“There was another guy that not too many people are familiar with and he could have beat 90% or 95% of these fighters today, a guy called Eddie Booker.”—A.J. “Blackie” Nelson, sparring partner to many members of Murderers’ Row
“He was a slick-boxing, defensive stylist with decent power in both hands, particularly the left hook.”—Harry Otty
“I’ve had some rough fights in my time, but all things being equal, when I was in my prime, one of my toughest had to have been against Eddie Booker, a fighting machine… who shot out punches with deft precision…[Booker] was one of the great fighters of my time. He had me fighting for dear life.”—Archie Moore
For finishing out a 66-5-8 career, 7-2-1 is not bad, especially when it includes a points win over Lloyd Marshall, a TKO over Harry Mathews, a draw and a smashing TKO win over Archie Moore, a win over Frankie Nelson ((30-8-1), and a split with the great Holman Williams—all this despite the fact the man doing the fighting was risking permanent blindness. This is what Texas-born (but California-based) Eddie “Black Dynamite” Booker accomplished during the end of an amazing career that began in 1935 and ended involuntarily in 1944 because of a serious eye issue. Reportedly, a doctored pair of gloves led to Eddie’s eye injuries that eventually would lead to blindness.
This muscular, tough-as-nails middleweight, albeit a perfect gentleman outside the ring, was another of the many West Coast fighters who toiled successfully throughout the 1930s and ‘40s. Eddie was and is a righteous—though more forgotten—member of “Murderers’ Row.” He could box or brawl, depending on what was required, and had a chin made of Kryptonite (he was never stopped). Other members of this feared group who were avoided by elite white fighters because of their skills and sadly because of racial barriers that then existed included the great Hall of Famer Charley Burley, Hall of Famer Lloyd Marshall, Hall of Famer Holman Williams, Hall of Famer Herbert “Cocoa Kid” Lewis Hardwick, the edgy Jack Chase, powerful Elmer “Violent” Ray, Aaron “Little Tiger” Wade , Bert Lytell (Chocolate Kid), Charley Williams, and others depending on which research source one chooses to use.
Booker went undefeated in his first 41 outings before losing to Fritzie Zivic (75-19-4 coming in) in 1939 at the Garden. A month later, he lost a decision to fellow “Murderer-Row” member Cocoa Kid (103-28-5) in New Haven. Eddie then launched another undefeated streak before losing to Shorty Hogue (45-4-2) in San Diego in 1941. After going nine straight without a loss, he surprisingly was defeated by another (and rather controversial) “Murderer’s-Row” member, the fast and awkward Jack Chase (50-6-4) in 1943. “Black Dynamite” finished out his great run as stated above with each of the contests taking place in California.
The Chase bout, given Jack’s less-than-admirable background outside the ring, might well be the starting point for culling out the cause of Eddie’s eye injury. Jack Chase had numerous run-ins with the law and was arrested for shooting fellow boxer Aaron “Little Tiger” Wade in California. Putting an energized meaning to the phrase “Grudge Match,” Wade and Chase met three times with Chase wining two and the other ending in a draw. The 1944 fight ended in Chase’s favor under suspicious circumstances related to—you guessed it—an eye injury.
Eddie Booker was inducted into World Boxing Hall of Fame and the California Boxing Hall of Fame, but for reasons that defy logic, he remains a non-member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Ace Historian Harry Otty puts it best when he notes, “While the honor of enshrinement in the Boxing Hall of Fame is the least these fighters deserve, in the case of Eddie Booker, it is definitely a case of too little and too late.”