By David Martinez / Boxing Historian
My friend – Ernie Terrell
On October 16, 2004, Ernie Terrell was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, and I was so honored to be chosen as his presenter.
In my 47 years of following boxing, I have been gifted to have met so many wonderful people – but Ernie just has to be that one on the top, as he is such a humble man that I respect, not only as a fighter, but as a human being.
David Martinez with former WBA Heavyweight Champion Ernie Terrell
Here’s my capsule look at Ernie Terrell, born April 4, 1939 in Inverness, Mississippi.
Ernie won the vacant WBA Heavyweight championship on March 5, 1965 with a unanimous 15 round decision over Eddie Machen.
Prior to the Machen win, Ernie defeated Cleveland Williams, Zora Folley, Gehard Zech and Bob Foster to be ranked the number one heavyweight to fight for the WBA title.
Ernie defended the title twice – both 15 round decisions over George Chuvalo (1965) and Doug Jones (1966) before losing the title to Muhammad Ali in 1967 by 15 round decision.
Ernie briefly retired in December 1967, only to return to the ring exactly three years later in December 1970, winning seven of nine bouts before he officially retired in 1973.
Ernie (a former sparring partner to Sonny Liston) fought all the top heavyweights in his career including: Amos “big train” Lincoln, Thad Spencer, Manuel Ramos and Jose Luis Garcia.
That evening up on the dais for Ernie’s induction was a very special moment for Ernie – as it was a very special moment for me, as well.
My Friend – Ernie Terrell