IKE WILLIAMS' brilliant career will forever be shrouded in controversy.
Williams turned pro in 1940 and established himself as a force when he twice beat Sammy Angott in 1944. One year later, he earned recognition as NBA lightweight champion with a second-round knockout of Juan Zurita. Williams was on a roll and unified the lightweight crown in 1947 by knocking out fellow Hall of Famer Bob Montgomery.
Williams made five successful title defenses before losing the lightweight title to Jimmy Carter in 1951. Williams engaged in numerous non-title fights that appeared to be more dangerous than his title defenses. He fought the likes of Tippy Larkin, Kid Gavilan (three times), Joe Miceli (three times), and Johnny Bratton (two times) in exciting above-the-weight matches.
After a dispute with his original manager in the mid-1940s, Williams was blacklisted by the Boxing Managers Guild. In an effort to salvage his career, he signed a managerial contract with notorious mobster Blinky Palermo, who controlled boxing then with Frankie Carbo. Williams got fights, but he didn't always get his money.
In 1948, Williams defended his crown against Enrique Bolanos, Jesse Flores and Beau Jack. However, he said he did not receive $40,000 out of his $65,000 share of the Flores and Jack fights. He later testified in 1960 during a Senate investigation into organized crime and boxing that it was Palermo who kept the money.
Williams also testified that he was offered bribes to throw his fight against Carter and the second fight against Gavilan. Although he said he refused the bribes, Williams lost both fights.
After Williams lost his lightweight title, he continued to fight the best in the world. He met Gil Turner, Chuck Davey and Carmen Basilio. He retired in 1956 after scoring a knockout over Beau Jack.
Born: Aug. 2, 1923
Died: Sept. 5, 1994