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A Man - Sandy Saddler
By Jason Petock (April 18, 2004) 
Sandy Saddler
Boxing has always been a game of perpetual motion. What was deemed popular yesterday becomes obsolete today. Old legends get swept away in the cold, unforgiving breeze of change. Sandy Saddler is one of those legends, packed away in the history books.

He possessed a 70 inch reach, and he used it well. A tall, lanky fighter, to the average eye he didn't look like much. But the man could punch, and his 103 career knockouts more than proves this point. Saddler had more of these than any other Featherweight Champion in history.

Sandy had turned professional at the age of 17, making his first debut in 1944. He fought 93 times before his phenomenal first match with Willie Pep, where he gained the Featherweight title on Oct 29, 1948. Pep himself was a great fighter, and had a record of 135-1-1 when he lost to Saddler, who was 75-6-2 at the time. Out of the 4 times Pep and Saddler fought, Sandy won 3 of them. In their third bout, Pep dislocated his shoulder, but all were memorable battles in great boxing history. The last time they met in September 1951, Saddler beat Pep in a brutal brawl, and "Will O’ The Wisp" quit after the ninth.

He dominated the Featherweight division for 9 years consecutively. Saddler possessed great drive and determination, and was fighting at a world class level by the age of 20, not an easy task.

He entered the world as Joe Saddler on June 12, 1926 in Boston, Massachusetts, although he was raised in Harlem, NY, of West Indian lineage. Sandy fought 50 amateur bouts before he turned pro, and was one of the hardest punching Featherweights in history. He was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame located in Canastota, New York back in 1990, with a final record of 144-16-2 (103 KO’s) and he held the Featherweight title twice.

Unfortunately his career was cut short when he had to retire, still as an undefeated champion, at the young age of 30. A cab he was riding in had an accident, and Sandy suffered an eye injury as a result. With such an illustrious career at that point, you have to wonder what the man could have done with more time?

Men like Sandy Saddler don’t seem to exist anymore. They’re maybe out there, but where? He had an amazing career and was just such a busy fighter, fighting 3 or more times a month. Sadly, Sandy Sadler passed away on September 18, 2001 at the age of 75. Our champions now fight once or twice every year or two, if we’re that fortunate. The reason is simple; there is more money to be made through less work these days. A prizefight is a difficult, grueling affair, no matter the opponents or venue. But shouldn’t true champions want to defend their crowns? Bernard Hopkins is a great example of the opposite of this; he has already broken the Middleweight record for championship defenses, and keeps going. And he’s 39.

Sandy Saddler earned everything he got the hard way, through constant work, undying determination, and one hell of a punch. It’s tragic that not more people know of this amazing man. Please do the right thing by this exceptional fighter and honor his memory. Honor the memories of all the fallen greats, because without their contributions to our sport there wouldn’t be one.
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