The Book

Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row was written with the co-operation of Charley's family and friends. It was originally an individually numbered limited edition run of 300 (now sold out). It contains twenty pages of photographs, many of which are from the private collection of the Burley family.


Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row
follows a trail from the 1936 Barcelona 'Friendly' Olympics in war-torn Spain to top ten contender status for world title honours during the 1940s.

From the disappointment of being avoided by Henry Armstrong, Fritzie Zivic, Tony Zale, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano, Billy Conn and Sugar Ray Robinson to hauling garbage for the city of Pittsburgh for over thirty years. Charley Burley was forced to fight out of his weight class with monotonous regularity (by today's standards he would be a light-middleweight), yet he knocked out fighters from welterweight to heavyweight. Burley beat three world champions in three different weight categories, but was denied a chance to fight for any title.

* Elected to the Ring Magazine Hall-of-Fame in 1983
* Inducted to the World Boxing Hall-of-Fame in 1987
* International Boxing Hall-of-Fame inductee in 1992

Charley Burley and the Black Murderers' Row contains many rare and unseen photographs that trace the career of this often overlooked fighter from his amateur days to his retirement and beyond.


"You know, people ask me who was the greatest fighter I ever met and I tell them Rocky Marciano, because that's what they want to hear. Hell, Marciano beat me when I was 42 and I gave him a great battle. Eddie Booker and Charley Burley were the best. They beat me in my prime. Booker broke my ribs and Burley gave me a boxing lesson."


Archie Moore (World light-heavyweight champion 1952-1962)

"Too good for his own good" a statement that was made by many boxing managers and promoters of the 1940s when referring to Pittsburgh's Charley Burley. Arguably the greatest boxer never to win a world title, Burley was the most feared fighter of his generation and the most avoided fighter in the history of boxing. Writer Budd Schulberg ('On the Waterfront') christened them "The Black Murderers' Row". Charley Burley, Eddie Booker, Jack Chase, Bert Lytell, Lloyd Marshall and Aaron 'Tiger' Wade terrorised boxings middleweight division in the 1940s and were avoided to such an extent that they had to fight amongst themselves simply to remain active and earn a living.

"Charley Burley is a legend in boxing, but the public doesn't know him because he never got the credit."
Eddie Futch


I was fortunate enough to meet Charley Burley shortly before his passing in 1992. Due to the dearth of information available of this great fighter I decided to compile as many facts, figures and personal stories about him as I could. The idea was to create a scrapbook that his family could keep and treasure. As the press clippings, photographs and personal stories grew I decided to write this book.

While the information on his boxing career is very detailed, what I wanted was to present a more rounded picture of this (extra)ordinary man. Thanks to the generosity (and hospitality) of his family and friends, I think that I have achieved this.

Also available as an eBook on Kobo



Harry Otty is a member of the International Boxing Research Organisation.





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