Today marks the birthday of fearsome American boxer Sandy Saddler. The two-time featherweight world champion also held the super featherweight title in a career that spanned 12 years, from 1944-1956.

Despite being extremely tall and lean for a featherweight, Saddler carried dynamic power in both hands. Undoubtedly the hardest punching featherweight of all time, he scored a total of 103 KOs (ranking him 10th on the all-time knockouts list) and was stopped only once in 162 professional fights which occurred in only his second fight as professional. He is ranked number 5 in the Ring Magazines list of ‘100 Greatest Punchers of All Time’.

Other than his power, Saddler is perhaps best well known for his 4 bout series with the legendary Willie Pep. The first bout occurred in 1948 at MSG in Las Vegas. Saddler was a huge underdog to the champion who boasted an unbelievable record of 134-1-1. Shocking everybody, Saddler managed to knock down Pep four times en route to winning the world featherweight title, securing a 4th round knockout. A year later, Pep leveled the series, winning the rematch with a 15 round decision to reclaim the belt. In the 3rd bout in September of 1950, Saddler won the title back again when Pep retired with a shoulder injury. In their 4th and final match, which is widely regarded as one of the dirtiest and roughest fights ever, Saddler won again with Pep retiring at the end of the 9th round. The ensuing brawl, in which the fighters gouged, butted, wrestled and at one point even attempted to strangle one another lead to both fighters being temporarily banned by the NT State Athletic Commission (watch below).

Sandy Saddler finished his glittering career as featherweight champion with an unbelievable record of 144-16-2. After retiring due to an eye injury sustained outside of the ring, Sadler became a trainer for young George Foreman in the 1970s and was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 1990.

Foreman exclusively told us that the most important thing Sandy taught him was to “Stay on him! [his opponent]”. George remembered him fondly, “As a boxer, Sandy was vicious. There is no other word to describe him in the ring. He would try to really put that into me. When he was in the ring, he knew nothing about retreat. Everything was about get him, get him, get him. Going back to my corner during my fight with Ali, even when I was burning out, I could hear Sandy saying “get him, get him, get him.” That was the one thing about him, he knew how important it was to the boxing world to have one fighter bring the fight. No matter what happened, he thought it was important to be true to boxing fans and go at the opponent.”

Happy Birthday to the legend, Sandy Saddler!

READ: BOXING HISTORY – 6X WORLD CHAMPION, EMILE GRIFFITH

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