By Tim Hornbaker
In 1915, young Frederick Boeseneilers was an aspiring professional athlete, and engaged in
wrestling and boxing matches to supplement his income as he worked as a machinist during the
day in downtown Chicago. Eleven years later, he would be dead, killed in cold blood by hardened
criminals who wanted retribution, and caring little that the struggling fighter had a family to support.
Who would have ever thought that the gangland style wars that had dominated the streets of the
“Windy City” would take a member of the sports community in such a violent fashion, and leaving
the surviving relatives of Boeseneilers asking themselves ‘why?’
Fred was born on March 4, 1891, the son of German immigrants, Adolph and Lena Boeseneilers,
and his father provided for the family by working throughout Chicago metropolitan area as a
salesman. A big kid, standing 6’4”, he was a natural for athletics, and was exceptionally swift on his
feet. He began training at O’Connell’s Gymnasium and was quickly steered toward the pro
wrestling mat by managers seeing dollar signs. After some tutoring in the basics, and adopting the
customary marketable name, “Andre Anderson,” Fred made his grappling debut.
At the bottom of the proverbial ladder, Anderson wrestled the stars of the local circuit. In straight
falls, he was defeated by the likes of Dr. B.F. Roller and Yussiff Hussane, and worked extensively
with the Cutler Brothers. While wrestling offered a number of positive physical qualities, it failed to
meet his need for money, and Andre was very easily convinced to hang up his wrestling gear and
pick up a pair of boxing gloves.
Under the guidance of Kid Howard, he began training for combat as a heavyweight boxer, and at
first glance, it looked as if Anderson possessed tremendous characteristics that could carry him to
great success. The July 25, 1915 issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune remarked about his standing
as an up-and-comer, and despite a loss at Lexington earlier that year, there was something special
about him that had sports writers, managers, and even referees complimenting his early prowess.
Still vastly inexperienced, Anderson made a rare trip to New York City for a bout with “Battling” Jim
Johnson at the St. Nicholas Rink on October 4, 1915, and ended up taking the affair in nine
rounds. The important victory gave him excellent publicity, despite the New York Times
erroneously calling him “Henry” Anderson in their reporting of the event, and introduced Andre to
Madison Square Garden matchmaker James J. Johnston, one of the most influential men in the
Johnston, a well educated boxing promoter and not known to be swayed in any way by baseless
hype, agreed with the reports that Anderson was a contender once he had the chance to see him
in the ring. The Chicago fighter was the total package, it seemed, and if anyone was to be
considered a challenger to World Heavyweight Champion Jess Willard, it was Anderson. Press
reports on the fistic newcomer increased significantly, but nothing said could make up for his
greenness. Any consideration that he would stroll right to the top was a pure fantasy.
At an athletic club in Milwaukee on November 17, 1915, Anderson was knocked out in the fourth
round by Fred Fulton of Rochester, Minnesota. Fulton had been one of two regional fighters
Howard personally deemed as being in the running for a title match and issued challenges on
behalf of his charge. The second was Al Palzer, and Andre’s bout with him on December 21 in St.
Paul ended in a first round knock out for Anderson, which was a finish a little more on target with
what pundits forecast.
Johnston wasn’t disturbed by the loss in Milwaukee. He wanted Anderson’s new blood and sharp
potential fighting for him in New York City, and in January 1916, he ventured to Chicago to discuss
the possibility of representing Anderson’s affairs in the east. Both Howard and Andre quickly
consent to a deal that benefit all parties. Soon thereafter, Anderson tailed his new advisor to New
York and, on January 29, he beat Frank Kendall. Two days later, Howard was quoted in the
Chicago Daily Tribune as saying:
“Anderson is the best prospect I have seen in Chicago in my twenty years of boxing experience.
That he has heart is shown by the fact that he has two knockouts to his credit since he was beaten
by Fulton. He beat Al Palzer in St. Paul in less than a round and stopped Frank Kendal in New
York in the fifth.”
The win streak continued in the northeast as Anderson ousted Bob Devere, George Rodel, Willie
Meehan, Jim Stewart, and Jack Keating in less than a month, and demonstrated an aggressiveness
that thrilled Johnston. That undefeated run ended on April 15, 1916 when Andre was floored by
Newark’s Charlie Weinert in the second round at New York’s Stadium Athletic Club. According to
one report of the fight, Weinert dominated the action with his powerful punches, eventually leading
to Anderson being knocked from the ring. His body weighed carried, sending him down into an
orchestra pit, and to make it even more dramatic, Andre’s head smashed onto a drum.
Now residing in Hudson County, New Jersey, Anderson familiarized himself with the area, worked
out in city gymnasiums, and enjoyed his time off by testing various recreational hobbies. On May
12, he was joined by fellow Chicago fighter Joe Welling for a boat trip off Sandy Hook. When their
boat capsized, the two athletes were tossed into the water, where they paddled for several hours
awaiting a rescue. Fortunately, neither man was seriously injured in the incident.
Anderson matched with a future champion and legend, the “Manassa Mauler” Jack Dempsey at the
Fairmont Club in Manhattan on June 24, 1916. Reports of the controversial contest differed
depending on the source and their origin, especially with a disparity between newspapers in New
York and Chicago. The Chicago Daily Tribune on June 26, 1916 stated that Anderson “won a
decisive victory over Jack Dempsey,” but acknowledged that “eastern reports gave the bout to
As part of a series of articles for the Associated Press, Anderson’s manager Johnston wrote about
the fight and was printed in the February 16, 1943 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman in
Kingston, New York, as well as papers across the nation. He stated:
“My Andre was getting a bad licking and I said to him; ‘You’re losing this fight. Why don’t you step
in and hit him with your right hand?’ He replied: ‘Do you think I’m crazy? That guy is mad enough
at me now and if I hit him, he’ll be worse. I’m doing okay. He ain’t hurting me and I’m not going to
aggravate him anymore than he already is.’”
Notably, Johnston’s focus on Anderson as the coming champion lessened as the New York
promoter began to examine Dempsey’s heavyweight prospects after this particular fight.
Other newspapers claimed that Anderson gave his opponent an “inhuman beating” and may have
even knocked him to the mat. Pro-Dempsey supporters deny that claim, and highlight Jack’s
stamina and heart against a much bigger athlete. With all said, either there was a lopsided beating
suffered by Anderson or Dempsey, or both, one or two of them were knocked to the ground, and
the match was either a win, lose, or draw for Anderson. The middle choice is likely, however, and
Andre’s steam in his drive toward a serious bid for the championship was stifled. His time in New
York ended much differently that he would have hoped.
Wrestling was suddenly an option back on the table for Andre Anderson in his search to make a
living. He often took fight engagements, but lost more than won, and was a footnote in many
career records. As a barnstorming-type boxer, his role in the fistic game was apparently to portray
a tall, but agile, boxer who often made his opponent look good in the ring. Well conditioned and
strong, Anderson was drafted by the United States Army in February 1918 and after serving his
initial stint at Camp Grant, was sent overseas to France.
By the early part of 1919, he’d returned from combat, and worked as a machinist while living with
his parents in Chicago. Gaining on his 30th birthday, Anderson found getting back into athletic
shape a difficult task to endure. He dropped three straight bouts to Homer Smith, Gunboat Smith
and Jim Herman between September 1919 and March 1920 before snapping the streak with a May
21, 1920 victory over Young Hector in Seattle. The temperate success only served to push
Anderson further from mainstream boxing and the one time Madison Square Garden fighter was
reduced to small halls and makeshift venues.
Additionally, as the years went by, Anderson’s fabled match with Dempsey in 1916 often received
more press than any of Andre’s current endeavors, specifically because of Dempsey’s rise to the
Anderson, billed as the Swedish champion, wrestled and lost to a number of competitors to include
Allen Eustace, Frank Havelki, Mike Romano, Fred Meyers, Stanislaus Zbyszko, George Hills, and
on April 29, 1924, he lost a single fall to Wayne Munn in a little more than six minutes at Chicago.
Munn would play a bigger role in the life of Anderson, and the aftermath of their Chicago meeting
was a whole lot less devastating in the end.
Respected within the Ed “Strangler” Lewis-Billy Sandow tribe for laying down when ordered,
Anderson played his role perfectly, and those who went over him, because of size and girth,
received a boost in innumerable ways. A victory over him was considered a feat by paying
observers, and for guys like Romano and Eustace, it was a win on the road to a title bout with
As a side job, Andre became the chief sparring partner for boxer Tommy Gibbons, preparing the
latter for his May 31, 1924 contest with Georges Carpentier in Michigan City, Indiana. Gibbons,
who was searching for a return match with champion Jack Dempsey, went into the Decoration Day
affair in prime condition, and an estimated 35,000 fans (paying $227.397.50) saw him pummel his
foe from bell to bell. In the end, although Indiana laws prevented a decision, Gibbons was
recognized as the winner by the “newspaper critics at the ringside [who were] unanimous in their
opinion that Gibbons won every one of the ten rounds,” according to the Chicago Daily Tribune on
June 1, 1924.
Gibbons and his managerial team were confident in Anderson’s ability to assist the fighter and kept
him on through their tour of England during the summer. Anderson fought on the undercard of the
Gibbons-Jack Bloomfield contest on August 9, 1924 in the first ever boxing match at Wembly
Stadium in London. In his match, he was defeated by tall British heavyweight Phil Scott by TKO in
the seventh round. Several months later, he was defeated by Danish heavyweight Soren Petersen
in Copenhagen on points after 15 rounds of action.
Munn upset “Strangler” Lewis for the World Heavyweight wrestling title on January 8, 1925 in a ploy
by Sandow and Lewis to cash in on a new fad. The single match drew an estimated 15,000 and
another 15,000 on February 11. Those type numbers, coupled with a satisfying upswing at arenas
across their circuit, made the leaders of the syndicate very content, while Jack Curley, the ousted
New York promoter, sought to regain a major piece of the wrestling landscape. In April 1925,
Stanislaus Zbyszko double-crossed Munn in the ring and won the wrestling title. The loss was a
dagger in the back of Sandow and Lewis, and Munn’s standing among championship caliber
wrestlers was greatly diminished even despite being the ex-heavyweight titleholder.
In reality, both Anderson and Munn were both athletes in search for a place in the ring combat
marketplace. Sandow planned to squeeze Munn’s value to the very end, but it was clear that a
prolonged future in wrestling was limited.
In 1925, 29 year old Leo Mongoven was a standout in the Northside gang of Bugs Moran and a
hardened thug in their efforts to terrorize Chicago with crime. To put his level of underworld
importance, he would later be a target of Al Capone in the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
and was a dubbed a “public enemy” and a “notorious gunman” by local newspapers. Mongoven
was neck deep in an array of illegal activities, and although he weighed less than 150 pounds, he
was fearless in the face of confrontation. His pistol collection likely eliminated any apprehension
and he had proven that he was willing to pull the trigger to get his vicious point across.
Anderson found himself in the Kansas City area during the holiday season of 1925, but his attitude
and outlook was uniquely different. On December 8, 1925, he knocked out Bill Hartwell in the
second round, and was built up to be Munn’s opponent two days before Christmas. Local
promoter Gabe Kaufmann was still optimistic that he could milk the former wrestling champion in
some fashion, and a win over Anderson was seen as a step in the right direction.
No one will know what was said behind-the-scenes more than 80 years ago, but it was obvious that
Anderson was going to use all of his abilities and talent in the ring that night against Munn. During
the brief contest, “Big” Wayne was knocked out in the first round, and Andre Anderson was a man
marked by underworld figures who apparently bet big money on the loser.
According to sources, Anderson reportedly said the he was done taking orders and “throwing
fights,” indicative of his newfound beliefs. While he had all of the size and strength to be a force on
some level of heavyweight boxing, he had chosen to follow a different path. Maybe he wasn’t a
champion fighter, but he certainly all had the tools to earn a clean living. Anderson was far from
being the only man involved in fight fixing or a pawn in the boxing world, but his story would take a
dramatic turn that no one saw coming.
During the evening of Wednesday, March 31, 1926, Andre went into Tonneman’s Café at 5713
West 12th Street in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago. A patron at the establishment was none other
than Leo Mongoven, a conduit of the Moran Clan, the outfit that had allegedly bet an exorbitant
amount of money on “sure thing” Munn in December. Mongoven expressed his displeasure in the
result of the Kansas City fight, and although Anderson was likely fully aware of Leo’s stature in the
criminal world, he went after his smaller antagonist with a vengeance.
Mongoven defended himself as he had been known to do, shooting Andre coldly, then making his
escape as onlookers watched in horror. The wounds were enough to kill Anderson the next day
while he was tended to by physicians at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park.
The culprit, identified by people on the scene, vanished and it would be more than a year before
authorities apprehended him following an automobile accident. By that time, ironically, the witness
well had dried up, leaving the Cook County District Attorney unable to bring him to justice. In 1928,
Mongoven was shot twice by a broker in a deal gone bad in Chicago, and somehow avoided all
prosecution despite a number of despicable allegations. He lived a full life, eventually retiring to
Northwestern Illinois and passing away on January 10, 1980.
The famed writer Ernest Hemmingway, who was born in Oak Park, penned a short story entitled
“The Killers,” which, to some people had a striking resemblance to the Anderson situation. Some
people wholeheartedly believed that Andre was the inspiration for boxer “Ole Anderson” in the tale,
who was also targeted by gunmen in a restaurant. Hemmingway researchers claim “The Killers”
was started long before March 1926, actually when Ernest was in Spain, but the unique parallels
are rather eerie.
Andre Anderson was a distinguished military veteran, a boxer, wrestler, and all-around athlete. His
death marked the end of the road for a journeyman who had seen the highs and lows of
professional sports. Abused by managers looking to cash in, he fit a perfect mold, and strived to
do the his job the best way possible. His time in the spotlight as a real contender, and as the pride
of Chicago, was relatively short, but after more than 10 years on the mat, he had proven his
dedication. Finally fed up with being pushed around, he made a decision in Kansas City that
ultimately took his life, and left a wife without a husband and a son without a father.
Boxrec.com incorrectly lists the finish of the October 4, 1915 bout at the St. Nicholas Rink in New
York City between Anderson and “Battling” Jim Johnson. Both the New York Times and Chicago
Daily Tribune reported that Anderson won the contest in nine rounds. That website also lists
Anderson’s birthdate as January 1, 1890 and that he died on March 31, 1926, both of which are
also incorrect. His real name is not “Fred Roesenilern” either.
Sources used in the background data of Anderson include the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Federal
Census, the Illinois Death Index, and the World War I Draft Registration index. The latter reference
database, which was filled out by Anderson himself, spells his name “Boeseneilers,” corresponding
with the Illinois Death Index. He listed his birthdate as March 4, 1891 and his profession as
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that Anderson passed away on April 1, 1926 at West
Suburban Hospital in Oak Park.
A yahoo.com search turned up a photograph of an Adolph Boeseneilers, who reportedly performed
athletic stunts during the early stages of the 20th Century. This is likely Anderson’s father.
|The Mob Kills Chicago’s Heavyweight ‘Hope’