Did you know the Valley once was home to someone who fought the great Joe Louis? Harris Kraków (aka Kingfish Levinsky) was born in 1910 to a family of Chicago fish peddlers. Levinsky fought all the leading heavyweights of his time, including 265-pound giant Primo Carnera, known as “The Leaning Tower of Gorgonzola.” In 1932, Levinsky defeated the once- Jack Dempsey with 23,000 fans in Chicago watching the match.
The King was married three times. His first wife, a tap dancer, divorced him on the grounds that he ate herring in bed and the bones tickled her.
in life, Levinsky made ties and sold them for a dollar in Miami Beach. He would identify a prospect, swing his arm around the potential customer’s neck, and then whisper in his ear, “From the King? You buy a tie from the King?” When Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) trained in the area, King told him, “After [Sonny] Liston punches your head, you’ll be selling ties with me.”
The King spent his final years in the Merrimack Valley, having married a local woman. Chris Sullivan, a vice president at the Institution for Savings in Newburyport, says that when he was 18, he would drop off Levinsky at Ann’s Diner (now Pat’s Diner) in Salisbury on his way to the beach. The King would eat breakfast and hang around selling ties till the end of the day, when Sullivan would pick him up and drop him off at the Flying Yankee Tap in Newburyport. The boxer would have a beer with friends, and then walk to his house on Prospect Street. Despite Levinsky’s reputation as a heavy-handed salesman, Sullivan says, “The King I knew was always gentle.”