Category Archives: Obituary

Ken Norton R.I.P.

Ken Norton 0001-cropBy David Martinez / Boxing Historian

I consider my first meeting with Ken Norton to be the night of July 2, 1970.  My late wife (girlfriend at the time) Constance and I went to the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles to see Ken Norton fight an unknown fighter from Caracas, Venezuela by the name of Jose Luis Garcia. In what I call (to this day) one of the biggest upsets I have seen in any arena, Garcia knocked out the previously unbeaten Norton (16-0 / 15 by KO) in eight rounds.Ken Norton -crop

Ken Norton passed away on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at the age of 70.  He is always remembered by boxing fans for his three fights with Muhammad Ali.

In that trilogy, he beat Ali in 1973 (breaking Ali’s jaw as well) in their San Diego bout by a split 12 round-decison. Later that same year, he lost to Ali in Los Angeles by a split 12 round-decision.  In their final bout at Yankee Stadium in 1976, many, including myself, thought he beat Ali.  He lost the bout and his bid to gain the heavyweight championship by a close, but unanimous 15 round-decision.

Continue reading Ken Norton R.I.P.

Emile Griffith R.I.P.

Emile Griffith 0002-cropThis past week the boxing world lost a great champion Emile Griffith. The former welterweight and middleweight champion passed away on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 in Hempstead, New York at the age of 75. 

In his career (1958-1977) Griffith posted 85 wins, 24 losses, 2 draws,  23 knockouts, with 1 no-contest.

As I knew him, he was always kind to others and a gentle man to all. May his soul rest in peace in heaven with the Lord.

 

Johnny Lira R.I.P.

By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer
 
The city of Chicago has produced its share of outstanding professional fighters. One of them was a tough as nails lightweight who campaigned in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s.  His name was Johnny Lira and he fought his way into the top echelon of the lightweight rankings.  Johnny passed away on December 8, 2012 at the age of 61.

Hector Camacho R.I.P.

                 By David Martinez
                  Boxing Historian
 One of the biggest names in boxing has passed away at the age of 50 years old. Hector “Macho” Camacho died Saturday, November 24, 2012 in his hometown of Baymon, Puerto Rico after being shot in the face and neck by an unknown assailant in a passing car.
Camacho was a flamboyant, colorful and skilled “southpaw” boxer who fought the biggest names spanning two eras, including Rafael Limon, John Montes, Jose Luis Ramirez, Howard Davis Jr., Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Ray Mancini, Freddie Roach, Edwin Rosario, Vinny Pazienza, Greg Haugen, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya.

The Great Jimmy Bivins Passes Away July 4th, 2012

By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer

Cleveland’s Bivins Battled The Best. Although he was born in Dry Branch, Georgia it was from Cleveland, Ohio that Jimmy Bivins made history. He was a major player in putting Cleveland on the boxing map during the 1940’s and 50’s. He may well have been the best heavyweight and light heavyweight to ever come out of this great boxing town. Jimmy Bivins was born on December 6, 1919.

His professional career began as a middleweight in Cleveland on January 15, 1940. In his sixth pro fight he beat a solid veteran in Nate Bolden. On September 3rd Jimmy was good enough to outpoint the highly respected Charley Burley. This has to be considered an outstanding feat at this stage of Jimmy’s budding career. Bivins closed 1940 by splitting a pair of tough bouts in Cleveland with Anton Christoforidis.

The loss in the second bout to Anton was the first of his career. The year 1941 saw Jimmy lose a few bouts but he was really in with top shelf opposition. He beat Teddy Yarosz and Curtis “Hatchetman” Shepperd. He lost decisions to Lem Franklin and Tony Musto. He defeated Nate Bolden again but lost to Melio Bettina. Jimmy was a full fledged light heavyweight by now. In some fights he was coming in as a heavyweight. Jimmy started 1942 with a bang as he outscored Billy Soose and Gus Lesnevich. Bivins then lost to the smooth boxing Bob Pastor. On June 6th at Cleveland Municipal Stadium to of the greatest boxers in Cleveland’s history met. Jimmy squeaked a split decision over the crafty Joey Maxim. Then Jimmy went on a rampage. In this order he defeated Joe Muscato, Tami Mauriello, Bob Pastor in a rematch.

Then he beat Lee Savold to close 1942. He opened 1943 beating Ezzard Charles and winning a rubber match with Christoforidis. He defeated Mauriello again and then beat Watson Jones, Pat Valentino, Lloyd Marshall, Herbert Marshall and Bettina in a return engagement. The year ended with a win over Lee Q. Murray. Continue reading The Great Jimmy Bivins Passes Away July 4th, 2012

Enrique Bolanos ~ R.I.P.

By David Martinez / Boxing Historian

On June 4, 2012, at the age of 87, Enrique Bolanos, top contender, passed away. I never saw him fight, but had the pleasure to meet him and his lovely wife Ruby at various boxing venues. According to people I know that saw him fight, he was a magnificent boxer that packed southland arenas and stadiums in the Los Angeles area like no other in the golden era of boxing (the 40’s and 50’s). Continue reading Enrique Bolanos ~ R.I.P.

IN MEMORY OF FRANKIE RIVAS

(July 10, 1943 – April 7, 2009) By David Martinez   It was three years ago that I tearfully, but honorably, delivered the eulogy at St Raphel’s church, in Santa Barbara, California, for one of my best friends, Frankie Rivas. The month of April now has a new meaning, as I annually pay him tribute and remember his passing.   A lot of people think that I met Frankie through boxing, which is a good guess; but I actually first met him when I was a boy in the early sixties. He was a young apprentice waiter at a local restaurant named “Leon’s” and my parents would go there and ask for him to be our waiter. I will always remember one of the early times going there for dinner; after he took our food order he asked “What can I bring you to drink, David?” Before I could say “A soda pop or glass of milk would be fine”, he said “A Shirley Temple is what I will bring you.” At that time in my life I had no idea what a Shirley Temple was and I thought Frankie was going to bring me a little toy doll.  That evening, he introduced me to what was actually 7-Up and grenadine with a cherry!  There are so many other stories that I have of Frankie, but this one is the first which I will remember forever.   It was boxing that kept Frankie and I bonded as friends, like brothers, for almost fifty years. Frankie boxed as a successful amateur. He also made time to help the youth of our city with his services.  He was right by my side as a referee and judge at many boxing shows in our community, as well.   Here’s to a well respected man that was my friend – my best friend – Frankie Rivas.  Please join me in prayer as we remember him today.

R.I.P. Bert Sugar

By David Martinez
 
 
The boxing world lost a legendary historian and writer this past Sunday. Bert Randolph Sugar passed away in Chappaqua, New York from cardiac arrest, after a long battle with lung cancer.  He was 74 years old.
 
My conversations with Bert started many years ago as we both knew another boxing historian, the late Al Nelson. Bert was an expert in boxing and his favorite topic was the golden age of the sport. His top 10 fighters of all time (in order) were Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, Harry Greb, Jack Dempsey, Benny Leonard, Joe Louis, Mickey Walker, Sam Langford, Tony Canzoneri, and Muhammad Ali.
 
Bert was best known for being editor and publisher of Boxing Illustrated (1969-1973, 1988) and Ring magazine (1979-1983). He wrote more than eighty books and saw every major fight in the past 65 years. He was a colorful man and was ever present with his fedora and cigar.
 
Bert was inducted into the World Boxing hall of Fame in 1989 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.
 
He will be missed.  May his soul rest in peace with the Lord.