Stanislaus Kiecal, (1886-1910), better known in the boxing world as Stanley Ketchel was a boxer who became world Middleweight champion. Some sources list his year of birth as 1887, but 1886 is generally accepted as the year Ketchel was born. He was nicknamed "The Michigan Mauler" or "The Michigan Assassin."
Known also as an unforgiving playboy, Ketchel's personality has been compared by many boxing historians to that of Billy the Kid. Ketchel was also known for taking on Heavyweights who sometimes outweighted him by more than 30 pounds, and he was seconds away from becoming world Heavyweight champion when he challenged Jack Johnson for that division's world title.
Ketchel fought during an era where there wasn't any scoring systems applied in boxing on most states and countries worldwide, so many of his fights that lasted the distance do not appear on his record's win or loss columns, whether he actually deserved to win or lose those fights. Many fights that lasted the distance appear only as No Decisions on his record.
He started boxing professionally in 1904 in Butte, Montana, the state of Montana being one of the two or three world areas that had established a scoring system in boxing fights during that era. For his first fight, Ketchel knocked out Kid Tracy in round one. In his second fight, he tasted defeat for the first time, beaten by decision in six by Maurice Thompson. He boxed his first 41 bouts in Montana, and had a record of 36 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws during that span. He lost once more and drew with Thompson, but beat Tom Kingsley, among others, before moving his campaign on to California in 1907.
There, he won three fights that year, and drew one in Marysville against the man many considered the world's Middleweight champion, Joe Thomas. In his next bout, he and Thomas had a rematch, and Ketchel won, by a knockout in 32 rounds. Ketchel was then recognized by many as the world's Middleweight champion. He finished the year by beating Thomas again, this time by decision.
On February 8 of 1908, Ketchel met the man who was generally recognized as the world's Middleweight champion, Mike Twin Sullivan, knocking him out in the first round and winning general recognition as world Middleweight champion. Whether he became world champion against Thomas or against Mike Sullivan has always been up to debate, but the fact remains that it is Mike Sullivan and not Thomas who is historically remembered as a world champion.
He proceeded to retain the title against Mike's twin brother, Jack Twin Sullivan, also a former world champion, by a knockout in 20, against future world champion Billy Papke by decision in 10, against Hugo Kelly by a knockout in three, and against Thomas, by a knockout in two.
Then, he lost the belt to Papke by a knockout in twelve, but he and Papke had an immediate rematch, and Ketchel recovered the title when he beat Papke by a knockout in eleven in their third match.
Ketchel began 1909 by retaining his title against reigning light heavyweight champion Philadelphia Jack O' Brien with a no-decision in 10. A few weeks later, Ketchel had a rematch with O' Brien, knocking out Philadelphia Jack in three rounds. He beat Papke in their fourth bout by a decision in 20 to retain the title, and then challenged Johnson for the world's Heavyweight crown.
In round twelve of that fight, Ketchel reached Johnson with a right to the chin that sent Johnson to a sitting position on the canvas. Johnson, however, recuperated and knocked Ketchel out with the very next punch of the fight, to retain the Heavyweight belt by a knockout in twelve.
His final year, Ketchel had a series of fights at the Heavyweight division, including one against Sam Langford. Ketchel went into a farm to train for his next fight, but a jealous farmhand named Walter A. Dipley caught his girlfriend, Goldie Smith, and Ketchel chatting up on the evening of October 14. While Ketchel was having lunch on October 15, Dipley, suspecting Ketchel of trying to romance Ms. Smith, walked up and shot him to death. There have been many theories about the circumstances in which Ketchel was killed: Other theories have Ketchel raping Smith the day before his death, after which she would have set him up to be shot on his back by Dipley. Others, particularly the book The Ring:Boxing in the 20th Century, say that the girl Ketchel was after was actually one Daisy Johnson, and that Dipley was infatuated with her.
Ketchel was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan. His funeral was reportedly one of the most well-attended events in Grand Rapids history.
Ketchel is now enshrined in the International Boxing Hall Of Fame.
He had a record of 52 wins, 4 losses, 4 draws and 4 no decisions, with 49 wins by knockout.