Lee Groves

10: Presidential-boxer pairings

5. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) and Kennedy McKinney (1989-2003, 36-6-1 with 19 knockouts)

OK, we’re fudging a bit here, but there’s a reason — McKinney’s parents named him in honor of the 35th president. Many of Kennedy’s challenges dealt with foreign affairs, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the growing conflict in Vietnam and his dealings with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, and one of his most famous moments occurred in Berlin when he uttered “ich bin ein Berliner” in reiterating America’s commitment to Germany.

McKinney’s greatest moments as a boxer also unfolded on international soil. As the bantamweight representative on the 1988 U.S. Olympic team that traveled to Seoul, McKinney became the first of three gold medalists with a 5-0 decision over Bulgaria’s Alexander Hristov. Four years later in Italy, McKinney trailed defending IBF super bantamweight champion Welcome Ncita by one, two and three points entering the 11th round. In the waning seconds of that session the challenger nailed Ncita with a bodacious right to the jaw that left the South African spread-eagled on the canvas. Ten seconds later there was a new titleholder and over the next two years he made five defenses, including one in South Africa.

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