I started watching boxing at about the age of 5 when my Dad got me a video of Muhammad Ali. I couldn’t even pronounce his name correctly (I’d say Muhaddamali – one word) but I fell in love with the sport right then and there. There was just something about the purity of the competition that intrigued me.
Since the age of 5 I was always involved in team sports right through to college. But the one-on-one competition of a fight always piqued my curiosity in a different way. In team sports there’s a great camaraderie with the fellas you’re going into battle with. If you screw up they’re there to bail you out, you’re not alone on an island, you have a whole group of guys who have the same goal as you working hard to achieve. It’s great being on a team. Funny shit’s always happening, jokes are always being cracked and if you lose, everyone feels like crap, you’re not just alone with it. But in fighting it is just you.
You and you alone are responsible for getting up in the morning to run. You alone win or lose a fight because of your work ethic, talent, or lack thereof of either. You have sparring partners and you may even have a team who are all after the same thing, but when you’re in the ring come fight night it’s just you and the guy across from you trying to kick your ass. I always had a lot of respect for the great fighters in history.
Guys like Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. These guys experienced more pain than many of us will ever feel, and for what? Ya a paycheck, and maybe a place in history, but when it comes down to it, it was to win, to be great, to be the best and to see that desire that some of the greats had or have is inspiring.
A lot of the guys on my list are fighters who I know something about, I have heard their story, seen their fights or read a book about them. Some I respect as men, others I just like to watch fight – like Tyson.
Rocky was a small heavyweight standing only 5’10 and weighing 190 lbs, but he’s the only heavyweight in history to retire as an undefeated champion. The guy knocked out 43 of his 49 opponents! He could take a punch which helped because he’d take a few to get one off, and if that one punch was from his right hand, named Suzie-Q, a lot of the time they’d land on their arse. It’s a treat watching him throw every single thing he had into each punch. Catch a few of his fights on youtube.
I first read the book, “Cinderella Man,” and then watched the movie. You need to know about this man’s story, and I highly recommend both. Have you seen the movie or read the book?
3. Joe Louis
He’s considered the greatest heavyweight of all time, reigning as champion from 1937 to 1949. He was fighting at a pivotal time, and his destruction of Max Schmeling in their second fight was one of the most important fights in boxing history.
4. Mike Tyson
I have every one of Tyson’s fights on DVD. The guy was vicious, his combination of speed and power was insane. The dude made some mistakes, but I love watching his fights.
5. Muhammad Ali
Maybe the most famous boxer of all time, Ali did a lot of good things for a lot of people. He risked losing his career and livelihood when he refused to serve in the United States Army during the Vietnam war. You have to respect a guy for standing up for his beliefs like Mr. Ali did.
“I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger.”
Sugar Ray Robinson is the greatest fighter that ever lived. He’s the guy that Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard looked up to. He had speed, power, charisma and a heart that matched his considerable talents.
7. Arturo Gatti
Gatti was my favorite fighter when he was in the fight game because of the heart he’d show in every fight. There was no quit in him. His trilogy with Mickey Ward are maybe my three favorite fights ever. He was born in Italy, raised in Canada, and became Atlantic City New Jersey’s biggest show. He died tragically on July 11 of 2009.
Who would you add to the list?