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Bob Baker (October 26 1926 - April 23 2002) was an American boxer who fought professionally from 1949 to 1960. He was one of the world's leading bulky heavyweight boxers in the 1950s. Bob "The Grinder" Baker was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He started fighting out of Pittsburgh. His most notable accomplishments include the 1949 Pennsylvania Intercity Golden Gloves championship in the heavyweight division. In 1948, Coley Wallace won an unpopular very close split decision vs. Rocky Marciano in the semi-final of the New York Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions and then he won the final of that tournament by a unpopular very close split decision vs. Bob Baker. 'Big' Bob Baker started his professional career with twenty-six straight victories before drawing against bulky Kid Riviera but only 10 days later lost to another good boxer, Clarence Henry.
From April 1955 until February of 1956, Bob Baker was ranked as the leading challenger to Rocky Marciano's heavyweight title. On Wednesday, December 7th 1955, Baker beat Nino Valdez in a rematch, again by unanimous decision.
After 13 straight wins (Baker's dozen), Baker lost to Tommy Hurricane Jackson on February 3 1956, in New York's Madison Square Garden. It was a conytorversial split decision win for Jackson. In May 1956, Baker easily defeated John Holman. Baker also lost another controversial split decision rematch with Jackson on September 26 1956. Both fights should have been draws.Opinions on both Baker-Jackson fights were divided in many publications with most of them giving the fight to Baker. The September match was given to Baker by The United Press. It scored the fight 7-5 for Baker. A poll of all 13 ringside writers favored Baker 9-4 and it reported that many of the fans were very surprised with the split decision verdict.
After 1956, Baker's success was limited. His most notable victory was a sound unanimous decision defeat of Canadian George Chuvalo, the future Canadian heavyweight champion, by unanimous decision on September 9 1957. Chuvalo was also a multiple time top championship contender in the 1960s and 1970s.
Baker died on April 23 2002, from acute heart failure, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.