Pete Herman – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Pete Herman was a two-time World Bantamweight Champion who retired with a professional record of 100-29-13 with 21 knockouts in an 11-year career. He was rated as the second-best bantamweight of all-time by Ring Magazine. He struggled with eyesight throughout his career and would eventually go completely blind.
Just five feet, two inches tall, Herman won the world bantamweight title with a 20-round decision over Kid Williams on January 9, 1917 at the Louisiana Auditorium in New Orleans. He would hold that title until losing to Joe Lynch on December 22, 1920 in a bout at Madison Square Garden. However, he regained the title with a rematch victory over Lynch on July 25, 2021 at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field before a crowd of 20,000 fans. That win made him the first bantamweight champion to regain his title.
Between title fights, Herman traveled to England for multiple fights. On January 13, 1921, he fought legendary Welsh Flyweight Champion Jimmy Wilde at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In a fight with 10,000 fans, including the Prince of Wales, Herman won on a 17th -round technical knockout. Wilde said afterwards, “I can sincerely say that Herman beat me because he was the better boxer.” On July 11, 1921, Herman defeated British Bantamweight Champion Jim Higgins in an eleventh-round knockout at the Highland Park Ring in London.
In an exhibition fight during World War I, Herman first had an eye damaged. That was the start of perpetual eye issues. During multiple fights late in his career, he was nearly completely blind by the end of the fight, but he hid the issue from ring doctors and his manager, and the sight returned. In his final fight, against Roy Moore on April 24, 1922, in Boston, Massachusetts, Herman lost his sight completely in the fourth round. But he continued the match by talking to his opponent, drawing him closer and then delivering such fierce punches at close range that the referee nearly stopped the fight. While he won the fight by decision, this time his eyesight did not return.
Born Peter Gulotta on February 12, 1896, in New Orleans, Herman owned and operated a popular French Quarter bar until his death on April 13, 1973, at the age of seventy-seven. He was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1960 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.