Vintage original 1930's black & white 5 1/2" x 3 1/2" postcard of middleweight and bantamweight World champions Marcel Thil and Panama Al Brown alongside Hall of Fame promoter Jeff Dickson.
Condition excellent (small bottom left corner crease)
Marcel Thil (25 May 1904 – 14 August 1968) was a French middleweight World champion. Statistical boxing website BoxRec rates Thil as the best French boxer ever across all weight divisions.
Thil was born in Saint-Dizier, a commune in the Haute-Marne department in north-eastern France. He started boxing at a very young age and turned professional at the age of 16. Thil was a journeyman boxer for a number of years but as he gained experience and matured to full adult strength, he developed power in both hands and began to win regularly by knockout (KO).
Thil won the French middleweight boxing championship in 1928 and captured the Europe title the following year. After losing his European championship in 1930, Thil won his next 15 fights and then defeated Gorilla Jones by a controversial 11th-round disqualification to capture the National Boxing Association (NBA) World middleweight championship and the vacant International Boxing Union (IBU) World middleweight championship on June 11, 1932, in Paris, France. With his championship victory, Thil became the toast of Paris. He was a major celebrity and a good friend of celebrated actor Jean Gabin.
Thil successfully defended the title on July 4, 1932, with a 15-round unanimous decision against Len Harvey, but he then went more than a year without defending the title. Thil was stripped by the NBA for failing to make a title defence by August 15, 1933, but he remained the IBU champion.
In addition to defending the IBU middleweight championship, Thil moved up a weight class to win the European light-heavyweight title in 1934. He would successfully defend the title once.
After successfully defending the IBU middleweight championship 11 times, Thil fought Fred Apostoli in a non-title bout on September 23, 1937, in New York City. It was a non-title affair because the New York State Athletic Commission, which recognized Freddie Steele as World middleweight champion, said they would sanction the fight only if Thil agreed that his title would not be at stake. Apostoli won by a 10th-round technical knockout (TKO). The fight was stopped due to a severe cut over the right eye of Thil, who was ahead on points at the time of the stoppage. Shortly after the loss, the 33-year-old Thil retired from boxing.
Later Life And Death
Thil remained active in boxing circles as an adviser and cornerman and was named honorary president of the Dieppe Boxing Club. He made a living with a company in Reims until retiring to a home in Cannes on the French Riviera.
Thil died at his home in Cannes on August 14, 1968, at the age of 64. Over the last couple years of his life, he was involved in two car accidents, from which he never fully recovered. Thil is buried in the Grand Jas Cemetery.
Marcel Thil was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame at Canastota, New York in 2005. In France, a street was named in his honor in his birthplace of Saint-Dizier, and both a street and a sports stadium carry his name in the city of Reims.
Alfonso Teofilo Brown (July 5, 1902 – April 11, 1951), better known as Panama Al Brown, was a Panamanian. He made history by becoming boxing's first Hispanic World champion, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest bantamweight boxers in history.
Brown won the NYSAC bantamweight title in 1929 after defeating Gregorio Vidal. In 1930 he won both the NBA and IBU bantamweight titles, after defeating Johnny Erickson and Eugène Huat. After relocating to Paris, France, Brown became known for his flamboyant lifestyle and interest in the arts, performing as a cabaret man. He faced racial barriers throughout his career, and had been stripped of the NYSAC and NBA titles by 1934. He held the IBU title until 1935, when he lost it to Baltasar Sangchili.
In 1938, Brown fought for the IBU bantamweight title again in a rematch with Sangchili, winning on points. He continued to box until 1942, but failed to achieve the same level of success he had previously enjoyed. In 2002, Brown was named one of the 80 best fighters of the past 80 years by The Ring magazine. He currently ranks #5 in BoxRec's ranking of the greatest bantamweight boxers in history. He has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Alfonso Teofilo Brown was born on July 5, 1902, in the City of Colón, Panama. His father, Horace Brown, died when Brown was 13, and his mother, Esther Lashley, worked as a cleaner. His first exposure to boxing came while working as a young adult clerk for the United States Shipping Board, at the Panama Canal Zone, witnessing American soldiers boxing.
Brown turned professional in 1922 under the guidance of manager Dave Lumiansky. His first fight took place on March 19, 1922, when he beat Jose Moreno by a decision in six at Colon. By his seventh fight, December 13 of that same year, he beat Sailor Patchett by a fifteen round decision, to earn the Panamanian 'Isthmus' flyweight title.
On September 22, 1923, he had his first fight abroad, drawing in four rounds with Johnny Breslin, in New York. He very quickly established a presence upon relocating to the city in 1923. His rise was rapid; a year after his move to New York, The Ring magazine rated him the third best flyweight in the World; two years later, the sixth best bantamweight.
Brown began campaigning extensively across the United States before he suffered his first loss, at the hands of Jimmy Russo on December 6, 1924, by decision in twelve. He would later avenge that defeat, and he beat Davey Abad and Willie LaMorte before being disqualified in the first round against Frankie Murray on July 11, 1926. Despite that setback, he kept on campaigning successfully and, on November 10 of that year, he knocked out Antoine Merlo in his Paris debut.
He enjoyed Paris so much that he decided to stay there for the rest of his life. He became a hugely popular boxer in France, and fought on the European continent 40 times between 1929 and 1934. Over the next three years, he beat several fighters there, including former World champion Eugene Criqui.
An interesting case happened when he fought Gustav Humery, on January 29, 1929. Brown and Humery had previously agreed that they would not salute by touching gloves before the fight, and when the bell rang, Brown struck quickly, breaking Humery's jaw with his first punch and sending him to the floor. With the referee's count of ten seconds, the fight lasted a total of fifteen seconds, one of the quickest knockouts in boxing history.
World Bantamweight Champion
On June 18, 1929, Brown made history by becoming the World's first Hispanic World champion. He beat Gregorio Vidal by a fifteen round decision to win the vacant NYSAC bantamweight title, at the Queensboro Stadium, Long Island. He became a national idol in Panama, and an instant celebrity almost everywhere else in Latin America. Magazines such as Ring En Español were still talking about his achievement sixty years later. Soon after he lost a ten round, non-title fight to Battling Battalino. On February 8, 1930, Brown beat Johnny Erickson by disqualification to claim the NBA bantamweight title. On October 4, 1930, he beat Eugène Huat by unanimous decision to claim the IBU bantamweight title.
On July 30, 1933, Brown defended his IBU title against British bantamweight champion Johnny King, at Kings Hall, Manchester. Brown knocked King down several times during the early rounds, though King fought on. During the seventh round King caught Brown with a right, almost knocking him out, but Brown managed to hold on for a points decision.
On February 19, 1934, Brown defended his IBU title against Young Perez at the Palais des Sports, Paris, in what would be the first of three encounters between the two boxers. Brown had a significant height and reach advantage, and proved to much for the Tunisian, who lost on points. Shortly after the NBA stripped Brown of his title for failing to defend it against their leading contender Rodolfo Casanova.
Brown retained his title nine times and had countless other fights before a rematch with Hummey that ended in disaster: on May 17, 1934, Brown was disqualified in round six at Paris for using illegal tactics. A riot started and Brown suffered several broken bones and was sent into semi-unconsciousness by fans before the police could help him. Twenty minutes later, the locale where the rematch was held had almost been entirely destroyed.
For his next title defence, on November 1 of the same year, he travelled to Tunis, Tunisia, for his second encounter with Young Perez. Perez was counted out in round ten while on the floor, claiming that Brown had hit him with an illegal blow.
On June 1, 1935, Brown lost the title to Baltasar Sangchili by a fifteen round decision, at the Plaza de Toros, in Valencia, Spain. After the loss he chose to retire from boxing, instead performing in a cabaret. Suffering from the prolonged effects of drug use, he was persuaided by Jean Cocteau to detox, and begin training for a comeback to boxing. He had a rematch with Sangchili on March 4, 1938, avenging his earlier loss with a fifteen round decision to win the vacant IBU bantamweight title, but by this time the International Boxing Union was no longer recognized in the United States. His rematch win over Sangchili is believed to be his last great night, and, bowing to Cocteau's wishes, Brown vowed to retire after one more fight. That came in 1939 against Valentine Angelmann in Paris, Brown stopped him in eight rounds.
With the advent of the Second World War, Brown moved to the United States, settled in Harlem and tried to find work of the cabaret sort he performed in Paris when not fighting. There was none and before long he was fighting again, but not well.
Brown went on fighting until 1942, challenging unsuccessfully for the Panamanian Featherweight title on September 30, 1942, when he drew with Leocadio Torres, but retiring as a winner, defeating Kid Fortune by a decision in ten rounds on December 4 of the same year.
Not long after, he was arrested for using cocaine and deported for a year. He went back to New York afterwards and, in his late 40's, took a lot of beatings while serving as a sparring partner for up and comers at a gym in Harlem, making a dollar a round.
Brown died penniless of tuberculosis in New York City in 1951. He had fainted on 42nd Street. The police thought he was drunk and took him to the station. Eventually he was transferred to Sea View Hospital. He died there on April 11, unaware that not long before, one of the newspapers in Paris had begun talks about organizing a fund drive to pay for his trip home.
After his death, writer Eduardo Arroyo wrote a biography of Panama Al, titled Panama Al Brown, 1902-1951.
Panama Al Brown's final record is believed to have been 123 wins, 18 defeats and 10 draws, with 55 knockouts, placing him in the exclusive list of boxers who have won 50 or more wins by knockout. He was the recognised bantamweight World champion for six years and over that time made 11 title defences against the best bantamweights and featherweights of his era.
Brown quickly fell in love with Paris, and as a result spent much of his life there. He was noted for dressing elegantly, and enjoyed the night life of the city, frequenting bars and jazz clubs. He owned a number of cars including a 1929 Packard 645 Sport, and several Bugatti's. He joined Josephine Baker's La Revue Nègre as a tap dancer. His lover Jean Cocteau helped him. He made his cabaret debut as a song and dance man at the Caprice Viennoise.
During the early 1930's Brown contracted Syphilis, and sufferd from sores on his back. He recoverd well enough to continue his boxing career, though without antibiotics it remains unknown as to what extent he overcame the infection.
Jeff Dickson was born Jefferson Davis Dickson Jr., in Natchez, MO but he made a name for himself in the boxing World outside of the United States.
After serving in World War I as a photographer, Dickson remained in France and in 1924 he began promoting fights. He would eventually become the owner of the famed Palais De Sport in Paris, which hosted numerous title fights. He promoted in large cities all over Europe, including London, Berlin, Brussels, Rome and Barcelona.
Dickson had an ability for nurturing fighters from early in their careers until they became champions. He is credited with building heavyweight champion Primo Carnera and also promoted Hall of Famers Young Stribling and Len Harvey. He promoted the Carnera-Paulino Uzcudun fight in Barcelona in 1930.
Dickson also promoted other sporting events, including figure skating, bike races, hockey, bullfighting and wrestling.
In 1943, Capt. Jeff Dickson was reported lost in action over Germany while serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.