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The Fight that Ended NCAA-Sanctioned College Boxing

In his junior year, 1959, Charlie Mohr, from the University of Wisconsin, went undefeated and won the NCAA championship in the 165-pound weight class. He also won the trophy for the outstanding boxer of the tournament. The following year, 1960, the NCAA Boxing tournament was hosted at the University of Wisconsin. On April 9, 1960, Mohr stepped into the ring against San Jose State’s Stu Bartell. The bout would not only determine the 165-pound national champion, it would also determine the team championship between Wisconsin and San Jose State.

A newspaper columnist named Doug Moe, while researching a book about the history of Wisconsin boxing called Lords of the Ring: The Triumph and Tragedy of College Boxing’s Greatest Team, unearthed a tape of the second round at a Wisconsin public television station. “He got hit hard,” Moe says. “He went down, got back up, and then the referee stopped the fight.”Mohr walked back to the dressing room and apologized to his teammates. He was experiencing what’s known as a “lucid interval”; inside his head, the damage had already been done. He lay down, complaining of a headache, and then he fell into convulsions. Mohr died April 17, 1960 of a brain hemorrhage.

Twenty-two days after Charlie Mohr’s death the University of Wisconsin–Madison abolished the boxing program at UW–Madison. The NCAA soon followed Wisconsin’s lead, officially ending their support of the national boxing tournament in late 1960 and unofficially terminating the sport.

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