Albert (Chalky) Wright's career is a lesson in perseverance. Although he battled the best fighters in the world for more than a decade, it wasn't until his 139th pro fight that he earned a title shot.
When that opportunity presented itself -- Wright took full advantage.
Born on February 10, 1912 in Durango, Mexico, Wright turned pro two weeks after his 16th birthday and scored a four-round win over Nilo Balles. He spent the early part of his career campaigning in Southern California and learned his craft as he progressed.
Wright never shied from quality competition and fought bantamweight contenders Newsboy Brown and Pablo Dano, ex-champ Baby Arizmendi, featherweight contender Al Reid and three-division champ Henry Armstrong en route to the crown.
It wasn't until he began fighting on the East Coast in 1938 that the boxing world took notice of Wright, who at 5-7 1/2 was unusually tall for a featherweight. He utilized his long reach and packed considerable power for a 126-pounder. By 1941, Wright was ranked among the top featherweights in the world and secured a title fight by decisioning future champion Sal Bartolo.
On September 11, 1941, nearly 14 years after he turned pro, Wright knocked out Joey Archibald in the 11th round to win the world featherweight title. Less than a month after winning the title, Wright engaged in two tough non-title fights, losing to top contender Jose Peralta and decisioning former champ Leo Rodak.
In 1942, Wright knocked out future 126-pound champion Richie Lemos and then made successful title defenses against Harry Jeffra (KO 10) and Lulu Constantino (W 15). But by year's end, Wright lost his crown via decision to Willie Pep, one of boxing's all-time greats. It has been said the first Pep-Wright encounter inaugurated the featherweight division's Golden Era.
Wright challenged Pep for the title in 1944 but lost another decision. He would also drop two non-title contests to the legendary Pep. Among the other champions Wright fought were Phil Terranova (KO 5), Jackie Wilson (W 10, NC 7) and Johnny Bratton (W 10). He finally retired, a veteran of 201 bouts in a career that spanned 20 years, in 1948.
Wright died tragically on August 12, 1957 in Los Angeles after slipping in the bathtub.