The proud city of Cleveland takes great pride in remembering their Hall of Famer and former world light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim. Born Guiseppe Antonio Bernardinelli on March 22, 1922 in Cleveland.
Joey turned professional in 1941 after a successful amateur career. He took his name “Maxim” because his rapid-fire jab resembled the Maxim machine gun. It’s a jab that carried him through 115 professional fights against the likes of Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivins, Freddie Mills, Gus Lesnevich and Floyd Patterson.
Maxim won the light heavyweight title in 1950 by stopping Freddie Mills and held it until 1952 when he lost to Archie Moore. In between he defended his title against Sugar Ray Robinson and unsuccessfully challenged Ezzard Charles for the heavyweight crown. Even in 1954 on the downside of his illustrious career Joey still had enough to win a controversial decision over future champion Floyd Patterson.
Joey was a slick boxer with a granite chin. He was only stopped once in his professional career. Hard hitting Curtis Sheppard turned the trick in one round. In an immediate return match , Joey outscored Sheppard. He retired in 1955 with 82 victories.
I had the opportunity to meet Joey a few years back before he passed away. Even at his advanced age he looked fit enough to go a few rounds. Underneath his rough exterior I found him to be pleasant and rather witty. Everyone I have talked to who knew Joey had nothing but respect and admiration for the man. He will be missed but never forgotten.