FIELDS, JACKIE


FIELDS, JACKIE (Jacob (Yonkel) Finkelstein; 1908–1987), U.S. welterweight boxing champion 1929–30 and 1932–33, featherweight Olympic Gold Medal winner, member of the Boxing Hall of Fame. Fields was born and raised in a Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, "where you had to fight your way to the swimming pool because the Italians, the Polish, the Irish, the Lithuanians were there." He began fighting at 14 at the Henry Booth Settlement House under the tutelage of one-time featherweight fighter Marty Fields, whose name he eventually adopted. After Fields' father, Morris, a butcher, contracted tuberculosis, the family moved to Los Angeles. Fields won 51 of 54 amateur bouts, and captured the Olympic Featherweight Gold medal at the 1924 Olympic Games at age 16, the youngest man ever to win an Olympic boxing crown. His first pro fight was February 2, 1925, and seven fights later, on November 12, 1925, Hall of Famer Jimmy McLarnin knocked him out in the second round, the only time Fields was stopped by a KO.

Fields won the National Boxing Association (NBA) Welterweight Championship on March 25, 1929, with a decision over Young Jack Thompson. Four months later, on July 25, he captured the unified world championship against Joe Dundee. The defending champion was knocked down five times in the second round, and was then disqualified after crawling on his hands and knees across the ring and punching Fields full-force in the groin, knocking him out. Thus Fields became the only fighter to ever win a title while flat on his back.

Fields lost the world title to Thompson on May 9, 1930, but regained it a second time on January 28, 1932, with a decision over Lou Brouillard, who had taken the crown from Thompson. He lost the title to Young Corbett III on February 22, 1933, and retired after one more fight, having lost his vision in one eye in an automobile accident a year earlier. Widely regarded as scientific boxer with tremendous stamina and a solid punch, Fields' record was 72 (30 KO's)–9–2. In 1965, Fields coached the U.S. boxing team at the Maccabiah Games in Israel.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.