Most Fights Ever – Chasing Len Wickwar and the “Untouchable” Record
Like all great things in history, there may be a few versions of the exact number of fights documented in Len Wickwar’s professional fighting. “He killed a bear with his bare hands;” “No, he killed 3 bears!” BoxRec sets Len Wickwar’s never-to-be-broken record at 470. So I’ve decided I’m going to go and break it. But, also like all great things in history, I aim to break it as a means to honor it, and the countless men (and some women) who have fought incredible numbers of bouts. The unsung Travis Fultons’s of MMA, the loads of professional boxers in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and the Thais both male and female, who in their careers as fighters rack up fights in the hundreds, but lose count and have no means of documenting them. I’m going to break it out of love for my sport, and because fighting itself is a virtue. If anyone in recent decades looked at Wickwar’s achievement, all agreed, it’s impossible now; some very intelligent folks have said “that was a different time,” to explain how it will never be broken, and some less thoughtful folks have said exactly the same thing; they’re both right, but they say it for different reasons. So, one can answer both by bringing that same achievement into “this time.”
Because this was almost 100 years ago, naturally it’s a bit difficult to pin down the exact numbers on this record. The confirmed professional number of documented fights seems to rest at 470 now, adjusted.
…determining the complete records for figures like George Dixon or Joe Gans is not completely possible. But the researchers working with Boxrec have been tireless in combing through newspaper archives, and they represent the most accurate data base possible. And their own records find that lightweight Len Wickwar had the most verified professional fights of any boxer, as well as the most wins. Between 1928 and 1947, Wickwar compiled a record of 339-86-42, for a total of 467 fights [note:Boxrec has updated this to 470]. This is one of those records that will never be touched.
One of the things I love about Len Wickwar’s record is that a number that big just kind of doesn’t make “sense.” Like the number of stars in the galaxy or how many lightyears away something is. You get into billions and your mind can’t even hold it, so it’s just awesome in the real sense of that word. Wickar’s number is awesome.
Kevin put together a couple of graphics to see just what lay ahead of me. Wickwar fought the bulk of his fights in a 10 year period from 1929 to 1939, at a rate of about 46 fights a year. In 1934, one of his busiest years, he fought 54 times:
I’ve been fighting steadily since I moved to Thailand in 2012, at a rate of about 34 fights a year. This is what it would look like if I finished my final 10 years at the rate of about 25 fights a year:
Wickwar had a few more fights in the 1940s, which means his career spanned from 1928-1947. I technically had my first professional fight in 2010. If I reached and surpassed the magical Wickwar number with 471 by October of 2028 (the 100 year anniversary of the birth of his career), our careers would have lasted about the same length.
Not too many months ago I set my goal to an estimated “impossible” of 450 fights, Olympic Gold and a Lumpinee Belt, you can read about these goals here. This is an amendment to them, a serious one. Impossible goals fuel me, and help me reach higher towards my ultimate Yodmuay goal – to become Yodmuay, like those men I admire so much. At the time of setting that goal I wasn’t aware of Len Wickwar, but in hearing about him I became immediately inspired. By reaching for Wickwar, it’s like fighting history circling back on itself – like a satellite. As of this writing, I have 223 documented fights; 214 of these are professional fights, 9 are amateur. I should be half way there in less than a year. At 25 fights a year, it ought to take me about 10 more years. This is my road. You train to fight, but you fight to know the art.
If you don’t know me yet, this short documentary above gives an idea of what I’ve been doing.
If you’d like to support me and follow me closely on this insane ambition, you can help through Patreon: Patreon – Sylviemuay – there’s lot’s of exclusive content there, and if I’m blessed enough with health and opportunity, the real details of my experience in this coming decade will be there.