Felix G. Mead, known as Pete Mead (January 11, 1924 – July 2, 2007), was an American middleweight boxer who fought in the ring from 1942 to 1951.
He was defeated in his last fight by Rocky Graziano of New York City. In 1989, Mead wrote his autobiography, Blood, Sweat and Cheers: The Pete Mead Story, a collector's item that can sell for as much as $135. He was inducted in 1993 into the Ohio Boxing Hall of Fame.
Mead was born in Trumann in Poinsett County in northeastern Arkansas but lived mos of his life in the nearby larger city of Jonesboro in Craighead County. His parents were Ed Mead and the former Ethel Shandlin.
He fought fifty-six times in the ring, both in the United States and overseas. His boxing career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the United States Army. However, he fought several exhibition bouts during his military years.
In 1946, Mead made his first of several appearances at Madison Square Garden in New York City with a six-round decision over Tommy Merrill. He defeated thereafter Vince LaSalva and Jerry Fiorello. He split two bouts with Herbie Kronowitz, the Jewish American fighter from Brooklyn. He then defeated Sonny Horne of Niles, Ohio. Thereafter, he whipped Fritzie Zivic.
In 1947, Mead lost a verdict in The Garden to Harold Green. He then lost to Sonny Horne but rebounded to defeat him in their second mathup. He then knocked out Rueben Shank in the tenth round. He secured eight more victories, including split decisions over the Cocoa Kid and Herbie Kronowitz. He lost to Vinnie Rossano but stopped Joey DeJohn in five rounds.
In 1948, Mead again outscored Kronowitz, but he then lost a split verdict to Al Priest. He lost another decision to Priest as well but rallied twice to defeat Tony Masciarelli. On June 14, 1948, Walter Cartier knocked out Mead in the third round. It was Mead's first knockout. He returned to defeat Charley Zivic and to draw with Joe Rindone. He stopped at the Cleveland Arena to defeat Mickey Doyle on points. He lost a rematch with Rindone.
On February 25, 1949, Mead met DeJohn again in what is considered to have been one of the greatest fights ever at The Garden. Mead got off the floor in the third and fifth rounds and stopped DeJohn in round seven. This fight has been called "the bloodiest" ever in The Garden. It was also Mead's last victory. This fight was hailed by Ring magazine as one of the ten greatest fights of the 20th century.
Mead then lost to the French contender Robert Villemain at The Garden. He, again, met DeJohn, this time in Rochester, New York, and DeJohn triumphed in the seventh round.
Mead traveled to Great Britain, where he lost on points to Dave Sands. He was stopped in the fourth round by Randy Turpin. In 1950, Mead returned to the United States but was knocked out by Rocky Graziano in three rounds. His career hence ended with a 39-16-1 record.
After leaving the ring, Mead lived for a time in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He later moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas, where he operated a construction company. He was married for some sixty-five years to the former Dorothy M. Russell (December 4, 1921 – May 12, 2004), also a native of Trummann, Arkansas. The couple had five children, one of whom, Carolyn Delane Mead, died in infancy.
Mead died in a Jonesboro nursing home. He was survived by his children, Jim Mead, Shirley Mead, Vicki Mead, and Jeff Mead, all of Jonesboro; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild; a brother, Tullos Mead of Jonesboro, and one sister, Reba Mead Brown of Flint, Michigan. A second brother, Garland Mead, predeceased Mead.
He was a member of the Prospect Missionary Baptist Church in Jonesboro. A graveside committal service was held on July 6, 2007, at Jonesboro Memorial Park Cemetery.
Over the years Mead kept in touch with such friends and former competitors as Rocky Marciano, Herbie Kronowitz, Joey DeJohn, Rocky Graziano, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, and Bill Hannigan.
By Dean Hanley
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