View Full Version : Johnny Risko, great journeyman


mokele
04-13-2006, 05:05 PM
I know that it sounds contradictory to call a fighter a "great journeyman" but I don't know any better way to refer to the career of Johnny Risko:

http://boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=012063

http://www.sports.nd.edu/exhibits/winkexhibit/Risko.710-30-42.jpg

(Risko posing with George Godfrey): http://www.phillyboxinghistory.com/photos/images/19280627apic.jpg

He was not big (5'11" and usually around 190-200 lbs.) and didn't have 1 punch knockout power, but must have had a style that gave a lot of world class fighters trouble.

Risko was a very active heavyweight of the 1920s and 1930s who finished his career with 2 fights in 1940. It's hard to believe that a guy who lost 53 fights (44 + 9 newspaper) in 143 total fights could have beaten the guys that he did. I've made a list of his best wins:

1926-03-19 190 Paul Berlenbach 174 29-1-2
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-02-07 191 Tiny Jim Herman 221 49-14-11
Arena, Syracuse, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-05-26 190 Tiny Jim Herman 212 49-18-12
Fremont, OH, USA W NWS 10 10

1927-07-21 Lou Scozza 32-5-4
Bison Stadium, Buffalo, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-09-14 Jack Delaney 67-9-2
Taylor Bowl, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-11-25 192 Paolino Uzcudun 198 29-3-2
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-12-07 Phil Scott 59-9-5
Public Hall, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-12-21 Joe Sekyra 19-4-4
Dayton, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1928-03-12 193 Jack Sharkey 191 27-7-1
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 15 15

1928-06-27 190 George Godfrey 235 49-11-1
Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1928-09-06 Ed (Bearcat) Wright 30-11-6
Omaha, NE, USA W PTS 10 10

1929-10-22 Jim Maloney 40-8-2
Cleveland, OH, USA W TKO 2 12

1929-12-09 Ernie Schaaf 26-7-1
Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1930-03-24 196 Victorio Campolo 225 10-2-1
Madision Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W SD 10 10

1930-06-19 Paolino Uzcudun 40-8-2
Navin Field, Detroit, MI, USA W PTS 10 10

1930-12-05 195 Jim Maloney 196 45-10-2
Boston Garden, Boston, MA, USA W PTS 10 10

1931-04-06 191 Tom Heeney 209 35-17-5
Arena Gardens, Toronto, ON, Canada W PTS 10 10

1931-04-21 192 King Levinsky 183 35-11-3
Arena, Boston, MA, USA W PTS 10 10

1931-05-05 195 Max Baer 204 26-5-0
Public Hall, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

1931-07-03 185 Tony Galento 220 31-9-1
Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 8 8

1932-06-24 198 Mickey Walker 171 93-12-1
Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, OH, USA W UD 12 12

1932-08-01 Tuffy Griffiths 73-8-0
Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1932-09-01 King Levinsky 41-18-4
Stadium, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1933-02-24 199 King Levinsky 196 45-21-4
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1933-07-26 193 Tommy Loughran 185 98-20-7
Mills Stadium, Chicago, IL, USA W PTS 10 10

1933-10-30 210 Clayton (Big Boy) Peterson 206 52-41-9
Houston, TX, USA W KO 6 10

1934-01-09 196 Jim Maloney 208 48-16-2
Miami, FL, USA W UD 10 10

1934-08-01 195 Tommy Loughran 192 100-23-7
Municipal Stadium, Freeport, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1937-11-17 195 Bob Olin 185 53-22-4
Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

That pretty much sums up his best wins. It's nothing short of amazing that a fighter who was losing almost 40% of his fights could beat so many world class fighters. He beat:

Jack Sharkey
Max Baer
Tommy Loughran
Paolino Uzcudun
Mickey Walker
Ernie Schaaf
Tony Galento
George Godfrey

There simply are no fighters around today like Risko.

K-DOGG
04-13-2006, 05:20 PM
I know that it sounds contradictory to call a fighter a "great journeyman" but I don't know any better way to refer to the career of Johnny Risko:

http://boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=012063

http://www.sports.nd.edu/exhibits/winkexhibit/Risko.710-30-42.jpg

(Risko posing with George Godfrey): http://www.phillyboxinghistory.com/photos/images/19280627apic.jpg

He was not big (5'11" and usually around 190-200 lbs.) and didn't have 1 punch knockout power, but must have had a style that gave a lot of world class fighters trouble.

Risko was a very active heavyweight of the 1920s and 1930s who finished his career with 2 fights in 1940. It's hard to believe that a guy who lost 53 fights (44 + 9 newspaper) in 143 total fights could have beaten the guys that he did. I've made a list of his best wins:

1926-03-19 190 Paul Berlenbach 174 29-1-2
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-02-07 191 Tiny Jim Herman 221 49-14-11
Arena, Syracuse, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-05-26 190 Tiny Jim Herman 212 49-18-12
Fremont, OH, USA W NWS 10 10

1927-07-21 Lou Scozza 32-5-4
Bison Stadium, Buffalo, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-09-14 Jack Delaney 67-9-2
Taylor Bowl, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-11-25 192 Paolino Uzcudun 198 29-3-2
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-12-07 Phil Scott 59-9-5
Public Hall, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

1927-12-21 Joe Sekyra 19-4-4
Dayton, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1928-03-12 193 Jack Sharkey 191 27-7-1
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 15 15

1928-06-27 190 George Godfrey 235 49-11-1
Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1928-09-06 Ed (Bearcat) Wright 30-11-6
Omaha, NE, USA W PTS 10 10

1929-10-22 Jim Maloney 40-8-2
Cleveland, OH, USA W TKO 2 12

1929-12-09 Ernie Schaaf 26-7-1
Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1930-03-24 196 Victorio Campolo 225 10-2-1
Madision Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W SD 10 10

1930-06-19 Paolino Uzcudun 40-8-2
Navin Field, Detroit, MI, USA W PTS 10 10

1930-12-05 195 Jim Maloney 196 45-10-2
Boston Garden, Boston, MA, USA W PTS 10 10

1931-04-06 191 Tom Heeney 209 35-17-5
Arena Gardens, Toronto, ON, Canada W PTS 10 10

1931-04-21 192 King Levinsky 183 35-11-3
Arena, Boston, MA, USA W PTS 10 10

1931-05-05 195 Max Baer 204 26-5-0
Public Hall, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

1931-07-03 185 Tony Galento 220 31-9-1
Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 8 8

1932-06-24 198 Mickey Walker 171 93-12-1
Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, OH, USA W UD 12 12

1932-08-01 Tuffy Griffiths 73-8-0
Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1932-09-01 King Levinsky 41-18-4
Stadium, Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 12 12

1933-02-24 199 King Levinsky 196 45-21-4
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1933-07-26 193 Tommy Loughran 185 98-20-7
Mills Stadium, Chicago, IL, USA W PTS 10 10

1933-10-30 210 Clayton (Big Boy) Peterson 206 52-41-9
Houston, TX, USA W KO 6 10

1934-01-09 196 Jim Maloney 208 48-16-2
Miami, FL, USA W UD 10 10

1934-08-01 195 Tommy Loughran 192 100-23-7
Municipal Stadium, Freeport, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

1937-11-17 195 Bob Olin 185 53-22-4
Cleveland, OH, USA W PTS 10 10

That pretty much sums up his best wins. It's nothing short of amazing that a fighter who was losing almost 40% of his fights could beat so many world class fighters. He beat:

Jack Sharkey
Max Baer
Tommy Loughran
Paolino Uzcudun
Mickey Walker
Ernie Schaaf
Tony Galento
George Godfrey

There simply are no fighters around today like Risko.

Wow. Yup, that would qualify him as a "Great Journeyman"...which is not a contradiction in terms, BTW. Good Journeymen are the backbone of the sport, IMHO.

Kid Achilles
04-13-2006, 05:34 PM
If everyone fought as often as they did back then, and if boxing was as big of a sport as it was, you would see many more losses on everyone's record. The more often you fight, the greater the chance you will have an off night and lose. There were fighters around the turn of the century who had more fights in a single year than many top fighters do in an entire career.

Fighters today are carefully managed and protected. This is nothing new, it was commonplace as far as I can tell going back into the 40's, but it's reached a new low today when two top ten contenders facing off is considered a huge event.

No one wants to take any chances and it's ruining boxing. Guys will grab a portion of the title (from that point on considering themselves actual champions) and then defend it sporadically against whoever their management thinks are easy fights for them.

When the top guys begin fighting six or more times a year, you will see them lose more often.

I have a feeling a guy like Risko was better than many of the top heavyweights today, and if carefully managed he would be undefeated (or at least with only 1-2 losses) and commanding huge sums of money.

It's a great day to be a talented, hungry heavyweight and I can imagine that all the Godfrey's, Risko's, Sharkey's and Quarry's are looking down from heaven, salivating at what they see, and cursing the fact they were each born too soon.

mokele
04-13-2006, 05:58 PM
A couple of other notable differences between the modern fight game and how it was back in the teens, 1920s and 1930s is that most fighters from back then had little if any amateur experience and started their boxing careers at a young age, sometimes while they were still in their mid to late teens. This meant that they were still developing physically and were forced to learn a lot of their boxing skills from fighting in the ring rather than through an amateur career or sparring. Of course this resulted in many losses early in the careers of many of the fighters.

By the way, I think that the days when top 10 (or even top 20) fighters fight 6 times per year are long over. Realistically, all that we can hope for is that a top fighter fights a healthy 3 times per year, and fights top competition rather than tomato cans. A few good examples of that type of fighter are Eric Morales, Arturo Gatti and Marco Antonio Barrera, true modern-day warriors who love to fight and take their role as entertainers seriously. Even Gatti has only fought an average of twice per year for the last few years though, so maybe even 3 times per year is too often for modern top-ranked fighters.

Yogi
04-13-2006, 06:55 PM
1928-06-27 190 George Godfrey 235 49-11-1
Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, NY, USA W PTS 10 10

Work!

Before the site lost a bunch of it's posts, somebody posted a fight report from that Risko/Godfrey fight over at the CBZ, and according to the report it was a horrible decision...Godfrey apparently dominated the first eight rounds of the fight with an attack consisting of mainly effective body punching, and had built up a very commanding lead before Risko came on and had a good last couple of rounds.

There's also some question as to the legitimacy of Godfrey's efforts in that fight, because according to his manager, Jimmy Dougherty, he could only secure the fight with Risko once Godfrey promised to not go for the knockout...And with the descriptions of the amount of body punching Godfrey was doing (or how he attacked Risko), that fight report did illustrate a lack of punches to Risko's head.

SuzieQ49
04-13-2006, 07:07 PM
Johnny Risko Was Not A Journeyman! Do You Know What A Journeyman Is??


Risko Was Ranked In The Top 5 Contenders In The World In The 1920s. There Is No Way Ranked Contender Is A Journeyman!

LondonRingRules
04-13-2006, 07:35 PM
Johnny Risko Was Not A Journeyman! Do You Know What A Journeyman Is??


Risko Was Ranked In The Top 5 Contenders In The World In The 1920s. There Is No Way Ranked Contender Is A Journeyman!
** Dude, take some Zoloft and buy a math tutor. Risko lost bouts every year he fought and finished up with a win % of less than 50%. In the 20s, his prime, he finished the 20s with less than 60% wins. He had a few good moments, like a BS decision over Godfrey who was probably wearing the cuffs, and a decision over a fading disinterested Sharkey.

There have been plenty of journeymen type champs, most notably Neon Leon, Mike Weaver, and Bonecrusher Smith. Risko ain't even in their class that he against Leon in the middle of their careers is probably a wash.

SuzieQ49
04-13-2006, 08:46 PM
a ranked contender is NOT i repeat IS NOT a journeyman

mokele
04-13-2006, 11:51 PM
Work!

Before the site lost a bunch of it's posts, somebody posted a fight report from that Risko/Godfrey fight over at the CBZ, and according to the report it was a horrible decision...Godfrey apparently dominated the first eight rounds of the fight with an attack consisting of mainly effective body punching, and had built up a very commanding lead before Risko came on and had a good last couple of rounds.

There's also some question as to the legitimacy of Godfrey's efforts in that fight, because according to his manager, Jimmy Dougherty, he could only secure the fight with Risko once Godfrey promised to not go for the knockout...And with the descriptions of the amount of body punching Godfrey was doing (or how he attacked Risko), that fight report did illustrate a lack of punches to Risko's head.

That's very interesting, a new twist on how Jim Crow had an effect on heavyweight boxing that I never heard before. I'm sure that if Godfrey were white he would have received tremendous support from the boxing establishment rather than been impeded like he was.

I remember Floyd Patterson telling Donovan "Razor" Ruddock in 1 of his fights "Just do 1 thing, Razor. Go to the body!" but Patterson was Ruddock's cornerman, not a boxing official (or promoter)! :o

I always wondered just how many fights that Godfrey lost because he was handicapped (is that what "cuffed" means?) in some way, or disqualified unfairly. He was disqualified 8 times, an awful lot for a world class fighter. I don't know a lot about Godfrey, but the few film clips and pictures that I've seen suggest that he was a good-natured fellow, not prone to having repeated problems with deliberate fouls. Some guys are just sloppy or missing a few marbles upstairs like Andrew Golota, but something tells me that Godfrey wasn't a stupid man either. I seem to recall that he acted in some films during his day. It's a mystery to me.

I just looked up Godfrey on google and found the following from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Godfrey :

"Godfrey is said to have been instructed by promoters on a number of occasions to carry opponents if he wanted to receive more important fights."

I wonder how many fights Godfrey lost while in the process of carrying a guy all the way to a decision.

Here are some websites indicating the movies that Godfrey played in:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0323979/
http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=27352