Career Evaluation: Midget Wolgast - one of the greatest flyweights of all time

This is a research piece I started writing back in 2011, briefly revisited in 2012, and finally finished off in 2013. Wolgast rates among the 10 best flyweights and overall Philadelphia fighters of all time. Find out why.

As far as verifiable records go, fewer than 80 men contested in over 200 bouts. Joseph Robert Loscalzo, also known as Midget Wolgast, was one of those men. Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in 2001, Wolgast was one of the greatest flyweights of all time.

Born in 1910, Wolgast made his professional debut in 1925 at the young age of 15. He won his first four bouts but was knocked out in his fifth, still 15 at the time and under a month into his career. He wasn't stopped again for another ten and a half years, amounting an impressive official record of 133-19-12 (newspaper decisions notwithstanding) along the way. Speaking of newspaper decisions, according to BoxRec, Wolgast won every one he ever had (19 total wins). But ultimately the greatness lies away from the numbers and into his quality of opposition. And make no mistake about it; from flyweight through lightweight, Wolgast fought the best.

Wolgast won the vacant NYSAC World flyweight championship in 1930 by defeating Black Bill and held on to it until 1935. Bill, one of Cuba's finest, was on a 26 fight winning streak before to losing to Wolgast. In 1929 RING Magazine rated Bill the #1 flyweight in the world while Wolgast was rated #2. Since RING titles didn't exist at the time, when the two met nothing was at stake outside of NYSAC recognition. NBA Champion and IBHOFer Frankie Genaro was rated #4 by the magazine the same year. Wolgast attempted to unify with Genaro at the end of the following year (1930), but the bout ended in a draw.

While Wolgast's rating became #1 after the Bill win and remained so following the Genaro draw, Genaro actually dropped to #5. It's no coincidence that the general sentiment going into the bout was that Wolgast was on his way up while Genaro was on his way out. Although Genaro lost his version of the title on October 26th, 1931, there were no unification matches between Wolgast and subsequent NBA champions. In fact, Wolgast didn't even bother defending his NYSAC title again until 1935. Weight fluctuations were often a problem for Wolgast and attributed to his reluctance to actually defend his crown. He ended up outgrowing the flyweight division entirely well over a year before he finally lost the title. His last successful defense of the title on July 13th, 1931 was against Ruby Bradley (more on him later).

Overall the RING rated Wolgast among the 10 best flyweights in the world from 1928 to 1934. From 1930 to 1934 he was rated #1. When he was finally dethroned in 1935, he debuted at #4 in the featherweight ratings. The large jump in weight begins to describe why he was dethroned in the first place. Despite regularly fighting 10 lbs heavier at that stage in his career, Wolgast dropped down to 111¾ lbs to defend his title against Small Montana on September 16th, 1935. Wolgast planned to give up his title regardless of the verdict of the fight, no longer desiring to kill himself to make weight. The Oakland Tribune reported, "Wolgast had been at 120 pounds, a week before the bout. To make weight, he claimed to have taken a steam bath every day, sparred ten rounds, and had done three to four miles of roadwork."

But hey, I'm not here to make excuses for the man. He lost. But who else did he fight? Wolgast's relevant resume reads as follows:

1927-05-02 Corporal Izzy Schwartz - A young Wolgast won an 8 round newspaper decision over this rugged veteran and soon to be NYSAC flyweight champion (winning the vacant title against IBHOFer Newsboy Brown). Schwartz had been rated by RING Magazine since its inception in 1924 and was rated #1 for 1927 and 1928. There was never a rematch.

1927-11-03 Willie Davies - Wolgast, still young, avenged a loss earlier this year. He'd go on to beat Davies twice more in 1928, then once in 1929, 1930, and 1931. Wolgast's final record against Davies tallied 6-1. After debuting in 1924, Davies was rated among the top 10 flyweights from 1925 through 1929. He then resurfaced in the bantamweight ratings in 1932. He never became World champion but he did beat Izzy Schwartz thrice.

1928-01-23 Billy Kelly - The more experienced Kelly gave a 17 year old Wolgast his 4th career defeat and the two never met again. Kelly walked away with the Pennsylvania State flyweight title that day and in hindsight perhaps a career best win. He previously bested the likes of Black Bill and Frankie Genaro. The RING rated him #8 at flyweight in 1927.

1928-07-30 Phil Tobias - Wolgast, now 18 years old, beat Tobias for the first time this year via a 10 round newspaper decision. He then officially beat him in his following fight the same year before officially losing to him before the year ended. That was the last time Tobias got the better of Wolgast. Their next 3 bouts consisted of 2 Wolgast wins and 1 draw. The final official record tallies 3-1-1 Wolgast, unofficially 4-1-1 Wolgast. Tobias was rated among the top 10 flyweights from 1928 to 1932, peaking at #3 in 1930. He wasn't a World champion, but he drew with Willie Davies and beat Ruby Bradley.

1929-02-18 Ruby Bradley - Bradley, despite going 0-3 against Wolgast, was rated #3 by The RING in 1931. In 1929 Bradley was rated #10 and in 1930 he was rated #4. Wins over reigning NYSAC champion Pinky Silverberg in 1927 and reigning NBA champion Frankie Genaro in 1930 highlight Bradley's career. Unfortunately for Bradley only Wolgast dared to defend his title. Bradley, African American, was one of the few to get title shots at this point in history.

1929-02-28 Routier Parra - Alright, I'm not going to sugar coat this win. It's just decent. Parra was rated the 15th best flyweight in the world back in 1926. Since then, he challenged for the NYSAC title against Izzy Schwartz (losing) prior to meeting Wolgast (losing again). Nonetheless he would go on to beat Willie LaMorte (albeit by disqualification) later that year (still 1929). Lamorte was rated #12 in 1926 but returned at #5 in 1929. Parra also drew with Phil Tobias the same year. Wolgast would go on to beat Parra 3 more times, final tally 4-0 Wolgast. OK, maybe I sugar coated that a little bit.

1929-07-26 Tommy Milton - This wasn't that good of a win, but an improvement over Parra. Milton was rated #5 flyweight in 1924 and #10 in 1925. He was no champion, but he was good enough to go 2-0 against Schwartz in 1924. His last impressive win came against IBHOFer Memphis Pal Moore in 1927. Moore's another anomaly with over 200 bouts (and only knocked out once). Wolgast was 19 when he met Milton.

1929-08-01 Frankie Anselm - 19 year old Wolgast added more quality wins to his resume against Anselm, the #2 rated flyweight in 1930 (Wolgast was rated #1 that year). Wolgast went 2-0 against Anselm. Both fights occurred in the second half of 1929. Anselm beat Phil Tobias in 1930 to clinch the #2 position while Tobias rated #3. Unfortunately "Kid" Anselm never got a shot at a World title. It's probably not a coincidence that he was also Black.

1929-11-04 Johnny McCoy - Wolgast took his first step to winning the flyweight crown by defeating former World flyweight champion (recognized by California after Fidel LaBarba vacated the title) and current top 9 rated McCoy in the first round of the NYSAC's flyweight tournament.

1930-03-10 Pinky Silverberg - You may remember I mentioned Ruby Bradley beat Silverberg during his NBA championship reign. But the title he won was vacant, and he won it by defeating Bradley via disqualification. After losing the rematch to Bradley the NBA stripped Silverberg of the title and held its own flyweight tournament. Silverberg may not have made the annual RING ratings, but hey, he was World champion...and Wolgast went 3-0 against him. He lost to Wolgast once more in 1930 and once again in 1931.

1930-03-21 Black Bill - This victory was already covered, just wanted to remind you when Wolgast won the NYSAC flyweight crown. Also let us note that Wolgast was still only 19.

1930-05-16 Willie LaMorte - In the first defense of his title, the generally light hitting Wolgast (17 knockouts in his whole career) stopped the very capable LaMorte (rating credentials previously listed) in the 5th round. LaMorte had previously defeated Pinky Silverberg, Willie Davies, Routier Parra, and Izzy Schwartz among significant others (not like that). But he never beat Wolgast.

1930-06-16 Frankie Bauman - I don't think Bauman was ever rated, or at least I can't find any evidence that he was. He wasn't a champion, either. But the man had a winning record and beat Pinky Silverberg, Willie LaMorte, Ruby Bradley, and drew with Frankie Anselm. That's got to count for something. Nonetheless, Wolgast went 2-0 against Bauman (both bouts in 1930).

1930-07-29 Speedy Dado - 20 year old Wolgast added another couple impressive notches to his belt against one of the Philippines' finest. Dado's official record going into their first bout was 42-2-8. By the last bout it was 67-11-10. Wolgast went 3-0-1 against him, drawing in the last meeting. He also scored one of his rare knockouts in the first meeting. Dado first entered the annual RING ratings in 1927 at #3 in the flyweight division. He didn't make the annual ratings again until 1931, re-entering the flyweight ratings at #6. That was the last year he was rated as a flyweight, making the bantamweight ratings for the next 3 consecutive years (#1 - 1932, #4 - 1933, #5 - 1934). Following his last loss to Wolgast, Dado would go on to defeat hall of famers Panama Al Brown and Baby Arizmendi.

1930-08-08 Canto Robleto - Robleto was relatively inexperienced going into this bout but stranger upsets have happened (7-0-1 Leon Spinks beating Muhammad Ali coming to mind immediately). Furthermore Leon's 7 wins came against nobodies, with a draw against a fringe contender. Robleto on the other hand had already beat HOFer Chalky Wright and drew with Speedy Dado going into his first fight with Wolgast. He later beat Dado twice before losing to Wolgast again. The final tally stands at 2-0 Wolgast.

1930-08-19 Newsboy Brown - Wolgast lost this fight and there was no rematch, his first loss since Tobias. But there's no shame in losing to an IBHOFer like Newsboy. He beat at least 5 other HOFers, drew with another twice, and also beat Speedy Dado twice.

*1930-12-26 Frankie Genaro - As covered previously this bout ended in a draw. But the quality of the opponent is worth noting. Genaro isn't just a hall of famer. He's often rated among the five or ten best flyweights to ever live, primarily because he's 3-0 against the great Pancho Villa. The RING has rated him among the four best flyweights in 1958, 1968, 1975, 1987, and 1994.

1931-04-13 Archie Bell - Long time rated bantamweight Bell was still rated when Wolgast bested him, effectively ending his reign as a rated fighter. He appears in The RING bantamweight ratings from 1925 to 1931, peaking at #3 in 1927 and still making the top 4 by 1930. His most recent big win prior to losing to Wolgast came against Willie Davies.

1931-05-04 Lew Farber - Faber became the first since Tobias to have a series with Wolgast and actually win a fight. But it was neither fight that happened in 1931. After losing a SD to Farber in 1933, the series ended 2-1 Wolgast. Wolgast's loss effectively entered Faber into the bantamweight ratings, and a win later that year over Speedy Dado got him as high as #3.

1931-06-11 Jackie Harmon - Don't ask me why he was rated, but in 1930 Harmon broke the RING top 10. BoxRec seems incomplete on Harmon's record and has actually added a few fights since I first began researching Wolgast in 2011.

1931-07-23 Joey Eulo - Prior to losing to 21 year old Wolgast Eulo had previously defeated Pinky Silverberg, Phil Tobias, Routier Parra, Frankie Genaro, and Frankie Anselm. The newspaper win over Genaro in 1927 should have most definitely earned him a RING rating that year. But for some reason the only Joey in the RING bantamweight division ratings for that year is Joey Rychell and his record may have become lost over time. If BoxRec's 5-7-4 [5 ND] tally on Rychell is roughly accurate, you have to assume this rating is a mistake. Boxing historian Henry Hascup reports that Rychell isn't rated in the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) database. Anyways, at least New Jersey had the good sense to vote Eulo into their Hall of Fame.

1931-08-17 Dick Welsh - Welsh was another unrated fighter with a solid record. He holds wins over Lew Farber and Pablo Dano. Dano rated as high as #3 in the bantamweight ranks. Wolgast later defeated Welsh again in 1935 and drew with him in 1937 (at which point Wolgast was clearly on the decline). Wolgast bested the series 2-0-1.

1931-08-20 Cris Pineda - Another rare and unavenged loss for a prime Wolgast came at the hands of the relatively inexperienced (but still very good) Pineda. Maybe Pineda was never rated, but he fought the best and he either gave them hell or won. He had two tough fights with Newsboy Brown (one went to a split decision), split victories with Juan Zurita (second fighter to KO Wolgast), took Farber to a split decision the first time, and drew with Young Peter Jackson and Tony Chavez (future top 5 featherweight). Jackson beat rated flyweight Harry Hill and future rated featherweight Petey Hayes (previously unbeaten). Hayes would go on to beat the great Kid Chocolate in 3 years' time.

1931-09-08 Happy Atherton - Wolgast met Atherton for the first and only time in the last fight of Atherton's career. Atherton was rated the #9 flyweight the previous year after defeating Black Bill and Willie Davies.

1931-10-22 Chato Laredo - Laredo had a big 1930, defeating Speedy Dado and HOFer Baby Arizmendi. His 1931 however wasn't so good, dropping 2 decisions to Wolgast near the end. Wolgast ended their series 2-0.

1932-03-18 Little Pancho - Pancho was a top 3 flyweight for 1932 and would go on to do bigger and better things. Talent ran in the family (Little is the younger half-brother of the great Pancho Villa). Little Pancho eventually became the American flyweight champion and drew for the California version of the World title against Little Dado. In 1996 The RING rated Little Dado as the fifth greatest Filipino boxer in history. Little Pancho beat him 4 times prior to their last meeting (which ended in a draw). Little Pancho's last meeting with Wolgast also ended in a draw, finishing the series 1-0-1 Wolgast.

1932-06-06 Tony Marino - Marino would later grab a piece of the World bantamweight championship in 1936 when he beat Baltasar Sangchili. The RING rated him #5 for that year. Ultimately Wolgast went 2-0 against him, beating him once in '32 and again in '35. Marino later died due to his last fight against Carlos Quintana, aka Indian Quintana. Is it a coincidence that the Carlos Quintana fighting today (or recently) also has the alias "El Indio"? The original was Panamanian while the latter is Puerto Rican.

1932-08-03 Young Tommy - Wolgast, now at the ripe age of 22, took on another rare opponent that was able to beat him in his prime. But that was the 2nd bout; Wolgast took the 1st and 3rd ending the series 2-1 Wolgast. The first two meetings happened in '32 while the third took place in '35. Tommy has a good chance of making the HOF himself one day considering he also beat the likes of IBHOF/WBHOFers Frankie Genaro, Baby Arizmendi, Pete Sanstol, and Newsboy Brown. I won't even bother including the Speedy Dado's of the world he beat...

*1933-02-03 Jackie Wilson - Although the bout was officially declared a draw, general consensus is that Wolgast clearly deserved to win the affair. Wilson, the naturally larger man and WBHOFer, would go on to defeat HOFer / World lightweight champion Sammy Angott (first man to beat the great Willie Pep), IBHOFer / World featherweight champion Freddie Miller, World featherweight champion Mike Belloise, and WBHOFer / World featherweight champion Richie Lemos, just to name a few. Wilson would not become featherweight champion himself until he defeated Lemos. Anyways, like the Genaro draw, there was never a rematch between Wilson and Wolgast.

1933-02-09 Billy Passan - Passan was still in the early stages of his career but had already beat former NBA flyweight champion Frenchy Belanger. Then six years after being stopped by Wolgast on cuts, he defeated top 3 featherweight Al Reid.

1933-05-12 Eddie Burl - Burl's claim to fame includes wins over Dick Welsh, featherweight champion Petey Sarron, and former top 10 bantamweight Benny Schwartz. This was another one and done victory for Wolgast.

*1933-05-26 Ernie Maurer - This was yet another draw that probably should have gone Wolgast's way. Maurer's undefeated record was clearly being protected at the time. Reports indicate that Wolgast arguably won every single round. Anyways, the highlight of Maurer's career came when he beat Frankie Genaro later this year. It earned him a top 10 RING rating and top 4 NBA rating in the bantamweight division. Maurer went to 49-0-5 [4 ND] before losing his first fight, which he avenged before retirement.

1933-06-09 Britt Gorman - It should be noted that this loss to Gorman was by disqualification due to Wolgast refusing to fight after continual headbutts from Gorman. It must have been pretty severe considering Wolgast had never quit before in over 120 bouts, and he would never quit again. Gorman himself didn't particularly have a notable career outside of this "win".

1933-08-15 Pete Sanstol - Wolgast, now 23, may have put in his last prime performance in this fight. It was certainly all downhill from here. Going into this bout both fighters had outstanding records. Sanstol was 87-4-8 while Wolgast was 107-10-7. Wolgast won in dominant fashion and they never met again. Sanstol, today a member of the WBHOF, claimed the World bantamweight title in May of 1931 while Panama Al Brown was still refusing to face him (at least in the eyes of the Montreal Athletic Commission & Canadian Boxing Federation). By August of that year Brown defeated Sanstol by a controversial split decision. Sanstol would later defeat Brown in a 1935 rematch, the last fight before his first retirement. But as far as Wolgast-Sanstol goes, a newspaper clipping describing the fight can be found here.

1933-09-27 Bobby Leitham - Wolgast, an old 23, dropped a unanimous decision in the tough bantamweight Leitham's backyard. Leitham was a top 10 bantamweight from 1931 to 1933. This particular victory for Leitham was sandwiched between two split decision defeats to Sanstol, also in Leitham's backyard. Nonetheless the first split decision (which was actually the 2nd fight of a heated trilogy that began in 1931) was highly controversial despite the loser's hometown advantage. More interestingly the winner was announced to face Wolgast, but Leitham got the opportunity anyways. Wolgast had no actual obligation to fight either guy (two full sized bantamweights), so I guess he just did what he wanted. Wolgast was more a super flyweight at this point (although that weight division didn't exist back then). Thus he fought bantamweights, despite reigning as NBA flyweight champion.

Wolgast would lose 7 more times after Leitham before finally losing his flyweight championship to Small Montana. You can look those losses up yourself, most won't be/haven't been covered. But the meaningful wins of a declining Wolgast are yet to come.

1933-10-30 Jackie Brown - Wolgast quickly rebounded from the Leitham defeat by immediately besting reigning British, IBU, and NBA flyweight champion Brown. Brown was rated best flyweight next to Wolgast from 1932 to 1935 before being dethroned by Benny Lynch and dropped to #3 while Wolgast debuted in the featherweight ratings. This was the only meeting between Brown and Wolgast.

1934-01-15 Jimmy Perrin - Wolgast's next conquest came against undefeated and future top 5 featherweight Perrin. Once again Wolgast was one and done.

1934-02-14 Lou Salica - And then there was Salica, future World bantamweight champion. Wolgast would only win the first meeting, drawing in the second and losing the most important and final bout for the title (at least according to California, Sixto Escobar was the more popularly recognized champion). After defeating Wolgast, Salica would go on to defeat Escobar as well, attaining undisputed recognition as bantamweight champion. As for the Wolgast-Salica series, it ended dead even at 1-1-1. Salica wasn't as lucky in his 3 fight series with primed IBHOFer Sixto Escobar, ending that 1-2. But he did go on to re-capture the crown in 1939 before losing it for the final time in 1942 against the great Manuel Ortiz, whom Salica actually beat once back in 1939. No need to even mention the Little Pancho's of the world Salica beat, 3 HOFers in the W column proves he's quite accomplished.

1934-08-27 Henry Hook - Hook was coming off a highly controversial loss to Jimmy Perrin. Perrin was down for a 14 count in their bout but was not counted out. Hook later rated the following year at #8 in the bantamweight division. There was no rematch following his one sided loss to Wolgast.

1934-10-01 Babe Triscaro - Previously rated #5 at flyweight in 1932, Triscaro made the move to bantamweight in '33 with mixed success.

1935-02-21 Juan Zurita - This was the first in a series of 5 fights against future NBA lightweight champion and WBHOFer Juan Zurita. Wolgast took the first three and lost the last two, the 4th by KO in 1936. That ended Wolgast's consciousness streak, remarkably going ~188 bouts between KO losses. If you consider Wolgast's record after Sanstol to be spotty, you'd have to call his record after the Zurita series a train wreck. Nonetheless he still won the series 3-2 but should have quit after 3-0.

1935-07-26 Rodolfo Casanova - Wolgast avenged an earlier defeat over the well accomplished Casanova. Casanova also sports victories (some multiple) over Speedy Dado, Young Tommy, Phil Tobias, Newsboy Brown, Juan Zurita, Henry Armstrong (albeit by DQ), and Baby Arizmendi. He accomplished all of that before Wolgast avenged his loss, ending the series between the two at 1-1. After losing to Wolgast he managed to add Freddie Miller and Kid Azteca to his list of conquests. That makes 7 IBHOF/WBHOFers in total (8 if Young Tommy makes it). Casanova has a good shot of making the HOF one day as well.

1935-08-09 Frankie Covelli - Immediately following Casanova, Wolgast had another one and done with future #8 featherweight Covelli.

1935-10-25 Bobby Leyvas - Wolgast stole another 0 in this bout, besting the 11-0 Leyvas who had already beaten Al Spina, Speedy Dado, Young Tommy, and Pablo Dano. That said, only the Dano victory really stands out because Dado and Tommy were on their way out and Spina's credibility is solely based on beating the shopworn versions of those two as well. Leyvas wound up rated #9 at bantamweight this year despite losing his last 2 bouts of the year, the other to Henry Hook.

1935-11-05 Small Montana - Hold up, isn't this the guy Wolgast lost his title to? Yes it is. Furthermore Wolgast had even lost to him once before that. So why take the fight? Because Wolgast just wanted to prove he could beat Montana if he didn't have to kill himself to make weight. So he weighed in 11 lbs heavier than his opponent and cranked out a hard fought unanimous decision. Wolgast ultimately lost the 3 fight series 1-2 but found his measure of redemption.

1935-11-27 Henry Armstrong - I realize I said I was done covering Wolgast's defeats, but an exception for the great Henry Armstrong must be made. Wolgast, who would have been better served to fight as a super bantamweight, was up for a challenge against one of the most murderous featherweights of all time. Unfortunately Wolgast's conditioning only allowed him to fight in spurts. Still, he made it to the finish line and managed to dazzle the crowd with his footwork and combinations in the 3rd, 4th, and 8th rounds. And he did all of that despite being dropped twice in the 2nd, the last of which was face first. Wolgast may have been a midget in height but was clearly a giant in heart.

1936-02-22 Varias Milling - Despite having a spotty record as well, Milling boasted wins over Young Nationalista, Earl Mastro, Petey Hayes, and Frankie Covelli. Wolgast went 2-0 against him.

1936-04-04 Joe Conde - Immediately after suffering his KO loss to Zurita, Wolgast bested a fellow Zurita conqueror in Conde, although Conde is officially 1/10 against Zurita in total. Conde however also can claim to have knocked out potential future HOFer Casanova, twice. On top of that he went 1-0 against Jackie Wilson and 1-1 against Henry Armstrong. So needless to say, this was a really solid win for Wolgast, but perhaps his last.

1936-08-18 Abie Israel - Israel was the #3 rated featherweight in the August, 1933 edition of RING, most notably for beating Freddie Miller in a non-title fight. Those days were long gone, though. Wolgast was once again one and done.

1937-02-04 Johnny Hutchinson - Wolgast caught Hutchinson, a fellow Philadelphian, early in his career but Hutchinson was already a top 7 featherweight by the next year. After dropping a unanimous decision to Wolgast, Hutchinson would defeat Sammy Angott 18 days later and Willie Davies 7 months later. Angott was an up and comer while Davies was near retirement, but overall Hutchinson was just doing a lot of winning no matter who he was fighting around that time. Wolgast, however, was never one of those wins. The tally ended 1-0 Wolgast. I'd like to credit Chuck Hasson for getting me to add Hutchinson, whom I missed upon the original publishing. Hasson also told me that Hutchinson told Willie O'Neill, Jeff Chandler's trainer, that he never saw such fantastic ring craft as that of Wolgast when they boxed. For those who don't know Chandler, he's just Philadelphia's greatest bantamweight of all time...

1937-02-25 Tommy Cross - Cross, another fellow Philadelphian, ended up a top 10 rated lightweight the next year but it's primarily for winning both rematches with Wolgast (no longer a rated fighter). Nonetheless Wolgast won the first meeting by unanimous decision. This was Wolgast's final trilogy and another new addition courtesy of Mr. Hasson.

1938-01-06 Norment Quarles - Quarles officially marked the last time anyone could give any kind of credence to a Wolgast victory, but it was a good one nonetheless. Quarles had previously drawn with Wolgast in 1936 and had bested the likes of Freddie Miller, Lew Feldman (2 time world title challenger), and Freddie Cochrane (future World welterweight champion) among others.

Success became extremely limited for Wolgast between conquests of Tommy Cross and Norment Quarles. Wolgast went 3-12-1 in his final 16 fights, settling for semi-impressive wins over the likes of George Daly (97-22-15 going in and 137-38-18 before retirement) and obviously Quarles. But it sure was one hell of a career up until then. Perhaps it's only fitting that the only available video footage of Wolgast on YouTube is against the man that effectively brought it all to an end, Juan Zurita. If you watch it you won't be disappointed.

Wolgast's uncanny reflexes, speed, footwork, and elusiveness are stunning, even though he'd seen better days. And if his legs needed a rest, he could defend himself just as well in close quarters. Despite his lack of power he still had a good inside game and was able to roll under shots and protect the body while returning body shots of his own. People impressed by the way Ali was able to pull his head back to avoid punches, something boxers aren't supposed to do yet the gifted manage to get away with, should acknowledge that Wolgast was doing it just as remarkably 30 years earlier. The only serious flaw in Wolgast's game (physical limitations aside) appears to be his throwing of wild, off balance hooks. Many would say it made him look a little clumsy and scrappy. But you can chalk it up as a byproduct of a man dancing around the ring to a rhythm of his own.

George Pace, former world bantamweight champion, was quoted in a 1970 RING magazine saying, "Midget Wolgast was a lightning streak. I have never seen any fighter with trickier or speedier execution in the ring, and that includes Willie Pep." He beat 9 former/future/current world champions and 2 hall of famers (so far). Nat Fleischer, founder of the RING, rated Wolgast the 8th greatest flyweight of all time in 1958. The RING panel rated him the 9th greatest of all time in 1975. Herbert G. Goldman, managing RING editor, rated him the 7th greatest in 1987. The author of this piece rated him the 4th greatest in 2012.

Top 10 Flyweights by Ryan Bivins:

  1. Jimmy Wilde
  2. Fidel LaBarba
  3. Pancho Villa
  4. Midget Wolgast
  5. Pascual Perez
  6. Miguel Canto
  7. Frankie Genaro
  8. Benny Lynch
  9. Pone Kingpetch
  10. Fighting Harada

5 More in alphabetical order:

  • Hiroyuki Ebihara
  • Horacio Accavallo
  • Mark Johnson
  • Masao Ohba
  • Pongsaklek Wonjongkam

Midget Wolgast's Relevant Resume

Notable Wins:
Izzy Schwartz [WC]
Willie Davies (x6)
Phil Tobias (x4)
Ruby Bradley (x3)
Routier Parra (x4)
Tommy Milton
Frankie Anselm (x2)
Johnny McCoy [WC]
Pinky Silverberg (x3) [WC]
Black Bill
Willie LaMorte
Frankie Bauman (x2)
Speedy Dado (x3)
Canto Robleto (x2)
Archie Bell
Lew Farber (x2)
Jackie Harmon
Joey Eulo
Dick Welsh
Happy Atherton
Chato Laredo (x2)
Little Pancho
Tony Marino (x2) [WC]
Young Tommy (x2)
Billy Passan
Eddie Burl
Pete Sanstol [HOF] [WC]
Jackie Brown [WC]
Jimmy Perrin
Lou Salica [WC]
Henry Hook
Babe Triscaro
Juan Zurita (x3) [HOF] [WC]
Rodolfo Casanova
Frankie Covelli
Bobby Leyvas
Small Montana [WC]
Varias Milling (x2)
Joe Conde
Johnny Hutchinson
Norment Quarles

Notable Losses:
Willie Davies
Billy Kelly
Phil Tobias
Newsboy Brown [HOF]
Cris Pineda
Young Tommy
Britt Gorman
Lew Farber
Bobby Leitham

Notable Draws:
Phil Tobias
Frankie Genaro [ATG] [HOF] [WC]
Little Pancho
Speedy Dado
Lew Snyder
Jackie Wilson (favor Wolgast) [HOF] [WC]
Ernie Maurer (favor Wolgast)
Valentin Angelmann
Lou Salica [WC]

ATG = All Time Great
HOF = Hall of Famer
WC = World Champion

As a bonus I've listed a few personal ratings of Wolgast opponents with their prime status accounted for (just the very best, I've spent enough time on this as it is).

Official semi-elite or better conquests:
Izzy Schwartz, Black Bill, Speedy Dado, Young Tommy, Pete Sanstol, Rodolfo Casanova

Relevant conquerors of the same caliber:
Newsboy Brown, Young Tommy

If a division rating isn't specified in this article, assume it's by the RING.

------------------------------------------

Ryan Bivins is a staff writer for BadLeftHook. You can contact him on twitter (@sweetboxing) or through email (rgbivins@gmail.com).

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