International Boxing Hall of Fame

Jimmy "Babyface" McLarnin

"The Belfast Spider"

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Jimmy McLarnin
Real name James Archibald McLarnin
Nickname(s) Baby Face
The Belfast Spider
Rated at Welterweight
Nationality Flag of Canada Canadian
Birth date December 19, 1907(1907-12-19)
Birth place Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland
Death date October 28, 2004 (aged 96)
Death place Richland, Washington
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 69
Wins 55
Wins by KO 21
Losses 11
Draws 3
No contests 0

James Archibald "Jimmy" McLarnin (December 19, 1907 October 28, 2004), was a Canadian two-time welterweight boxing champion of the world.

McLarnin was born in Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland, but immigrated to Vancouver with his family at age three. He took up boxing at the age of 10 after getting into fight trying to defend his newspaper-selling pitch. Former professional Charles "Pop" Foster recognised McLarnin's talent at the age of 13. Foster constructed a makeshift gym for McLarnin to train in, sure that he would one day be the champion of the world.

Boxing career

Following a successful start to his career in Vancouver, Foster took McLarnin to San Francisco, where his youthful appearance made it difficult to get a fight until he lied about his age, it is for this reason that McLarnin earned the nickname "Babyface". Despite his youthful appearance, McLarnin had incredible power with both fists, his right being particularly feared. However, like many similar fighters Mclarnin suffered several hand injuries throughout his career, towards the end of his career McLarnin was forced to become more of a boxer due to this.

McLarnin lost his first title shot on May 21, 1928 in New York against world lightweight champion Sammy Mandell. Though he did go on to beat him twice in the following two years. It would be 5 years before McLarnin would next get a title shot, during which time he knocked out several top names including Al Singer, Ruby Goldstein, and Sid Terris.

McLarnin's second title shot came against welterweight championYoung Corbett III, Mclarnin won by knockout after only 2 minutes 37 seconds. Following his title success, McLarnin fought an epic three fight series with Barney Ross. The first fight, on May 28, 1934, was won by Ross, McLarnin regained his title in their next match four months later. The deciding fight was on May 28, 1935, McLarnin lost his title for the final time to a narrow points decision, for the rest of his life McLarnin claimed he had done enough to retain his belt.

McLarnin retired in November 1936 still at the top his game, he won his last two fights against all-time greats Tony Canzoneri and Lou Ambers. His record was 62 wins, 11 losses, 3 draws, and 1 no decision from 77 contests. In 1996 Ring Magazine voted McLarnin as the fifth-greatest welterweight of all time.

Life after boxing

Unlike many boxers, McLarnin invested his money wisely and retired a wealthy man. He opened an electrical goods store, and also did some acting, golfing, and lecturing, he never returned to the ring despite the large incentives for him to do so.


McLarnin died in 2004, aged 96, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.