NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25:  Former boxer Emile Gr...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Emile Griffith as a youth never dreamed of becoming a boxer and was discovered by accident. As a teen he was working at a hat factory on a steamy day when his boss the factory owner agreed to Griffith’s request to work shirtless. When the owner, a former amateur boxer, noticed his frame he took Griffith to trainer Gil Clancy’s gym.

Griffith won the 1958 New York Golden Gloves 147lb Open Championship. Griffith defeated Osvaldo Marcano of the Police Athletic Leagues Lynch Center in the finals to win the Championship. In 1957 Griffith advanced to the finals of the 147lb Sub-Novice division and was defeated by Charles Wormley of the Salem Crescent Athletic Club. Griffith trained at the West 28th Street Parks Department Gym in New York City.

Griffith turned professional in 1958 and fought frequently in New York City.

“Having fought 112 professional fights on five continents, the holder of six championship belts and appreciated as a warrior who took on all comers, Emile Griffith captivated the boxing world with his exciting style and a disarming personality. Enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a charter inductee, Emile Griffith’s place in boxing history as one of the greatest prizefighters ever to climb into a ring is assured.

Griffith captured the Welterweight title from Benny “The Kid” Paret by knocking him out in the 13th round on April 1, 1961. Six months later Griffith lost the title to Paret in a narrow split decision. Griffith regained the title from Paret on March 24, 1962 in the controversial bout detailed below.[2]

He later defeated Dick Tiger for the Middleweight title. He also lost, regained and then lost the middleweight title in three classic fights with Nino Benvenuti. But many boxing fans believed he was never quite the same fighter after Paret’s death. From the Paret bout to his retirement in 1977, Griffith fought 80 bouts but only scored twelve knockouts. He later admitted to being gentler with his opponents and relying on his superior boxing skills, because he was terrified of killing another in the ring. Like so many other fighters, Griffith fought well past his prime. He won only nine of his last twenty three fights.

Other boxers he fought in his career were the world champions Denny Moyer, Luis Rodriguez, Carlos Monzon, Dick Tiger, Jose Napoles and in his last title try, Eckhard Dagge. After 18 years as a professional boxer, Griffith retired with a record of 85 wins (25 by knockout), 24 losses and 2 draws.

However, Emile Griffith’s toughest battle was waged without gloves and it was fought outside the, but a battle that he had to wage – a struggle to bring together two lives.

Emile Griffith did not choose his career as a prizefighter. It just happened and it all came so naturally that he accepted that this was his world. Nor did he choose his lifestyle, how he lived it or who he lived it with. It, too, came so naturally that he never questioned that this, also, was his world. However, there was always the apprehension that his two worlds were incompatible.”

“NINE . TEN . AND OUT !” explores more than just the ring battles of a legendary champion. It takes us from a roped-off arena to a far larger battleground, that of life itself.

Having fought 112 fights on five continents, the holder of six championship belts and appreciated as a warrior who took on all comers, Emile Griffith captivated the boxing world with his exciting style and a disarming personality. Enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a charter inductee, Emile Griffith’s place in boxing history as one of the greatest prizefighters ever to climb into a ring is assured.

Emile Griffiths Website

Interview with Emile Griffith By Ted Luzzi

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