Considered one of the greatest middleweight boxers of all time, Harry Greb was a force to be reckoned with. Born and raised in a working-class Pittsburgh neighborhood, he began fighting professionally as a teenager in 1913. These early, mostly-local fights allowed him to demonstrate his unprecedented speed and agility. As he took on more and more opponents, his explosive movements and dizzying, rapid-fire punches earned him the nickname “The Pittsburgh Windmill.” By the end of the 1910s, he had fought a record-breaking 37 fights in a single year, enjoyed a 52-match winning streak, and was known for beating challengers above his weight class.
After an injury during a fight in 1921, it is believed that Greb lost all vision in his right eye. He returned to the ring after a relatively short recovery, keeping his partial blindness a secret from many. In 1922, he squared off against the undefeated American light heavyweight champion, Gene Tunney. Despite his vision loss, Greb was able to overwhelm Tunney with a flurry of well-placed punches, even breaking his nose during the first round. Their fight – which became famous for its ruthlessness – was Tunney’s only professional loss in his entire career.
In 1923, Greb won the World Middleweight Championship, a title he would hold until 1926. His final defense of the title was a dramatic, close matchup against future champion Mickey Walker. Despite struggling against his younger opponent, the Pittsburgh Windmill rebounded in what one reporter called “[a] tremendous splurge of wild fighting in the 14th round.”Greb passed away shortly after his retirement in 1926. With his fierce fighting style and unwavering determination, he left an unparalleled boxing legacy and a story that encapsulates the Pittsburgh spirit.