Born Janos Ruthaly on May 26, 1876 in the Czech Republic.
Root turned professional in Chicago in 1897 and racked up over 40 wins before losing to George Gardner (TKO by 17) in 1902. He returned with two wins, including a six-round win over Marvin Hart, before vying for the newly created light heavyweight title. Too heavy for the middleweight division and not heavy enough to compete with heavyweights, Root’s manager Lou Houseman created the division and set the limit at 175 pounds. Fans and experts lauded the move and Root became the division’s first champion with a 1903 win over Kid McCoy (W 10). He dropped the title to Gardner in his first defense (KO by 12). Upon James J. Jeffries’ retirement in 1905, Root was matched against Hart for the vacant heavyweight title and was stopped in 12. The clever and sharp punching Root boxed only once more before retiring with a record of 40-3-3, 2 NC (28 KOs) and wins over Jim Flynn and Gardner.
In retirement, he was the first manager of the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and later became a successful businessman. Root, who was a lieutenant in the US Army during WWI, died of a heart attack on June 10, 1963 in Los Angeles.
Born: May 26, 1876
Died: June 10, 1963