Discover today the world of Modern Boxing with its stories and its legends. A world made by men, their strengths, their passions, ultimately their hands. Some of them have made the history of this sport and will be remembered forever.
The British Ricky Hatton born on 6 October 1978, in Stockport, Greater Manchester, England was already considered at the age of 29 as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers all over the world and one of the greatest British boxers of all time. He made his debut in a ring with Colin McAuley at a leisure centre in Widnes. Hatton’s skills in the ring were noticed right away and his second fight took place in the legendary Madison Square Garden, New York.
Lennox Claudius Lewis ‘the Lion’ was born in 1965, in England but moved to Canada at the age of 12, and he continue winning championship titles for both Canada and England. In his entire boxing career he lost only two matches. In 1988, Lewis won a gold medal for Canada in the summer Olympics which made him famous. After that in 1990, he went on and won the European heavyweight title, a year later, the British heavyweight title and in 1992 the Commonwealth title. Later in the same year Lewis earned the crown in the World Boxing Council championships by knocking out the Canadian boxer Donnovan “the Razor” Ruddock in two rounds. He defended his title three times, before taken from Mike Tyson in 2003 after which his career ended. After a boxing match against Vitali Klitschko that ended prematurely because Klitschko received very serious cut above his eye, Lewis was crowned as the winner regardless of Klitscko’s lead and Lewis manage to retire while keeping his championship title.
Sonny Liston was known in the boxing ring as the ‘killing machine’. He was known also an animal outside the ring. During his professional career he won fifty fights and has been arrested nineteen times.
His first true achievement – becoming a world heavyweight champion came in 1962 by beating Floyd Patterson. In 1963 he defeated Patterson again with a knock-out in the first round. In 1964 Liston fought against Cassius Clay but he refused to come out for the second round because of shoulder injury and the winner of the mach was Clay. Liston was accused of throwing the match. In 1965 after his rematch with Ali, where he lost in the first round there were made similar accusations and some even claimed that Liston was not actually hit by the winning punch of Ali.
Leon Spinks was born in 1953 in Missouri. He was a brother of Michael Spinks – the Olympic middleweight gold medallist. Not like his brother, Leon Spinks was a heavyweight boxer (at just 205 pounds) but also known as the lightest heavyweight fighter in boxing history. He won the heavyweight gold medal at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, but his most important fight came two years later when he met in the ring Muhammad Ali. This boxing match was not only his eighth professional fight but he also became one of very few boxers in heavyweight class who won against Ali during his prime. Seven months later, Ali dethroned Spinks in a rematch. That was the fastest gained and the shortest kept crown in the history of box.
Mike Tyson became the youngest in boxer history who became America’s world heavyweight champion. His nickname is “Iron Mike Tyson”, known for his incredible strength in the ring and many boxers were too afraid to hit him. He was also famous for his coordination, hand-speed, timing, accuracy and his effective abilities in defence by using the legendary ‘peek-a-boo’ style.
The Englishman Frank Bruno won forty of his forty-five matches and in 1995 he became at last world heavyweight champion. He began his professional career in 1980 by beating a string of contestants through knock-out until he was taken down by James “Bonecrusher” Smith. Frank Bruno had numerous opportunities to win the world boxing crown but after starting well, he had series of defeats against Tim Witherspoon, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. Bruno was at last crowned champion after winning against Oliver McCall after twelve rounds but he didn’t keep the title for a very long time because he was knocked out by Tyson in three rounds before retiring in 1996.
The world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medallist Joe Frazier was born in 1944. He moved to New York after the death of his parents where he demonstrated a natural talent in boxing. His boxing career began with series of fights all over the United States. In 1964, after the hand injury of Buster Mathis, Frazier went and represented America in the Tokyo Olympics. Frazier became famous worldwide by winning the gold medal.
The American two times heavyweight world champion “Big George” Foreman was the oldest man ever who have won the heavyweight crown. He started his career at the age of 19, in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics he attracted the public interest by winning the gold medal. Between 1969 and 1971 his growth as a fighter was remarkable. In all his fights Foreman was unbeatable. In 1970 he won memorably against George Chuvalo and this presented him as one of the toughest knockout boxers in the world history. In 1973 Foreman won in the ring against the heavyweight champion Joe Frazier by knockout in two rounds with knocking him down. Unfortunately, Foreman lost his crown to Muhammad Ali in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in 1974.
Thomas Rocco Barbella was born in 1919 in New York City. Nowadays he is best known from the famous Rocky films inspired by him. Rocky grew up on the streets of New York. He began to commit crimes such as stealing but in 1939 he began boxing and he won the title of the Metropolitan AAU welterweight. He decided that boxing is a nice way of making money after selling his gold medal for $15.
No question, the most famous boxing champion of the twentieth century born in 1942 is Muhammad Ali. His real name was as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. and he won 56 of his 61 professional fights. He also won three times the world heavyweight championship and a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic light-heavyweight competition in Rome. In 1964 after winning at Miami Beach against Sonny Liston, Ali was crowned heavyweight champion. After the boxing match he stated: “I am the greatest, I shook up the world” – it was difficult to argue with him by the end of his career.
Sugar Ray Robinson was born in 1921 in Georgia as Walker Smith Jr, He got the name Ray Robinson when he borrowed a (Ray Robinson’s) boxing card from a friend in order to use it in the Harlem Gym. After George Gainford (his coach) saw him fighting for the first time the name Sugar Ray Robinson stuck and his motions and style were described as ‘sweet as sugar’.