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Monday, July 24, 2023

The "Yiddisher Cowboy," Frankie Fink

Frankie Fink traveled the U.S., fighting monthly throughout the 1920s. He made the rounds from climber to contender to well-respected journeyman. Fink represented the archetypical 1920s boxer.

Frank Fred Fink was born on July 23, 1903, the eighth of nine children, to Meyer and Sophie. Both were in their 40s when they had Frankie. Throughout his career, Dallas was considered Fink's hometown, but according to the 1910 and 1920 censuses, he was from Brenham, a Texas town of about 5,000 people at the time of his birth and situated halfway between Houston and Austin. Brenham had a relatively sizable Jewish population in those days.

Fink became a pro in 1921 and spent the first three years of his career mostly fighting around Texas. He also had a few fights in Louisiana and in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. On November 29, 1924, Frankie Fink did the unthinkable; he won the Mexican featherweight title when Joe Medina was disqualified in the seventh round of their fight in Mexico City. It was unthinkable simply because Fink wasn't Mexican and the title hadn't existed before the fight.

Fink held the Mexican featherweight title for nearly five years without a single defense. The first time he returned to Mexico after winning the title, Fink lost the belt on the scales because he hadn't made the featherweight limit in four years.

When professional boxing was essentially legalized in California back in 1925, Fink plied his trade on the West Coast. He came to New York beginning in 1926 and spent most of the next two years in the area. There he picked up the name "Yiddisher Cowboy" playing on his roots as a Jewish Texan. Fink fought in Madison Square Garden four times. He took on some of the best fighters of his era but couldn't quite get past any of them.

Fink never really had a style, and that might have prevented him from going further in his career. Future two-time welterweight world champion Jackie Fields outboxed him twice. Former featherweight world champion Kid Kaplan pressured him relentlessly in winning by eighth round TKO. Future featherweight world champion Andre Routis scored a ten-round points win against him. Future junior welterweight champion Mushy Callahan once knocked Fink out cold in sparring.

Fink also fell short against numerous contenders, including Joe Glick, Al Foreman, Billy Petroelle, Honeyboy Finnegan, and Eddie Mack. But he could beat good opponents who were just a level below those champions and top contenders, including Jose Lombardo and Tommy Herman.

On April 6, 1927, it was announced Fink was among eight boxers suspended by the New York Athletic Commission for fighting above their weight. The suspension didn't last long and the "Cowboy" continued to fight virtually every month until February of 1929. He had two fights in Mexico City later that year and wouldn't fight again until 1931. After Mack KOed him in 1932, Fink's last three fights were all in Dallas, two in 1935 and one in 1942.

If newspaper decisions are included, Fink ended his boxing career with a record of 51-30-17 (15 KOs) according to BoxRec. He was rated as high as the #13 junior lightweight in The Ring magazine's annual ratings for both 1926 and 1927.

It appears Fink didn't marry or have any children. He died on April 29, 1979 at the age of 75. His tombstone reads, "Beloved Brother." It probably should say, "Darn good fighter" too.


"Callahan Scores Knockout Over Sparring Partner." LA Times. Feb. 11, 1926. Pg. B2.
Dawson, James. P. "Terris Outpoints Wallace in the Garden." NY Times. Mar. 19, 1927. Pg. 13.
"Fields Victor in New York." LA Times. Jul. 5, 1927. Pg. B4.
Find a Grave
"Lombardo Defeated by Fink at Dexter." NY Times. Aug. 24, 1926. Pg. 14.
"Sarmiento Decisively Whips Georgie Marks." LA Times. Sep. 24, 1925. Pg. B1.
"Suspend 8 Boxers for Weight Ruling." NY Times. Apr. 6, 1927. Pg. 30.
U.S. Census, 1910 & 1920.
"Wills Loses Bout In Mexico City." The Atlanta Constitution. Sep. 16, 1929. Pg. 15.

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