William Horatio Butler, Jr. was a welterweight boxer from Bimini, Bahamas. Standing at 5”9, 175 lbs., the young boxer started his career with a form of street boxing called battle royals. Popular in the 1940’s, battle royals was a game in which six or more boys would box one another blindfolded until there was one left standing.
After listening to American boxing on the radio for years, Butler’s thirst for the sport took him to the rings of Miami, Florida where he trained under pro-trainer George Lyon. But Butler needed a catchy name to be a contender. A reporter from the Miami Herald named Butler “Yama Bahama” after re-arranging the name of his trainer’s boat, which was the Bahama Mama.
On November 17, 1953 in Miami Beach, Yama Bahama won his first match with a first round TKO over Harry Irwin. He built a winning record of 19 wins in 21 matches in one streak. Then finally, he suffered a first round KO loss to Bob Hoffman, which would be his only one in 89 career matches.
On December 26, 1955, Yama Bahama gained even more fans as he fought on television for the first time against Paolo Melis. He dropped Melis, winning the match, which wasn’t bad for a substitute stand-in. His victory against Melis was his 23rd in a row.
Bahama fought at Madison Square Garden several times in either a win or draw. 1961 was the height of his career which included a draw against Ted Wright of Detroit. He would go on to beat Joey Giambra and Jose Gonzalez, ranking him among the top ten middleweights in the world.
His final fight before retirement was on March 6, 1963, in his hometown of Bimini, Bahamas. He won by TKO, the same way he had won in his very first match on American soil.
Bahama was inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010.
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