Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dolly Mapp

A Boxer's Babe

Dolly Mapp
Dolly Mapp

Born in Austin, Texas, Dolly Mapp moved to Cleveland with her family as a baby. She had grown up to be a tall, striking woman who had spent time on the arms of a number of well-known prizefighters.

As a young teenager, she hooked up with Larry Bivins, regarded as one of the finest boxers ever to come out of Cleveland.

Bivins scored 86 victories in a 15-year career that ended in 1955. Although undersized, he contended in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. He was never a champion, but he defeated eight men who were.

Larry Bivins gets a punch from Joe Lewis
Larry Bivins gets a punch from Joe Lewis

In 1944, when she was just 15, Mapp bore Bivins a daughter, Barbara.

In the early 1950s, Mapp took up with one of Bivins longtime rivals, Archie Moore. The men had fought five times, with Moore taking four of them.

Moore was another undersized fighter who bounced between the heavyweight and light heavyweight ranks.

Archie Moore publicity photo
Archie Moore publicity photo
He knocked out 141 opponents in a career that spanned a remarkable 27 years. He was light heavyweight champion for nearly 10 years, through most of his 40s. He lost his next-to-last fight, in 1962, to the upstart fighter who would become known as Muhammad Ali.

After years of hanging around tough-guy boxers, Dolly Mapp was no shrinking violet. Bright and well-spoken, she earned a reputation as a strong woman who would not back down from a challenge.

In 1956, she sued Archie Moore for breach of promise, charging that he had broken a vow to marry her. The suit was eventually dismissed after legal wrangling.

She supported herself by renting the first level of her tidy, two-story brick home to itinerant men, and she and her daughter often had female boarders living in the spare bedrooms of their upper unit.

Her boarders came from her earthy social circle, centered on the prizefight game and gamblers. Through these associations, Mapp lived on the fringes of the numbers rackets.

So Dolly Mapp knew a thing or two about the law and her rights when police came knocking that spring afternoon in 1957.

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