Tag Archives: George

Top Ten Heavyweight Boxers of all time (part two: 5-1)

Yesterday Ken Irons shared the first half of his top ten heavyweight boxers of all-time, now it’s time to step into the ring with the elite, as he reveals his top five!

Butterbean: Failed to make the cut
Butterbean: Failed to make the cut

5) JOE LOUIS
Record: 66-3 (52 KO’s)

Joe Louis is a boxing icon who held the title (before it became fragmented) from 1937 until 1949, the longest period ever for a champion to reign.

He was undefeated until sustaining a 12-round loss to Germany’s Max Schmeling in 1936. After winning the title he had a return fight with the German in 1938, a fight which triggered deep emotions owing to the anti-Nazi feelings prevalent at the time (Hitler had reportedly personally encouraged Schmeling to win the title for the honour of the third Reich, although there was never any question that the fighter himself was involved in politics in any way). The fight lasted 124 seconds with Schmeling knocked senseless having been floored 3 times.

A tribute to Joe Louis in Detroit
A tribute to Joe Louis in Detroit

Louis retired in 1949 but then had to come back due to financial problems as he owed a large sum in taxes. This caused anger amongst fans and the general public as a whole because Joe had served his country well, both in wartime (in the U.S. Army) and as a unifying personality, loved by both blacks and whites.

The Government displayed no such sentimentality and Joe was reduced to working as a wrestler to pay off his debt, having first lost comeback fights to both Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano. He did receive official approval in death however, when the then U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, requested that he be buried at Arlington Cemetery.

4) GEORGE FOREMAN
 Record: 76-5 (68 KO’s)

George Foreman

Foreman, at 6 feet 3 inches, was not a stylish fighter but he was a devastating puncher, winning the title in 1973 against the seemingly invincible Joe Frazier when he demolished him in 2 rounds.

The following year, at age 25, he lost the crown to 32 year-old Muhammad Ali in the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire. Foreman was expected to win the contest but was overcome by Ali’s ‘rope a dope’ tactics whereby the latter leaned on the ropes, raised both gloves in protective mode and encouraged Foreman to eventually punch himself out.

Foreman always maintained that he had not felt right during the fight leading to some speculation that his water may have somehow been ‘spiked’, but this idea never got beyond the unsubstantiated rumour stage.

Foreman retired soon after and practised religion as a preacher. He came back to regain the title against Michael Moorer, at age 45. This made him the oldest man to win the title. He finally hung up the gloves for good in 1997.

3) LENNOX LEWIS
Record: 41-2-1 (32 KO’s)

London born but having spent part of childhood in Canada, Lewis holds dual nationality. At 6 feet 5 inches and 245 pounds, he was a superb boxer with a knock-out punch in either hand. 

Dispensing of all of the elite pugilists of his era, Lewis achieved amateur success when representing Canada at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, defeating future great Riddick Bowe for the gold medal, subsequently turning professional and switching allegiance to Britain during the same year.

He held the undisputed world title and never suffered an unavenged defeat, retiring in 2004, having stopped Vitali Klitschko via TKO in his final bout.

2) LARRY HOLMES
Record: 69-6 (44 KO’s)

Larry Holmes

Holmes has suffered more in his rightful claim to immortality than perhaps any other fighter due to the unfortunate timing of his rise to fame.

The fact that Muhammad Ali’s career was still ingrained in the hearts and minds of fans the world over when HolmesAli’s ex sparring partner, came into prominence, detracted greatly from the new champion’s overall standing.

He was, however, at 6 feet 3 inches, a consummate boxer/ fighter who could, in truth, match Ali in most aspects of his craft. As a one punch knock-out specialist he was perhaps superior to his old ‘employer’ who was more of adamaging’ puncher and his left jab is generally considered to be the best ever in the division.

Holmes was champion from 1978 – 1985 and his 19 consecutive defences of the title ranks second only to Joe Louis.

1) MUHAMMED ALI
Record
: 56-5 (KO’s 37)

Muhammed Ali

Muhammad Ali was a man whose fame transcended the sport due to his strongly held and fearlessly expressed political and religious beliefs (including his refusal to fight in Vietnam) and his generally extrovert personality.

He was the first champion to overtly ‘wind up’ his opponents, often causing trouble at press conferences, pre fight interviews and the like. This however was all part of his deliberate practice of getting the better of an opponent mentally which he invariably did, and which usually paid off for him in terms of results.

Ali’s dancing style, lightening fast reflexes and astonishing hand speed, wherein, in his own words,he “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee”,were just too much for most of his bewildered and disheartened opponents to cope with

He is the only three time lineal world heavyweight champion, winning the title in 1964, 1974 and 1978. It should also be remembered that his ‘prime years’, 1967 – 1971, were taken from him when his license was taken away following the Vietnam draft incident.

So there it is, the top ten heavyweight boxers of all-time and not a Rocky Balboa or Butterbean in sight! Let us know your thoughts on Ken’s choices in the comment section below.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

50 Greatest British sports stars of all-time: 30-21

In the third part of the series, Kureen counts down the best of British sport from 30th to 21st place. To view the first two editions simply click on the links below;

Part one: 50-41
Part two: 40-31

30: Sebastian Coe

Seb Coe

His post-athletics foray into politics has make it easy for detractors to overlook a sensational spell during the late 1970’s to mid-1980’s when Seb Coe not only broke three world records in the space of 41 days, but also became the undisputed king of 1500m running.

This was much to the chagrin of British team-mate and arch nemesis Steve Ovett, who pre-1980 had been undefeated at the distance for three years, only for Coe to win consecutive Olympic titles in 1980 and ’84 to go alongside a brace of 800m silvers.

29: Mo Farah

 At 5 foot 6, and carrying a little over 55kg on a slim frame, Mo Farah isn’t your archetypal sporting hero. Born in Somalia in 1983, he joined his father in Britain at the age of eight, barely able to utter a word of English.

He soon found his purpose, becoming a top junior middle and long distance runner, culminating with a clutch of national records and, more notably, double gold at 10,000m and 5000m in both the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 Worlds – Farah rewarded with a CBE and lucrative endorsement deal with vegetarian food behemoth Quorn.

28: Steven Hendry

‘The golden boy’ was the fresh, acne afflicted face of snooker throughout the 1990’s, winning seven world and five UK titles over the course of the decade, remaining world number one for an unprecedented eight consecutive seasons between 1990 and 1998.

An attacking, fiercely competitive player, Edinburgh born Hendry revolutionised the game with offensive shot selections that put fear into opponents, most notably Jimmy White who was traumatised irreparably by a series of major final defeats at the hands of the Scot. 

27: Lester Piggott

Nine Epsom Derby wins and 11 British flat racing championships in a high-calibre era of horse racing made Piggott the Queen’s favourite jockey.

That cosy propinquity rapidly fell into decline in 1987 however, with Piggott jailed for more than a year as a result of tax fraud, her maj’ swiftly withdrew his OBE, and although a return to the saddle provided a few career twilight highlights, his reputation amongst racing fans was in tatters. 

26: Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan burst onto the snooker scene in 1993, beating the great Steven Hendry 10-6 in the final of the UK Championships at the tender age of 17; the crowd wooed by his attacking style and dismissive attitude towards the game’s hierarchy, an ardent support that endures to this day.

That early hype seemed to weigh heavily on the shoulders of ‘The Rocket’, with severe depression and patchy form undermining his remarkable talent. A new training regime, lightened schedule and adjusted mindset allowed O’Sullivan to find consistency, his five world titles placing him third on the all-time list.

25: Martin Johnson

A World Cup winning captain, British Lions staple, and world class player, 6 foot 7 inch, 260 pound lock Martin Johnson was the proud, fearless chief who stood at the front of England’s 2003 main stage success.

If that World Cup glory was inevitably the pinnacle of a glittering career, it was for the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa that Johnson arguably reserved his finest form, the Spring Boks unable to snuff out his threat at the line-out on the way to a 2-1 series victory for the British team.

24: Fred Trueman

A stoic Yorkshireman, ‘fiery’ Fred Trueman is etched in the annuls as England’s all-time premier fast bowler, with his 307 Test match wickets (at the time a world record) coming at just 21.57 a piece, a miserly average befitting a man never ashamed of his thrifty habits on or off the field.

That superlative international record would have undoubtedly been even more impressive had Trueman not been in conflict with the MCC so often, leading to him being omitted from a number of England’s matches. Surprisingly, considering the velocity of his bowling, Fred stood at only 5 foot 10 inches tall in his spikes.

23: Jonathan Edwards

Edwards’ talent was obvious from a young age, but the embryonic stages of his athletics career were affected by devout Christian beliefs which prohibited the triple-jumper from competing or practising on Sundays. Relenting, he eventually decided to work around his religious convictions, his career almost immediately prospering as a result.

Early in the 1995 season he broke the world record by a centimetre, and later that year added another 31cm to the mark as he took World Championship gold with a humongous leap of 18.29m. Olympic glory took longer, eventually arriving in Sydney in 2000, with Edwards bowing out of the sport a year later, having secured a second world title. As an interesting aside; in 2007 Edwards announced that he was no longer a Christian.

22: Andy Murray

2012 was a career defining year for Andy Murray. The Scottish tennis player became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon singles final since Bunny Austin in 1938, losing to Roger Federer. The tears he shed in his post-match interview saw him accepted by reticent sections of fans still lamenting the retirement of the milder mannered Tim Henman.

Andy Murray

Later that summer Murray won the Olympic singles title. He started 2013 by gaining his first Grand Slam at the US Open, and, having qualified for a second successive Wimbledon final, secured the trophy in front of a fervent, partisan crowd, defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets. All that remains on the career bucket list is to win the French and Australian slams, and become world number one before the inevitable knighthood… Watch this space.

21: George Best

The most talented footballer that Britain has ever produced was also one of the most troubled. Discovered at 15 playing in Belfast, Manchester United manager Matt Busby received a telegram from one of his scouts which read “I think I’ve found you a genius.”

That genius was never more obvious than during the 1967-68 season, when a 22 year-old Best struck 32 goals, helping United to secure the European Cup and becoming the youngest player ever to receive the FWA player of the year award. By 26 alcohol addiction and a nocturnal lifestyle ensured that Best’s peak years were behind him; a flurry of different clubs brought fleeting highlights, before he received a liver transplant, drinking the newly fitted organ into submission within three years, and passing away in 2005.

Tomorrow we’ll reveal the first half of the top-20, who could be better than Best? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Isle of Wight Festival 2014. Part Two: Main Stagers

The 2014 Isle of Wight Festival’s improved ticket sales were largely contingent on the announcement of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who headlined Saturday night on the main stage.

Sara_Lincoln_Photography-KOL[1]

It was unfortunate therefore, that the Los Angeles based funk-rockers hit the stage more than 20 minutes belatedly and produced a so-so set with little crowd interaction.

Lead singer Anthony Kiedis sporadically took his customary leave of absence from the stage, compelling his supporting cast to produce a scattered selection of instrumental solos that were hit and miss over the course of the one and a half hour set.

In spite of those frustrating elements, there was undeniably a main event feel about the band’s presence, an A-List aura that comes with decades of successful output.

ThePrettyRecklessMainstage-Callum-2[1]

The Kings of Leon managed to get everyone bobbing and weaving on Sunday night when they played “Sex on Fire” as part of their encore.

The three Followill brothers (and one Followill cousin) had their moments, although ultimately their gritty guitar shredding gradually wore down spectators and felt as if they were just going through the motions, like a karaoke album of Kings of Leon cover versions!

This is the second time in recent years that the quartet have been booked at the head of the Isle of Wight bill and the second time that they’ve been ok, never exhibiting the showmanship to pull up too many trees in their drawn out bouts of southern-rock stodge that rely too heavily on a few prominent single releases.

One band that did exceed most expectations were the spectacular Pretty Reckless, whose lead lady Taylor Momsen lived up to her post-grunge rocker billing with a series of f-bomb garnished observations between tracks, a welcome variation from the usual benign chit-chat bands feel obliged to spout and in stark contrast to the hesitance of the top-line acts here.

One of the most memorable main stage performances came courtesy of Matt Healy fronted quartet The 1975, who played everything from their self titled debut album, as well as a few less heralded compositions.

BOY_GEORGE.Sara_Lincoln_Photography-18[1]

Pumping out a divine concoction of passion and melancholy, the Cheshire based indie pop-rockers weren’t lacking in confidence or charisma.

A slimline Boy George fused reggae with old school pop to delight early revellers in the Big Top on Thursday evening, casting aside any doubts that the one time Culture Club icon still has the desire and calibre to dazzle when called upon.

Biffy Clyro were understandably the least heralded of the three main stage headliners and the least memorable to boot. Despite that fact, high-octane adaptations of “Black Chandelier” and “The Golden Rule” punctuated a breathless, well received set.

IOW Festival 2014 Dappy

Concluding the weekend’s top-line activity, Travis had the Big Top crammed for a superlative, affable gig that closed with the irksomely catchy “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?”

The folky Glaswegians have a reputation for bordering on vanilla, but gave a hell of a send-off to fans who poured out of the fields following a second enormous ovation at the denouement of their most distinctive release.

On a humorous note, the egotistical Dappy, formerly of N-Dubs, had his set curtailed in its relative infancy, officially for his increasingly colourful language, although in truth probably just because he’s Dappy and nobody wants to be subjected to more than a few minutes of his wannabe gangster antics… And ting.

Looking solely at the three acts with their names in the largest font on the poster, it would be easy to assume that this year’s Isle of Wight Festival was a flop.

It’s only when one scratches beneath the superficial that they realise the immense stature of that which lurked a little deeper.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Isle of Wight Festival 2014 Highlights. Part One: Local Bands.

The Isle of Wight Festival kicked off the 2014 summer season of live music with a posturing, strutting cocktail which catered for everyone who entered Seaclose Park during the course of the four days. Dom Kureen and photographer Sophie Robinson were present to check it out.

Ellie Price of Signals

Following last year’s disappointing ticket sales and mixed feedback, Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings knew that he had to flip a Royal Flush this time around in order to mend the reputation of a previously highly regarded event.

In 2014 Giddings and his fellow organisers got it right, providing a fully warranted spotlight for a burgeoning crop of local talent that is the most exciting in decades, whilst cramming the main stage headline slots and under card with an eclectic menu that surely had something to satiate even the airiest hipster.

Local Highlights

The “Platform One” and “Kashmir Cafe” stages in particular promoted the cream of Isle of Wight talent, allowing groups from the area pleasingly extensive exposure.

Fresh from their Bestival competition success, Ba.Dow hit the P1 stage three times over the course of the weekend, their catchy guitar riffs accompanied by Beth Ditto-esque vocal interpretations that resonated courtesy of lead singer/drummer Jodie Amos and ensured that they once again confirmed their status as one of the five most promising bands on the island.

Signals excelled in their final set of the weekend inside the Kashmir Cafe, despite front-woman Ellie Price suffering from a bout of laryngitis.

The four-piece, who have only recently returned from a successful UK tour, had the packed venue leaping around incessantly with a memorable rendition of the uber uplifting “Square Wheels” with bass guitarist Alex Vanblaere in his element within the crammed venue, upping his usual ferocity to compensate for Price’s enforced throaty reticence.

Ska practitioners The Ohmz engaged spectators with their customary high-tempo unpredictability and their place upon the “Life’s a Beach” stage was undoubtedly one of the booking masterstrokes of the entire festival.

Dan Duveaux
Dan Duveaux

Pleasurade disappointingly opted to call it a day, announcing they were set to go their separate ways following a conclusive gig at the festival.  It brought the curtain down on a four year stint that had gradually gained the talented quintet a decent following in local circles.

Their adieu wasn’t all sunshine and lounge chairs, with Adam Gaterell’s guitar refusing to play ball for the band’s send-off, fortunately he had a replacement in tow!

Others who stood out from the local acts were Duveaux who were booked to play a mammoth six times, yet still managed to attract hefty crowds until the end and Floella Grace, whose emotional recital left a lasting impression upon everyone who was there to enjoy it – she’s one to watch in the next couple of years.

On a broader level, Platform One and those who come from its conveyor belt have evolved massively during the past few years.

Where in the College’s infancy the output was diluted by a host of wannabe Nirvana tributes, there’s no doubt that the contemporary artists all have the potential and originality to thrive on grander stages.

This was the first Isle of Wight Festival that truly showcased the magnitude of local talent on offer, for that John Giddings and his motley crew should be commended.

Check back for part two, where Dom will be looking at the ‘big names’ who performed at the 2014 Isle of Wight Festival!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.