Whatever Happened to Gus Ruhlin?
The Akron Giant Rediscovered A Century Later
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Gus Ruhlin was a heavyweight contender best known over a century ago for the popular Brooklyn café he and his wife ran frequented by present and past fighters. Of his 43 professional bouts, only one was not in the United States, an eleventh round stoppage of Tom Sharkey in their third and final confrontation against each other at the National Sporting Club of Covent Garden in London, United Kingdom in June 1902.
Gus Ruhlin fought between June 1893 and May 1906, compiling a professional record of 32 wins, seven losses and four draws, with 21 knockouts, a respectable knockout ratio above 50 percent at the start of the gloved era.
Ruhlin is best remembered for being the only heavyweight to draw with two heavyweight champions. These draws were not title bouts. Ruhlin drew with James Jeffries in 1907 over 20 rounds in San Francisco, California. Ruhlin also drew with Marvin Hart in May 1904 over six rounds, who had beaten him in a six rounder only a month earlier. Ruhlin was knocked out by future heavyweight champion Bob Fitzsimmons in the sixth round in August 1900. Ruhlin’s only world title bout was a rematch with James Jeffries, who beat him at Mechanic’s Pavilion in San Francisco in November 1901, when Ruhlin’s manager Billy Madden threw up the sponge between rounds.
Ruhlin’s final ring appearance was a six round newspaper draw with Sandy Ferguson at the Marlborough Athletic Club in New York City in May 1906. A native of Akron, Ohio, Ruhlin died of a massive heart attack at his Brooklyn home on February 13, 1912.
The memory of Ruhlin was lost in time by boxing historians, and nobody knew where he was or what happened to him. Over a century would pass. Then, magically, Ruhlin’s remains were rediscovered. Ruhlin is still here. Archived records dated February 16, 1912, rediscovered in October 2013 over one hundred years later, indicate Ruhlin was cremated, and his cremains were urn interred into an interior niche at Fresh Pond Crematorium and Columbarium in Middle Village, Queens, New York, where he can be found today.