George Godfrey – Black History Month
George Godfrey, was born on March 20, 1853 and grew up in the Bog Community of Charlottetown, and was one of many Islanders who made the journey to Boston during the latter years of the 19th century, and the first to establish himself as a world class fighter. Wilf McCluskey, foremost authority on Island boxing, ranks Godfrey as the best “pound-for-pound” fighter to ever come out of the province. (Source: More than Just a Game, Charlie Ballem).
All but forgotten today, George Godfrey was the reigning “Black Boxing Champion of America” a century ago. In an era when law prohibited mixed athletic competition, white boxers routinely “drew the colour line” against their Negro counterparts. And so, it was that the most famous boxer of them all, “The Boston Strong Boy” John L. Sullivan would refuse to trade punches with arguably the finest black fighter of his day.
A shrewd businessman and happily married father of six, George would pass away from tuberculosis at his Revere, Massachusetts home on October 18, 1901, aged only 48.