International Boxing Hall of Fame

Charley Burley

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Charley Burley
Real name

Charles Duane Burley

Rated at




Birth date

September 6, 1917(1917-09-06)

Birth place

Bessemer, Pennsylvania

Death date

October 16, 1992 (aged 75)



Boxing record
Total fights




Wins by KO






No contests


Charley Burley (b. September 16, 1917, d. October 16, 1992) was a boxer of the 1940s, compiling a record of 83 wins (50 by knockout), 12 losses, and 2 draws with 1 "no contest". However, because he was so formidable, Burley was never granted a title shot by any of the welterweight and middleweight champions of that era and was also avoided by many of the top white contenders (Burley's father was black and his mother white). Among the fighters who "ducked" Burley were Hall of Famers Billy Conn (who fought Joe Louis for the heavyweight title), Frenchman Marcel Cerdan (who was supposed to face Burley in his American debut), Jake LaMotta (who had fought the likes of powerpuncher Bob Satterfield, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Holman Williams, who was Burley's greatest rival), and even Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many boxing historians as the best pound-for-pound fighter of all time.

Of course, not everyone ducked the slick Pittsburgh warrior. Burley won two out of three matches against future welterweight champion Fritzie Zivic, defeated the great Archie Moore by decision, and easily defeated future NYSAC middleweight king Billy Soose. Burley also faced future heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles, but dropped two 10 round decisions to him (the bouts were contested within a five week period, sandwiching a fight against Williams). Another notable Burley fight was the one against heavyweight J.D. Turner, who outweighed him by around 70 lbs. "Turner, face beaten to raw beefsteak in six rounds, failed to answer the bell for the seventh." (The Ring, June 1942). Burley himself was never stopped in 98 bouts.

There exists only one near complete film of Burley in action: his second fight with Oakland Billy Smith in 1946. It shows a conservative counter-puncher taming a much larger opponent with relative ease.

Burley's former sparring partner A.J. "Blackie" Nelson offers this comparison: "I see a lot of Charley in this kid, Roy Jones Junior. Both had unorthodox styles, could hit you from any angle, both hard to hit. Charley jabbed more than Jones, if Jones would concentrate on boxing as Charley did, he would become an all-time great."

Eddie Futch, the great trainer, called Burley "the finest all-around fighter I ever saw."

Burley was named to the Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time, elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1983 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.

Burley was ranked 39th on Ring Magazine's list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years.

An exhibit at The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Pittsburgh History Center states that Burley was the model for the character Troy in August Wilson's play Fences.