Here’s an interesting article I came across on the net.
Victor Grimski - a forgotten legend of the ring.
By Gentleman Jim Stewart
In the long line of great heavyweight champions many fighters can, for one reason or another, get lost by the wayside. Amongst these forgotten legends of the ring, none can be more unjustly overlooked than “Vicious” Victor Grimski.
The second of thirteen children, Grimski was born in the former Russian Empire in 1901 and moved to America with his parents when he was only five. The toughness of his native land coupled with his brutal upbringing on the mean streets of pre-Depression era America were to instil in Grimski the sort of toughness and grit that was to stand him in good stead for the majority of his fights. In a career spanning nearly twenty years, Grimski was to amass a record of 41 fights and 40 wins, with an unbelievable 38 of those wins coming by way of knockout.
“Grimski was a terrific puncher,” writes boxing historian Alan Clevens. “He could send you from one end of the ring to another with the merest flick of his wrist. His punches were like sledgehammers pounding into your cranium. Honestly, it’s a wonder he never killed anyone.”
Grimski had the near perfect body for fighting. Standing a massive six feet and seven inches tall, with long lean arms, a barrel chest, and nary an ounce of fat on him, Grimski’s muscular physique would put many of today’s heavies to shame. In the ring his size belied an impressive quickness that took many opponents by surprise. He had the ability to throw punches from every angle with concussive force, and was never afraid to fight in the trenches when the situation demanded. His powerful jab coupled with a thunderous right cross could put any fighter on the canvas. In an era of relatively small men, the towering Grimski was like a god amongst mortals. Famed sportswriter of the 30’s Grantland Rice described Grimski as, “an implacable colossus, an unstoppable giant stomping his foes mercilessly into the canvas. There was no one that could match him.”
Indeed such was the power of Grimski that it caused many ringside observers to begin to wonder whether it was a fair matchup to pit anyone against him. In 1949 a young Bert Sugar, who got to witness a faded but still game Grimski in training later remarked: “I’ve never seen a man hit the heavybag so hard. The sound was like a dozen artillery shells going off under my fedora. The sheer force of those mammoth fists thudding into the cracked black leather of the Everlast again and again and again was as prodigious a sight as any I‘ve seen in my storied life before or since. His power was unquestionably immense.”
The toughness of Grimski’s chin was never in question either. HOF legend “Battling” Nellie Sanderson, who hit Grimski with some of his hardest punchers in their epic matchup in 1933, wasn’t able to put a dent in Grimski’s chin despite landing several thunderous blows to the champion‘s grizzled chops. Grimski was to come back in the eighth and brutally knock out the valiant Sanderson with one of the finest displays of two fisted pugilistic brilliance ever put to film. In his next fight against “Steamboat” Sam Peterson, Grimski would unleash a barrage of blows on the overmatched Peterson, forcing the referee to stop the fight after six rounds. His next opponent, John Charles Gumble, would fare little better. After an atypically slow start from the champion, Grimski caught the hapless contender square on the chin, knocking him unconscious.
Grimski’s lone and tragic defeat would come in 1935 at the hands of “The Overblown Bomber” Leonard Louis. Despite dominating for large stretches of the fight, a cut opened up on Grimski’s face in the third and became progressively worse as the fight wore on. In an incredible display of grit and sheer guts, Grimski hung on to the end of the six when the terrible state of his face forced the doctor and corner to step in and call a halt to the contest. It was a sad state of affairs for the brave Grimski, who was leading on all the scorecards at the end of the fight. For ringside observers, many couldn’t shake the impression that Grimski had been robbed of a chance for victory. It was a sour point in an otherwise unblemished career.
Grimski’s face at the time of the stoppage.
Despite his imposing physique, the technical brilliance and athleticism of Grimski was an often ignored virtue. “God what a fighter!” wrote an enthusiastic Nat Fleischer in the 1939 issue of Ring Magazine. “He combines the speed of a panther with the strength of a grizzly. And a fighting brain that could rival any chess master’s. Is there anyone that can stand up to this man?”
Ring historian Gilbert Odd offers a more sober look at Grimski’s qualities. “His technical skills were greatly underestimated. His ability to control distance was unequalled. His left hand would hang down like a lazy cobra waiting to strike. And when it did, watch out!”
Indeed, looking at Grimski’s fights one gets the impression not so much of a brutish thug as of a calculating and cold killer. He would bait you in then slip out of the way of your shots before drilling you with his hard right hand. Polish born dockworker and former light-heavyweight champion "Tough" Tommy Adams recalled Grimski's trickiness in an interview he gave in 2005, shortly before his death. "I prepared myself as physically and mentally as one is able to for the fight. I had a gameplan and the discpline to use it. But once I was in the ring it was as if I'd never trained a day in my life. Fighting [Grimski] was like fighting a ghost, a very strong ghost (laughs). I would see the target but never reach it. And all the time he was hitting me with shots that shook me to my very boots."
Regrettably footage of Grimski is rare and commands high prices among collectors. Below is a small clip from one of Grimski’s fights. As you can see from the incredible speed at which he moves and throws punches, Grimski would have been a handful for any fighter in history, including Ali.
A lot is made about today’s heavyweights being “too big” for the fighters of old. As Grimski amply demonstrates, this is patent nonsense. What fighter of today’s pathetic era combined the sort of quickness and power that Grimski brought to bear? As dominant as the Klitschkos might be, there’s no doubt about it in my mind: had Victor Grimski fought in today’s lacklustre era of overpaid, overfed and overpampered heavyweights he would be a champion several times over.
I'll be honest id never heard of him but i think im gonna do some digging next chance i get as he sounds an interesting fighter!
That clip is Vitail Klitchko vs Corrie Sanders though....
I'd never heard of him either until now, though it does make you wonder how many other "forgotten legends" there might be lurking around in the underbelly of boxing's heyday. He certainly looks like a fighter who should never have been allowed to lapse into obscurity, that's for sure.
Not sure about the vid myself. It's in very poor quality.
Did your grandfather ever get to see Grimski in action? That must have been something!
I don't know if me old Pappi ever saw him fight live, but he did tell me he met him one and he was a mountain of a man with hands the size of catchers mitts. We use to argue bout who would win an Ali-Grimski fight. I would tell him Ali's speed and athleticism coupled with modern training techniques and nutritional advances would be to much for the "Russian bear" and he'd argue back that Ali had never see the likes of a man like Grimski with his combination of size, reach, power and skills.
About 13 or 14 years ago I read something about genetic experimentation on Grimski as a child. I don't remember if I read it in an old "Ring" magazine or on a boxing website. Hell, maybe I dreamt it, its been so long ago. Can anyone confirm or deny these rumors?