World Bantamweight Champion in 1901 and 1902. He was the
first of the modern era Jewish boxing champions,
turning professional in 1896 at the age of 16.
Harris stood a shade less than 5'8" and weighed only 105
pounds. At the turn of the century there was no class to
his weight, so he was relegated to the 116-pound Bantamweight
Division. At the outset of his career, Harris weighed only
96 pounds and was pitted against opponents who were as many
as 20 pounds heavier.
Harris claimed the Bantamweight title in 1900, when
titleholder Terry McGovern vacated his throne due to excess
weight. However, two Englishmen, Harry Ware and Pedlar Palmer,
also claimed the title, so Harris sailed to England
to meet the claimants. Once there, Ware declined to fight
Harris, preferring to forfeit his title claim. Palmer accepted
the challenge but not without his handlers proffering
gamesmanship provocations in Harris’ direction.
Nonetheless, Harris fought and beat Palmer in 15 rounds
for the undisputed crown. A year later, however, weight problems
forced Harris to relinquish his title.
He successfully fought five more bouts as a featherweight
and retired. In 1906, he returned to the ring as a lightweight,
scoring one victory and three no-decisions. Although the
win was over the leading lightweight title contender,
Harris decided to retire for good.
His career record: 54 bouts—won 39 (15 by KO, 1 by
foul), drew 7, lost 2, 5 no-decisions.
Harris was a twin. His brother Sammy, also a topflight
boxer, died suddenly at age 20.