Earl C. Mathias, a former boxer and Baltimore police officer, died Sunday of lung cancer at his home in Hampden. He was 73.
Known as "Punchy," he fought as a featherweight in the late 1930s and turned professional in 1941. He fought at the old Coliseum on Monroe Street and in arenas in Pennsylvania and Florida. He was inducted into the national Boxing Hall of Fame in 1981.
The lifelong Hampden resident attended city schools and earned an associate's degree in law enforcement from the Community College of Baltimore.
During World War II, he served in the Black Panther Division in France and Germany and with Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army. He was discharged in 1946.
He later was an ambulance driver for the Baltimore Fire Department and was assigned to Engine 20 in Walbrook. He left the Fire Department in 1956 and joined the Police Department. He retired in 1976 as a homicide detective.
"He loved the races and always wanted to own his own racehorse," recalled his wife, the former Anne E. Brittingham who came from Church Creek on the Eastern Shore. They were married in 1939. "I used to tell him, 'Get your own racehorse and at least you'll be feeding your own rather than all the others.'
"He loved big band music, and we both loved dancing. We'd go all over to dances and danced at the Famous Ballroom on Charles Street until it closed."
Mr. Mathias had been a member of St. Luke's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hampden since childhood, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War Post No. 3065 and Ring No. 101, the local chapter of the National Veterans Boxing Association.
Services were to be held for 8 p.m. today at the Burgee-Henss Funeral Home, 3631 Falls Road.
Other survivors include a son, Donald M. Mathias of Kent Island; a daughter, Shirley Niederhauser of Hamilton; a brother, George W. Mathias of Hampden; two sisters, Phyllis Lindley of Hampden and Vivian Wilhelm of Reisterstown; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 43025, Baltimore 21236-0025.