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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
lifted from a post i had on another forum. thought i'd repost here...

a boxer who has fascinated me a little...a boxer who's skull thickness and bone density was said to be 40% more than the average human, allowing him to take enormous amounts of punishment...even the great joe gans broke his right hand punching him on the head...a boxer who had battles with the like gans, jimmy britt, ad wolgst,young corbett...all legends in their own right.
'battling' nelson.

Name: Oscar Mattheus Nielsen
Nickname(S): The Durable Dane
Height:: 5′ 7½″ / 171cm
Birth: June 5, 1882
Death: February 7, 1954 (aged 71)
Boxing record
Total fights 135
Wins 73
Wins by KO 40
Losses 30
Draws 24
No contests 0

nelson was born in denmark but his family emigrated to america while he was still a baby...he was raised near chigago and at 13 he quit school to work as ice cutter on lake michigan at 15 cents a day. The heavy outdoor work inured him to hardship and further toughened his naturally tough physique.

in the fall of 1896 Wallace's circus came to this time nelson had changed his vocation to meat cutter. travelling with the circus was a pug meeting all comers. he was billed as the "world-renowned Unknown."...young nelson stepped up and promptly beat the circus champ in just one round...that was the start of his boxing career...his father forbade him ever to fight again. so young battling (a new title bestowed upon him for his fine efforts at the circus) left a note saying, "Coins away, ma, to seek my fortune" and hopped the first freight going the time he was 18 he had 25 pro bouts, and his story contains typical scenarios like this....
"..early in his career: a strange bout with a crude battler named Young Scotty. Strange because everytime Nelson floored Scotty the electric lights would go out! The Bat was puzzled. Scotty's head had been slamming the floor with a jarring crunch. Was it possible, Nelson wondered, that the impacts were in some way disrupting the makeshift wiring? After six knockdowns - and six blackouts - it suddenly dawned on the Battler that he was being hoodwinked. By that time, however, Young Scotty had managed to last the eight-round route, robbing Bat of a well-deserved kayo victory."

and the story of a fight with one harry fails, at a time when a lot of boxing shows were still illegal..
"They ran into their first trouble when the local sheriff threatened to arrest them. "Hey," one fan yelled after much futile planning, "how about going over to Rhinelander?" Rhinelander was just across the county line. On the morning of May 18, they set out for the new battle site. It was bitter cold and snowing hard. The fighters were offered a ride but chose to walk instead. As they slogged along, Nelson was worried. Not about the storm nor the bout. He had visions of some trigger-happy constable springing out of nowhere and hauling him off to jail. But even this dread possibility didn't faze him as much as the fact that the snow was ruining his $7 suit. Poor Bat loved that suit even more than the green trunks ("my lucky color") which he had bought for his third bout. The suit was part of a "swell-looking outfit" that included a $1 derby, a $1.50 pair of knickers "and the prettiest green necktie you ever saw in your life." Bat almost cried when he plucked at his sodden suit after stamping into the freezing old goat barn selected for the 10-round fight. The sports quickly chose the referee - a tall, lanky fellow. "How come they picked him?" Nelson asked. "Him?" someone replied. "'Cause his daddy owns this here barn." At the end of ten brutal rounds, both fighters were still fresh and raring to go. But the referee refused to let them continue and, hoisting their right hands, declared it a draw. If Nelson was apprehensive about money (there was no purse), he needn't have been. The sports were so satisfied with the action that they showered $300 in coin all over the wooden floor. There was a wild scramble as Nelson and Fails raced around picking up the money. Some of the coins had rolled into large cracks in the boards The boys made sure they didn't miss any by prying up the planks with a crowbar. Nelson felt like a millionaire with his half of the take - the largest he had ever received When he got back to town, he headed straight for a fancy clothing store. He stacked $12.50 in coins on the counter and told the clerk with a big grin, "Gimmie the best suit in the house!"

nelson would go on to fight for a purse as large as $23,000 (against gans)

no other fighter took such terrific beatings like nelson and came back to win. there was nothing of the fancy boxer about his style. he had a careless disregard for the hardest blows rained upon him, seemed indestructible and immune to pain. he once broke his left arm in the middle of a 15 round fight, which, he said, "tended to make me somewhat cautious and possibly kept me from winning by a KO."

he fought his way to a shot at the vacant lightweight title against Jimmy Britt on December 20, 1904, but lost a twenty-round decision...but in a rematch on September 9, 1905, he beat britt by an eighteenth-round knockout and became a world champion.
he then faced former champion joe gans on september 3, 1906, in nevada. gans dropped nelson repeatedly during the bout, but could not knock him out. finally, in the forty-second round, nelson hit gans low and was disqualified, losing the bout and his title.....but regained it by beating gans in 1908. {the pair fought three times with nelson the victor in two of the bouts}


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
one of the most memorable fights from his career was against ad wolgast whom he defended his title against in 1910..

the new york times report of the fight...

san fransisco newspaper report...;words=/


His face. battered to a pulp, his eyes closed, his lips cuffed, covered with blood and' staggering- helplessly about the ring, Battling Nelson, conquerer of Joe Gans, was saved from a knockout in the fortieth round of his fight with Ad Wolgast when Referee Eddie Smith humanely stopped a most unequal contest. Nelson, game to the last, stood In the center of the , ring and even though he was hardly able to raise his hands. Begged to be allowed to continue. He was led to his corner heartbroken.

In the opposite corner of the ring the new lightweight champion of the world, Ad. Wolgast of Cadillac, Mich was lifted to the shoulders of his trainers amid the cheers of the big crowd.

Nelson Had But One Chance

Only once in. the fight did Nelson have a chance In the twenty-second round when, with a stinging right cross to the jaw, he staggered his opponent. Before the round closed he Dropped Wolgast in the middle of the ring with a similar blow, and three seconds were tolled off before "Wolgast regained his feet.

The crowd prepared to leave the arena, and the word passed from bench to bench that another boy had fallen victim, to the wonderful Dane. But in the next round Wolgast recuperated, and slowly but surely wore Nelson down.

Twelve -rounds from the finish Nelson seemed bewildered and his blows were sent as though he had weights in his hands. From the thirtieth round Nelson could hardly see or hear, the left side/ of his face having lost all semblance of , its former contour. He staggered and hung on. In the thirty-seventh round he was all but out, but survived the round.

Manager tried To End Fight

In the thirty-eighth round, John Robinson, Nelson's manager, wanted to throw up the sponge into but Abdul, the Turk, one of the seconds, tore it from his hands and threw It into the bucket. From then on, in each round, Robinson protested, on the verge of tears, that his man was beaten. Referee Smith asked Nelson if he wanted to quit, and Nelson, -unable to talk, merely shook his head negatively. When thirty seconds of the fortieth round had gone and as darkness was beginning to creep over the scene of the fight, a full moon just beginning to peep through the clouds,. Referee Smlth raised Wolgast's glove into the Air and a new lightweight champion had come into fistiana,

Wolgast had out generalled. Outboxed and -all but outgamed the Great Battling Nelson. After the battle Wolgast scampered out of the ring Like a schoolboy and galloped through the mud .Nelson was taken out on the arms of his seconds. As he was carried through the crowd he was cheered For the remarkable grit and gameness displayed by him .Such as old ring followers had seldom been seen In a prize ring.

Referee Smith made the following statement to the Associated press

Referee makes statement

Wolgast fought Nelson at his own game and beat him Fairly and squarely. Nelson complained at times of Wolgast Butting, but I paid little heed as it was simply a case Of battler getting the worst of the game where both Were equally guilty ."Both men fought the same , but one had youth, the power to come back, vigor , life and all that goes with it, while the thirteen years of fighting through which Nelson had gone had sapped the strength out of him without The old snap, dash and stamina"



and after the fight...

Wolgast was enjoying the adulation of the fans in San Francisco, and other than a slightly bruised left eye, showed little effect of having fought 40 rounds the previous day. Everywhere he went, the crowds gathered trying to have a look at the new champion. He was asked if he would give Nelson a return bout…

"If it looks like a drawing card, why shouldn't I? I have licked him twice and I can do it again. I am out for the money and if I get it whipping scrappers that are easy for me, I would be a fool not to jump at the chance.

"Nelson will have to wait awhile though and when we do sign articles - providing such a thing happens - he will have to come to my terms. He held me down pretty tight and I think it is my turn to return the compliment.

"So far as our personal difficulties are concerned, they are a thing of the past. I had my revenge yesterday."

- Ad Wolgast

Meanwhile, the beaten man was not looking to good...

His face disfigured and discoloured, his cauliflower ear swollen to twice it's normal size and his body a mass of bruises, the once invincible lightweight presents a pitiable appearance. Veterans of the game who have seen Nelson declare that they never, even in the days when bare knuckles were used in settling ring supremacy saw a fighter so battered up in fistic engagement.
Nelson had a few things to say on his defeat…

"While I did not realize it at the time, I can see now that I was not right when I started to train for this battle. In the first few days of training I took off about five pounds. This is not natural for me but I did not worry about it, as I soon took on the weight again when I eased up on my training.

"I am frank also to admit that I underestimated the ability of Wolgast. True, he made a splendid showing against me in Los Angeles, but at that time I was clearly out of condition and I placed no importance on his so-called victory."

- Battling Nelson

Nelson went on to say that after he finishes his upcoming theatre engagement in Chicago, he plans on heading to his New Mexico ranch to relax. He reportedly already has a fight in the works for April against Cyclone Johnny Thompson, and plans to seek a return bout with Wolgast, in which he'll states that he'll gladly put up a side bet of up to ten thousand dollars.

The Dane added…

"In the meantime, I am willing to see him get all the glory he can out of his title. As far as our differences are concerned they are settled."
Despite the graphic nature of his injuries, Nelson was in reasonably good cheer and was reportedly walking about in a "lively manner" and by 9 p.m. had started off for Chicago. Before leaving San Francisco, he made a few jokes over his appearance, adding that he looked worse after losing to Joe Gans years earlier in Goldfield.

Wolgast decided to stick around town a little longer and it was reported he would be boxing exhibitions over the next couple days, before planning to head back east the following week.

nelson continued to fight (including a rematch loss to wolgast) and in 1917 challenged freddie welsh for the lightweight title. he lost a twelve-round decision and retired from fighting in 1920.


fast forward to the 1950's...
"MUMBLING INCOHERENTLY, the shriveled little man shuffled into the charity ward of Chicago State Hospital. The doctors looked at him with a mixture of pity and awe. His eyes were blank and his once muscular 133-pound frame had wasted away to a mere 80 pounds. A brash young attendant said callously: "Huh! Another derelict. We're sure getting a lot of them these days." An elderly attendant shot him a cold look. "Do you know who that 'derelict' is?" he snapped angrily. "That 'derelict' is Battling Nelson, one of the greatest fighters who ever lived."
Old Bat, who had licked immortals like Aurelio Herrera, Young Corbett, Jimmy Britt, Terry McGovern and the incomparable Joe Gans, was 71 years old when he was ruled insane and committed in January of 1954. The psychiatrists' diagnosis had been chillingly brief: "Incurable senile dementia." Nobody will ever know what went on in Nelson's tortured mind as he dribbled away his last days amid alien surroundings. Occasionally a flicker of interest would light up his lustreless eyes and he would try to talk. But the words trickled out in a jumble of meaningless phrases. Those familiar with the ex-champion's spectacular career could pick out place names here and there and link them with some of the famous battles that had earned him riches beyond his dreams. Names like Colma... Goldfield... Point Richmond... But what could they make of such mystifying phrases as electric lights... cracks in the floor... sheets of snow... my seven dollar suit...? It was hard to make any sense of this babbling because Nelson, in his wild hallucinations, was conjuring up the broken images of a past less concerned with his great triumphs than with the vivid fragments of memory that often overshadow the important events in a man's life..."
a month later he was dead of lung cancer at age 71. With 68 wins, 19 draws and 19 losses, Bat once said that although he had "lost several fights," he had never been beaten.

Battling Nelson was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.

here he is in a superb high quality photo from his prime in 1911...


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As I said in that other thread the Wolgast fight is one brutal scrap, its a pity there are only three fights on youtube, I would really like to see a few more or even more footage of those fights.

I think after I have finished the Joe Gans and Peter Jackson books i'll but Nelson's and check it out.

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
i'm posting too much...i'm all confused :)

i'd make this into a blog for here, but its not all my words apart from the not sure if its suitable to make a blog post here.

i'm posting so much of this at the moment because i am importing threads from other forums i go on and stuff i have saved on folders here, etc......i'd forgotten i'd already posted that

went to delete the other (double) post but can't find it

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Excellent thread!! there was an unreal toughness about Nelson...I first read about him and the Wolgast bout in an old edition of World Boxing...a publication that I wish so much was still around today. Nelson fascinates me.

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Nelson was a real, live, early century badass...he was a real live warrior who had no fear at all.
A racist who gladly weakened Joe Gans to try and get every conceivable advantage though.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A racist who gladly weakened Joe Gans to try and get every conceivable advantage though.
making him do 133 at weigh-in and in the ring ??

here's a question....who was lightweight champion in that fight ?....i always thought nelson but both boxers bio's say they were champion.
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