Last NameSportCountryYear Inducted

Sport: Boxing
Inducted: 1996
Country: United States
Born: November 18, 1880 in Chicago, Illinois
Died: June 5, 1959

Harris was 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 accommodate 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.

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