One of the greatest lightweight boxers of the 1940s and 1950s, Sidney “Beau Jack” Walker, was known for his swarming style and high-punch volume. Walker stood at 5′ 6″ and weighed 133 pounds. He boxed a record twenty-one main events at Madison Square Garden in New York, and twice held the New York Boxing Commission lightweight title.
Walker was born on April 1, 1921, in Waynesboro, Georgia. He was raised in Augusta by his grandmother, Evie Mixom, who gave him the nickname “Beau Jack.” As a young boy, he shined shoes. However, the need to earn more money propelled him into fighting battle royals at age fifteen. The contests were financed mainly by white people who wanted to enjoy the matches for their own entertainment. During a typical fight, five to ten black men battled against each another in a ring. The fighter left standing would receive the prize money.
Despite Beau Jack’s small stature, he repeatedly won the fights. After winning a battle royal at the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, he began shining shoes. Members of the club, including the legendary golfer Bobby Jones, befriended him and provided the money for his formal boxing training.
Walker entered the professional ranks in 1940, quickly gaining an impressive win-loss record. On December 18, 1942, before a large crowd at Madison Square Garden, he captured the lightweight title with a third-round knockout of Tippy Larkin. In May 1943, Jack lost the championship to Bob Montgomery. His final match with Ike Williams, held August 12, 1955, was also the last of Jack’s career. He is credited with as many as 88 victories. After his retirement from professional boxing, he ran a barbecue stand, operated a small farm, and refereed wrestling matches. Once his earnings from boxing were depleted, he went back to shoe shining.
Beau Jack died on February 9, 2000, of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1979, and he is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Hill, John P. “Beau Jack (Sidney Walker, 1921-2000).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 07 August 2013. Web. 18 January 2016.