Columbus native Armstrong named to Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame

October 21, 2009
The Commerical Dispatch Staff Report

Armstrong with glovesHenry Armstrong, the Columbus native who is considered one of the all-time greats in professional boxing, is among the 2010 inductees to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame this afternoon announced the honor for Armstrong, who was born Henry Jackson Jr. on Dec. 12, 1912, in Columbus. He died in 1988 in Los Angeles.

In 1938, Armstrong became the first and only boxer ever to hold three undisputed titles — featherweight, lightweight and welterweight — at the same time, and almost won a fourth middleweight if not for a controversial draw.

His accomplishment never can be equaled because the holding of multiple titles was barred in the 1940s.

Armstrong moved with his parents and siblings to St. Louis when he was 4, but Columbus remains home to more than 20 relatives.

Armstrong had 152 victories in 181 fights throughout his career. He won his first world title in 1937 and was named “Boxer of the Year” in 1937 and 1938. The New York Times proclaimed him “pound for pound the greatest boxer of all-time.”

In 1954, Armstrong, who was only 5 feet, 5 1/2 inches tall, was one of three active boxers after 1919 to be elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame. Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis were the other two.

Last year, a state historic marker honoring Armstrong was unveiled at the corner of Wilkins-Wise and Waverly roads, near where Armstrong lived as a child.

Other 2010 Hall of Fame honorees include:

• Allen Brown of Natchez, who was an All-American and All-SEC end at Ole Miss and a member of three consecutive Green Bay championship teams including Super Bowls I and II.

• Bob Coleman (posthumous), a native Mississippian and co-founder of the Mississippi Track Club, who started running against his doctor’s advice after suffering a heart attack at age 38 and outlived his physician by 20 years.

• Frank Dowsing (posthumous), a Tupelo native who was an academic and football All-American at Mississippi State University, and one of two players to break the color barrier at MSU. He was also the first African-American to be elected Mr. MSU.

• Ken Toler, Sr., of Greenville and Jackson, who has won numerous regional and national tennis honors at the seniors level from ages 55 through 70.

• Lake Speed, a Jackson native and most prominent driver in state history. Speed spent 18 years on the NASCAR circuit that produced one win (Darlington, S.C., 1988) and 75 top-10 finishes. He was a six-time U.S. Karting Association Champion and World Karting Champion prior to NASCAR competition.

The six-member class will be honored at the 48th Annual BancorpSouth Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Weekend, July 30-31, 2010.

Note: Members of the Henry Armstrong Celebration Committee (Glen Lautzenhiser, Oliver Miller, James Tsismanakis, Mona Vance, and Rufus Ward) along with Columbus Mayor Robert Smith attended the announcement of Armstrong’s induction on behalf of the Armstrong family.

To learn more about Henry Armstrong and the efforts to celebrate his legacy go to

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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