Tag Archives: Muhammed

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!

When religion mixes with sport

Ken Irons returns with an article that takes a glimpse at a host of high-profile athletes who struggled to combine their relationship with religion with a career in sport.

Muhammed Ali painting

Perhaps the most famous example of a sports star being governed by his religious beliefs is that of Muhammad Ali, although these beliefs were unquestionably more racial than religious – the organisation he belonged to being the Black Muslims.

Although Ali’s hagiographers liked to depict him as a man of near saintly proportions, his treatment of his fellow man often belied this theory.

For example, his close friendship with the infamous Malcolm X was responsible for Ali joining the Muslims, but when Malcolm X fell out of favour and was later assassinated by the Muslims, Ali entirely washed his hands of him and could not find a word to say in his favour.

Similarly, the notion that Ali had rejected conscription on moral grounds because he did not wish to kill Vietnamese people was a travesty. He was ordered by the Muslims, of whom he was understandably frightened, to take this action. It must also be said that enlisting held no personal appeal for him, as he had heard that the chance of him being attacked by white racist factions within the U.S. forces was considerable.

Ali’s later treatment of Joe Frazier, whom he gratuitously called an ‘Uncle Tom’ (causing Joe’s son, Marvis, to be ostracised at school) could, again, not be claimed to be the action of a particularly religious man. Frazier, a man from a deprived background, never forgave the comparatively middle class Ali for this insult.

Another gifted athlete, Jonathan Edwards, a man who still holds the world triple jump record he set more than 19 years ago, was a highly committed Christian who, at one stage in his career, steadfastly refused to compete on a Sunday.

He did subsequently relinquish this discipline and won the triple jump World Title in 1995 with two efforts that extended his own world record beyond the 18 metre barrier.

A silver medal followed at the following year’s Olympics. He then won gold at the 2000 Olympics shortly after which he was awarded the CBE. Further titles were captured at the 2001 world championships and the 2002 commonwealth games prior to his retirement in 2003.

In March this year Jonathan made a surprise statement revealing that he no longer believes in God. Giving up presenting Songs of Praise, he stated that he felt more settled and happier in himself since coming to terms with his feelings. Edwards, 47, now works as a BBC sports presenter and lives in Newcastle with his wife and two sons.

Jonathan Edwards

Ex-Argentina goalkeeper, Carlos Roa, who helped knock England out of the 1998 world cup on penalties, was a member of the 7th Day Adventist Church. He took a year out of football to study religion in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1999, before returning to action in Spain. He fell back on his religion to strengthen him when testicular cancer struck him some years later.

The Rev David Shepherd skippered and opened the batting for both Sussex and England in the 1950’s and is the only ordained Minister to play Test cricket. Refusing to play against South Africa in their 1960 tour, he was strongly anti-apartheid. He retired from cricket in 1963, was made Bishop of Woolwich in 1969 and Bishop of Liverpool in 1975.

Shepherd retired from those commitments in 1997 and was elevated to Life Peerage, sitting on the Labour benches in the House of Lords. He died on the eve of his 76th birthday in 2005

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!