The son of Hall of Famer Barney Aaron, Young Barney was born in 1836 in London, England. He emigrated to the United States in 1855 and began boxing in 1856.
On September 2, 1857 he defeated American lightweight champion Johnny Moneghan in Providence, RI over 80 rounds. The fight lasted 3 hours and 20 minutes. With the victory he became the first Jewish fighter to win a championship in America. After losing the title the following year to Patrick “Scotty” Brannagan, he entered a seven-year period of inactivity. He returned to the ring in 1866 and lost a bid to regain the title against Sam Collyer. However, he defeated Collyer in the rematch on June 13, 1867 in a 68 round battle that lasted one hour and 55 minutes to regain the championship. His most famous bout was a 17 round win over Arthur Chambers in 1878.
In retirement, Young Barney remained in boxing by operating a gym in New York. He also served as a referee and officiated the 1883 John L. Sullivan vs. Herbert Slade bout. He died June 4, 1907 in Long Island.