Known as “Mr. Boxing” in the Syracuse area, Billy Harris spent more than 80 years of his life in and around the ring. Initially, Harris was a fighter as he won the state Golden Gloves welterweight title in 1922 at the age of 17. He went on to fight in 107 pro and amateur bouts.
Harris then shifted his attention to coaching and taught his craft to hundreds of area boxers. In 1935, Harris became the first African-American to train fighters for the Golden Gloves tournament. He also founded the Syracuse Boxing Club on Midler Ave. In the 1978 Golden Gloves competition, Harris had fighters in all 11 weight classes and six became champions.
Harris managed and trained many local boxers including world title contenders Billy Backus, Tommy Hicks, Hal “TNT” Carroll and Rocky Fratto. Harris died in 2000.
1922: Won Welterweight Championship of New York State Golden Gloves
1935: First African-American to coach in Golden Gloves competition
1978: Coached six winners to Golden Gloves titles and had boxers in all 11 weight classes
Trained pro fighters such as welterweight champion Billy Backus, Hal "TNT" Carroll, Tommy Hicks and junior middleweight contender Rocky Fratto; Worked the corner in three world title fights.