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Old battler Jersey Joe dies at 80

Jersey Joe Walcott, a Hall of Fame boxer who became the oldest man to win the heavyweight championship, died Friday night at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. He was 80.

Walcott, whose real name was Arnold Cream, lost six heavyweight title fights, more than any other man. He had two memorable bouts with Joe Louis, and Louis prevailed in both.

Many close to the ring thought Walcott beat Louis in their first meeting. On Dec.

5, 1947, at New York's Madison Square Garden, Walcott knocked down Louis in the first and fourth rounds, but the latter kept the title on a 15-round split decision.

A disgusted Louis started to leave the ring before the decision was announced.

"He really thought he had lost that fight," Eddie Futch, who trained Louis, recalled Saturday.

Remembering Walcott, Futch said: "He was one of the finest technicians in heavyweight boxing history. He was a credit to the game and a good man after he retired. I was always happy to see him."

Walcott was a little more than 37 years, 6 months old when his moment finally came. On July 7, 1951, at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, he knocked out Ezzard Charles with a left hook in the seventh round to become champion.

Walcott lost to Charles on a 15-round decision exactly four months earlier, and reporters called the second match the "Why Fight." Why was Walcott getting a title shot failing four times to win the crown?

He vindicated himself by beating Charles again before losing the title on Sept.

23, 1952, when he was knocked out by Rocky Marciano.

Walcott was 50-18-1 with 30 knockouts in a career that went from 1930 to 1953.