BRAZIL'S EDER JOFRE: BEST BANTAMWEIGHT EVER!
Boxing fans and historians have
always discussed and argued about who were the best fighters of
all time. While it is surely impossible to prove the best ever
by comparing fighters from different generations, it makes for
interesting conversations while debating the merits of the
fighters considered the best. When the discussion involves the
118-pound Bantamweight division’s all time great fighters, one
name that is prominently mentioned is Brazil’s Hall-of-Famer
Eder Jofre, nicknamed “O Galo Do Ouro” (Portuguese
for “Golden Bantam”). During his ring career, Jofre’s
accomplishments certainly support those who believe that the
great Brazilian is among the division’s best fighters ever. His
excellent boxing ability, outstanding power with either hand and
an indestructible “iron chin” made him a dangerous opponent, and
carried him to the pinnacle of his profession.
After representing his country in
the 1956 Olympic games, Jofre’s illustrious professional
career spanned 19 years, and in the process captured world
titles in two different divisions with many victories over the
top fighters of his era.
SONNY LISTON: TURBULENT LIFE AND MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF A
The only certainty about Charles “Sonny”
Liston was that he was one of eleven children born on an Arkansas cotton
plantation to Helen and Tobe Liston, who were farm workers on the plantation.
His exact date of birth remains uncertain, as Helen Liston claimed her son was
born January 8, 1932 while “Sonny” later listed the date as May 8, 1932.
However, it was often speculated in boxing circles that he may have been born
several years earlier and was indeed older than he claimed.
At a very early age, Liston joined his
many brothers working on the plantation, and had very little, if any,
education. Surrounded by poverty, hunger and little parental guidance, trouble
always managed to find the young man, and as a result he was subjected to
terrible beatings from his father. When the father died, the 13-year old Liston
joined his mother in Saint Louis, Missouri where she now worked.
A young Liston tried his hand at menial
work and may have attempted some schooling, with little success. However, just
like his early years in Arkansas, he was involved in petty crimes, and
eventually joined a local gang. The troubled youth soon graduated to the more
serious crimes of robbing stores or gas stations. In January 1960, at 18 years
of age, he was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to a stint at the State
Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri.
JIMMY ELLIS: FROM ALI SPARRING PARTNER TO HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION..
Thousands of people lined the
streets of downtown Louisville, Kentucky to enjoy the festivities as the city
honored one of its own with a well-deserved parade. The local High School
band played on as the new Heavyweight Champion of the World rode with his wife
in an open convertible, proudly acknowledging the cheering crowd.
The city’s Mayor proclaimed the special day in honor of the newly crowned
On this day, the celebration was not to acknowledge the accomplishments of
Cassius Clay (later to be known as Muhammad Ali), the city’s most famous
native son. The recipient of this day’s accolades was Jimmy Ellis, the
recently crowned world Heavyweight champion. Ellis was being honored
after completing an improbable evolution from being Clay/ Ali’s main
sparing partner to winning the top prize in the Heavyweight division.
Quite an accomplishment for the skinny kid who ran around the streets of
Louisville with his childhood friend, the self proclaimed “Greatest of All
Time” Cassius Clay.
ARCHER... MISSED OPPORTUNITY...
The anticipation of those
glorious words surely ran wildly through the mind of New York’s
Middleweight contender Joey Archer as he awaited the
judges’ decision after 15 rounds of fighting against champion
Emile Griffith. Surely he had done enough to garner the
decision and wrestle the title away from the great champion.
The waiting must have seemed
like an eternity to Archer and to his many loyal fans who
filled New York’s Madison Square Garden on July 1966 to
witness their favorite son’s long awaited challenge for the
Middleweight title. Ring announcer Johnny Addie’s
booming voice finally delivered the verdict, and the winner
“Irish” Joey Archer began his career, and his dream of
achieving boxing greatness, in 1956 at 18 years of age.
He was a master boxer with excellent speed but lacked any
semblance of power in his punches. Fighting mostly in various
New York and Texas venues, he was a winner in his first 30
fights, with only 7 victories coming inside the distance.
RON LYLE: FROM PRISON INMATE TO HEAVYWEIGHT CONTENDER...
The sound of the heavy gates closing behind him as he entered
Canon City State Penitentiary in Colorado signaled the beginning
of a long odyssey for the 19-year old high school youngster.
During a gang fight, the shooting death of a rival gang member
had resulted in a second-degree murder conviction for the young
man and a sentence of 15-to-25 years in the State Penitentiary.
The immediate future for the new inmate would include the
confinement to a small cell, minimal contact beyond the
penitentiary walls and long periods of solitude to contemplate
the actions that resulted in his present situation.
Ron David Lyle did not know this at the time, but his
incarceration would not only have a life changing positive impact
on him, but would also help shape boxing's landscape in the
Heavyweight division several years later.
1968: MAYHEM AT 'THE GARDEN'...
history of boxing, fans have witnessed and enjoyed many
encounters that became an "Instant Classic," fought by
fearless fighters whose will-to-win and bravery defied logic.
These memorable fights were usually characterized by non-stop
action, savage exchanges, and fighters that recover after
absorbing brutal punishment to regain control of the fight with
Recent battles that earned the crowd's respect and standing
ovations, and are rightfully labeled as "classics," include
Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield, Diego "Chico" Corrales
vs. Jose Luis Castillo, Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward and more
recently Israel Vasquez vs. Rafael Marquez, just to name a
few. The courage displayed by these fighters is undeniable and
to be admired.