Name: "Irish" Jimmy Heair
DOB: July 14, 1952, Houston, MS.
DOB: July 14, 1952, Houston, MS.
Amateur: about a 100 fights, three time Mississippi champ, Southern champ, AAU runner up 69. "I was a big sports fan as a kid, football, basketball, and then boxing, when I started boxing I weighed about a 100 lbs", says Jimmy.
Pro: 96-32-1 in a career that lasted from 1972 and effectively ended a decade later although his last fight was in 1984.
prospect & contender: Jimmy Heair arrived to Los Angeles in 71 by way of Ignacio, Colorado where his family had moved. "I had met Jerry Moore at the national championhsips and L A in those days was the best place to be a for a lightweight. Jerry was a very good man, he took good care of me. I won my first 33 fights" says Jimmy.
Heair turned pro, managed by Jerry Moore and trained by Henry Blouin. He wasnÂ´t a natural but had talent, worked hard and learned quickly. He won his first nine fights on points which indicates a non-puncher but developed a sharp left hook that was especially effective to the body. In less than a year Jimmy was fighting ten rounders at the Inglewood Forum and became popular with his busy style, good skills and big heart - the Irish heritage probably didnÂ´t hurt either. At the end of 1972 he beat Miguel Mayon and Angel Mayoral, two fringe contenders and in March of 73 he outscored a true contender in Chango Carmona and was world ranked.
A shot at then World lightweight champ Roberto Duran was talked about and expected before the end of the 73. However, against Carmona Heair suffered a broken nose that sidelined him for a few months, he then rebroke it sparring with then WBC 135 lb champ Rodolfo "Gato" Gonzales.
"Gato" was probably even better than Duran" says Jimmy but downplays the broken nose incident. "I canÂ´t recall how many times I had my nose broken, at times it was so sore it brought tears to my eyes as I touched it and it was never fixed right."
But then Heair adds: "If you give a young man, a small town kid, a few bucks, have him in a big city and a pretty girl by his side he will get in trouble! I felt like I was the champ of the world but I was only a contender."
Jimmy came back - probably too soon - and but kept winning and in the fall of 73 he stopped another hot prospect and contender in Arturo "the Fury" Pineda. "My two best fights were against Pineda and Carmona." The nose injury continued to be a problem (and affects Jimmy to this day). In May of 74 he took on Rudy Barro, a tough, decent fighter but the kind a world ranked fighter should be able to beat, and lost a ten round decision in a huge upset. Heair bounced back with three straight wins and accepted a fight with highly ranked Australian Hector Thompson in August of 74 - a win there and Heair would have been back in the picture. Jimmy lost though: "I think if Hector and I had thought three times I would have won two but on this night he was the better man."
Back home Jimmy lost an upset split decision to Arturo Leon, whom he previously had beaten twice, moved up to jr welter, relocated to El Paso, Texas. Heair also left Jerry Moore and his first wife. "My new manager was Ron Weathers and he had no clue about boxing. I thought I knew a lot about boxing but I didnÂ´t know enough."
The result was a very busy schedule with fights against topnotchers all over the world at lightweight, jr welter and welter. Jimmy scored some good wins - for instance in stopping Laudiel Negron and Gerardo Ferrat and there were some tough losses like the one to Argentinian great Nicolino Locche in Buenos Aires. "They raised his hands when it was over but he didnÂ´t win that one", says Jimmy.
But there were also upset losses and Heair went 0-2-1 against Arturo Leon, a short, stocky, clubfighter: "He just had my number" states Jimmy but a better reason for the off performances could be that there were no time to recuperate. Heair fought one tough fight after the other giving his all every time. Just three weeks after fighting Thai contender Tongta Kiatvayupakdi in Bangkok - "a close one, could have gone either way" - Heair fought world class welter Armando Muniz in El Paso. "Muniz was a full fledged welter, he was just too strong for me."
Jimmy HeairÂ´s days as a contender was about over now, he gave Brit Dave Green and New Yorker Harold Weston very tough fights on their respective turfs but lost clearly to both. A very good win over then unbeaten Rudy Hernandez proved Jimmy still had a lot left.
Journeyman and hometown hero: Heair relocated again, this time to almost home in Memphis, Tennessee. "I became a hometown fighter and beat a lot of not so good fighters, you know how it is in boxing, they can build you up just as easy as they can take you down."
His Memphis debut was a minor disaster though as he was outscored by the unknown Freddie "the Stepper" Harris. However a tko win over Rudy Hernandez in Tuscon, Arizona, put Heair back in the picture and he became one of the biggest drawing cards in the region as boxing was revived in Tennessee and Mississippi. Jimmy, now up to welter, was popular and the fans knew they would get their moneyÂ´s worth when he was headlining. He got revenge over Harris, won something called the Southern welterweight title and came close to be ranked again with a stoppage win over Jimmy Corkum. Then the came the wrong kind of opponent, a slick, southpaw from Miami, Adriano Marrero and Jimmy lost a decision. Very tough fights against Pete Ranzany in a NABF titlefight and Roberto Duran followed - " Duran is the best guy I ever fought, he would do anything to win."
Jimmy fought his heart out but was a clear loser to both. "Jimmy Heair is like a Rolex" stated one reporter. "he takes a lickinÂ´ but keeps on tickin". His best days behind him Jimmy got into a welterweight tournament in Orlando, Florida, but was upset by Richard House, the kind of fighter he would have licked a few years earlier. A bad ko loss to Sal Lopez July 1, 1980, appeared to be the end for Jimmy, who according to the RingÂ´s reporter was in a daze ten minutes after the fight had ended. But less than three months later Jimmy headlined at home in Memphis and was a popular winner over Maurice Quillen, which set up another long string of wins as headliner in Memphis, Tupelo and even his birthtown Houston. He stopped Johnny Copeland in a Southern title defence and won the Texas title at welter. But all reports from the fights indicate a very tough fighter past his best. A loss in Chicago to young upstart Roosevelt Green in August of 81 ended his journeyman days.
The trialhorse: Jimmy suffered back to back losses to Mike Senegal and future champ Mike McCallum - a second round stoppage (on his feet and protesting but he was pretty much outclassed). From now on Heair lost many more fights than he won, his record the last three years reads 4-8 and even the wins came hard. Stoppage losses to Nino La Rocca and Don King (the fighter) in Atlantic City spelled the end for a very brave fighterÂ´s fighter. Jimmy stepped in as a very late sub in 83 against Jim Pixley and was outclassed, gave local hero Danny Ferris a tough fight the first time they fought but was stopped - and stopped a lot easier the second time. Finally Heair went out against Adam George on a second round knockout. "One of the toughest thing for a fighter to do is to know when to go out" says Jimmy with hindsight. "One shouldnÂ´t fight past 30, as a young man you can absorb punishment but as you get older it catch up on you."
After boxing: Jimmy moved to Hamilton, Alabama, not so far from either Houston, MS, or Memphis. He contiuned to work in boxing as a trainer, opened a gym, held down the odd job but remained in boxing. "Out here we donÂ´t have much boxing though, this is football country, or basketball. I trained a lot of kids, some were pretty good but all in all itÂ´s tough to get kids to stick with boxing."
He had married in El Paso with Carol had two kids, divorced, remarried and had a daughter. A bad back, the result of a long and hard career eventually led to that Jimmy got on disability. "I still love boxing and watch whenever I can but again, we donÂ´t have much boxing out here."
Jimmy Heair never became a champion - and even if all cards had been played right he might have failed. The lightweights in the 70Â´s on the West Coast and in the world were loaded with talent. Heair was sparring with reigning WBC champ Rodolfo Gonzales, the fearsome Roberto Duran was the universially recognized World champ. However, all in all in his career he achieved more than most champions ever do. "I might have been a champion, we will never know, but IÂ´m sure my career had been very different had I stayed with Jerry Moore."
Name: Ralph Dupas
Dob: Oct 4, 1935, New Orleans, LA:
Dob: Oct 4, 1935, New Orleans, LA:
Amateur: grew up poor, very poor, began boxing as a young kid, Ralph was one of six fighting brothers who were very popular, turned pro at the age of almost 15 in 1950 after changing his birth year so he could he get a professional license.
Pro from 1950 through 1966, record: 106-23-0-6, only 18 wins inside the distance indicates a genuine non-puncher. Fighting as a lightweight in New Orleans Dupas got the nickname "Native Dancer" to compliment his slick moves, ("Native Dancer" was a famous race horse), speed and good footwork. While the punch was lacking Dupas had everything else and quickly became a big drawing card in New Orleans and was fighting mainevents before the age of 16 and a year later he was in the picture for a titlefight. From 1953 and ten year onwards the Ring always had Ralph in their world ratings in whichever weight division he fought. Dupas shared the ring with the likes of Paddy DeMarco, Frankie Ryff, Kenny Lane, Gaspar Ortega and other world class performers. But it wasnÂ´t until 1958 that Dupas got a shot at a world title when he fought lightweight king Joe "Old Bones" Brown in Houston, Texas, March 7 1958. But by now Dupas had big problems making 135 and according to his brother Tony there wasnÂ´t a single drop of sweat on RalphÂ´s body throughout the fight: "Old Bones" won a sixth round knockout. Dupas moved up to welter and fought the likes of Gil Turner and Joey Giardello and in 1962 challenged for the world title held by Emile Griffith but lost a 15-round decision. A bout with Sugar Ray Robinson was next, by now far from the all time great he had been, and in what some described as a terrible decision Sugar Ray got the nod. But finally, in his 123rd fight and 100th win Dupas beat Denny Moyer to win the world junior middleweight title. He beat Moyer in a rematch but then lost the crown to teak tough Italian Sandro Mazzingi. They also fought a rematch and Sandro scored a brutal knockout. His career as a contender was over, he lost to Griffith again, retired but returned in 1966 for a meaningless comeback.
After career: Dupas worked as a black jack dealer in Las Vegas for 13 years but eventually had to retire due to a growing problem: failing memory and other problems, things got from bad to worse and Dupas could be seen collecting aluminium cans and garbage. His brother Tony came to rescue and brought Ralph back to New Orleans. Ralph Dupas has been diagnosed with Puglistica Dementia and resides today in a nursing home. Tony Dupas tried for years to get attention and justice to RalphÂ´s great career but eventually gave up. Tony passed away some time ago and German journalist and writer Uwe Betker, who did a long story about Dupas for a book that due to the harsh realities for sports books in Germany never got published, says Ralph today sadly is only a shadow of himself.
Name: Alfredo Evangelista
DOB: Dec 3, 1954, Montevideo, Uruguay
Amateur: began boxing at the age of 14 and was reportedly a very good amateur, moved to Spain and Barcelona in the mid-70Â´s to be trained by Cuban Evelio Mustelier, "Kid Tunero". Turned pro in October of 75 with a first round tko over Angelo Visini.
Pro: 62-13-4, was moved fast, stopped Spanish legend Jose Ibar Manuel Urtain, lost only to slick Italian Lorenzo Zanon, became Spanish citizen and got a shot at Muhammad Ali and the World heavyweight title, that saw neither at their best but at opposite stages of their respective careers, lost clearly but wasnÂ´t outclassed, became EBU champ later that year with an eleventh round stoppgae of Frenchman Lucien Rodriguez, fought in the US just three weeks later and tkoÂ´d Pedro Soto in eight. He closed out 77 with a first round knockout of Jean Pierre Coopman. In 78 Alfredo had a tough time with clever Brit Billy Aird but retained the EBU title and after beating Jody Ballard in Las Vegas got a shot at WBC king Larry Holmes in 78 but was knocked out in seven and took a bad beating. He knocked out Rodriguez in a EBU title defence but then lost to Zanon and could only draw with Felipe Rodriguez for the Spanish title. Scored a lot of wins over soft touches, drew again with "Pantera" Rodriguez and was stopped in two by Greg Page. More easy wins followed but he lost to Lucien Rodriguez, whom he had stopped twice before, in a shot at the EBU titlefight. In 83 Alfredo beat Renaldo "Mr" Snipes on a split decision but it was clear something was missing and he was upset by Brit Hughroy Currie at home. Don King, who had most heavies in the bag at the time kept Evangelista busy on shows in Spain, West Indies and the US in 84-85. However, a clear points loss - and after a poor fight where Evangelista fought with a leg injury - to Steffen Tangstad ended all hopes of a titlefight. A loss to Patrick Lumumba Ã¬n Madrid seemed to kill Alfredo as a drawing card at home as well - but he got a surprise shot at the then vacant EBU heavyweight title and regained the title with a fifth round tko over Dutchman Andre Van Den Oetelaar. He lost the title right away to Swede Anders Eklund but got a couple of decent paydays losing to Pierre Coetzer and Adilson Rodriguez. ..
After career: after showing up totally out of shape for a fight against Arthur Wright (w tko 1) in 1988 the Spanish Federation pulled his license and he never fought again. Arrested in 89 for drug possession, did time in jail, worked as bouncer in night clubs and reports indicates things didnÂ´t too go with well with continued problems with the police, then caught working for a drugdealer in a bar in Madrid and was sentenced to eight years in jail but was released after five due to his good behaviour. Got back on his feet, working has a house painter,. Reunited with his brother Lindbergh in San Francisco recently after 30 years apart. Alfredo remains a celebrity and his fight with Muhammad Ali is the one most people remember although it was a rather poor fight..
Comment: was 14-1-1 and a pro for 18 months when he fought Muhammad Ali. Ali in a case of too much too soon. Still, seemed to benefit from it but then badly devastated in the loss to Larry Holmes in 78. Scored a lot of easy - some downright dubious - wins in Spain but could only draw with Felipe Rodriguez for the Spanish title in 79. Not the most serious with his training in the later stages of his career. Uruguayan director Aldo Garay did a documentary on Alfredo and his career in 97 while he was locked up. At his peak he was a tough slugger with decent power.
Name: Mihai Leu, fighting as Michael Loewe
DOB: Feb 13, 1969, Hunedoara, Romania
Amateur: 190-10, Romanian champ in the juniors 83-86, World junior champ 87. 89-90 German champ in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen.
Pro: 28-0, pro 91 through 97, one of the few fighters in history to retire undefeated with no comeback - however the retirement came after a serious handinjury that eventually led to that Loewe was stripped of the WBO welter title. Michael won the title with a points win over Santiago Samaniego in 97 and defended it against Irishman Michael Carruth. However, in the Samaniego fight Michael suffered a difficult injury to his left hand. He had surgery and a long rest but had a lot of problems with the hand in the Carruth fight. Another operation followed but in 98 he had to retire as the hand just didn´t get well. Later Loewe sought help from specialists in Austria, Italy and Romania but no-one could help. "My left hand was my key punch, it was very important for me, when I couldn´t use it properly I wasn´t the same anymore, I wanted to comeback but it just wasn´t possible" he says.
After career: In between surgery and attempts to comeback Loewe began a career as a rally race driver - a sport he had been into as a hobby outside of boxing -and became Romanian champ in 2003, and won a silver the year before. He won another championship in 2005. He still drives but is now also into business and politics and is running for a seat in the EU parliament. Michael have remained in boxing and was responsible in bringing talented heavy Konstantin Onofrei to Universum and also got a trainer´s diploma in Romania. "Boxing in Romania is very difficult so I am not active anymore" says Michael, "and I was quite disappointed when Onofrei´s career flopped". At the 250th Universum promotion in Hamburg May 19, 2007, Michael Loewe was of course there and was introduced in the ring along with many other ex-champs. It´s fair to say that the Universum that Loewe represented in the early 90´s isn´t the same big time operation it´s now it´s also fair to say that Michael was one of the fighters it´s all built on.
Name: John Baker Muwanga
DOB: born April 1, 1956, Kampala, Uganda
Amateur: 300+ fights in the very hot boxing scene in Uganda and Kenya in the mid-70´s, fought in the 74 World championships, won gold in King´s Cup in Thailand, should have participated in the 76 Olympics and was all set to go when all African countries withdrew due to New Zealand´s connections with South Africa. John is listed as a loser to Jovito Rengifo but the fight never took place and was a walk over win for Jovito. Beat future world champ Cornelius Boza-Edwards three times and fought on the Ugandan team on a tour to Germany and Scandinavia in 77. John relocated first to Finland and then to Norway - most of the stars from Uganda would find their way to Europe sooner or later for more or less successful boxing careers.
Pro: 14-0, turned pro in Norway in 1978, was 12-0 when the Norwegian Parliament outlawed professional boxing in 1980. John wanted to continue his career but was right in the middle of his education and couldn´t relocate. "It was a tough decison then but now I´m glad I did what I did" says John. Returned in 82 and fought two fights for a new Finnish / Swedish promotional outfit headed by Edwin Ahlquist. When this company folded John retired. During his brief career he beat several good fighters such as Brit Lloyd Christie, Americans Jerome Artis and Jerry Graham and Italian Antonio Puddu.
After boxing: graduated from the University of Oslo in sociology and social science, quit boxing to concentrate on his family and education, settled in Oslo and is since many years a social worker. John returned to boxing a few years ago and is now a trainer at the amateur club IF Ornulf. "There is a lot of good talent out there but it seems like they aren´t hungry enough and many tends to give up way to easily."
Name: Roberto Welin
DOB: April 9, 1966,
Porto Alegre, Brazil, Swedish father and Brazilian mother, Roberto came to Sweden as a teenager and began boxing to get friends in his new country. It was easy to tell early on that Enighet BC in Malmoe and Gunnar Bengtsson had a star in the making.
Amateur: Swedish champ 89 and 91 at welter, amateur record about 115-15, Swedish Int´l, European champ 91 also welter. Roberto had a great relation with his coach in Malmoe, Gunnar Bengtsson, the national coach Leif Carlsson and Kjell Fredriksson, who trained him while he was studying to become an airplane mechanic in Vasteras. His style was a bit special, upright, left low and a good right, he wasted few punches and could hurt you with either hand - he was also an enourmosly hard worker in the gym. Some say he worked too hard though. Roberto aimed for the 92 Olympics but couldn´t make welter anymore and moved up to jr middle -and eventually turned pro.
"Roberto was special" says Leif Carlsson. "When he decided for something he was 100% on the job and he always gave his all. So in a way he was very tough, but he was also a sensitive guy and had to have things in a special way. When he turned pro it seemed líke he never found his rythm."
Pro: 23-4 from 92 to 96, turned pro with for Gary Trevett´s team of Nordic fighters based in Florida Angelo Dundee as trainer. Financially it was a sound move but Roberto was unable to change his style to the pros and what had worked in the amateurs backfired in the pros. The low left hand left him open for counters, he seemed musclebound and while he did win over a number of "opponents" he lost the important ones to the likes of Chris Saunders, Delroy Waul and Emmett Linton. The Linton fight, for the WBU jr middle title, was his last. "It didn´t work out the way I had thought it would, everybody here said I had a lot of talent but I never had, I was the product of hard work, over here I wasn´t allowed to train as hard as I wanted and it went the way it went, I´m not crying over it, I made some money, invested it and it paid off" says Roberto.
After career: remained in Florida, although he was looking for a job in that field when he quit boxing never he´s never used his skills as an airplane mechanic. Instead Roberto first became a landlord and is now a licensed real estate agent. "I´m doing well" says Roberto, who have no contact with boxing. "I weigh 180 lbs today, pure muscles, I pump iron and punch the bags sometimes but other than that I´m out of the game and don´t miss it either. I´m married with two kids and also have a son in Sweden."
Name: "Fast" Eddy Smulders
DOB: July 1, 1963, Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Amateur: 3-0 with one no decision. European kick boxing champion. Eddie made the transition to ortodox boxing due to bad ankles. "I was very tough to change style, the distance to your opponents, the way you punch, the whole game is different" says Smulders. "I wanted to continue as an amateur but then had one kick boxing match that I was paid for. The amateur federation found out about this and decided I wasn´t an amateur anymore and that forced me to turn pro. I was stupid, I should have sued them for that but I turned pro instead."
Pro: 36-2-0 from 1898 through 1998, EBU lightheavy champ 95-97, won the BeNeLux lightheavy title 91, Dutch belt at lightheavy in 93, beat the likes of Yawe Davis, Eric Nicoletta, Christophe Girard, Jan Lefeber (a hot all Dutch matchup), and Dirk Wallijn. Smulders was a tall, upright boxer with a heavy right hand. "My best fights were against Davis, a very tough fight, and Girard" says Smulders. Smulders was first managed and promoted by Henk Ruhling but fought for Universum at the end of his career. He was WBA number one challenger for a long time but it wasn´t until he joined Universum things began to happen. "I was all set to fight WBO ruler Dariusz Michalczewski but broke my hand two weeks before the contest and that pretty much broke my will too, and the hand is still not good", says Smulders, who did get world title shot at then WBA king Louis Del Valle later. "He´s a southpaw and just hated fighting southpaws" states Smulders, who got stopped in the eighth. The only other loss came to another world champ, Frenchman Fabrice Tiozzo in a EBU titlefight.
After career: Smulders continued his career moving up to cruiser but after stopping Mike Pearman in 98 it all came to an end. "I caught a burglar and beat him and did three months in jail and then there were other things as well but they were totally untrue" says Eddie, who had had to pass on a possible chance to challenge then WBC cruiser champ Juan Carlos Gomez as he was in custody in a Dutch jail on various charges. Dutch press wrote about links to organized crime and that Smulders had been working as a torpedo. Since a number of years Eddy is in the hotel business in Eindhoven with his mother.
Smulders have no contacts with boxing anymore. "It´s a rotten game, I was cheated so many times, I am totally out, I work out a little to stay in shape but that´s it."
If you are in Eindhoven, Hotel Van Neer is the place to stay!
Name: Michele Aboro
DOB: Nov 17, 1969, London, UK (of Nigerian descent)
Amateur: none, got into kickboxing and muay thai as a teenager and then moved to the Netherlands to further her career. She then took up traditionol boxing and made her prodebut in 1995 (female boxing wasn´t really recognized in those days and there is a lot of confusion in what was "real" profights or not) but eventually she signed with Universum Box Promtion and her career took off.
Pro: 21-0 (12), an alltime great in female boxing, WIBF champ at superbantam. outstanding in her titledefences and she looked ubeatable; Aboro could both box and punch. She beat the likes of Kelsey Jeffries, Nadia Debras and Daisy Lang. However her promoter, Universum Box Promotion, had big problems outside of the ropes with Michele, who for part of her career trained in Croatia, came from London, lived in Holland and fought in Germany. Where most female stars used their good looks to get attention Aboro was quite masculine and it was no secret that she was a lesbian. In short: she was tough to market, so tough that Universum decided to terminate their contract with her. Effectively her career thus ended late 2001.
Aboro tried to take her case to court but eventually the case was thrown out of the system late 2006. Michele and her lawyer wanted to establish the fact she had been employed by Universum and thus should German labour laws apply - and not a promoter´s and manager´s contract. A higly interesting angle but a mission impossible. The Aboro case have attracted big attention mainly from Dutch feminist groups. There´s been a documentary called "A Knockout" made on Aboro and her career in and out of the ropes.
Michele Aboro resides in Amsterdam and work a sound technician at the famed club Paradiso, is a boxing trainer on the side and is doing well. She is in debt though after her court cases and mamacash.nl are trying to raise money to help her out.
Name: Björn Rudi
DOB: Oct 1, 1953 in Kristiansand.
Amateur: began boxing as 15-year old in 1968 for Aik-Lund in Kristiansand, a big, wellbuilt heavy already then, regarded as very promising (some say he was the biggest prospect ever from Norway), junior champ in 69, participated in the senior championships later the same year - a little too much too soon for the 16-year old who was knocked out but the year after Rudi was ready and won gold and did the same in 1972 and 1973. Bjorn was on his way to the 72 Olympics but suffered an upset ko-loss to German Gerhard Rissmann. Still, during the season 72-73 the now 19-year produced several good results and turned pro in 1973 - which may again have been a little too much too soon.
Pro: 17-4-0, began and ended his procareer in Norway but was also with Andy Smith in the UK. After a fine start in Norway Rudi with Erik Stenerud was discovered by British manager Andy Smith, who´s big star was Joe Bugner. Rudi sparred a lot with Joe and fought on the undercard to Ali vs Bugner II in Malaysia in 74. "There was a lot going on in my head, I was mentally shot and at the same time there was a lot of turmoil outside of the ropes as well." An an upset loss to Derek Simpkin followed. The talent was there but Bjorn came across as a notorious underachiever, a revenge win over Simpkin was followed by back to back losses against John L Gardner and Neville Meade - two matchups were the Norwegian was - especially against Gardner - thrown to the wolves. Rudi retired but came back in 78 going 2-1 and at the age 25 it was over. "The comeback wasn´t 100%, I had moved to Alesund, I was training myself and you just can´t do it that way" says Bjorn.
After career: Bjorn moved to Alesund, worked as a municipal employee, and became a trainer with the local amateur club. Among the fighters that came out of Alesund was the now renowned official Mikael Hook, who qualified for the Olympic Games in Barcelona but wasn´t allowed to participate after some boxing political turmoil. After eighteen years in Alesund Rudi moved back to Kristiansand, a prosperous oil town in the south of Norway, where he now resides and is a self employed truck driver. "I have very little contact with boxing these days" says Bjorn. "I follow the big heavyweight fights but not much more. With hindsight it´s easy to see it should have been done differently, I was so young, it´s takes a lot of time for a heavyweight to grow out but I didn´t think like that back then."
Name: Tommy Joyce
DOB: Aug 7, 1947, Edinburgh, UK, grew up in Doncaster and fought out of there throughout his career.
Amateur: won the ABA jr title at the age of 16, bronze in two senior ABA, represented Scotland 17 times, bronze medal at the Commonwealth games in 1970.
Pro: 26-23-3 at welter and jr middle, went 14-0-1 in his first fifteen fights but then suffered back to back ko losses to Mickey Flynn and high class South African Gert Steyn and most of the losses on Joyce´s ledger came inside the distance. Fought for the Midlands title in 73. While never a champ a solid pro. Retired in 1980.
After career: caretaker at a school in Mexborough where he now resides, picked up running to keep fit but started doing it for charities and began an amazing career as a marathon runner. Tommy began by doing five marathons in five days, then ten in ten days all the way to up to an incredible 20 marathons in 20 days, doing about 200 marathons, raising about 200 000 GBP. Received the prestigeus MBE award in 2007. Married to Jean since 1966, two kids, three grandkids. Topped a recent poll for unsung heroes and heroines in the Mexborough region, also named Yorkshireman of the year.
Name: Ulf Danielsson
DOB: March 14, 1944, Jonkoping, Sweden.
Amateur: Swedish champ at flyweight in 1966 which topped a six year career in amateur boxing where he represented BK Ringen in Jonkoping..
Pro: 4-3-1, pro in 67, last fight was at the end of 1969, a points loss to then EBU fly champ Fernando Atzori, and Ulf became one of the last Swedes to enter a professional boxing ring in Sweden before the game was outlawed. Danielsson kept training (also prohibited for pros) and the gym was in the same building as the police department. "We got far more important matters to deal with than Danielsson´s training" stated the local police chief thus allowing Danielsson to carry on training. However, fights abroad failed to materialize and Ulf was forced to retire.
After career: a truck driver turned photographer, check out bildvisning.com for an introduction to Ulf´s great work. Have visited Syria, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Bolivia, Peru, Rwanda, India and coming up is a trip to Turkmenistan. Ulf was not invited to "the Return" show in Gothenburg January 27, 2007, that marked the return of professional boxing to Sweden. Not involved in boxing in any way. Married with two grown kids, resides outside of Jonkoping.
Name: Felipe "Pantera" Rodriguez
DOB: Dec 22, 1953, Vilaxoean.
Amateur: Spanish champ in 74 and 76, Spanish international.
Pro: 27-9-5, in a career that lasted from 77 through 87. "Pantera" quickly became a drawing card in North Western Spain and won the Spanish heavyweight title in 78. In 79 he drew with Alfredo Evangelista at home in Pontevedra. A points loss to EBU champ Lorenzo Zanon followed and a month later he lost to Belgian Albert Syben. Rodriguez fought his way back and again drew with Evangelista but lost twice to Frenchman Lucien Rodriguez, the last time again for the EBU title. For the remainder of his career "Pantera" was a good journeyman taking on the likes of David Pearce, Anders Eklund, Rainer Hartmann, Pierre Coetzer and Francesco Damiani always losing but always putting up a good fight. Rodriguez was a good allround boxer but didn´t have a big punch.
After career: "Pantera" worked as doorman in nightclubs in Pontevedra and appeared on a local TV show. In 2000 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and tragically passed away shortly thereafter
Name: Johann Orsolics
DOB: May 14, 1947, Vienna, Austria
Amateur: 23-4 (Orsolics´ amateur career have previously been unknown but as Dr Sigi Bergman made research for an upcoming book about Orsolics they were "disovered"). Johann, a chimney sweeper by trade, began boxing with a good friend and wasn´t a natural southpaw but was taught to box that way and thus had a powerful right to go with his good left.
Pro: 42-7-4 in a career that lasted from 65 through 74. Johann Orsolics quickly became a big ticket seller and won the EBU jr welter title in his 12th profight. In the years to come Orsolics was a huge star at home. He lost the title to Bruno Arcari in 68, moved up to welter and won the EBU title by stopping Frenchman Jean Josselin. A world title shot against champ Jose Napoles was agreeed on but then Johann suffered an upset loss to Eddie Perkins. In the fight that followed, a defence of the title against Brit Ralph Charles, Orsolics was ahead on points going into the 12th round but turned to complain to the referee about a low blow and Charles took advantage of the situation and knocked out Orsolics. It was a devastating loss and it took Orsolics two years before he was back. In 1973 Orsolics challenged EBU jr middle champ Carlo Duran and appeared to have won on points after fifteen rounds but ended up a loser on a split decision and a big riot followed. In 74 Johann got another crack at the EBU 154 lb title and had Jacques Kechichian out on his feet in the early rounds but failed to close the show and ended up a loser on a ninth round knockout. In Berlin November 8, 1974, Orsolics was stopped in the 14th round by Spaniard Jose Duran and that ended his career.
After career: Orsolics had lived in the fast lane already during his fighting days and as the owner of a bar in Vienna he didn´t slow down. Step by step the once famed fighter slipped down the ladder. By the early 80´s Johann Orsolics was pretty much down and out, drinking heavily, the bar gone and had debts that couldn´t be paid. Dr Sigi Bergmann, who had followed Orsolics´s career as TV commentator, reported on what had happened to Johann on the nationally televised Monday Night Sports. Singer / songwriter Charly Kriechbaum watched on TV and came to the rescue: he wrote a song for Johann to sing. Orsolics did some voice training but was hardly a skilled singer nor a very good one when he recorded "Mei Patschertes Leben". If it was the quality of the song or if it was an act of solidarity by Austrian fight fans is hard to say but the single hit the charts big time and stayed # 1 for four weeks in the summer of 86. The song led to a change in the lifestyle for Orsolics, who sobered up, got his finances in order and got back on his feet. Today Johan Orsolics is a working man and is a guest of honor at most shows in Vienna. His good friend, Sigi Bergmann, is currently writing a book about Orsolics and his career.
Name: Bruno Arcari
DOB: Jan 1, 1942, Atina, Italy. His family fled the ongoing war and Bruno grew up in Genova and have remained there. Began boxing at the age of 15.
Amateur: 81-5, Italian champ 62-63 at lightwelter, bronze in the European championships 63, Mediterranean champ 63.
Pro: 70-1-2, one of the greats in Italian boxing, a tough, smart southpaw with great stamina and feared for his bodyshots, who´s only major weakness was a tendency to cuts that led to both losses - he lost his prodebut due to cuts. Bruno turned pro late in 64 and kept active until 1978. He won the Italian title late in 66 after losing the first attempt. In 1968 he won the EBU jr welter, a title he would keep until he relinquished it early in 1970 to go for the world title in the regime of WBC. Arcari outscored Pedro Adique over fifteen and kept the title until he relinquished it in 74 due to problems making the weight, politicial pressure on who to fight from the WBC and problems with an injured shoulder. A shot at welter champ Jose Napoles failed to materialize. While Arcari beat top notchers such as Rene Roque, Joao Henrique, Percy Pugh and Everaldo Costa Acevedo he would never get full recognition outside of Italy. Talks of unification fight with Colombian great Antonio Cervantes never got anywhere. Bruno stayed active through 75-76 and drew with future jr middle champ Rocky Mattioli in what was his last big fight. In 1978 he stopped Texan journeman Jessie Lara in five and retired.
After career: Bruno have remained in Genova and was for many years an ace trainer and manager working with the likes of Salvatore Fanni and Giovanni Nardiello, who top class in Europe, always in collaboration with his former manager Rocco Agostino. He then joined the Italian Federation as an advisor but have kept a low profile.
Arcari is retired, in good health, financially secure (but declines to speak about it) enjoys life, spends a lot of time fishing and with his family.
Name: Borge "the Professor" Krogh
DOB: April 4, 1942, Aalborg, Denmark
Amateur: 225 fights, 5-time Danish champ at feather and lightweight, participated in the Olympic Games 60 and 64. 30 nationals representing Denmark.
Pro: 43-8-5, Krogh turned pro after 64 Olympics and quickly became a headline fighter for then rising promoter Mogens Palle and was in tough right from the beginning. Two years after turning pro Krogh, a very skillful boxer, won the EBU lightweight title by beating Maurice Travant on points. In 1968 Krogh lost the title to Spanish great Pedro Carrasco. Krogh never really made it back, the nickname "the Professor" hinted partly at Borge´s clever boxing but also about his career outside of the ropes where he made a career in the school system. He was however still in tough and took on Eddie Perkins in 1969 losing on points and two of the three knockdowns Krogh would suffer in his procareer came here. Another problem got bigger as the wear and tear of many hard fights began to show: cut eyes. In 1970 Krogh drew with then EBU jr welter champ Rene Roque in his last big fight. He retired in 1971 after a cut eye loss to Pietro Ceru.
After career: Borge Krogh worked for many years as teacher, then became a principle and a school inspector. Krogh returned to boxing as a trainer and was for many years the main man for Danish pros, he worked with Ayub Kalule, Hans Henrik Palm, Jorgen Hansen; Racheed Lawal and others through the 70´s and 80´s.
Comment: Borge is the third of the once feared Krogh brothers who were exellent amateurs, Tage, the oldest, have passed away but Bjarne have been active as a trainer just as Kjeld, the youngest, who have trained Jimmi and Johnny Bredahl, Fredrik Alvarez, Dennis Holbaek and other very good Scandinavian pros.
Name: Andrei Skhalikov
Born: June 6, 1968, Chelyabinsk, Russia
Amateur: began boxing at 22 and turned pro less than a year later, participated in one Russian championship but that was it.
Pro: 43-7-2 or 56-7-2 - take your pick - the early years of professional boxing in what used to be the USSR are virtually impossible to track, fought four times in the US in 92-93 on a tourist visa going 3-1 and then returned home and began to make a name for himself. In 95 he stopped South African champ Mark Cameron and then fought in France losing on points to Jean Claude M´Biye breaking his arm in the early rounds. French promoter Michel Acaries saw the talent and signed up Andrei, who from now on communicated between Russia and France. He stopped Mauro Galvano to win the EBU supermiddle title 97 and lost on points to WBA ruler Frankie Liles in 98. Lost a split call to French here in Bruno Girard in France but regained the EBU title in 2000. Shkalikov lost - you got it - a split decision to German hero Danilo Haussler in 2001 in Germany. Andrei thought his last big fight in 2002 dropping a close call to Medhi Sahnoune but wasn´t happy with his performance and decided to retire although he closed out his career with four wins before finally calling it quits in 2003.
After career & now: boxer turned promoter. Andrei now lives in Moscow (wife and two daughters are in Chelyabinsk) and is part owner of Pushka, one of the biggest promoters in Russia. "In my day we had to fight abroad to make any kind of money, look at me, I thought the big names everywhere, South Africa, France, Germany, United States, but with the improved economy here we can now do pretty big shows. The talent is there for sure."
Shkalikov also co-owns the largest boxing website in Russia - allboxing.ru - which has 20 000 individual hits daily (in Russian only).
Name: Marcel Cerdan, Jr,
DOB: Dec 4, 1943, Casablanca, Morocco,
his father was the future middleweight champion of the World, Marcel Cerdan, his mother Marinette Cerdan. Marcel was later very close with famed singer Edith Piaf, who was in a relationship with Marcel Sr until his death in 1949.
Pro: 56-5-2 at welter, fought very much in the shadows of his famous father and didn´t mind, pro from 1964 through 1972 Marcel kept busy, beat several decent fighters in Europe such as Robert Gallois, Johnny Cooke and Ricky Porter, drew with Sandro Lopopolo (late in the Italian´s career), but lost to world rated guys like Donato Paduano (in his sole US performance in what was a fight between unbeaten prospects), Clyde Gray and his last fight to Robert Gallois for the French title. Was close to a shot at the European title but it never materialized. Marcel Jr was a good boxer but not a puncher like his father. "It was to tough to be a stylish boxer with a name like mine" says Marcel Jr today. All in all Cerdan did pretty good.
After career: Co-wrote a book about his relationship with Edith Piaf, "Piaf et Moi", starred as his father in the movie "Marcel and Edith" from 1983, hotel and restaurant owner. As for now Marcel Jr states simply that he "enjoys life". Son Nicolas is not a boxer but a computer wizard and is responsible for www.marcelcerdan.com - in French but with a great collection of pictures and with memorablia for sale. Marcel Jr don´t follow boxing anymore.
Name: Svein Erik "Spiker´n" Paulsen
DOB: March 30, 1946, Trondheim, Norway.
Amateur: 135-25 (65), Norwegian champ 64-66, 68-70, 72, Nordic champ 67 and 70, number five in the 72 Olympics at lightweight, should have fought at the 68 Olympics as well but suffered a knee injury while playing soccer (football). "Football is a dangerous game" states the now 60-year old Paulsen with a smile.
Pro: 21-2-1-1, turned pro in 1973 with promoter Erik Stenerud, "we never had a contract, it was a gentleman´s agreement and it worked out just fine." Spiker´n (may translate into something like the Hammer) could punch as seen by his amateur record but developed into a more careful boxer as a pro. "The longer distance meant that I couldn´t walk out and trade punches the way I was used to, I had to learn how to pace myself and I developed a more careful style."
Svein Erik was very tall for his weight division and was almost a converted southpaw which meant he had a very powerful left hand. "I´m not really left handed, fact is I can do most things with either hand," says "Spiker´n" today.
Another thing that played a big part in Paulsen´s career was making weight: "I fought at jr light and it was a constant problem to make 130 and that probably also affected my power."
Still, Svein Erik quickly climbed the ladder in Europe fighting in Norway and Denmark. In 1974 he stopped German Lothar Abend to win the EBU 130 lb title, defended the title four times and then challenged WBC titleholder Alfredo Escalera in December of 1975.
"I wasn´t myself that night, making the weight was almost impossible and as my then wife can tell you I took stuff that is illegal in today´s boxing to make the weight. I was drained psychologically as well, but still I did well against Escalera but got caught in the ninth and the referee stopped it. It was a good call. I then came back as a lightweight but lost a fight to Jeronimo Lucas, I was way ahead on points but got caught."
Paulsen retired in 1978 to concentrate on his day at a telephone company - a job Svein Erik kept up during his fighting days as well. "I would take a week off or maybe two before a big fight to travel to Oslo for sparring. I worked for Bravida for almost forty years but was then laid off and now I work as a porter at the Trondheim University. I´m married for the second time and have two kids, age 17 and 18. I remained in boxing as a trainer but had to quit a few years back due to bad shoulders."
Comment: Svein Erik Paulsen is without a doubt one of the best Norwegian fighters in history.
Name: Jorgen "Gamle" Hansen
DOB: March 27, 1942, Aarhus, Denmark
Amateur: 136-21, Danish welter champ 66-69, reached quarterfinal in the 69 European championships before losing to East German Manfred Wolke, participated in the 68 Olympics but lost in the first rounds - and according to the legend Hansen was already now asked by some sportswriter to hang´em up. It was somewhere Hansen picked up his nickname "Gamle" which translates into "the Old Man".
Pro: 78-14 in a hot and cold career that began in 1969. Hansen challenged then EBU welter champ Roger Menetrey in 1972 but got stopped in the tenth and developed into a very erratic performer. At best he was very good, a tall upright boxer with a sharp jab and powerful right hand, at worst he just couldn´t get untracked. As times were tough for Danish proboxing in the mid 70´s he was also forced to fight on the road. But with the arrival of future champ Ayub Kalule Hansen picked up what was needed to be sharp all the time and the by now 30+ fighter developed into a steady performer. Hansen won the EBU title for the first time in 1977, lost it on a controversial dq later that year but regained the title in 78 - only to lose it - again - on a dq. In 1979 Hansen, promoted and managed by Mogens Palle throughout his career, took on touted Brit Dave Green almost at home in Randers. Hansen, 36 years old, had a face only an aging fighter can develop ... but underneath there was a fighter who finally put it all together. He stopped Green, who was in line to fight Sugar Ray Leonard, in three for what probably was a career best victory. Hansen remained EBU champ until he relinquished the title in 1982. He beat compatriot and stablemate Hans Henrik Palm in two Danish mega fights - abroad the "old" Hansen resurfaced and he flopped over in one against Pipino Cuevas in 1981. In 82 Jorgen Hansen retired after beating Spanish veteran Perico Fernandez.
After career: Hansen worked during his amateur days and early years in the pros as a welder in the Aalborg shipyard. After his career he picked up that career again, another developed when he had his nose fixed and a handsome mature man came out and he got work as model. But the shipyard cut down, a divorce followed and Hansen relocated to Copenhagen where he until recently could be found at the classic beer joint Hviids Vinstue where he worked as a porter. Hansen retired last year. Jorgen is almost always at ringside for the professional boxing events in Denmark and often helps out with duties such as carrying the Danish flag.
Comment: No other career in Danish sports is surrounded with so many anecdotes. Hansen, a rather softspoken and modest man, could crack oneliners like no other. The many setbacks are surrounded by numerous more or less true stories. He remains very popular with fans and media.
Name: Anders "Lillen" Eklund
DOB: Dec 22, 1957 in Skutskaer, Sweden.
Amateur: 66-25, Nordic champ at superheavy 1980 and 1982, Swedish champ 1982, participated in the 1980 Olympics (lost to Istvan Levai) and in the World championships 1982.
Pro: 19-5-1, pro in 82, won the EBU heavyweight title in a huge Scandinavian showdown against Steffen Tangstad on a stormy day in March of 85, lost the title to Frank Bruno in London, rebuilt with wins over the likes of Glenn McCrory and Jesse "Thunder" Ferguson, regained the EBU title with a ko win over Alfredo Evangelista in 87, lost the title to Italian Francesco Damiani, tried his luck in the US but was whacked out in 1.11 by "Terrible" Tim Witherspoon in 1989, beat Garing Lane in his final fight in 1990 and retired.
Eklund was a big, ponderous heavy who at his peak could beat a lot of good men - however, in the really big fights he just didn´t have that little extra. He lost mentally in the staredowns with Frank Bruno, had Damiani stunned but didn´t follow up and was sucked into a battle of left jabs with Witherspoon, who then dropped in his right hand for a fearsome ko.
After career: Eklund returned to his old trade as a carpenter but was laid off in the wake of early 90´s financial recession, divorced, got sued (and lost in court) by his former trainers and had rough couple of years. "Lillen" (might translate into "Tiny"; a suitable name for 6ft5 240 lb giant) got back on his feet though, remarried, resides in Uppsala, is back in work and plays bluegrass and country with his band (will perform at home in Skutskaer later this month - August 06).
Comment: no other Swedish athlete, bar none, have hit such highs and lows with the Swedish media as Eklund. He was built into a Gold medallist in the 1980 Olympics, as he was beaten by Levai the same press wrote him off in a pretty nasty way. The thing happend in the Bruno fight (the win against Tangstad was viewed as something as an upset), and when Anders lost he was "killed" again. After the loss to Witherspoon it resembled personal vengeance by certain members of the Swedish press - it must be said though that Eklund and his advisors from his amateur club, Falken, in Gavle, were pretty tough towards some journalists, which created a long lasting feud.
Name: Eckhard Dagge
DOB: February 27, 1948, Probsteinhagen, Germany
Dead: April 4, 2006, Hamburg, Germany
Amateur: 66-14, according the legend Dagge discovered his talent for fighting during barrooms brawls in Hamburg. He represented West Germany in the European Championships in Madrid in 1971 but lost in the first round to the East German representative, Manfred Wolke. When Eckhard wasn´t picked to represent his country in the 72 Olympics he turned pro.
Pro: 26-5-1, Dagge won the German middleweight title in his sixth fight in 1973, the EBU belt at jr middle in 75 and the WBC crown, also at 154, in 76. In 1974 he lost a challenge for the EBU jr middle title to Jose Duran and in 76 he was outscored by Vito Antuofermo. Later that year he beat Elisha Obed to win the WBC title and defended it against Emile Griffith. In 77 Dagge drew with Maurice Hope and then got stopped by Rocco Mattioli. Eckhard came back and went 3-0 but then took three years off before returning in 1981 for a comeback that ended with a tko loss to Brian Anderson.
Comment: Dagge was a tall, upright boxer, who looked somewhat frail but was tough as nails. He became the second German since Max Schmeling to win a world title of any kind although the WBC jr middle title back then wasn´t as recognized today as it is now. When this was pointed out the newly crowned champ he commented "at least I won my title standing" - referring that Schmeling had won his title down from a low blow. Another Dagge statement that will live forever came when he stated that "had I been sober I would have beaten him".
Eckhard was a heavy drinker and said at one time that "there are many world champs that have become alcoholics but I´m the only alcoholic who have become world champ". Dagge trained at a gym underneath the Ritze nightclub and was by all accounts a serious trainer despite heavy drinking.
After his career Dagge remained at the Ritze and also trained fighters. He was among the first coaches hired by the new promotional outfit called Universum. Dagge was a good trainer but eventually his bouts with alcohol got the better of him and he was fired by Universum. Eckhard would sober up for long spells, continued to train fighters, eventually he left Hamburg and Ritze but would always fall back into heavy drinking. When he was looking for help for his alcoholism he was diagnosed with cancer and spent his last months at a Hamburg hospice not far from the famed Reeperbahn and the Ritze where he began his fighting career.
Name: George Kandelaki
DOB: Oct 10, 1975, Gori, USSR (today the Georgian Republic)
Amateur: 110-12, outstanding career, one of the last stars to emerge from the teak tough USSR boxing schools. World champ 98, European champ 93, silver World Championships in 93, bronze in the 96 Olympics all at superheavyweight and then turned pro in 1998.
Pro: 1998-2003, 24-0, had some problems adjusting to the pros but eventually appeared to be on his way to to bigger things when he suffered a serious eye injury which forced George to retire. He was then the WBU heavy champ and had scored a number good wins fighting mainly in the UK and America.
After career: Kandelaki is very much involved in boxing and is since two years the President of the Georgian boxing Federation, who have a very ambitious national boxing program with professional boxing events twice a month. Within 2006 the plan is to begin with international shows also. There´s a wealth of talent in the Georgian Republic where boxing still have a very strong position. Kandelaki is married with two kids and his son Tarash, age 7, have already began boxing.
Name: Martin Marco Voto a/k/a Young Martin
DOB: March 5, 1931, Madrid, Spain; Died June 16, 2006, in Madrid
Pro: 71-17-5, pro from 1950 through 1962, he won the national title in 1953, challenged for the World title in 1957 but was stopped in three by Pascual Perez in Buenos Aires. Claimed when he returned home to Madrid that someone had tampered with the water in his corner.
Martin was discovered at the age of 17 by Don Santiago Bernabeau, who also headed great football (soccer) team Real Madrid. Bernabeau also helped another Spanish great in Fred Galiana. Martin was a tough, strong southpaw, who back in the days when professional boxing was a sport for the masses was a big hero. His biggest win came in the UK in 1955 when he knocked down Dai Dower eleven times before winning on a 12th round KO to win the EBU crown. He would capture the same title three more times. Martin also challenged for the EBU title twice, the last time was in 1959 when he lost a decision to Risto Lukkonen in Helsinki.
After career: Martin continued to live in the barrios of Madrid and worked at the local market. His death receives only a small write up in Spanish media. Today Real Madrid play their games at the giant Bernabeau Stadium and football / soccer rules.
Name: Mourad Louati
DOB: May 28, 1987, Tunisia
Amateur: Dutch champ 86-87, total record is around 66-5, Louati´s beginning in boxing is classical for the sport. After arriving from Tunisia to the Hague Mourad got into trouble as a teenager and then got into boxing. His mentor was John Kristaljin, a local businessman, who also ran an amateur club. Louati´s tougness and power was quickly discovered but Kristalijn insisted his fighter should take care of school as well and even paid for his education.
Pro: 24-8-1 in a career that began in 1987 and ended in 1996. Mourad won the Dutch jr middle title in 1990 by knocking out Kid Taylor and beat Said Skouma for the EBU crown in 91 in what was then regarded as a huge upset. Louati lost the title in his first defence to Jean Claude Fontana.
Louati continued his career in the 90´s but lost as many as he won and had weight problems as well. In 1996 Mourad lost to Fighting Nordin, a then up and coming prospect, and retired.
After boxing: Louati have remained in boxing as trainer, manager and sometimes promoter putting on events around the Hague where he still resides with his wife and two kids. As a trainer he´s been involved with a number of decent fighters, especially former WBF heavy champ Richel Hersisa and Fred Westgeest. Mourad operated a successful computer business and is now the co-owner of a famous restaurant in the Hague. He remains close with John Kristalijn, who was with him throughout his pro career and promoted many of his fights.
Name: Steffen Tangstad
DOB: June 22, 1959, Tonsberg, Norway
Amateur: 61-9, six-time Norwegian champ at heavyweight 1975-80. Turned pro in 1980 just before professional boxing was prohibited in Norway.
Pro: 24-2-2, after his debut in Norway Steffen headed for the US and after spell in Florida he settled in Chicago, IL, where his career took off, among the results is a draw with future heavyweight champ Buster Douglas. In the fall of 83 he returned home and with Norwegian soil unavailable fought out of Denmark for the remainder of his career. In 84 he won the EBU title for the first time, lost it to Sweden´s Anders Eklund in a Scandinavian showdown, regained the title with a win over John Westgarth and that led to a shot at Michael Spinks, the then IBF heavyweight champ but was tko´d in four. This was to be the final fight of Tangstad´s career. He was in line for a comeback for over two years but for one reason or another it never materialized.
Steffen was big star in Norway during his active days and this led to a number of appearances on TV. He did well, hosted his own show with Michael Spinks as special guest and got further assignments when cable TV hit Scandinavia. He became a producer and commentator for TV 1000. Later on he became CEO for Modern Sports & Events, a company that did it all from managing fighters and promoting shows, to buying and selling TV rights. MSE was later shut down buy its main owners but Steffen is now (2006) back with a new network, Fight+, that will televise boxing and martial arts events in Scandinavia.
Name: Albert Syben
DOB: July 1, 1952, Hyeves, Belgium:
Amateur: 29-3, Belgian heavy champ in 1976.
Pro: 37-12-2, was 35-6-2 between 77-83, came back 85-86 and went 2-6. A good Euro class heavyweight, went 2-1 with local rival Rudy Gauwe in Belgian titlefights, beat Jean Pierre Coopman and put up his career best performance in beating Spaniard Felipe "Pantera" Rodrigiuez. Lost twice to then EBU champ Lucien Rodriguez, the first time clearly on points in Paris, took the second one on short notice since it was a good payday and was stopped in the eighth. Retired after that but came back a year and a half later fighting mainly on the road losing to the likes of Stefano Vassallo, Dave Garside and Anaclet Wamba.
Remains in boxing as a trainer in for a club in Liege and works as a police officer in the special forces.
Name: Jean Pierre Coopman
DOB: July 7, 1946, Ingelmunster, Belgium
Amateur: began boxing as a 24-year old in 1970, fought in the European championships in 1971 and turned pro in 1972 after only 38 amateur fights.
Pro: 36-16-1, fought Muhammad Ali in 1976 for the World heavyweight title with a record 24-3, was out of his depth and knew it the moment Ali threw his first jab, eventually he was knocked out in five. Coopman had for this fight been given the "The Lion of Flanders" nickname. He did well in 76 and 77, stopped Spaniard Jose Urtain in four rounds to win the EBU heavyweight title. Jean Pierre had gotten the titleshot under the condition that he would take on mandatory challenger Lucien Rodriguez inside 60 days - he did and lost the title. Later in 77 he was knocked out in one round by Alfredo Evangelista. He opened a cafe called the San Juan at home in Roselaere but it would later go bankrupt. A divorce combined with the long hours at the cafe led to that Coopman couldn´t train the way a professional boxer needs to - at the same he needed the paydays and he suffered a long string of losses. He retired in 1981.
Coopman later worked as a maintenance man in a museum. He also continued in boxing as a trainer but would never work corners claiming he got too nervous when he watched the kids he had trained being punched at. He is often seen at boxing events though.
Jean Pierre Coopman has been pretty ridiculed by American boxing writes for his performance against Ali but in Belgium he is still pretty famous. Jean Pierre have one big wish: it is to meet the Greatest again. Other than that Coopman keep a low profile, is in good health, works out every day and have participated in old-timer bouts with Freddie De Kerpel that were very big events in Belgium. The two should have fought back in the late 70´s but for one reason or another it took 20 years before they got into the ring the first time.
Coopman is also a pretty acclompished painter and have also worked as a sculpturer. He has made the statue of the now gone former EBU champ Cyrille Delannoit, who won and lost against Marcel Cerdan.
Name: Norbert Grupe a/k/a Prinz Wilhelm von Homburg
Dob: August 25, 1940, Berlin, Germany
Amateur: none it seems
Career: Grupe started his career as a pro wrestler in the US along with his father and was the "bad guy" assuming the role of an aristocrat and that´s how "Prinz Wilhelm von Homburg" was born. In 1962 he turned to professional boxing while still living in the US but returned to Germany a few years later and became a big ticket seller, the man the crowd loved to hate. He resided in the famous nightlife quarters of St Pauli in Hamburg and had a reputation as a bad guy - but he also picked up a modest career in acting. Grupe was nicknamed the "Beatle Boxer" due to his long hair and became quite popular with the non boxing hippie crowd.
Grupe wasn´t the best but he took on a lot of tough guys. In his sole major title shot he lost controversially to then EBU lightheavy champ Piero Del Papa on a disqualification. This was in 1966 and after that his career took a downhill trend possible helped by his night life activities. After a loss to Argentinian Oscar Bonavena in 1969 Grupe appeared in a talk show on German TV but didn´t answer any of the questions coming his way. He retired in 1970.
After his boxing career had ended Grupe continued in the high life but was caught and sentenced for a number of crimes and all in all did five years in German jails before returning to the US where he embarked on a career as an actor.
Grupe got small roles, mainly as a bad guy, in a number of movies such as Die Hard and Ghostbusters II. He was quite talented in what he did. In 2002 German TV did a documentary on his colorful life called "der Boxprinz". Grupe passed away in March of 2004 due to cancer.
Name: Jose Manuel Ibar Urtain
dob: Born May 14 1943 Cestona, Spain
Amateur: 3-0 (3 knockouts), was a champion rocklifter and was "discovered" and turned into a boxer and turned pro in a pretty remarkable career that was like out of a Budd Schulberg novel.
Pro: 56-11-4, pro from 68 through 77, was built up fast with lots of easy knockouts, there were rumors already then that something wasn´t right although Urtain made it to the cover of Ring Magazine. Was a big hero in Spain. Urtain won the EBU title in 1970 with a knockout win over Peter Weiland (a fight some critical voices claims were the first "real" for Urtain) suffered his first loss later that year when he was disqualified against Alfredo Vogrig in a dubious fight, then Brit Henry Cooper burst the bubble and stopped the Spaniard in the ninth round. From now on Urtain was reduced to a pretty normal fighter. He regained the EBU title in 71 with a knockout over Brit Jack Bodell, who came to Madrid just four weeks after being whacked out by Jerry Quarry in New York. In 72 Urtain lost the EBU title to Juergen Blin and was bascially finished as a main event fighter although he would build up a string of wins then lose the big ones. He retired in 1977 after getting stopped by Belgian Jean Pierre Coopmans.
Style: Short, stocky, could punch and was physically very strong as indicated by his rocklifter career - but was pretty limited in everything else.
After career: Everything went wrong for Urtain in retirement, or perhaps it went all wrong during his fighting days, his first marriage failed, a second went the same way he lived his life in a very fast lane, all business ventures went wrong and finally, he committed suicide in 1992. A nephew, Pablo Ibar, is on death row in a Florida jail - a case that is appealed.
Name: Olli Maeki
DOB: Dec 20, 1936 in Kokkola, Finland
Amateur: 326 fights, Finnish champ at lightweight, two-time Nordic champ, silver in the European championships in Prague 1957, Gold in Luzern 1959 - all at lightweight.
Pro: 28-14-8, was quickly in against the big boys and lost a controversial decision to Howard Winstone in Nottingham in his sixth profight. A chance to fight World featherweight Davey Moore came along in 62. It was the biggest professional boxing event in Finland yet with 20 000 spectators at the Olympic Stadium but Olli had big problems making 126 and was stopped in the second.
The career that followed was pretty remarkable: as times got tougher for professional boxing in Finland Olli Maeki, campaigning mainly at jr welter, was forced to go on the road. He won the EBU 140 lb title in 64 in Helsinki and defended it in what he himself considers as the best fight of his long career when he stopped Frenchman Aissa Hashas in October of 64. He lost and drew with Willy Quator and Conny Rudhoff in Germany in 65, lost to Rudhoff in a crack at the EBU 140 lb title (he had relinquished the title earlier). Maeki´s best weight was still at lightweight and he challenged Spanish great Pedro Carrasco in 68 losing a disputed call. Other tough fights followed; Olli took on the likes of Rene Roque, Sandro Lopopolo, again Carrasco and Miguel Velazquez. His final fight was in 1973.
After career: Olli went into the construction business, did well and also remained involved in boxing as a trainer, stayed in top shape and completed his last marathon in 2001 (at 64).
Now: Enjoys retirement with his WIFE Raija, have ten grand children. "I have a lot of nice memories from my boxing career and it gave me a lot of good friends over the years" states the now 69-year old ex-champ.
Comment: Olli Maeki was throughout his career managed and promoted by former EBU 135 lb champ Elis Ask. Son Pekka is now a renowned trainer and also promoter. Pekka Maeki is the man behind the likes of Amin Asikainen, Juho Tolppola and amateur ace Joni Turunen. Maeki´s career has been recognized by the Finnish Government who gave him the Pro Sport Award in 2003 (which isn´t just a medal but a sizeable sum of money).
Name: Juergen Blin
DOB: April 7, 1943, Grossensee, Germany
Amateur: German champ at lightheavy in 64 representing the classic Hamburg club "Heros".
Pro: 31-11-6 in a career that began 64 and ended in 73. Began his career as lightheavy and became national champ, moved up to heavy and challenged Jose Manuel Ibar Urtain and Joe Bugner for the EBU title but lost. Later beat Urtain and became European champ but lost to again to Bugner. Fought Muhammad Ali in 71 but was kayoed in seven. Ended his career in 73 with a knockout loss to Ron Lyle. Beat Manuel Ramos, Gerard Zech, Wilhelm Von Homburg and Ray Pattersson.
After career: Juergen grew up poor and set as a life goal never to be poor again. Worked as a butcher throughout his career. Bought a fast food establishment that have developed into three nice bars in the Hamburg subway system, Blin is divorced with three sons. One, Knut, was a good heavyweight boxer but faded from boxing due to mental illness and later committed suicide. Juergen is often ringside for the boxing events in Germany and is in exellent shape - one can´t help to think he could still sweep the floor with some of the pretenders in the ring. He was ringside along with his former opponent Muhammad Ali December 17 2005 in Berlin but as far as I could tell the two didn´t meet. Blin is often described as "not very good" in comparasion with the likes of Ali. It´s true he wasn´t in Ali´s league but he was a tough, solid professional boxer of high European class who used boxing as a tool to make some money and give his kids a better start in life than he himself had growing up in post WWII West Germany.
Name: Hans Henrik Palm
Dob: July 19, 1956 in Lyngby, Denmark.
Amateur: 55-4, Danish champ at bantam 74, at feather in 75, lightweight in 76, Scandinavian champ in 76. Participated in the 76 Olympics in Montreal, took on Sovjet´s Vasili Solomin and went on even terms with him but lost a close call.
Pro: 39-3, won the EBU title at welter in 82, lost it to Colin Jones, a devasting puncher, later that year. Planned to continue his career but was in 83 forced to retire due to an eye injury. Also fought his good friend and stablemate Jorgen Hansen for the EBU 147 lb title in 80 and 81 in Danish megafights, lost both but the second was quite disputed. Beat the likes of Clinton McKenzie, Henry Rhiney, Joseph Pachler and George Warusfel.
Style: the European style to its perfection, tall, upright, used his reach well, was famous for his body punching topped by a sharp left hook to the liver region.
After career: Hans Henrik began a modest career as a fitness instructor already during his fighting days and grew it into a nationwide chain of gyms during the 80´s and 90´s. Also trained a number of good amateurs and pros such as Johnny and Jimmi Bredahl and Anders Eklund, and assisted his former promoter and manager Mogens Palle. Eventually his own business grew bigger, he left boxing and concentrated on his chain of fitness gym.
Now: when Danish press mentions Palm as the "King of Fitness" it´s not his exellent physical shape they talk about: it´s his new nationwide chain of gyms, fitness.dk, it´s referred to. Fitness have made Hans Henrik a very wealthy man. He is looking into promoting boxing in some kind of partnership with the still active Mogens Palle and his daughter Bettina. Palm is often seen at boxing events and it was of course at a fitness.dk gym where Mike Tyson trained when in Denmark in 2001.
Name: Policarpo Diaz
DOB: Nov 21, 1966, Palomeros (Vallecas), Spain
Amateur: 59-2, won the Spanish title at feather in 1985.
Pro: 44-3, turned pro in 1986 and won the Spanish lightweight title already in his seventh fight. Won the EBU title in 1988 and was pretty dominant in Europe with his tough, brawling style of boxing. Beat some very good fighters in Steve Boyle, Gert Bo Jacobsen and Alain Simoes, Eventually he became the mandatory challenger for the then WBC, WBA and IBF 135 lb king Pernell Whittaker. Diaz was outclassed but it was often claimed that it wasn´t the beating Diaz took but the money he earned that ruined him. When he returned home the hot Madrid nightlife got the better of him and he got into drugs and alcohol.
It was over two years before Poli was able to embark on a comeback of sorts and it lasted only for a few months. Diaz was still tough enough to beat whoever they put in front of him but fought a losing battle with drugs and alcohol outside of boxing. The comebacks 96 and 97 ended in tko losses to guys he would have beaten had he been in shape.
Diaz was back again in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Word was that he finally had gotten his act together but eventually he faded away from boxing. He never fought for a title again after that loss to Whittaker.
Now: After a TV program in Spain showed off Poli in a very bad shape due to drug abuse the ex-fighter emerged to everyone´s surprise as a clean man. He´s says in an open letter to Spanish media that the pictures used in this TV program were three years old and that he is now clean, lives with his girlfriend, holds down a dayjob, is in good health, works out on a regular basis and have no financial problems.
Name: Tom Bogs
DOB: November 21, 1944, Copenhagen, Denmark
Amateur: Danish champ at lightmiddle, fought in the 64 Olympics where he lost on an unfortunate cut eye in the second round. Represented CIK in Copenhagen just as current WBA 168 lb champ Mikkel Kessler.
Pro Record: 77-8-1-1
Career: EBU champ at lightheavy in 68, at middle in 69 and 73, fought for the World middleweight title in 72 against Carlos Monzon (tko´d by five), fought for the EBU 175 lb title in 74, split two fights with Italian Carlo Duran, lost to Emile Griffith, beat Dub Huntley, Jo Gonzales, Fabio Bettini, Wally Swift, Chris Finnegan, split fights with Juarez De Lima. Only draw came against Don Fullmer. Overall Tom was in tough all the way and handled it very well.
Style: Not a big puncher but everything else was topflight. A big crowd pleaser and ticket seller during an era when boxing in Denmark was redhot. Was the star of the stable built by then relatively new promoter Mogens Palle.
After career: If Tom hit the highs in the 60´s and early 70´s he gradually hit the bottom in the mid-70´s. More or less forced to retire in 74 after several poor performances burnt out by the many hard fights and a hectic lifestyle. Divorced twice and lost his job as a prison guard. Media that have loved Tom a few years earlier now made headlines like "BOGS UNEMPLOYED".
Now: remarried (since 82), work as garbage collector for the city of Copenhagen. A new book, "Mesterbokseren" paint of a nice picture of Tom´s great career and his life now.
Comment: Tom, like Ingermar Johansson in Sweden before him, represents not just boxing but also a different era where everything was better than it´s now. All the rich and famous were ringside when Bogs fought and he, a workingclass kid from small beginnings, got caught in the limelight. He fell hard but came back.
Name: Alessandro "Sandro" Mazzinghi
DOB: Oct 3, 1938, Pontedera, Italy
Amateur: Inspired by the career of his older brother Guido Sandro began boxing at 14 and became military champion in 61.
Pro: 64-3-0-2, pro in 61 through 1970, retired but came back in 77 just to prove he still had it, won three fights against good opponents (so he did indeed have it) and retired.
Career: Got the chance to fight for the World 154 lb title in 63 without even having contested for the national crown. Sandro took the chance in style beating Ralph Dupas. Stayed busy with two title defenses in 64 and number of non-title performances. Was involved in bad car accident that saw his wife killed. Sandro was seriously injured, unconscious for a long while but was back in the ring inside two months. He won the fights but wasn't back to 100 % when he was forced into a fight against Italy's other big star at the time: Nino Benvenuti. It was fight or be stripped of the title. Mazzinghi fought but was below par and lost. The rematch later in 65 ended with a controversial win for Benvenuti - to this day Sandro insists it was boxing politics that was behind it all as Nino was the darling of the TV executives. Sandro picked up the pieces of his career and won the EBU jr middle title. His defense against Bo Hogberg in Sweden is still being talked about. Defended the title a number of times and then regained the World title with a points win over Korean Ki Soo Kim (who just had beaten Benvenuti) in front of 60 000 fans at the San Siro Stadium in Milano. Relinquished the title after a defense against American Freddy Little had been declared No Contest. Little had been declared a loser by DQ for causing a bad gash with an illegal punch by Mazzinghi´s right eye. Sandro came back in 69 but got another NC on his ledger after a dubious "lack of action" call by the referee. Mazzinghi put together a string of wins after that but retired well off in 1970 having achieved all he wanted in his career.
Now: Remarried with two grown sons. Sandro is well off, lives in a big villa in the Tuscany region and grows grapevines. Still works out and is in great shape. Have a whole section of the house filled with memorabilia from his career. Have written two books.
Comments: Sandro have an excellent homepage - sandromazzinghi.com - for a complete update on his career. Mazzinghi is without a doubt an European all time great - a tough, tough, brawler, a warrior in the best sense of the word. His career is always linked with Nino Benvenuti´s and Sandro went 0-2 in their meetings - but Mazzinghi beat all their common opponents easier than Nino did. Both were world class performers in their own right.
Name: Angelo Musone
DOB: Sep 19, 1963, Naples, Italy.
Amateur: Around 200 fights, bronze at heavyweight in the 84 Olympics after a controversial loss against Henry Tillman.
Career: Managed by Giovanni Branchini, pro in 84 and did well in the buildup stages. Beat Louis Pergaud in 86 and Leon Spinks in 87. Suffered an upset loss to Steve Mormino in August of 87 and never fought again due to kidney problems and was forced to retire.
Style: AA tough brawler with a decent dig in both hands, should have been able to make it far in the pros.
Now: A counselor with the Italian Federation and an international referee with a Hungarian license to avoid a conflict of interest. Have an intellectual look about him and I had to check twice if this indeed was that very same tough looking guy I saw fight in the 80´s.
Name: Thomas Classen
DOB: April 24, 1962, Nettmann, Germany
Amateur: national champ, 38-18-2, became the first German in 16 years to be the legendary Peter Hussing.
Pro Record: 15-2-4 in a career that lasted from 1983 through 1988.
Career: The victory over Hussing made Classen a hot name in German boxing and he got a big signing up fee from then new promoter Wilfried Sauerland. But Thomas was unable to make the transition from prospect to star or from good amateur to a good pro and never developed into a main attraction. Instead he plugged away on the undercards to Sauerland´s big shows. He did win the German title - under controversial circumstances - in 85 but was stopped by Dutchman Andre Van Den Oetelaar the same year and suffered a career ending defeat in 86 after a knockout loss to Brit Al Malcolm. Came back in 87 and 88 and was close to it in 1990 as well.
After career: became a tiler and opened his own business but went bankrupt. Is now employed as a tiler and do well. On his career Thomas honestly says "they put me in shoes that didn´t fit" and admits he wasn´t ready for the pros and never could adjust to the lifestyle needed for a professional boxer.
Name: Bo "Bosse" Hogberg
DOB: Dec 18, 1938, Mollosund, Sweden.
Amateur: began boxing when residing in Gothenburg and won the Swedish championship at lightweight at 17, drifted away from boxing as a Merchant Marine sailor but returned and won Swedish titles in 61 and 61 as well. Was already then very popular and known for his toughness. He came from a poor workingclass family, never had it easy and had several runins with the law already then.
Pro Record: 37-6-1
Career: pro in 62 and quickly reached headline status. Won the EBU title jr middle title in 66 but lost it just six weeks later. Fought for the same title later in 66 but was stopped. Drifted away from boxing in 68 but came back for two fights in 73 losing both.
Style: Ruggedly handsome, mean, hardpunching with a "take no prisoner" style of fighting Hogberg was the type who talked the talk and walked the walk. Was feared and respected and his workouts are still talked about. Almost worldclass but his lack of defence made him vulnerable.
Biggest achievements: beat the likes of Bruno Visintin, Fabio Bettini, Manuel Gonzales and Johnny Cooke. Drew with Bob Cassidy. Lost to exellent Italian Sandro Mazzinghi, future world champ Jose Duran and hardpunching Brit Harry Scott.
After career: Hogberg became a household name in 66 after losing to Yolande Leveque in a famous fight that saw Bosse fight on despite a broken jaw. A marriage - a true love / hate relationship - to then famed singer and actress Anita Lindblom made the two reach superstardom partly for all wrong reasons but both were - in different ways - very capable of what they did. Hogberg´s shady business deals and a love affair with a young lady named Liz Oberg made the tabloids use wartime headlines. As it was Hogberg divorced Lindblom married, divorced and remarried Oberg. As Bosse slipped away from boxing he got into business of various kinds and seemed to have a courtcase on hand every time you read about him. Served a few years in jail, released a memoir book called "the Counterpunch" and remained a big name in Swedish media. It all changed in the late 80´s when Hogberg suffered a bad stroke. He was soon back on his feet but had lost the ability to speak and never got it back. Bosse led a quiet life in Gothenburg with his wife Liz. Was diagnozed with cancer a few years back and passed away in his home November 8 2005.
Comments: Hogberg remains one of the big classic names in Swedish sports and whenever his name comes up the word "tough" follows. All the stories on Bosse and his life are probably by now more myth than fact but one can´t dispute he was quite special. There´s painting of his battered face (allegedly after getting beat up by the police) and a picture taken of his beaten up mug after the loss to Jose Duran won several awards. They both show the face of defeat - but also how the man behind it refuse to give in and battle on no matter the odds against him.
Name: Mustapha Wasajja
DOB: July 16, 1953, Kampala, Uganda
Amateur: fighting at welter and lightmiddle Mustapha was a part of the famed and feared Ugandan bombers (Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Vitalis Bege, Ayub Kalule etc) that cleaned up amateur boxing in the mid 70´s. As African champ he also did an exhibition with the feared dictator Idi Amin - he wasn´t allowed to win ...
Pro Record: 24-3-1 (5).
Career: Followed compatriot Ayub Kalule to Denmark and turned pro as a lightheavy in 1977. The low knockout percentage indicates a non-puncher but Mustapha was in very tough from the beginning taking on 100+ fight veteran Avenamar Peralta in his third fight where he salvaged a draw. Beat tough guys like Bunny Sterling and Tom Bethea in his first year as a pro. Fought Michael Spinks for the WBA 175 in 82 and was knocked out in the sixth. Claims in an interview with Ugandan paper the Monitor there was foul play involved. Also lost to Tony Mundine and Lottie Mwale and retired.
Style: southpaw, not the most exciting but very capable.
After career: as with Kalule he moved to Nairobi in Kenya and invested most of his savings there. In the beginning it all looked fine but later most of the money disappeared. It´s claimed that their partners cheated them. Later drove a truck before returning to Uganda where he resides with a childhood friend.
Now: The Monitor reveals the former fighter lives in poverty in the slums of Mulago, he is not in the best of health (part of the problems is attributed to boxing) but works out daily and advice other fighters. Mustapha have five kids.
Comment: was world ranked in what is now regarded as a golden era for lightheavies. Fought a lot of good names but almost always in the shadow of his stablemate Ayub Kalule.
Name: Ivan Abreau Camacho
DOB: Sep 9, 1968, Havana, Cuba
Amateur: Reportedly a good amateur back home in Cuba, who later defected and ended up in Denmark. Quickly made a name for himself but also became known for his wild lifestyle.
Pro: 16-2, began his career in Florida 95, then returned to Denmark, was moved fast and looked good but lost a fight for the IBF I/C super-middle title on a controversial disqualification after his opponent Salvatore Di Salvatore overplayed a punch to the back of the head. Ivan lost his temper, rushed across the ring and kicked Di Salvatore. This resulted in a lengthy suspension which led to further problems outside of the ropes. Returned in 97 and looked good but got caught with possession of drugs early in 98 and another suspension followed. Returned in June of 98 but was forced to retire in 99 after an eye injury he had received in the amateurs got worse.
Style: Good, all-round boxer/puncher but ill disciplined and there was a constant change of trainers. During a particular hot moment one was heard shouting "Why the f-k can't you ever do what I tell you to do" and that was unfortunately the story of Ivan's promising career.
After career: Helped out training fighters at his old gym but later drifted away from boxing.
Now: Serves an eight-year sentence in a Danish jail for his part in an armed robbery in 03. Will be expelled back to Cuba after he's done his time.
Comment: A big talent, a true couldhavebeen.
Name: Freddy Demeulenaere
DOB: Nov 18, 1962, Brugges, Belgium
Amateur: Was only amateur for two and a half years won the national title before turning pro with a 35-6-3 ledger.
Pro Record: 40-35-8 (which is believed to be a record in number of fights for a Belgian).
Career: BeNeLux champ in three weight divisions (147-154-160), Belgian champ at 154, fought for the EBU jr middle title in 90. Pro in 86 and through 99, then came back in 01 with a farewell fight (a win at home) in 02
Style: Not a puncher, not the best boxer but had the heart of a lion, always in shape taking on all comers fighting all over Europe. A warrior in the best sense of the word. One that matchmakers just loved. "Some guys get a phone call three weeks ahead of the fight and they train for three weeks - not me, I was always training and always ready to go."
Best fights: Win over ex-EBU champ Mourad Louati in 92 at a sold-out Ahoy Sports Palace. A tough loss against future WBO 160 lb ruler Bert Schenko must also rate up there. "For me the EBU title fight in Monte Carlo was also great" says Freddy. "I didn't win but I was staying there for ten days, you know, first class accommodation, the Mediterranean in the spring, the casino, it was just great."
Was also in against the likes of Laurent Boudoani, Michael Loewe and Juan Ramon Medina Padilla.
After career: Boxing was never a fulltime job for Freddy, he works at the same factory he's done for a number of years, stays in touch with boxing and is now a trainer at the very same club he represented throughout his career.
Name: Charles Graf, Sr.
DOB: Nov 16, 1951, Mannheim, Germany
Amateur: 9-1-0 - never fought at senior level.
Record (pro): 18-4-4
Career: Pro in 69 (with a special permission of the German Federation as he was under-aged) fought on and off through 75, then a long layoff due to a prison term 76-81, back 82 then off 83 before returning in 84 and kept busy through 85.
Style: good boxer and a showman, late in his career more mature and skillful.
Biggest Achievements: German heavyweight champion (the first man of color to hold the title) in 85,
beat Reiner Hartmann and Andre Van Den Oetelaar, controversial loss to Thomas Classen.
After career: Did jail time, construction worker.
Now: unemployed, still lives in Mannheim and on the side works as a boxing trainer with troubled kids and is said to be doing great in that capacity.
Comment: Son Charly jr went 4-0 in the pros but retired after finding out how difficult professional
boxing can be - outside of the ropes. Later worked as model in Paris and is now a social worker in Berlin. German journalist Uwe Betker is currently writing a book about Graf, Sr, and his life.
Name: Erich Schoppner (or Schöppner)
DOB: June 25, 1932, Witten, Germany
Amateur: 246-14-16 or 246-15-15 (sources vary), fought in the Helsinki Olympics in 52 at jr middle, won the European championships at light heavy in 1955. Outstanding at national level.
Record (pro): 34-1-5.
Career: Turned pro in 56 fighting mainly in the then fistic hotbeds of Dortmund, Berlin and Hamburg, won the German title in 58 and the EBU title later that year, held the title until 61 when he moved up to heavyweight and won the German title, challenged for the EBU title at 175 again in 63 but lost a disputed decision to Giulio Rinaldi in Italy. Came back again in 66 for a ten round draw with Wilhelm Von Homburg for the German heavyweight title.
Style: A very good counter puncher.
Biggest achievements: The two victories over Willy Hoepner (both were for the German and EBU titles) stand out as classics. Also worth mentioning it's the 15-round points win over tough Italian Sante Amonti
After career: Worked for a steel mill, then became a fireman before establishing himself as wholesale dealer for tobacco and liquor. Got into financial difficulties in the 90´s but the city of Dortmund, remembering their old hero, came to the rescue and offered him a job at the city council. Later opened a hotel with his wife Ingrid and their son Erich jr.
Now: Passed away September 12, 2005, at the age of 73 but news didn't break until early October.
Comment: Big time drawing card at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund during a golden age for German boxing. The news of his passing was headline news in all major German media.
Name: Marijan Benes
DOB: June 11, 1951, Banja Luka, Yugoslavia
Amateur: 277-23, won gold in the European championships in 1973 at light welter, also participated in the World championships in 72 at welter. Feared for his punching power, a big star.
Pro: 32-6-1 (with some question marks around the last two "wins" that came in the 90´s), turned pro in 77, rose quickly to the top in Europe, won the EBU title at jr middle in 79, made four defences, lost on points in 1980 to then WBA champ Ayub Kalule, lost the EBU crown to Louis Acaries in 1981. Exactly when he suffered the serious injury that led to his retirement isn't known but not confirmed persistent rumors have it that Benes fought blind on eye in his last major fight, a points loss to Luigi Minchillo in 1982 and then fought through 83 as well before being forced to retire.
Style: A southpaw, a puncher who was a terror in the amateur ranks, couldn't really make the same impact in the pros, could be out boxed but gave his all. The fight against Kalule (L 15) is regarded as one of the toughest fights in Denmark ever.
After career: Had made some money but left boxing in a bad shape with injuries to both eyes. During the war in Bosnia & Hercegovina Benes lost almost everything, lived for a few year as a refugee in what is now Croatia but was later able to return to Banja Luka, which is in Bosnia.
Now: Single, lives in a small flat under poor circumstances, is almost blind and Croatian press reports indicates other health problems related to boxing. A big national hero in his day he isn't forgotten though and there's been a documentary named "Champion" made on his colorful life. He remains very popular and is well remembered. Attempted ill-advised comebacks, won both but under very dubious circumstances and should never have been allowed to box..
Comment: Anyone who saw Benes in the amateurs remembers him, he wasn't the best but could punch, somewhat limited as a pro and not always in tiptop shape which led to some upset losses. Fought with an Austrian license for most part of his career.
Name: Fritz Chervet
DOB: Oct 1, 1942, Berne, Switzerland
Amateur: Inspired by his two older brothers Fritz began boxing (a fourth brother would follow; all were good with Paul Chervet also turning pro). Had around 40 bouts, became Swiss champ and won a bronze in the European championships.
Record (pro): 57-9-2-1
Career: Pro 62 but didn't really hit the big time until 72 when appeared to be in a class of his own in Europe beating the likes of John McCluskey, Fernando Atzori and Mariano Garcia, losing to WBC world champ Chartchai Chionoi in 73 and 74 (in Thailand and Switzerland). Fritz took his time to realize just how good he was and following a draw with Guido Locatelli in 64 he took over a year off. After being stopped by Japanese Masao Ohba, then the WBA 112 lb king, in a non-title fight in 71 Chervet suddenly realized he could compete with the best and his career took off.
Style: Excellent boxer, not a puncher, at best almost impossible to hit cleanly.
Biggest achievements: EBU flyweight champ 72-73, challenged for the EBU belt the first time in 67, fought for the WBC title twice. Both fights were close, the first ended on a cut eye loss for Fritz in the fifth (the judges were split after four) and in the second Chervet was declared a loser on points on a split call after fifteen hard rounds.
Best performance: The second win (their third fight) over Italian Fernando Atzori. Also his second fight with Thai great Chartchai Chinoi rates up there - the decision in the WBC's champs favour was regarded as very dubious.
Now: works as assistant clerk for the Swiss National Parliament, in excellent shape, enjoys life and visits his favorite place Thailand every now and then.
Comment: retired in 1976 after three straight wins despite an offer to take on then WBC light-fly champ Luis Estaba. Had - among others - the current EBU vice-President Peter Stucki as sparring partner.
Name: Paul Thorn
DOB: July 13, 1964, Tupelo, MS.
Amateur: The son of a Pentecoastal preacher, Paul talked his uncle Merle, an ex-pro, into teaching him how to box at around 12, won some regional titles and turned pro in 84.
Record: 15-3-1 (or so - this is what Fight Fax have).
Career: Fought in Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi before getting a fight with Roberto Duran in Atlantic City in 88. "Duran survives bloodbath" read the headline in the New York Post the day after. Thorn lost on a sixth round tko. Both men headed to the hospital after the fight to be stitched up.
Style: Tall for his weight division, upright boxer, decent puncher.
After career: Worked in a furniture factory while picking up on his big love from the childhood: music - schooled in the churches he learned to love gospel and just like Elvis and many others before him heard that great thing called "American Music", blues, country, soul, rock´n roll ...
Now: Accomplished musician, singer, songwriter, tours all over the US, several albums under his belt, have headlined with his band in the very same New Daisy Theatre in Memphis where he as a pro won the Mid South 160 lb title. His music can be described as "southern-fried roots rock".
Name: Pekka Kokkonen
DOB: Jan 18, 1934, Helsinki, Finland
Amateur: Began as light middleweight in 51, won Finnish titles at light heavy 54, 55 and 57. Did not participate 56. Began boxing to develop more confidence in himself (which you might say he did considering the career he had).
Pro: 36-16-4 (28).
Style: Orthodox, good puncher with either hand but the special one were the left hook.
Career: Fought professionally 1957-67 in what was the golden years in Swedish and Finnish boxing. Challenged Piero del Papa for the EBU light heavyweight title. Was at his peak close to world-class, fought the likes of Harold Johnson, Eddie Cotton and Yolande Pompey.
Biggest achievements: According to himself the fight against Harold Johnson - and getting through a long and hard career with health and faculties intact.
After career: Comes from a family of gardeners and kept that line of work up throughout his boxing career. Became a big time commercial gardener but was forced into bankruptcy during the recession in the early 90´s. Came back well though.
Now: President of the Professional Boxing Federation of Finland (since 96), still sells flowers at the Hakaniemi market square enjoys sharing a joke with his customers and goes hunting and fishing.
Comment: Sparring partner for Ingemar Johansson leading up to the third Floyd Patterson fight. Suffered a surprise loss on the undercard but had traveled back and forth to Sweden for fights in the weeks leading up to the show. Very popular in both Sweden and Finland. Promoted by Elis Ask, Edwin Ahlquist and Per Ola Dahl. A Nordic mega fight against Swede Lennart Risberg never materialized though.
NAME: Rene Weller
DOB: Nov 21, 1953, Pforzheim, Germany.
Amateur: 298-21-16, nine German championships, silver and bronze in European and World championships.
Pro: 51-1-2 plus a number of unlicensed fights.
Style: with his long hair, tan and good looks Weller seemed like a victim of the 70´s disco fever but he was a stylish performer, smart, well schooled and one of the few from what used to be West Germany that could handle the fighting machines from behind the iron curtain. Always in tip top shape despite a hectic lifestyle. Turned pro in 1981 when proboxing in Germany was at rock bottom and along with promoter Wilfried Sauerland helped revive the game.
Biggest achievements: EBU 135 lb champ 84-86 and 88, German ruler 86-88. Also WAA "world" champ. Beat Lucio Cusma, Daniel Londas, George Feeney and Frederic Geoffrey. Disputed loss to Gert Bo Jacobsen.
After career: already a gold smith by the time he retired (well, he never really did). Always mixed with all the wrong people and got caught in a drug related case. Did several years in jail, editor for the prison paper, wrote poetry, quickly got his tan back once he got out and embarked a comeback of sorts but denied a license by the German Federation, still fought a few times, in very good shape and a true survivor of the ups and downs in life. Designed a line of sports clothes, did personal appearances and remains popular with media and fans.
Now: resides in Isernhagen, involved in various business projects and show business, advisor for young prospects. Fighting days are now almost over, but only almost. Weller says he trains every day, weighs in at about 135 lbs and have plans for coming back.
Ingemar "Ingo" Johansson
Intro: "Where are they now" intends to bring you the news on retired fighters where
abouts concentrating on Europe. In some cases the storied will be based on
interviews with the fighter directly in others based on media reports or with talks
with people around him. I would like to begin with Sweden's Ingemar Johansson.
Name: Ingemar "Ingo" Johansson.
DOB: Sep 22, 1932, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Amateur: 61-10, Swedish champ 50-51-52, silver in the 52 Olympics.
Pro: 26-2, EBU champ 56-59, 62-63, undisputed heavyweight champion of the World
59-60. Went 1-2 with Floyd Patterson in world title fights, stopped Eddie Machen in one,
knocked out Henry Cooper in five, Dick Richardson in eight, Joe Erskine in 13, outscored
Style: Well-schooled upright boxer with a good jab, weak left hook that helped set up
a dynamite right called "Ingo's Bingo" or "Torts Hammer" by American sportswriters.
Not regarded as one of the all time greats at world level but a dominating force in
Europe, not the best of chins something that was highlighted in the last few years of his
career. Superstar in Sweden.
After career: Johansson left boxing a wealthy man and got into different business
ventures including boxing promotions, owned a fishing boat called "Ingo", a bar in
Gothenburg called "Ingo's" etc. Moved to the US where he operated a hotel in Pompano
Beach, FL. Began running and completed the Stockholm Marathon 1985. Regained much
of the popularity that had been lost during the late 60´s and 70´s during the 80´s.
Began a career as TV commentator during the 90´s and it was then clear something
wasn't right with the champ. Now resides in a nursing home outside of Gothenburg
diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia. Media paints a nice picture of Johansson's
life but anyone who's been close to anyone suffering from this kind of illness knows how
tragic it is. Financially secure, married and divorced twice, five kids.
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