Arnold R. Cream (aka Jersey Joe Walcott)

JERSEY JOE WALCOTT, Camden's own… For those not familiar with the story of Jersey Joe Walcott, here is the too-quick version.

He was born Arnold Raymond Cream on January 31, 1914, outside of Camden NJ. Most texts say he was born in Merchantville, but as Merchantville was a very white town then as now, it would not be surprising if he were born in Pennsauken or Delaware Townships, both of whom in those days used the Merchantville office. The historically black Matchtown neighborhood is situated along the border of the two townships, just outside of the Borough of Merchantville. His father died when he was 14 years old, at which time he went to work at the Campbell Soup factory in Camden. He turned to professional boxing in 1930 as a lightweight.

Some sources state that he compiled a record of 53-18-1 with 33 knockouts. Others show 50-17-1. Again, there would be no surprise if he fought many more times than the record shows.

Jersey Joe struggled for years, and had all but quit the fight game, when a Camden "character" named Felix Bocchicchio took an interest in him. He got Walcott better fights, and a shot at the world title. It took Jersey Joe Walcott four attempts before he finally won the belt, at the age of 37, which he held for only a short time before being knocked out by Rocky Marciano. After a 1953 rematch against Marciano, he hung up his gloves.

After retiring, Walcott remained active in boxing as a referee. He took a stab at professional wrestling in the early 1960s. He also had an acting part in the 1956 film The Harder They Fall, starring Humphrey Bogart.

Jersey Joe Walcott later turned to politics, and was elected to the office of Sheriff of Camden County in 1971, serving for three years. He also served as the chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission.

Jersey Joe Walcott passed away as a result of diabetes on February 25, 1994 in Camden, NJ.

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Jersey Joe Walcott (left) and Felix Bocchicchio in an undated photo.

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