CLASS OF 2005
Mark E. Symons was born in 1911 in Shields and the 5-5 boxer
was months shy of his 16th birthday when he turned pro in 1927.
An early manager, Ed Love, thought Marty Simmons sounded
better than Mark Symons and that’s the name he wound up
using in the ring. He was one of the top middleweights in the
country as he began his long career in the 1920’s. But his big
years were in the ‘30’s when he was ranked seventh in the
country by the National Boxing Association and sixth among
light heavyweights. Simmons fought all over the nation as well as Australia. He had a long-running feud after losing to Freddie Apostoli and wanted another shot at him in a neutral ring with an unbiased referee. He fought to a draw with Apostoli but the unpopular decision went to Apostoli. He found out two weeks after the fight that the referee was Apostoli’s brother-in-law. He was the Michigan middleweight champion in 1933 when he fought to a draw with Ezzard Charles who would go on to win the world heavyweight championship. He boxed until 1940 and fought 26 champions, including bouts with Archie Moore and Gus Lesnevich. He was knocked down only once - a TKO. Simmons’ career record was 386-16 and he once won 80 consecutive fights and when he retired he still retained his crown. By his own admission he also fought somewhere between 35-40 draws. His biggest paycheck was $48,000 which he won in Australia. After the government took their share and his manager took his one-third cut, he was left with $8,000. When he returned from Australia, he and wife, Helen, moved to California, first living in San Francisco and then in Los Angeles. During that time he rubbed elbows with Clark Gable and Mae West, two of Hollywood’s biggest fight fans. He retired from fighting in 1940 and returned home and got a steady job with Wilcox Rich (now Eaton Manufacturing). For the next 40-plus years, he was involved with the Golden Gloves, Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and union-sponsored (UAW/CIO) youth boxing programs. He and boyhood friend, Butch Otto, wound up training hundreds of aspiring amateurs over the years. When the Golden Gloves flourished in Saginaw during the 1970’s they drew four-day crowd totals of nearly 14,000 people. In 1977, Simmons was awarded the Liberty Bell Award by the Saginaw County Bar Association for outstanding contributions to the community. He died March 21, 1995, and is buried at Roselawn Cemetery.
SAGINAW COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME