|Mickey "The Toy Bulldog" Walker
By Leszek Dowgier, BrickCity Boxing (July 25, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
Last Sunday, July 13th, was the birthday of a massive, yet largely forgotten, figure in the sport of boxing. Edward Patrick Walker was born on that date in 1903 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Better known as Mickey “The Toy Bulldog” Walker, he first stepped into the ring as a professional at the age of 16 with no amateur background to speak off. Though his debut ended in a no contest (due to official boxing decisions being outlawed in New Jersey at the time) it wouldn’t be long for the Toy Bulldog to get his first victory (and knockout), which would come a mere two weeks later.
After 16 fights in Elizabeth, Mickey ventured outside of his native city. However, his first fight outside of Elizabeth would also result in his second loss. Fighting in Philadelphia, Mickey faced Johnny Smith, a last minute replacement who was making his professional debut, but, he also outweighed Walker by 20 pounds. This would be something of a foreshadowing of Walker’s future career, as he would often be the smaller man by a considerable margin. However, unlike his fight with Smith, it would be Walker who would more often than not have his arm raised at the end of the contest.
During the next two years Mickey fought regularly, with the vast majority of his fights taking place in Elizabeth and Newark. After 41 professional fights (with 23 of them being no contests) and an official record of 15-3-0 Mickey faced his first truly formidable opponent, Welterweight Champion Jack Britton, who was coming into the fight with a record of 163-34-37. Though Mickey was down all the way to the count of 9 in the very first round, he fought back bravely taking the veteran champion a full 12 rounds to an official no contest (and an unofficial ‘newspaper decision’ loss). Approximately sixteen months later Mickey would meet Britton for a second time, this time at The Garden. Not only would Walker avenge his previous loss to Britton, but he would gain his first world title in the process. After gaining the title, Mickey wouldn’t taste defeat for almost 3 full years.
On July 2, 1925, after 26 fights as welterweight champion, Mickey took on a new challenge, as he stepped up in weight to face the reigning Middleweight king Harry Greb. In front of a crowd of some 50,000 fans, the two future legends battled it out for a full 15 rounds. Though Walker kept the fight close, rallying to win the final round after barely losing the fourteenth, it just wasn’t enough to take the title away from the “Human Windmill” Greb. True to his tenacious style, Walker would be back a year and a half later to win the Middleweight crown, beating yet another legend to gain it.
On December 12, 1926 at the historic Chicago Coliseum, Walker stepped into the ring against the Georgia Deacon, Tiger Flowers (who had beaten Harry Greb to gain the Middleweight Title at stake in this fight). After 10 action packed rounds, during which Flowers went to the canvass in the 9th, Walker won a controversial decision (which was however upheld by the State Commission upon later review).
After defending his Middleweight Title against the likes of Jock Malone and Ace Hudkins, Mickey decided to take a shot at a third world title. In early spring of 1929, Mickey traveled back to Chicago to take on Light Heavyweight Champion Tommy Loughran. Though Mickey would lose the fight by decision, this would not be his last chance to gain his third world title. However, before fighting for Light Heavyweight crown for a second time, Walker had another challenge in mind; fighting in the Heavyweight division.
For a fighter who began his professional career at welterweight, it would seem almost unthinkable to fight against heavyweights (even the smaller heavyweights of that era). Yet, Walker not only fought against the heavies, he more than held his own, defeating the likes of Johnny Risko and King Levinsky and drawing Jack Sharkey (who would go on to beat Max Schmeling for the Heavyweight title a year later).
Mickey would get his last title shot on November 11, 1933, losing a controversial decision to Light Heavyweight Champion (and future Hall of Fame inductee) Maxie Rosenbloom. True to form, Mickey would avenge this loss six month later, unfortunately for the Toy Bulldog, it was a non-title fight.
Walker finally hung up his gloves in December of 1935 with a record of 103-22-5 and 58 KOs. According to cyberboxingzone.com, against fighters who outweighed Walker by 9-19 pounds, his record was 11-1; against fighters who outweighed him by at least 20 pounds, his record was 10-1-2. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Mickey is still fondly remembered around his hometown of Elizabeth where his legend remains strong. Many older boxing fans proudly talk of their encounters with the Toy Bulldog. I have personally listed to my barber reminisce about the time a group of young men decided to test themselves again the aged champion, surrounding him, forcing him to defend himself. One punch later and with one of the men lying unconscious on the ground, the young toughs let Mickey continue on his way.
In a sport which prizes toughness and determination, few boxers have possessed more of either than Mickey Walker. Despite a legendary lifestyle filled with excess (which certainly didn’t hurt his image or legend), Walker accomplished something few other boxers have, and even fewer boxers today would dream of. Mickey Walker is a true boxing legend and in a time where multi-division champions are lauded, his name and exploits should not be forgotten.