Billy Conn was a professional boxer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, born on October 8, 1917. He was known for his speed, agility, and exceptional footwork, which made him a formidable opponent in the ring. Conn began his boxing career in 1934 and quickly made a name for himself as a rising star in the sport.
In 1937, Conn challenged the reigning Light Heavyweight Champion, Melio Bettina, for his title and won by unanimous decision, becoming the new champion. He defended his title several times, but he had his sights set on the heavyweight championship, which was considered the most prestigious title in boxing.
In 1940, Conn stepped up to the heavyweight division and began his pursuit of the heavyweight championship. He won his first six heavyweight fights and soon earned a shot at the title against the legendary champion, Joe Louis.
On June 18, 1941, Conn faced off against Louis in what was considered one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Conn, who was smaller and lighter than Louis, fought a smart, tactical fight, using his superior footwork to avoid Louis' powerful punches. He outboxed Louis for most of the fight and was ahead on the scorecards going into the 13th round.
However, in a moment of overconfidence, Conn decided to go for the knockout and dropped his guard, allowing Louis to land a devastating punch that knocked him out and ended the fight. Despite the loss, Conn's performance was widely praised, and many believed he had come closer to defeating Louis than any other opponent.
In 1946, Conn had another shot at the heavyweight championship, this time against Ezzard Charles. The two fighters went back and forth in a grueling 15-round fight, but Charles was able to land more punches and win a unanimous decision, denying Conn the heavyweight title once again.
Conn continued to fight and won several more bouts, but he never again challenged for the heavyweight title. He retired from boxing in 1951 with a record of 64 wins, 11 losses, and 1 draw, including 15 wins by knockout.
In addition to his boxing career, Conn also had a brief stint as an actor, appearing in several movies and television shows in the 1940s and 1950s. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of his era.