The diminutive Benny Bass was pound-for-pound one of the most bruising boxing champions of the 20th century, with more than two-thirds of his 176 victories coming by way of the knockout. Born in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, the 5 ft.1 in. Bass won two world titles within the span of 25 months.
He was the first Philadelphian to bring a world boxing title to the Quaker City. He gained the NBA title, in the featherweight division on September 12, 1927, with a 10-round decision over Red Chapman at Philadelphia’s mammoth Municipal Stadium, later to become John F. Kennedy Stadium.
Moving up in class, he captured the World Junior Welterweight Championship in December, 1929, by knocking out Todd Morgan in the second round, and held the belt for 19 months. He arrived in Philadelphia with his family when he was 17 and, after a successful amateur career, turned pro as a bantamweight at age 18.
He fought professionally for 18 years, accumulating a record of 176 wins (63 KOs), 38 losses and 13 draws in his 227 fights. The “Little Fish”, as he was called, had a whale-size heart. He proved just how tough he was when he fought with a broken collarbone for 12 rounds of a furious 15-round title fight with Tony Canzoneri in Madison Square Garden.
Even though he lost the fight, he won thousands and thousands of new fans for his painful performance. Benny Bass, who died in 1975 at age 70. Bass was a Philadelphia pugilistic pioneer. He put Philadelphia on the boxing map.
Related Personal Story: The Boxing Matches That Made Benny Bass