Tommy Burns

Financial Wizard

Heavy Weight Champion of the World from 1906 to 1908

Tommy Burns was the least impressive physically of all the heavy weight champions, standing just 5ft 7in and weighing in at just 12st 7lbs, however he had a huge 74inch reach which was better than most men. He was born in Chesley Ontario, Canada on 17 June 1881 he died on 10 May 1955 he was heavy weight champion of the world from 1906 to 1908 he was also British empire heavy weight champion from 1910 to 1911 he won 47 fights with 39 KO's lost 1 drew 4.


Described as the first dictator of the ring he was a shrewd operator who knew as much if not more about finances as he did about fighting, he certainly knew how to lay down the terms for his fights. His real name was Noah Brusso a French Canadian he started out as a middle weight but decided that there was more money to be made as a heavyweight. He was exceptionally quick on his feet with enourmous upper body strength and he adapted a crouching position that coupled with his small size made him extremely difficult for big fighters to hit him.


Being an astute person he realised that when Jeffries annouced his retirement and with most of the best white contenders being too old that America wasn't ready to accept a black man as champion of the world so he grabbed his opportunity, taking on champion Marvin Hart over 20 rounds Burns was too fast for Hart and he won the title on points.


Defence after Defence

Burns wasn't about too sit on his title he wanted to make money and the best way he could do that was to fight for good purses, so title defences came thick and fast, in three years he had 13 title fights, he won 11 drew one but won the rematch against Jack O'Brien.


Burns recognized the financial potential in taking his fights on the road so he travelled to England to fight the British Champion Gunner James Moir, Moir was tough but Burns was smarter and the fight lasted just 10 rounds.


Burns then travelled to Dublin where he despatched the Irish champion Jem Roche. He travelled to Paris France next and fought a relative new comer in Jewey Smith, this was a total mismatch that saw Burns having too keep Smith in the fight to make it interesting for the crowd. After France Burns travelled to Australia where he floored the Champion Bill Squires and then Bill Lang who claimed the title after Squires.


Throughout all his travels Burns was being chased by Jack Johnson, Johnson knew that to be anybody he had to be heavy weight champion of the world. Unlike some of his predecessors Burns had no qualms about getting into the ring with a Black man but he wanted the money to be right, finally he was offered $25,000 to meet Johnson the largest purse ever guarenteed to an heavy weight champion.


The fight scheduled for Boxing Day 1908 at Rushcutters Bay Sydney. Sadly for Burns he was too suffer at the hands of Johnson who carried the hurt of years of racial abuse he knocked Burns down in the first round, the seventh and it was clear to everyone there that he could finish Burns anytime he wanted, however someone was going to pay for the hurt he had suffered eventually the Police had to step into the ring in the 14th round to prevent Johnson killing Burns. It was a sad end to a glittering career.

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