Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Empress Hall, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Kensington, London; Wembley Arena, Wembley, London
Date Started: August 7, 1948
Date Finished: August 13, 1948
Format: Single elimination tournament.
The middleweight division was not short of quality and as such it was hard to predict which of the many talented boxers would earn the laurels. Europe was well represented by the reigning European champion, Aimé Escudie of France and Ireland’s Micheal McKeon. Home favourite, Johnny Wright, a 19-year-old sailor with just a few months experience at this weight, beat the European silver medallist, Wally Thom, just to qualify for the British team and Hungary’s László Papp had remained undefeated since a defeat to Július Torma, who would win the welterweight title in London, in 1947. Adding in the highly touted American, Washington Jones, and the tough Uruguayan, Dogomar Martínez and the expectation of a memorable tournament was hard to suppress.
The first of the favourites to fall was Jones, victim of what was seen to be a harsh disqualification for “hitting with an open glove” against his Belgian opponent, Auguste Cavignac , in a second round bout. Cavignac failed to last a round against Papp in the quarter-finals but the other three bouts all went the full distance. The victory of Micheal McKeon over Escudie was one of the most fiercely contested fights of the entire Games both inside and outside of the ring. The French officials resigned in protest after the bout after McKeon was awarded the win. The Irishman followed this with another brutal contest against Johnny Wright in the last four. Wright won the decision but both men were left bloodied and bruised. Papp came through his half of the draw with three overwhelming victories and was the fresher man for the final. Although he was not yet the fighter he would come to be in the next decade, the Hungarian was superior to the Englishman and would take his first Olympic title.
Bela Keri, trainer to both Papp and fellow Hungarian gold medallist, Tibor Csik, promised that if both men took Olympic titles he would jump fully clothed into the nearby swimming pool. The next morning the Hungarian newspapers showed a very wet coach on their front page. Bronze medallist Ivano Fontana of Italy and the Dane, Martin Hansen, went to achieve a modicum of success in the pro ranks.
|2||Johnny Wright||19||Great Britain||GBR||Silver|
|9T||Washington Jones||23||United States||USA|
|17T||Ken La Grange||25||South Africa||RSA|