The British amateur lightweight champion from 1905-07, Wells (of Lynn Athletic Club) was the first boxer chosen to represent Great Britain at the 1908 London Olympics. Prior to his first match against Danish champion Waldemar Holberg, he was persuaded by a teammate to sip "some good old English Burton" to calm his nerves. He ended up drinking a full quart and entered the ring under the influence. Although many believed Holberg was better, Wells was awarded the decision. Still drunk for his next match, Matt fought fellow Englishman Fred Grace in, "a very keen meeting" that was decided in favor of Grace (the eventual gold medalist), and effectively eliminated Wells from the competition.
Click here for Wells' entry in the boxing section.
Wells began boxing as an amateur in 1903 and held the British amateur lightweight title from 1904-07. Two years after turning professional in 1909, he defeated Freddy Welsh for the European and British lightweight titles in a 20-round decision. Although Wells lost the titles in the re-match in 1912, he defeated Tom McCormick in a 20-round decision to capture the world welterweight title (the bout was also for the British and British Empire lightweight titles as well) in 1914. Matt lost the world title in March 1915 to Mike Glover in a 12-round decision, but continued to fight until 1922 and retired with 28 wins in 47 career decisions.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Dec. 14, 1886 - d. July 8, 1953
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)