There have been many great fighters from our great state who had towering careers, but few who could claim to be towers themselves. 6′ 9″ tall Jim Beattie can claim both. Fred Fulton had previously been the tallest fighter in state history at 6′ 6″ and was called a giant. If that’s true, then Beattie was Godzilla, as he never entered a fight, amateur or professional where he ever had to look up to an opponent, nor worry about a reach disadvantage, and gave a new definition to the term “stare-down”. Yet, despite his massive height, Beattie was much more than just an attraction, he could fight. A converted southpaw, Beattie threw one of the more dangerous left hooks/uppercuts the state has ever known. And in a sport tagged for it barbarism, Beattie was an intelligent, intellectual, whom the public came to love.
Beattie came from good athletic stock, his father was a former professional baseball player, and despite baseball not being Jim’s sport, he showed an early interest in boxing and proved to be a quick study. He won the St. Paul Golden Gloves Heavyweight title a remarkable 4 times (59′, 60′, 61′ and 62′), and 3 times won the Northwest Golden Gloves title (60′, 61′ and 62′). He finished his amateur career, a very admirable 50-5.
He began his career in 1962 under the management of Roger Twigg. After knocking out both of these first two opponents, Jim responded to an ad that four businessmen in New York were publishing from coast to coast. They called their group, Kid Galahad Inc. Gene Schoor was the main investor, and they were looking for the next Heavyweight Champion of the world. After trialing thousands of boxers, they settled on Beattie, and immediately gave him an apartment in New York, a weekly salary, and new trainer in Freddie Fierro, former trainer to champions Billy Conn, Gus Lesnevich, and Joey Maxim. The stage was set, and the training grounds were the infamous Gleason’s Gym in New York City. His first opponent was Duke Johnson. Johnson was reported to be in awe of Big Jim, and his nerves did not help him against the former Golden Glove champion, as Beattie knocked him stiff with the very first punch, ending the fight in just 24 seconds. He lost his next match to Johnny Barazza, but rebounded to win his next 9 matches, 8 by knockout. One of the fights was against tough contender, Dick Wipperman. Wipperman was 26-2-2 and was a major step up in opponent for Jim. It was a tough fight, but Beattie came on strong in the 7th and hammered away at an out on his feet Wipperman before it was stopped, and the buzz in Beattie was huge. He ended 1964 with a split decision loss to undefeated James J. Woody.
Jim then rattled off 5 straight wins, all by knockout, before losing to Woody again in a rematch. Woody, still undefeated, seemed to have Jim’s number. One win that caught the attention of boxing pundits, was his 5th round demolition of former Heavyweight title challenger, Tom McNeeley. Jim parted ways with Kid Galahad and came home to Minnesota under the management of former Featherweight contender, Glen Flanagan. The two seemed to be a great team, and Beattie won 9 consecutive fights, 6 by KO. These were two big years for Beattie (66′ & 67′), as included in those victories, were two wins over local rival Ed “Baker Boy” Hurley, a win over former conqueror Johnny Barazza, and two more over former rival, Dick Wipperman. Beattie then traveled down to Miami and dropped Levi Forte a total of 4 times before the end came in round 7. A surprise loss to contender, Al Jones ended the 1967 year and Jim set his sights on 68′. He started with a bang, as he reeled off 4 impressive wins, two over the dangerous Willie Ray Richardson, and one over local heavyweight, Aaron Eastling. But as quickly as success came in 68′, it ended with a setback loss to contender Buster Mathis, and another to Tommy Fields. Beattie quit the ring and pursued a career in sales. The fans were sorry to see Beattie leave.
After a near decade away from the ring, Beattie got the boxing itch once more and decided to make a comeback. Over the following year, he fought in Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, and Florida, and won all of them, setting up a local fight with rising prospect, Chuck Gardner. It was a close fight, but one that saw Beattie get the unanimous decision over 10 rounds. He then went after other local rivals in Fred Askew and Scott LeDoux. He beat Askew over 10 rounds for the vacant state title, and then challenged LeDoux in a grudge match that drew over 6,000 fans. Youth would prevail that night, as LeDoux stopped Jim in the 3rd, after a few more matches, Jim called it quits for good in 1979. For those that saw him fight, and many did, Beattie remains one of top fan favorites in state history. Tonight, he takes his rightful place among Minnesota’s elite fighters forever in time.