Tommy Burns

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Tommy Burns (June 17, 1881 – May 10, 1955) After starting his boxing career under his real name, Brusso took the Scottish-sounding name of Tommy Burns in 1904.

Although only 5 feet 7 inches tall and about 175 pounds, size did not stop him from becoming the world heavyweight boxing champion. When Burns met Marvin Hart for the heavyweight championship of the world on February 23, 1906, Burns was a 2-1 underdog and the betting was 10-7 that he would not last ten rounds. Burns won, and went on to defend his title eleven times within a period of less than two years.

All previous gloved world champs had been white U.S. Citizens (except for Robert Fitzsimmons, of the United Kingdom), who only defended their titles against other white opponents. Burns, however, travelled the globe, beating the champions of every nation in which boxing was legal at that time, including England, Ireland, France and Australia. Along the way he set records for the fastest knockout (one minute and 28 seconds) and the most consecutive wins by knockout (eight) by a heavyweight champion.

Burns continued to box occasionally after dropping the title. During the First World War he joined the Canadian army, serving as a physical fitness instructor in Canada. Burns was later ordained as a minister in 1948. Burns passed away while visiting a church friend in Vancouver, British Columbia, suffering a heart attack at age 73.

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