Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Harry "Kid" Matthews

Beginning in 1964 my family was living in Everett. Later, I got my hands on a used 1963 Chevrolet Corvair. It had four cylinders. Well, there's not much a guy can do to "soup up" a Corvair. That is-- except maybe get louder exhaust pipes. But pipes never go on easily. A guy might have to have some modifications done by a welder. So, that's what I did. I found a welding shop in Everett.

I told my Dad about my plans and he said "That guy was a professional boxer." Huh? "Harry 'Kid' Matthews."

Sure enough, the welder said he was Harry "Kid" Matthews. He said little more than that. He simply fixed the exhaust. I paid him $10 or so. He wrote a receipt. I should have kept it.

Before WWII Matthews came from Idaho and ended up in the Seattle area, where he established himself as a respectable "main event" fighter. He was a contender in the middleweight division. Then he joined the US Army and didn't box again until 1946. Despite winning regularly after the war, Matthews was unable to make much progress with his career.

Meanwhile, Jack Hurley had managed fighters in Chicago in the 1930s, and also promoted fights for the Chicago Colesium in the 1940s. He eventually came to the Seattle area and set up a long residence at the downtown Olympic Hotel.

In 1949 Hurley discovered Harry "Kid" Matthews. Hurley refined Matthews's style and used his cunning public relation skills to build up Matthews. Matthhews appeared on the October 1951 cover of "The Ring" boxing magazine.

Hurley was known as a perfectionist and would drill his fighters to do exactly what he expected of them. As a result, knowledgable people could tell a Hurley-trained fighter from others.

Hurley kept Matthews busy in the Northwest in 1950 before sending him off to New York City in 1951. In July 1952, Matthews was matched against heavyweight Rocky Marciano in Yankee Stadium. After winning the first round in the eyes of most, he was knocked out by Marciano in the second round.

After that Harry "Kid" Matthews fought primarily in the Northwest. He retired in 1956 with a respectable career (1937 - 1956) record of 90 wins (KO 61), 7 losses (KO 3) and 6 draws.

After his boxing career ended, Matthews owned and operated a welding shop in Everett, Washington. He also began training Everett Heavyweight Ibar Arrington 1978. Born in 1922, he died in Everett in 2003 at age 81.


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  2. I started to say something about how Kid fared better than some other boxer named Pat, who used to get run over sometimes... and you had that groovy Corvair... but... that's pretty far-fetched isn't it?

  3. I just purchased an oak machinist's tool box at a yard sale (6/20/2009) in Smyrna, DE. Screwed onto the inside of the front of the box under a piece of very scratched lucite was/is a color photo of a boxer labeled "Harry Matthews...Uncrowned Champ." It piqued my interest to know more - and led me to your website, among others. I wonder if the box in my possession belonged at one time to someone in the Matthews family or to a fan who followed "The Kid." I want to know more about thte life of this very interesting man!

  4. My grandfather bunked with Harry when he was 19 and working in his blacksmith shop. He and Harry became very close friends and I got to meet him a few times. At age 73 he still looked like he could win a few matches. My dad used to tell me the story of listening to the match between Harry and Irish Bob Murphy on the radio that Howard Cosell called. I got to grow up in the same hometown as Harry and will never forget all the stories the old timers used to tell.