RISKO, JOHN "JOHNNY" (18 Dec. 1902-13 Jan. 1953), heavyweight boxer who gained fame between 1925-34 as a "spoiler" of aspiring heavyweight champions' dreams, was born in Austria-Hungary in what is now the Slovak Republic. Son of John and Susan Risko, he arrived in Cleveland at 6 and attended school until he was 8 at which time he began working at a bakery. A friend introduced "Baker Boy" to "Dapper Danny" Dunn (see DANIEL A. DUNN), who became his trainer and manager. Risko soon became a local hero, fighting 59 amateur bouts and scoring 39 knockouts.
After turning pro in 1925, Risko in his fourth professional bout injured his right shoulder, and from then on counted on his aggressive style, competitiveness, and devastating left hook to win fights. He was nicknamed "Cleveland's rubber man" because of his ability to absorb opponents' blows. Risko fought Gene Tunney in Cleveland on 18 Nov. 1925, losing a close 12-round decision. He defeated both Jack Sharkey and Max Baer, later world heavyweight champions. Only Max Schmeling knocked him out in an important fight in 1929. In 17 years as a professional fighter, Risko fought 137 times, won 44 decisions, scored 22 knockouts, lost 36 decisions, and was knocked out 3 times. Risko was a big spender of his prize-fight earnings. His manager, Dunn, forced him to invest part of his income in a $100,000 trust fund.
Risko joined the Army in 1942. He married Margaret E. Yoder in 1930. They divorced, and Risko married Mildred Weber. He had no children. Risko died while vacationing in Miami, Florida. He was buried in Brooklyn Hts. Cemetery.