Jimmy Wilde (May 15, 1892 � March 10, 1969), was a former boxer of Welsh origin.
Jimmy Wilde was the first official world flyweight champion and was rated by American Boxing Writer Nat Fleischer, as well as many other professionals and fans, as "the greatest flyweight ever". This sentiment was shared by former boxer, trainer, manager and promoter, Charley 'Broadway' Rose. Wilde earned various nicknames such as, "The Mighty Atom", "Ghost with the Hammer in his Hand" and "The Tylorstown Terror".
Jimmy Wilde's birth certificate shows he was born in Craig Berthlwyd (now known as the Graig), Quakers Yard, Merthyr Tydfil but his parents later moved to the village of Tylorstown in the Rhondda Fach when Jimmy was 12 years old. Jimmy was the son of a coal miner, and Jimmy himself worked in the coal pits, able to crawl through the narrow gullies that other men were unable to. He first fought at the age of 16 at the fairground boxing booths, he went on to win a British title in 1913, aged 21.
In 1909 Wilde married his wife Elizabeth and was a father by 1912. He left Tylorstown Colliery in 1913 and in 1916 joined the army and was sent to Aldershot as PT instructor. He died 1969 at the age of 76.
Wilde went undefeated for an amazing amount of 103 bouts, all of which were held in Britain. In the middle of that streak, he annexed the British flyweight championship by beating Billy Padden by a knockout in 18 rounds. He finally lost his undefeated record when he challenged Tancy Lee for the European championship, getting knocked out in the 17th round. With that loss, Wilde also lost his British title.
Record books often show he started boxing professionally in 1911 but it is taken for granted that he had been fighting professionally for at least 4 years before that. Wilde's claim that he had at least 800 fights is probably greatly exaggerated, but it was a great deal more than the 149 listed.
December 26, 1910, was the exact date of Wilde's first professional boxing fight. That day, he boxed Les Williams to a no-decision in three rounds. His first win came on January 1 of 1911, knocking out Ted Roberts in the third round.
Wilde then embarked on a 16 fight knockout winning streak, and on February 14 of 1916, he became world Flyweight champion by beating Joe Symonds for the vacant belt by a knockout in 12 in London. He beat Johnny Rosner by a knockout in 11 to retain the title in Liverpool, and on May 13, he had two fights on the same day, winning both by knockout. His next fight was a rematch with Lee, and he gained revenge by knocking Lee out in the 11th to retain the world title. He finished the year retaining his belt against Young Zulu Kid, also by knockout in the 11th.
In 1917, he retained the title by beating George Clarke by a knockout in four. With that win, he also won the European title and recovered the British title. But that would be his last title defense, as soon he decided to vacate the world title. He kept fighting and winning, and in 1919, he beat Joe Lynch, another boxer who was a world champion, by decision in 15. In 1920 he went undefeated in 10 fights, but then, he lost by a knockout in 17 to former world bantamweight champion Pete Herman, who outweighed Wilde by more than a stone (14 pounds), in 1921 (the bout was originally scheduled as a title defense, but Herman had lost his championship to the aforementioned Lynch the month before; Herman easily regained the bantamweight title from Lynch in July 1921, leading some to suspect that he had left the title behind with Lynch in America intentionally). That was the fight that marked his return to Britain after touring the United States all of 1920. After a win over Young Jennings, he announced his retirement, but returned to the ring out of a sense of obligation to defend his title against Pancho Villa in 1923. After losing by a knockout in seven to the Philippines' first world champion, Wilde announced his retirement.
Jimmy Wilde lived the last few years of his life in the Cadoxton district of Barry, South Wales. Wilde died in a hospital near Cardiff and was buried in Barry Cemetery.
Awards and recognition
He had a record of 131 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws and 13 no-decisions, with 99 wins by knockout, which makes him one of the most prolific knockout winners of all time, according to Ring Magazine, publication which also named him the 3rd greatest puncher of all time in 2003.
In 1990, Wilde was elected into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame as a member of that institution's original class.