Harold Palmer was born in Annapolis County in 1896 and moved to the Berwick area in the thirties. In the early 1900’s, however, he made his way to the New England States to make his fame and fortune. He settled in Waltham, Mass. – the watch city. Word spread quickly about his boxing ability. The local newspaper described him as “elusive as an eel and resembling a human kangaroo with his jumping style. He could ‘give it’ and ‘take it’ – strong assets for patted mitt gladiators.” Matchmaker John McCarthy Murphy brought Harold to a “smoke talk” at Casino A.C. to show his wares. Soon every manager in New England was after the Waltham welterweight; however, it was Larry Amann who emerged as “Young Palmer’s” manager.
Following some hard training, he fought Cannon Ball Red Ames for his first fight and disposed of him early in the first round. Next, in Lynn, Mass., he faced the Honolulu Kid. Some time later, it was Tom Sawyer in Portland, Maine and Pat Delucca at Jack Murphy’s Casino. They were the best of the welterweights and all went down to the defeat of Young Palmer. He met Jack Dempsey and befriended him.
Now Palmer had earned the right to square off against the champ – the hard hitting Mickey Donovan. The Wise Gazubs of the Hub made him the 10 – 2 favorite. Hundreds of the “Watch City Boy” supporters lined up to get their tickets at the Midget Cigar Store on Moody Street. What followed was the most sensational bout ever seen in the city. Palmer led the way early; then Donovan surged. It looked bad for Palmer in the 7th, but he survived and made an astounding spurt in the 8th. He dazed Donovan with two crashing left hooks and then a right hand knocked him out. Young Palmer was now the new ring sensation, a headliner, and the New England Middle-Weight Champion.
Over the years, many more fights were carded. Wins over Sailor Gardiner, Al Sears, former State Champion Soldier Frank, Harry Silva, Frank Tillo, and then a couple of losses. Young Palmer’s overall record stood at an amazing 60 wins and 4 losses.
All this fame would start to take its toll. It was time to consider a quieter life. He bought a farm in Burlington, north of Berwick. He still held an interest in boxing and fought on some cards. He helped in the training of some young fighters, one of whom was Earle Kinsman.
He became Berwick’s 3rd Police Chief in 1939 and resigned in 1942 to farm full time. Part of his duties was changing bulbs in light standards. He married Burpee Ray’s daughter, Hazel Marie.
Years ago, annual guides competitions were held at Lake Williams, Lunenburg County. Some of the champions were Eber Beck and Lawrence Toney; but there were big problems at the affair. Many of the able and strong woodsmen refused to pay admission fee. How to solve the problem? Young Palmer was contacted and agreed to help. The Berwick Register described the situation as follows. “We don’t need tickets” said the bull woodsman, weighing 250lbs, as he pushed by Palmer. A right to the jaw brought him down, but he was up immediately and really went after Palmer. But the bull’s jaw was unprotected and Palmer hit him with his “Sunday punch”. The bull had to be helped to a standing position. There was never any problem getting the loggers to pay again.
It is with pride that Harold Palmer gets a special recognition by the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.
Inducted June 2007