Born: November 16, 1926
Died: January 28, 1979
What do you get when you cross Fred Astaire with Steve McQueen? A smooth boxing badass that knows when its time to be cute and when its time to get down and dirty. In boxing that equates to a Glen Flanagan. The older brother of fellow contender, Del Flanagan, Glen also possessed the A+ left jab that his younger brother did, and used it more than a few times to close the eyes of his opponents; only when he got tired of working the eyes with his jab; he’d used his head and his elbows. Glen Flanagan was an exciting fighter to watch, as you never knew which Glen would show up-the boxer or the slugger…the fancy Dan, or the wise guy. This Jekyll & Hyde persona made for amusing fights to watch for fans, but also made it Hell for opponents to train for and face.
Glen’s career started at the Potts Gym in Minneapolis under the watchful eye of Earl Kaehn. He joined the Navy and rattled off 44 consecutive victories before turning professional in 1946. He went 10-0-2 before suffering his first setback. After a good opening round against Danny Martin in May of 47′, Glen suffered a large cut over his eye in the 2nd round. It was long, deep, and jagged, but Glen wanted to continue. When trainer Earl Kaehn told the referee he didn’t want to risk his fighter’s eyesight, the fight was stopped, and with it, went the relationship between Glen and Earl. Glen fired Kaehn over the call, angry that anyone would stop one of his fights. The two would later make amends, but Glen went on to manage himself for the vast majority of his career. He finished the year with a 19-2-2 record, including a TKO victory over Martin in a rematch from their unfinished affair. Already a fan favorite among Twin Cities boxing enthusiasts, Glen really won them over in a hotly contested grudge match between himself and Minneapolis’ Norm Mastrian in January of 1948. Both fighters went at it hammer and tongs, including both falling out of the ring in the 4th round and fighting alongside the ring apron before climbing back in to beat the count. In the end, Mastrian was down a total of 11 times before he succumbed to Flanagan’s onslaught in the 7th.
Glen then took his talents on the road on a tour to the West Coast to test his wares against some better opposition. He went a perfect 5-0 with 4 of those wins by knockout and was now a highly regarded prospect with a 26-2-2 record. He came home to Minnesota to face another rival in the speedy and talented Mel Hammond. Hammond gave Glen all he could handle in their first fight, and it was declared a Draw, but as people were already learning about Glen, he was death in rematches. He whipped up on Hammond in the rematch a few months later, taking a clear decision. He then stepped it up big-time by facing a top-5 world rated Charley Riley. Riley was such a killer that Glen’s own father asked the state commission to forbid his son from facing Riley. But there was nothing to worry about, as Glen chose to enter the ring that night in full-boxing mode, and boxed the ears off of Riley in a thorough trimming, earning the respect of the world-wide boxing community in the process. While most fighters would be soaking their knuckles and nursing their bruises, Glen then faced another world-rated killer just 2 weeks later in Miguel Acevedo. Acevedo was the Cuban Featherweight champion, and had already faced such men as: Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler, Jackie Graves, Charley Riley, and LuLu Constantino among others. People questioned Glen’s decision-making skills when he agreed to the fight, yet he once again showed his skills had come full circle, as he boxed well in the fight and stood even with the highly regarded Cuban, securing a Draw over their 10 rounds.
By late 1949, Glen was 34-2-6 and was slated to fight the king of the hill in Minnesota boxing, who was “The Austin Atom” Jackie Graves. Graves was the state Featherweight champion, sporting an awesome ledger of 64-4-1, and was regarded by most as the second hardest punching Featherweight in the world next to champ, Sandy Saddler. Graves took the fight to an overly cautious Flanagan that night, and pounded out a unanimous victory, but Glen noticed late in the fight that he was able to land on Graves’ chin when feinting a left and then throwing a right cross. He challenged Graves to an immediate rematch, and true to his rematch form, he beat Graves via KO in the 3rd, taking with him a high world ranking and Graves’ Minnesota Featherweight title, something Graves had held for 5 years and some 62 of his 69 fights.
Glen’s career was now on auto-pilot as he continued on with his impressive performances by posting wins over future world champ, Lauro Salas, as well as beating Chico Rosa and Pat Iacobucci before losing a tough one to Ray Famechon in December of 1950. He continued on fighting both Featherweights and Lightweights and maintaining his lofty world ranking before facing a man many were predicting to be the next great champ, Gene Smith. Smith was an undefeated 29-0 with 22 KO’s. Glen started off boxing with Smith before suffering two knockdowns. He then switched tactics and went to war with Smith, busting him up and winning the second half of the fight, but dropping the decision. He quickly rematched Smith and in Gene’s hometown too, this time taking a unanimous decision victory, and handing Smith two black eyes and his first loss.
Glen was now under the management of the infamous Pinkie George, and George has secured him many big money fights, including a crack at the interim Featherweight title which was vacant while Sandy Saddler served in the Army. It would be against Tommy Collins, the man who had recently KO’d the great Willie Pep. Flanagan entered the fight with an injured right hand, and lost a decision to Collins, but was never close to being knocked out as the Press had predicted for any man facing Collins.
By the mid-1950′s Glen’s career was winding down but he still fought some high-profile fights, including his 3 with in-state rival, Danny Davis. In their 2nd fight, Glen won the vacant Minnesota Lightweight title, adding that to his state Featherweight belt. He also retired old rival, Jackie Graves with another 3rd round KO in 1956 when both men were well past their primes. Despite his skills no longer being what they once were, Glen was still dangerous and proved that by whipping the tar out of rising star, Bobby Bickle before retiring with an 82-23-12 record. Glen came out of retirement in 1960 for three fights, taking the vacant state Welterweight title over Bobby Terrance in one of them. He retired from the ring for good after a Draw with Javellana Kid, with complete record of 84-23-13 for a total of 120 fights. In those 120 fights, Glen was never knocked out, and had faced 3 world champions and 26 different ranked fighters for a total of 35 times (he fought some more than once). He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.