In the world of boxing the name Harry Greb is one held in especially high esteem with Greb being considered one of the best pound for pound fighters to have ever lived. A feat that is doubly impressive when you realise that he bested about 100 fridge-sized men with only one functional eye that itself, was pretty shit at spotting when a right hook was veering towards Greb’s face at half the speed of sound towards the end of his storied career.
A ferocious and tenacious fighter with a cast iron jaw and footwork fancier than a ballerina carrying a McDonald’s order backwards down a flight of stairs, Greb took part in some 299 bouts, winning 261 of them with a combination of his skill, strength and penchant for, shall we say, underhanded tactics.
For example, Greb was known to use anything and everything available to him in a fight to secure a win, doing things like flicking at peoples eyes with the laces on his gloves, stepping on their toes and on occasion, slapping the nut on them during a clinch.
It’s worth noting that with the exception of just up and headbutting his opponent, nothing listed above was technically against the rules and was simply considered part of the sport at the time. As a result it’s something Greb himself had to deal with near constantly which actually led to him having one of his eyeballs half gouged out.
Specifically in 1921, during a bout with a boxer known as Kid Norfolk, the vision in Greb’s right eye was irreparably damaged when Norfolk jammed one of his thumbs into it.
Amazingly, Greb not only managed to win that fight (beating Norfolk by decision in the tenth round) he beat another boxer just 6 days later when one of his eyes didn’t work. A fact Greb was somehow able to hide from everyone but his closest friends until his untimely death 5 years later, during which time he fought another 89 times. Losing only 7 times during that period.
It gets better though because towards the end of his career Greb started to lose the sight in his other eye to the point Greb himself would admit he could barely tell the difference between people stood right in front of him. If you’re currently wondering how in the hell a man who couldn’t see bested professional heavyweights in a fist fight, it’s thought that his failing eyesight actually made him a more unpredictable fighter, which actually makes Greb’s fights sound kind of awesome because to him it’s almost like he was fighting a fucking ghost who kept sneaking into his peripheral and punching him in the face.
Now although Greb himself kept the news of his failing eyesight a secret to stop opponents exploiting it in the ring, it’s likely that even if his opponents knew, it wouldn’t have helped. You see, Greb was said to be a huge womaniser and drinker, which, well, wasn’t true at all. In reality Greb was a pretty simple man who mostly just liked training but was also keenly aware that such rumours led to his opponents underestimating him.
Because of this, Greb never denied the rumours and sometimes even leaned into them, boasting about fucking a woman in his dressing room before every bout when in reality he was getting ready to weave the other guys face into the canvas and knew they’d be less likely to expect that if he thought his opponent was a lush. Something that makes us wonder how many more opponents he could have psyched out if it ever got out that he was legally blind in one eye as well.