The Feared Fighters of “Black Murderers Row”


By: Ken Hissner

There were eight fighters that were feared who were middleweights who fought one another during the same era. They were tagged “Black Murderers Row” by writer Budd Schulberg. In this story we will meet each one.

There were Charley Burley, Eddie “Black Dynamite” Booker, Jack Chase, Cocoa Kid, Bert Lytell, Lloyd Marshall, Aaron “Tiger” Wade and Holman Williams.

Charley Burley, 83-12-2 (50), was out of Pittsburgh, PA. He fought from 1936-50. In 1992 he was inducted into the IBHOF and finally inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013. Go figure. Burley was the most feared of the eight. George Gainsford, manager of “Sugar” Ray Robinson omitted they “by-passed” Burley. “His style was such he would have counteracted Robinson’s,” said Gainsford. Johnny Ray, manager of Billy Conn, told matchmaker Art Rooney “never mention his name again”. Fritzie Zivic lost 2 out of 3 to Burley and had his manager Luke Carney take over Burley’s contract to ensure him he would never have to fight him again.

Burley fought such fighters as Cocoa Kid 1-0, Holman Williams 3-3-1, Jack Chase 3-0, Aaron Wade 1-0, Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore 1-0 and Bert Lytell 1-1. He had 10 different managers during his career.

Eddie “Black Dynamite” Booker, 66-5-8 (34), of San Jose, CA, was inducted into the IBHOF in 2017. He fought from 1935-1944. He fought Holman Williams, 1-1-1, Cocoa Kid, 0-1, Archie Moore, 1-0-2, Lloyd Marshall 1-0 and Jack Chase 0-1. He was the CA state champion before losing that title to Chase. He was 7-2-1 in title bouts. Booker after defeating Holman Williams retired due to eye trouble at age 27.

Jack “Young Joe Louis” Chase, 82-24-12 (36), was from Walsenburg, Colorado. He was the CA middleweight and light heavyweight champion. He fought Archie Moore, 0-3-1, Eddie Booker 1-0, Charley burley 0-2, Aaron Wade, 2-0-1, Lloyd Marshall, 0-2-1, Holman Williams 0-4, Cocoa Kid, 0-1 from 1936-48.

Cocoa Kid, 177-56-11 (48), was born in Puerto Rico and lived in New Haven, CT. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2012. He fought from 1929-48. He fought Holman Williams, 6-3-2, Charley Burley, 0-1-1, Eddie Booker, 1-0, Jack Chase, 1-0, Aaron Wade, 0-1, Archie Moore, 0-1, and Bert Lytell, 0-2.

Southpaw Bert “Chocolate Kid” Lytell, 71-23-7 (24), was out of Oakland, CA. Fought from 1944-51. He fought Holman Williams, 1-1-1, Aaron Wade, 0-1, Cocoa Kid, 3-0, Charley Burley 1-1, and Archie Moore, 0-2.

Lloyd Marshall, 70-25-4 (36), was out of Cleveland, OH. Fought from 1936-51. He fought Eddie Booker, 0-1, Charley Burley, 1-0, Holman Williams 1-2, Jack Chase, 0-0-1, Archie Moore, 0-2, Ezzard Charles, 1-2, Jake LaMotta, 1-0, and Joey Maxim, 1-0. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 2010.

Aaron “Tigre” Wade, 61-16-6 (31), was out of San Francisco, CA. He fought from 1935-50. He fought Charley Burley, 0-3, Jack Chase, 0-2-1, Archie Moore, 1-0, Cocoa Kid, 1-0, Bert Lytell, 1-0, and Holman Williams, 0-1.

Holman Williams, 146-31-11 (36), was out of Detroit, MI. He fought from 1932-48. He fought Cocoa Kid, 4-6-1, Eddie Booker, 1-1-1, Lloyd Marshall, 2-1, Jack Chase, 4-0, Aaron Wade, 2-1, Bert Lytell, 1-1-1, and Archie Moore, 1-1.

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