Against The Ropes: James ‘Black Gold’ Shuler

MSC - Against The Ropes

Against The Ropes

(Maximum Sports Channels – Linda Morgan) How about a little history this week. Does anyone remember a Philadelphia middleweight and rising world title contender known as James “Black Gold” Shuler? This month marks twenty-seven years since his death.

After an outstanding amateur career, having won the 1979 and 1980 National Golden Gloves titles as a junior middleweight, he qualified for the 1980 Olympic team. Sadly, the United States boycotted the games that year. Shuler had been scheduled to be aboard the flight that crashed and killed members of his United States Olympic team while heading to a competition in Europe. Shuler stayed back in the states to heal from injuries.

The fall of 1980 saw Shuler turn pro fighting in his hometown, Philadelphia. It seemed he had a promising professional career ahead of him after an excellent amateur career. His first real test was a bout with former Olympian and sixty-six fight veteran “Sugar” Ray Seales in an attempt to grab Seales’ North American Boxing Federation middleweight title. An aside here, but Sugar Ray seems to be an awfully popular name among boxers. There have been quite a few of them; I would think they would strive for more originality and have a desire to stand out. But, hey that’s just me, what do I know. Getting back on track, Shuler won a clear, unanimous decision over the more experienced Seales. Shuler went on to pick up five more wins through 1983, all of them via the KO route.

In his first of two bouts in 1984, Shuler defended the NABF title in January with a 12-round unanimous decision over Clint Jackson in Philadelphia. Jackson, who had traded leather with the likes of Buster Drayton, Frank Fletcher and Robbie Sims, proved tough in going the distance. A month later, Shuler was back in the ring, beating former Commonwealth (British Empire) light middleweight champion Kenny Bristol over 10 rounds. Shuler would be out of the ring for the rest of the year before returning to work in February of 1985. He would defend his title against tough, undefeated San Diego banger James “The Heat” Kinchen, who entered the bout hot off a win over future world title challenger Alex Ramos. In the end, Shuler would hang onto his NABF title and undefeated record with a split decision win over 12 rounds. In his next bout, Shuler picked up a 10-round decision win over 29-fight veteran Jerry Holly.

James Shuler, who was on his way to a promising career, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Philadelphia on March 17, 1986. Almost a decade after his death In 1995, close friend Percy Custus opened the James Shuler Memorial Boxing Gym in Philadelphia in honor of the fallen fighter.

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