was the sport’s first three-division world champion.He also achieved fame for beating Gentleman Jim Corbett (the man who beat John L. Sullivan), and he is in The Guinness Book of World Records as the lightest heavyweight champion. Nicknamed “Ruby Robert” and “The Freckled Wonder”, he took pride in...
Heavyweight Champion 06/09/1899
James Jackson “Jim” Jefferies (April 15, 1875 – March 3, 1953) was was known for his enormous strength and stamina. Using a technique taught to him by his trainer, former Welterweight and Middleweight Champion Tommy Ryan, Jeffries fought out of a crouch with his left arm extended forward. He was able to absorb tremendous punishment while wearing his opponents down. A natural...
Heavyweight Champion 07/03/1905
Hart, nicknamed “The Louisville Plumber” because of his former trade, gained considerable prominence after a 1905 . That year, the heavyweight title was left vacant as a result of the retirement of champion James J. Jeffries and Hart’s record earned him a chance to fight for the championship against top-ranked Jack Root (1876–1963), a much...
Heavyweight Champion 02/23/1906
Tommy Burns (June 17, 1881 – May 10, 1955), born Noah Brusso, was a Canadian professional boxer. He is the only Canadian-born World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. The first to travel the globe in defending his title, Tommy made 13 title defences despite often being the underdog due to his size. Burns famously challenged all comers as Heavyweight Champion, leading...
Lineal Champion 12/26/1908
John Arthur “Jack” Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), nicknamed the Galveston Giant, was an American boxer who, at the height of the Jim Crow era, became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). Among the period’s most dominant champions, Johnson remains a boxing legend, with his 1910 fight against James...
Lineal Champion 04/05/1915
Jess Myron Willard (December 29, 1881 – December 15, 1968) was a world heavyweight boxing champion known as the Pottawatomie Giant who knocked out Jack Johnson in April 1915 for the heavyweight title. He was known for his great strength and size for the time, although today he is also known for his controversial title...
Heavyweight Champion 07/04/1919
William Harrison “Jack” Dempsey (June 24, 1895 – May 31, 1983), nicknamed “Kid Blackie”, and “The Manassa Mauler”, was an American professional boxer who competed from 1914 to 1927, and reigned as the world heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926. A cultural icon of the 1920s, Dempsey’s aggressive fighting style and exceptional punching power made...