Henry Armstrong was once called Homicide Hank for his nonstop aggressive boxing style. By the time his career ended in 1945, he would be regarded as boxing’s greatest pound for pound fighter of all-time and still the only person ever to held three World boxing titles simultaneously. Henry Armstrong was born in Columbia, Mississippi on December 12, 1912. At age 4 his family moved to St. Louis where he was raised by his grandmother and his father after the sudden death of his mother. It was on the streets of St. Louis that young Henry learned to fight to defend himself because he was an easy target of size at only 5 feet 5 inches which lead him to be bullied from neighborhood street gangs and students in school which he attended growing up.
Henry was a honor student at Vashon High School and had dreams to go to college and become a doctor but was forced to become head of the household because his father’s health deteriorated which forced him to retire from the workforce. Henry turned back to boxing but he went through some rough patches during the first stint of his career. He failed to qualify for the Olympic boxing team, so he started boxing professionally in 1931 under varies names such as Melody Jackson; he used his friend’s last name Armstrong which he would be known to the boxing world as Henry Armstrong. Henry lost his first two fights by knockout but then he suddenly went on a long winning streak with his aggressive windmill attack style that caught the eyes of Jazz singer Al Jolson who became his manager along with Eddie Mead who was boxing trainer. All three of them would take the boxing World by storm by winning multiple boxing title’s during late 1930’s and early 40’s.
In the 1937 Henry Armstrong won his first World Title by knocking out Petey Sarron in the Featherweight Division Championship. The following year Henry moved up to two weight classes and beat Barney Ross to win the Welterweight Title. Months later he moved down to Lightweight and on August 1938 Henry Armstrong made boxing history when won the Lightweight title by beating Lou Ambers by a split decision, making him the first boxer to hold three different Weight Division Title’s at the same time. He lost his Lightweight title in 1939 in a rematch to Lou Ambers unanimous decision. The following year Armstrong fought for the Middleweight Title in March of the 1940, but the fight ended in a controversial draw. He made several title defenses of his Welterweight Crown but lost to Fritzie Zivic on October 4, 1940. Though he would beat Zivic in a non-title rematch in 1942 he would never again fight for a World Title belt.
Henry Armstrong retired from boxing in 1945 and although he won at least a half million dollars during his boxing career, he had very little money left and was near broke. He sadly turned to drinking and substance abuse until he became a born again Christian in 1951 and became a Baptist Preacher. He moved back to St. Louis after living in Los Angeles and open up a youth center for at risk teenagers which was named after him ” The Henry Armstrong Foundation,” which provided Youth activities such as athletics, education and providing shelter for the homeless. Armstrong died on October 24th, 1988 at the age of 75, two years later in 1990 he was posthumously inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. In his career he won 151 boxing matches with 21 losses and 9 draws and To this date Henry remains as the only boxer to ever held Titles simultaneously in three different weight classes which earned him as one of the greatest boxers every.