Lefty LaChance Lisbon Historical Society photo

This photo of “Lefty” Lachance was in the Sept. 22, 1943, edition of the Lewiston Evening Journal.

LEWISTON — Featherweight Maurice “Lefty” Lachance rightfully earned his place in Lewiston’s storied boxing history when he embarked on a successful 15-year career that took the fighter around the nation and globe nearly a century ago.

Boxing is as much a part of Lewiston’s fabric as the Androscoggin River. Fights were held at Lewiston City Hall nearly century ago. Mohammed Ali dropped Sonny Liston with his phantom punch at the Colisee in 1964. Joey Gamache became the only Maine pugilist to win a world title, finishing his career with an astounding 55-4 record.

But the lesser-known Lachance is also considered one the best lightweight fighters to come from Maine and he was just one fight away from possibly winning the world featherweight crown.


Lachance began applying his fists to his trade as a teenager. According to boxrec.com, the Lisbon-born southpaw collected 117 pro victories — 36 by knock out — lost 57 and nine other fights ended in a draw. He retired in 1950. Over the course of his career, the 5-foot-4 boxer fought 183 bouts and duked it out in 1,257 rounds. At one point in his profession, he was ranked fourth as a world featherweight. He died in 1994 at age 72. 

Lachance, whose aggressive style made him popular draw, stepped into the ring against fighters with such memorable names as Frisco Kid, Tiger Jack, KO Chase, Young Cyclone Clukey, Kid Champagne, Flash Couture and Harold Snooks Lacey. Lachance boxed at Lewiston City Hall well over a dozen times as well as in forgotten rings like the Punch Bowl on Lincoln Street in Lewiston.


Lachance once told late Sun Journal sports editor Fred Gage about his first fight as a teenager. He was paid four quarters for the winning the bout.

“If you come next week, I’ll give you a $1.50,” Lachance remembered being told. ”I won again and they took me up to the Augusta show, and I won $2. It seemed like pretty good money in those Depression years.”

According to Gage, who wrote about Lachance’s death on May 2, 1994, Lachance took on four world champions: Phil Terranova, Willie Pep, Sal Bartolo, Ike Williams. He was “blessed with a lightning quick left . . . and (was) a popular crowd-pleaser from arenas coast to coast and two other countries,” said Gage. Along the way, the southpaw won the Maine and New England featherweight and lightweight titles.

Gage wrote: “Lefty was only 21 when he enjoyed what he later recalled ‘the greatest day of my life.’”

According to Gage’s article, Lachance collected a 10-round decision against world champ Phil Terranova in a non-title bout on Sept. 12, 1943, in Hartford, Conn. Terranova won the featherweight crown a month earlier. 

This photo of “Lefty” Lachance was taken in 1987 and appeared in the May, 2, 1994, edition of the Sun Journal.

But World War II was raging in Europe and Asia, and the U.S. armed services needed more fighting men and women. So the title rematch between Lachance and Terranova was cancelled after Lachance was drafted by the U.S. Marine Corps.


Lachance passed the physical and fought three bouts for the Marines, but due to physical reasons, he was not given the go-ahead to participate in the drilling program. According to a Jan. 3, 1944, article, he was hospitalized and reexamined  and eventually given an honorable discharge. He returned to Maine to continue boxing. Lachance’s manager Sammy Michael said his prize fighter was turned down by the Marines for “bad feet and an ear.” Michael was later drafted into the U.S. Army and could no longer manage Lachance.

Prior to that, Lachance and Michael pursed a championship bout with Terranova for months, but the fight never happened when Terranova agreed to square off against bantamweight champion Manuel Ortiz for the featherweight crown. In the end, Lachance was possibly one fight away from winning a world title.

Lachance took his lumps as he rose to prominence in the boxing world. He experienced a number of tough fights along the way, including being “pushed” out of the ring, where he fell and slammed his head on the press table in a heated bout with Hermie Freeman in 1948. Lachance was incapacitated and could not continue fighting for 10 minutes. Freeman was charged with the foul but still won by decision against Lachance.

The Lewiston southpaw’s last fight was on Feb. 10, 1950. He lost again to Freeman, who knocked down Lachance three times in the 10th round.

Lefty Lachance, fifth from left, is seen being honored in Sabattus in this Lewiston Daily Sun photo on June 21, 1976.


After boxing, he worked several jobs, including Maine Electronics, before he retired in 1980. He was also a member of the Lisbon Board of Selectmen for six years.


The accolades kept coming for the southpaw who never lost his passion for the sport of boxing. He was inducted into the Auburn-Lewiston Hall and Maine Sports hall of fames in 1986 and 1987, respectively.

In a 1960 interview with the Portland Press Herald’s Bill Geagan, Lachance spoke about the fight game and predicted another boxing revival in Lewiston.

“The road back will be long and hard,” Lachance told Geagan. “There is some talk in Lewiston of reviving the sport. The Police Athletic League wants to arouse interest in the sport (and) wanted to know if I’d be interested in training some kids, and I said I would. That’s the only way you make fighters. Teach them young. If you wait until they are 20, it’s too late.”

When Lachance died in 1994, the late restaurateur and former Maine boxing commissioner Joe Graziano told Gage this: “He was one of the nicest gentlemen I have known. He always liked to come home to Lisbon. He always found time to spend with the kids, many of whom didn’t know his successes. A lot of people will miss him.”

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