Pete Herman

Pete Herman
Real name Peter Gulotta
Nickname(s) Kid Herman
Rated at Bantamweight
Height 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Nationality United States American
Born (1896-02-12)February 12, 1896
New Orleans, LA
Died April 13, 1973(1973-04-13) (aged 77)
New Orleans, LA
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 142
Wins 100
Wins by KO 21
Losses 29
Draws 13
No contests 0

Pete Herman (February 12, 1896 – April 13, 1973) was one of the all time great bantamweight world champions.[1] An Italian-American, Herman was born Peter Gulotta in New Orleans, Louisiana, and fought from 1912 until 1922. He retired with a record of 69 wins (19 by KO), 11 losses, 8 draws and 61 no decisions in 149 bouts. His managers were Jerome Gargano, Doc Cutch, Sammy Goldman and Red Walsh.[2] Nat Fleisher, Ring Magazine editor and founder, impressively rated Herman as the #2 best all time bantamweight.[3]

Early life and career

Herman was a smooth boxer and great body puncher. He was particularly skilled at inside fighting.[3] He was born on February 12, 1896 in New Orleans, Louisiana to an Italian family. Making an early start, he fought his first pro fight around 1912 at the age of only 16. According to boxing lore, Herman earned some of his living as a "bootblack" or shoe shine before making it as a boxer.[4] Two years after his first bout, he held his own during a 10-round no decision bout against World bantamweight champion Kid Williams on June 20, 1914 at the Pelican Stadium in New Orleans, though losing the bout in the opinion of the local Times-Picayune.[2]

Herman defeated San Franciscan Eddie Campi on September 13, 1914 in a twenty round points decision in New Orleans.[2]

In his first eighteen bouts, between September 1912, and July 1913, his only losses were to a single boxer, Johnny Fisse on points on five separate occasions. He would draw with Fisse on September 29, 1913 in Memphis, Tennessee, making Fisse his most frequent career opponent.[2]

Bouts with Eddie Coulon

On December 13, 1915, Herman defeated fellow New Orleans boxer Eddie Coulon in a fourth round knockout in New Orleans. Both boxers weighed 116, but Coulon had a 3 1/2 reach advantage. Herman had faced Coulon twice in his early career on September 30, and October 21, 1912 in two six round draws in New Orleans. He would defeat to Coulon on September 1, 1913, in Memphis, Tennessee, in an eight round points decision.[2]

Herman lost to the great New York Jewish boxer Lew Tendler on February 28, 1916 at the Olympia Club in Philadelphia in a six round newspaper decision. Tendler would later meet the greatest boxers of his era including the lightweight champion Benny Leonard in several bouts.[2]

On June 12, 1916, he defeated Frankie Brown, New York bantamweight, in New Orleans in a fifteen round points decision.[2] He had drawn with Brown three months earlier in Baltimore in another fifteen round bout.[2]

Taking the World Bantamweight Championship for the first time, January 1917

Kid Williams, World Bantamweight Champion Contender

In their fourth meeting, Herman finally won the title from Kid Williams on January 9, 1917 in a twenty round points decision in New Orleans, even though Williams was allowed to pick his own referee for the match, Bill Rocap. Herman scored knockdowns in the fifth and twelfth. Though Williams was the aggressor throughout the fight, Herman had little trouble dodging the former champion's blows. Due to Williams' aggressive style of boxing in the bout, many ringside believed he had won more of the rounds than Herman.[5][6]

Knocking out former Bantamweight Champion Johnny Coulon, May 1917

On May 14, 1917 Herman defeated Johnny Coulon in a third round technical knockout at Lakeside Auditorium in Racine, Wisconsin. Half way through the third, Coulon was down for a count of nine from a right swing to the jaw by Herman, not long after coming out of a clinch. After Coulon rose, the referee stopped the fight, as Coulon still seemed woozy. Herman had a nine pound weight advantage, and a two inch reach advantage. Coulon was seven years older at twenty-eight, which may have made a difference in the fight. Coulon had formerly held and lost the World Bantamweight Title.[7]

Important bouts fought while holding the World Bantamweight Championship

Marriage to Anna LeBlanc and win over Frankie Burns, November 1917

On the evening of November 4, 1917, Herman was married to Anna LeBlanc, whom he had known since he was a child in New Orleans. The following day Herman defeated Frankie Burns in a twenty round points decision at Louisiana Auditorium in New Orleans in what a few sources considered a title bout.[8] Herman was scheduled to have reported for service in the US Army after the bout.[9] Herman did not have great difficulty amassing enough points to win the bout.[10] Burns had a difficult time in the first three rounds and was staggered by Herman in the second. Burns may have evened the fighting in the seventeenth round.[11] Herman had previously suffered a thirteenth round technical knockout from burns in November 1914 in the same city.[2][12] Herman did not box from late December until May 1918, and may have been in military training. In March 1918, the US Navy refused Herman furloughs to box until he had achieved three months of active duty.[13]

On December 14, 1917, Herman won with a third round technical knockout against Frankie Mason, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the second round, Mason was knocked to the canvas for the first time in his career.[2]

On May 23, 1919, he defeated Johnny "Kewpie" Ertle in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a fifth round technical knockout. The deciding blow was a strong left to the jaw.[14] Ertle had previously been down for a count of eight in the fourth, but was saved by the bell.[15]

He defeated Chicago bantamweight Johnny Ritchie on January 7, 1920 in an eighth round technical knockout at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. After a knockdown in the eighth, Ritchie arose still staggering, and the fight was stopped by the referee. Herman had won the bout with ease.[2]

Losing the World Bantamweight Championship, December 1920

In the late evening of December 22, 1920, Herman lost his bantamweight title in Madison Square Garden to Joe Lynch in a fifteen round unanimous decision.[2] In a decisive bout, the El Paso Herald gave Lynch ten rounds with four for Herman. Lynch used to advantage his superior height and a four inch advantage in reach. Only a day after the bout, Herman sailed for London to face Jimmy Wilde.[16]

Legendary bout with Jimmy Wilde, January 1921

Herman's most memorable match was fought against Jimmy Wilde, the legendary Welsh Flyweight World Champion.

The Wilde-Herman fight was staged on January 13, 1921 at Royal Albert Hall in London, and resulted in a seventeenth round technical knockout for Herman. The former bantamweight champion used his weight advantage and body punching to wear down Wilde, the still reigning Flyweight champ. Herman hurt Wilde in the 15th when the fighting was fierce against the ropes, and knocked him through the ropes three times in the 17th round to end the fight. The classy Wilde made no excuses. He stated after the fight "I can sincerely say that Herman beat me because he was the better boxer." Many gave Wilde the first five rounds, but Herman came back particularly strong in the fifteenth, until he ended the bout in the seventeenth.[17] The exciting match brought an impressive crowd of around 10,000, including the Prince of Wales. [18]

On July 11, 1921, Herman defeated British Bantamweight Champion Jim Higgins in an eleventh round knockout at the Highland Park Ring in London. Herman won every round but the eighth, when Higgins delivered a blow to the chin of Herman. Herman took the match with a right hook to the jaw of Higgins, after which, according to one source, Higgins was down for a full five minutes. Most of the bout was described as in-fighting.[19][20]

Regaining the World Bantamweight Title, July 1921

Joe Lynch

On July 25, 1921, Herman fought Joe Lynch in a rematch for the World bantamweight title in New York's storied Ebbets Field. Both boxers weighed in at 116 3/4 pounds. The Scranton Republican and other sources gave Herman 13 of the 15 rounds, with only the eleventh to Lynch and the second even.[21] Herman's decisive win on points fueled speculation that he had thrown the first fight. Herman forced the fighting, taking the lead from the opening bell using both left and right effectively. At the time, Herman was one of the few fighters ever to regain a lost title.[22]

On September 5, 1921, Herman defeated French boxer Charles LeDoux at Louisiana Stadium in New Orleans in a tenth round newspaper decision. According to more than one source, Herman had a shade better of the no decision bout, particularly among the local sportswriters.[23]

Losing his second World Bantamweight Title, September 1921

He lost the World Bantamweight Championship for the second time on September 23, 1921 when he was outpointed by Johnny Buff in a fifteen round title match at Madison Square Garden.[2] Buff took ten rounds employing lightning speed, with only four rounds for his opponent. Herman put Buff on the canvas only once very briefly in the fourth round with a right to the jaw. For most of the bout, Herman had trouble using his often powerful right effectively. By the fifteenth round Buff was able to freely reign most of his blows on Herman. Having a very slight advantage in reach, and a four pound weight disadvantage, Buff won on points by a sizable margin. Buff was fighting at nearly thirty while Herman was only 25. Buff had taken the American Flyweight Championship previously.[24]

Knocking out contender Packy O'Gatty, December 1921, and losing his vision

Herman had begun losing sight in one eye, and he claimed to have been nearly blind in that eye by April 1921, well before he fought Buff.[25] He fought five more times, knocking out number one contender Packy O'Gatty in one round at the Rink Sporting Club in Brooklyn, on December 9, 1921. O'Gatty went down two minutes and fourteen seconds into the first round from an overhand right to the jaw.[26] Herman had previously landed a strong right uppercut to the jaw of O'Gatty that had rattled him earlier in the round. The crowd at the Rink Club in Brooklyn was not large, filling only about half the seats. Herman claimed after the bout he hoped to get a title match again with Johnny Buff, but that Buff would not consent to meet him. Considering Herman's impending loss of vision, his retirement was probably a wise choice.[27]

Herman retired in 1922 after winning a ten round bout on points with Roy Moore in Boston on April 24.[2][28]

Life after boxing

According to one source, Herman's investments were made wisely on the advise of a friend B. S. D'Antoni, though Herman retired before the great depression. His earnings in 1921 were estimated at $200,000.[29]

He eventually became completely blind. After his retirement from the ring, he owned and operated a club in the famed New Orleans French Quarter. Pete Herman's was a popular New Orleans landmark. He was appointed to an honorary position with the New Orleans Boxing Commission after his retirement from boxing.

On April 13, 1973, Herman died in a New Orleans hospital after failing health and a fall that broke his hip the previous month. Funeral services were held on April 16.[30]

See also

Primary boxing achievements and honors

Herman was elected into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1959. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997. He was also a member of the Louisiana and New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.[3]

Preceded by
Kid Williams
World Bantamweight Boxing Champion
January 9, 1917 – December 26, 1920
Succeeded by
Joe Lynch
Preceded by
Joe Lynch
World Bantamweight Boxing Champion
July 25, 1921 – September 23, 1921
Succeeded by
Johnny Buff


  1. "The Lineal Bantamweight Champions". Cyber Boxing Zone.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 "Pete Herman". BoxRec. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "Pete Herman". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  4. "Bootblacks are Boxing Champions", Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, pg. 18, 28 March 1943
  5. "Pete Herman Awarded the Decision over Kid Williams", The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, pg. 5, 10 January 1917
  6. "The Closing Chapter", The Pittsburgh Daily Post Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pg. 8, 11 January 1917
  7. "Too Old", The Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, Indiana, pg. 13, 15 May 1917
  8. "Pete Herman Wins from Frankie Burns", San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California, pg. 7, 6 November 1917
  9. "Bantam Champion Will Defend his Title Tonight", The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, pg. 7, 5 November 1917
  10. "Pete Herman Holds Frankie Burns Safe", New Castle Herald, New Castle, Pennsylvania, pg. 10, 6 November 1917
  11. "Pete Herman is Awarded Decision", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pg. 10, 6 November 1917
  12. Herman knew his wife since childhood in "Fear of a Black Eye on His Wedding Day", The Winnipeg Tribune, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, pg. 115, 28 November 1917
  13. "Pete Herman Can't Get Furlough for Battles in the Ring", Wilkes-Barre Evening News, Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, pg. 17, 25 March 1918
  14. "Pete Herman Knocks Out Johnny Ertle Contender", The Washington Times, Washington, D.C., pg. 15, 24 May 1919
  15. "Johnny Ertle is Given a Knockout", Logansport Pharos-Tribune, Longansport, Indiana, pg. 14, 24 May 1919
  16. "Lynch Wins Bantam Title", El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, pg. 10, 23 December 1920
  17. "Pete Herman Defeats Wilde in Battle of Bantamweights", The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, pg. 6, 14 January 1921
  18. "Wilde is Beaten But Claims Title", The Morning News, Wilmington, Delaware, pg. 7, 14 January 1921
  19. "Pete Herman Knocks Out Him Higgins", Reading Times, Reading, Pennsylvania, pg. 8, 12 July 1921
  20. Higgins was British bantamweight champion in "Pete Herman Kayoes English Champion", The Scranton Republican, Scranton, Pennsylvania, pg. 14, 12 July 1921
  21. "Herman Defeats Lynch Regaining Bantam Title", The Scranton Republican, Scranton, Pennsylvania, pg. 14, 26 July 1921
  22. "Pete Herman is Champion Again", Battle Creek Moon-Journal" Battle Creek, Michigan, pg. 6, 26 July 1921
  23. "Pete Herman Shades Ledoux", The Kansas City Kansan, Kansas City, Kansas, pg. 8, 6 September 1921
  24. "Indians Lose Scalp, Buff Takes Bantam Title", The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, pg. 8, 24 September 1921
  25. "Insider Says", Iowa City Press Citizen, Iowa City, Iowa, pg. 8, 14 April 1921
  26. "Pete Herman Knocks Out O'Gatty in First Round", New York Tribune, New York, New York, pg. 13, 10 December 1921
  27. "Pete Herman Shows His True Fighting Form", The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, pg. 14, 10 December 1921
  28. "Pete Herman Bio". BoxRec. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  29. Cluke, Colonel, "Pete Herman Will Retire", The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, pg. 12, 28 December 1921
  30. "Ex-Bantam Champion Dead at 77", The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, pg. 51, 15 April 1973
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