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Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row [Paperback]

Harry Otty
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Nov 2010
The authorised biography of one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. "Too good for his own good" a statement that was made by many boxing managers and promoters of the 1940s when referring to Pittsburgh's Charley Burley. Arguably the greatest boxer never to win a world title, Burley was the most feared fighter of his generation and one of the most avoided fighters in the history of boxing. Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row follows a trail from the 1936 Barcelona 'Friendly' Olympics in war-torn Spain to top ten contender status for world title honours during the 1940s. From the disappointment of being avoided by Henry Armstrong, Fritzie Zivic, Tony Zale, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano, Billy Conn and Sugar Ray Robinson to hauling garbage for the city of Pittsburgh for over thirty years and induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Charley Burley was forced to fight out of his weight class with monotonous regularity (by today's standards he would be a light-middleweight), yet he knocked out fighters from welterweight to heavyweight. Burley beat three world champions in three different weight categories, but was denied a chance to fight for any title. Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row was written with the co-operation of Charley's family and friends. This revised edition has an expanded record for Burley that includes amateur bouts, a 'Tale-of-the-Tape', venues and weights for Burley and his opponents.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Tora Book Publishing (15 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954392426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954392420
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Otty was born in Liverpool, England. He is a boxing historian and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO). He is also boxing coach in his spare time.

Product Description


This book is a classic of its kind and no good boxing library should be without a copy. -- Cyber Boxing Zone - WAIL August 2004 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Since the release of the initial run of 300 hardback copies of
the Charley Burley story the author has expanded his research and, in
addition to more fight reports, has included more information on Burley's
managerial problems, his career in California and his personal life. There
is also mmuch more detail on the careers of the infamous 'Black Murderers'
Row'. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book on an outstanding man 24 Nov 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This outstanding effort from Harry Otty is an essential purchase for anyone who wants to know more about a true great of the ring. Until this book, Burley was largely overlooked by other authors prefering it seems to produce safe and marketable books on already well known fighter's such as Robinson and Ali et al. But Mr Otty has not only been meticulous in his research of possibly the greatest and most overlooked fighter to lace on a pair of gloves, but in doing so has produced a book that is quite simply brilliant. The author met the great man and relays his meetings in this engrossing read together with a detailed analysis of the "Black Murderer's Row" including other great fighter's denied a chance of fighting for the championsip. If you thought the great fighter's of the post depression era ended with Louis, Robinson and La Motta, be prepared for a shock. This book will educate you otherwise.

You will not be disappointed with this work, it really is that good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book 19 Jun 2004
This is a fantastic book, a real eye opener in so much as exposing a few forgotten facts.
Sugar Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong are usually referred to as fearless fighters only too eager to have fought anybody in their day, but these two, and many more of the well-known fighters of their day avoided all the long forgotten fighters that made up the `Black murderers row`.
Charley Burley may be the better known of the avoided few, but this book also gives details on the other fighters avoided, names I had never heard of before, but looking through their records, that are included in the book, gives an indication of why they were so carefully sidestepped and frozen out.
A fantastic book that everybody with an interest in boxing should read.
I have read many, many boxing books and this one is one of the best.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book scores exceptionally highly in my estimation for three reasons. First, it documents the amazing boxing career of a fighter many respected trainers and fighters say was the greatest ever. Secondly, the amount of research that went into the book is clearly evident, details of many obscure fights are given and a real feeling for the action is communicated. Finally, perhaps the greatest strength of this book is the writing - normally sports biographies can be tricky as the account of the subject's former years can be a chore to get through - this was not the case here at all. A good sense of Pittsburgh, the boxing scene and the life for African Americans during the 30's is related and the reader's attention is never lost.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential history of Forgotten Fighter. 18 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are many respected boxing authorities who consider Charley Burley not Sugar Ray Robinson, the greatest ever fighter pound for pound. This admirably detailed and meticulously researched book presents his case for consideration. Burley was one of a small group of outstanding coloured fighters of the thirties and forties who were never allowed the opportunities they deserved to fight for the highest honour of a world title. Harry Otty refers to them as the "Black Murderers Row" and the predominantly "white" champions in their respective weight divisions avoided them like the plague! Charley Burley was probably the best of the bunch. At his peak, he weighed little more than a light-middleweight but fought middles, light-heavys and heavyweights, beating most of them in the process. The full details of his extraordinary career are herein described and I will quote just three remarkable snippets. Fritzie Zivic and Sugar Ray Robinson (the nonpareil) made it perfectly clear that they wanted no part of Burley. Archie Moore who Burley outclassed when the "Old Mongoose" was in his prime described him as being "as slippery as lard and twice as greasy". Moore described Ezzard Charles ("Snooks")as the hardest puncher he had ever met but always considered Burley as the most complete fighter. Oakland Billy Smith was a dangerous punching light heavyweight who would go on to kayo the superb Harold Johnson in a mere two rounds in 1955. But he was outclassed by Charley Burley in their two fights. The second time so badly that Smith later admitted, "he could have killed me". Charley Burley has since passed into the realm of fistic legend. Tragically there is virtually no surviving visual record of him in action. Only a single grainy film of him in the ring. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more about the man 4 May 2006
By S. Fox
there are 2 prominant biographies around at the moment about charley burley, this is the better of the 2. the biographer met the boxer and actually spoke to his family and friends. the reader does get a sense of who the man was and also a grasp of his ability, frustrations and of how american society was. this is also an easier read than the other biography. this book is worth reading.
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