Born Rocco Tozzo on April 21, 1895 in Buffalo, NY. A former newsboy, he turned professional as Kansas in 1911 when the ring announcer mistakenly introduced him as “Rocky Kansas.”
Known as “Little Hercules,” the 5’2” Kansas was a stocky, powerful brawler with a sturdy build. One of the top lightweights of his era, he met Benny Leonard four times between 1916-1922 (ND 10, ND 12, L 15, KO by 8). Following Leonard’s retirement as champion in 1925, Buffalo’s Jimmy Goodrich ascended to the title. In front of 12,000 fans at Buffalo’s Broadway Auditorium on December 7, 1925, Kansas, in his 160th bout and 15 years into his career, defeated Goodrich to become new champion. His reign was brief, dropping the strap to Sammy Mandell in 1926. He promptly retired, but engaged in one comeback fight in 1932 (L 6) before retiring for good.
The relentless battler, who had victories over Johnny Dundee, Lew Tendler, Richie Mitchell, Charlie White and George Chaney, compiled a pro record of 64-12-7 (32 KOs), 81 ND.
Kanas died on January 10, 1954 after a battle with cancer.
Born: April 21, 1895
Died: Jan. 10, 1954