Miles Templeton pays tribute to Robert Cohen the not too long ago departed former bantamweight king
THE RECENT demise of Robert Cohen appears to have gone underneath the radar within the sporting press. This Frenchman gained the world bantamweight title in 1954 by beating Chamroem Songkitrat in a tough-fought 15-rounder in Bangkok. Cohen, who died aged 91 on March 2, had a terrific file, solely spoiled by defeats in his final three contests between 1955 and 1959.
An Algerian-Jew, Cohen survived persecution underneath the professional-Nazi Vichy regime in wartime France earlier than turning into that nation’s eighth world boxing champion. He’ll greatest be remembered by older UK followers for his 1954 victory over John Kelly, which noticed him decide up the European bantamweight title simply seven months previous to world title victory. Kelly had gained 21 contests in a row and he going locations. He had gained the European title by beating Scottish laborious man Peter Keenan on factors on the King’s Corridor, Belfast, in a really tight contest. Kelly’s first defence towards Cohen ruthlessly uncovered his lack of expertise and his flaws.
The BN headline, “Cohen annihilated Kelly”, says all of it. Reporting that, “This was not a contest a lot as a chastisement, and 20,000 pairs of Irish eyes watched in horrified dismay because the Frenchman with destruction in his gloves smashed their idol down as soon as, twice, six instances in all earlier than, mercifully, it was throughout”. Kelly by no means recovered from this defeat, shedding twice extra that 12 months by knockout earlier than retiring three years later on the age of 25.
It was not the primary time that British followers had had the chance to see Cohen in motion. Throughout 1953 he fought twice at Belle Vue, Manchester, incomes a sixth-spherical stoppage victory over Teddy Peckham of Bournemouth after which beating that nice little South-African, Jake Tuli, on factors in entrance of a capability crowd in a ten-rounder. On the time, Cohen was rated the main contender for the world title and British followers have been mightily impressed.
After his victory over Kelly, Cohen stayed within the UK and gained two extra contests in April 1954, beating each Eddie Carson and Manny Child Francis simply on factors in two entertaining 10-rounders. For his last contest towards a British-primarily based boxer, Cohen was matched with Roy Ankrah in Paris in December 1954, three months after he had change into world champion. Ankrah, a extremely-expert boxer from Ghana, was an enormous favorite in Britain however he got here an actual cropper towards the world champion. He was steadily crushed up earlier than retiring on his stool after the bell had rung for the fourth spherical. BN reported that Cohen was “quicker, much more aggressive and exceptionally match, the right combating machine”.
Throughout 1955 Cohen turned embroiled in boxing politics, nearly as dangerous then as it’s at the moment. The Nationwide Boxing Affiliation stripped him of his title when he didn’t defend it towards the Mexican, Raúl Macías, inside 90 days. The boxing world was bemused by this determination, none extra so than Nat Fleischer who said that he had written the unique contract for the title bout in Bangkok, “and on this it was agreed that the winner would signal for a championship defence and that the signing would happen inside 90 days. The signing, not the combat.”
The New York State Athletic Fee caught with Cohen as champion and the Frenchman defended his title in September 1955 in Johannesburg towards Willie Toweel, a member of a terrific combating household that included brothers Vic, Jimmy and Allan. Cohen dropped his man 3 times within the second spherical however needed to accept a draw on the finish.
The next 12 months noticed the Frenchman lose his world title to the Italian, Mario D’Agata, being stopped on cuts after seven rounds of an in depth combat in Rome. The gallant little fighter then retired with a file of 36 wins, 4 losses and three attracts in a glittering profession and it’s unhappy that his passing was missed by so many.