FORGED BY FIRE: Bob Fitzsimmons fought in hard times (his BoxRec.com professional record includes phrases like “fight to the finish” and “the police intervened”) and he was a hard man, despite appearances. At his heaviest the Englishman weighed 175 pounds, but he routinely knocked out much larger opponents and was the first to win world titles in three divisions: middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. He derived his notorious power from working as a blacksmith, which he demonstrates here for some young fans, circa 1900.
THE RING magazine has amassed an uparalleled collection of photos over its 90-plus years. Here we present examples from the archive. Check back often for updates.
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NOWHERE SAFE: The look on Segundo Murillo’s face seems to represent what must have gone through the minds of many of Tommy Hearns’ early welterweight opponents: “How the hell is this guy hitting me over here when just a second ago he was way over there?” At 6-foot-1 with a 78-inch reach, the Hitman was definitely not your typical 147-pounder. This fight took place in Detroit on March 3, 1979, and was Hearns’ 17th pro bout. He ended his career 50 fights later in 2006, with a record of 65-5-1 (48 KOs) and the distinction of all-time great.
KISS THE SKY: It’s hard to say what’s more impressive, the punch or the fact that Miguel Banda survived it. That’s a young (22) Michael Carbajal, in his eleventh pro fight, administering a chiropractic adjustment to Banda on Jan. 12, 1990. Carbajal scored two knockdowns (Rounds 1 and 7) but won by a unanimous eight-round decision. He would go on to be a five-time world titleholder and THE RING’s Fighter of the Year in 1993, retiring with the WBO junior flyweight belt around his waist after stopping Jorge Arce on July 31, 1999.
NOW AND THEN: Here’s one of those “Now vs. The Old Days” things: The man pictured here throwing a punch, former world welterweight champion Ted “Kid” Lewis, fought one man (Jack Britton) 20 times during his pro career, which ended in 1929 with a tally of 232-45-26 (79 knockouts). The man shown receiving the punch is not Britton, however. It’s Tom Gummer, who, after getting knocked out by Lewis in the first round on Feb. 16, 1922, ended his career at 4-5-1 (3 KOs).
TO THE PEOPLE: Here we present images from when Muhammad Ali’s bus roamed the country to promote his return bout with Ken Norton. Ali mingles with (and clowns around with) fans in New York City. The sign on the bus says: “Meet and greet Muhammad Ali before his revenge battle of broken jaw with Ken Norton,” referring to the injury Ali suffered against Norton in a split-decision loss on March 31, 1973. In the rematch, which took place on Sept. 10 of that year, the decision went in favor of Ali.
SENSATION: Knockout sensation Mike Tyson (right) became the youngest heavyweight champion ever when, at 20, he stopped Trevor Berbick to win the WBC belt on Nov. 22, 1986, in Las Vegas. Tyson would make nine successful defenses and become unified champ before traveling to Tokyo to face Buster Douglas in what was expected by many to be just another walkover on Feb. 11, 1990.
IN MOURNING: Some of the top personalities in boxing pay respects at the grave of middleweight great Stanley Ketchel on March 8, 1913, more than two years after he was murdered. A hired hand shot Ketchel at a ranch where he was staying in Conway, Mo., and the fighter died that night in Springfield. Ketchel was only 24. Pictured at Ketchel’s grave, at Holy Cross Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Mich., are (left to right) Jimmy Dunn, the manager of featherweight Johnny Kilbane; middleweight Jimmy Clabby; Kilbane; bantamweight Johnny Coulon; heavyweight Luther McCarty; and manager Billy McCarney.
AND NEW… Joe Frazier gained recognition as heavyweight champion of the world after WBA titleholder Jimmy Ellis took a beating from Smokin’ Joe and couldn’t come out for the start of the fifth round on Feb. 16, 1970 at Madison Square Garden. Of course, a year later Frazier removed any doubt whatsoever about his right to call himself the champ when he outpointed Muhammad Ali in the same arena.
LESSONS FROM THE MASTER: It’s not clear whether these boys are paying rapt attention or are just in awe of their boxing instructor, former heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey. The photo was taken in New York City around 1930, shortly after his last fight. He appeared to be in fighting shape.
HAIL MARY: Julio Cesar Chavez’s legendary last-second knockout of Meldrick Tayler was predated by more than 40 years by a miracle Jake LaMotta pulled off. LaMotta was losing a hard-fought battle against rugged Laurent Dauthuille going into the 15th and final round on Sept. 13, 1950, in Detroit when he wrote his chapter of history. The Bronx Bull landed a hard right to the head of the tiring Dauthuille in the final moments of the fight, putting the Frenchman down for the count. Only 13 seconds remained. The victory preserved LaMotta’s middleweight title and claimed its place in boxing lore.
HIGH DRAMA: Rocky Marciano’s perfect record was never in more jeopardy than it was in this RING Fight of the Year against Ezzard Charles on Sept. 17, 1954 at Yankee Stadium. A cut on Marciano’s nose was so severe that the fight was in danger of being stopped in the middle rounds. The champ responded by putting Charles down twice in the eighth, the second time for a 10-count. Marciano was losing badly on the cards at the time of the stoppage.
JINX: Boxing fans might remember Michael Spinks best for lasting only 91 seconds against Mike Tyson in 1988, Spinks’ last fight. They might forget that he was perhaps the best light heavyweight of his era – successfully defending his 175-pound title 10 times — and a solid heavyweight who twice beat Larry Holmes and stopped Gerry Cooney. In this photo, Spinks is in the process of outpointing Dwight Muhammad Qawi to unify two light heavyweight belts in 1983. Spinks won the middleweight gold medal in the 1976 Olympics.
SUPER HEAVYWEIGHTS: Eric “Butterbean” Esch (left) and Larry Holmes weighed a combined 588 pounds for their 10-round showdown in 2002, Holmes’ last fight. Esch, who got his start in Tough Man competitions and became very popular, was pretty good for such a hefty guy (334 pounds for this fight). However, Holmes could beat Esch in his sleep even at 52, his age when they fought. The former heavyweight champ won a unanimous decision.
HOW TO: The editors of THE RING attempted in this photograph to explain the immense power of the great Stanley Ketchel, the middleweight champion who fought between 1903 and 1910. Ketchel (51-4-4) stopped all but three of his victims. “The Michigan Assassin” was only 24 when he was murdered on Oct. 15, 1910.
WHO’S WHO II: This photo was taken in 1994, according to information on the back of it, which reads, “The Boxing Legends at Fight Night ’94.” Every boxer in the photo — with the exception of George Chuvalo — is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The fighters are (left to right): Beau Jack, Sandy Saddler, Carmen Basilio, Kid Gavilan, Ingemar Johansson, Gene Fullmer, Bob Foster, Ken Norton, Chuvalo, Joe Frazier, Archie Moore, Jake LaMotta and Floyd Patterson. Only Chuvalo and LaMotta are living.
UNPRECEDENTED: Carmen Basilio, a dynamic punching machine who won world titles in two weight divisions, is best known for defeating the great Sugar Ray Robinson to win the middleweight championship in 1957 (pictured here). How exciting was Basilio? He was in a remarkable five consecutive RING Fights of the Year, between 1955 and 1959.
TAKE THAT: The great Salvador Sanchez (right) made Danny “Little Red” Lopez his personal punching bag in two memorable fights in 1980. Sanchez, a relative unknown at the time, lifted Lopez’s WBC featherweight title on Feb. 2 with a 13th-round knockout. In the June 21 rematch (pictured here) Lopez fought bravely but was picked apart and beaten up again by a superior fighter. Sanchez won the second fight by a 14th-round knockout. The Mexican idol successfully defended his title seven more times before he was killed in a car accident in 1982. He was only 23.
BIG BOY: We marvel at the size of giants Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko, who are listed at 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-6, respectively. Imagine what folks thought of Jess Willard. The “Pottawatomie Giant,” who fought between 1911 and 1923, was 6-6 1/2, which must’ve seemed like 8 feet back then. This photo was taken in 1915 in Havana, Cuba, presumably before he stopped Jack Johnson there to win the heavyweight championship. He defended only once before Jack Dempsey cut him down to size in 1919.
EYE-YAI-EYE: This is Hall of Famer Carmen Basilio before and after he lost his middleweight title to Sugar Ray Robinson on March 25, 1958, in Chicago. Basilio gave a courageous performance, losing a split decision even though his eye was pounded shut. A two-time welterweight champion, he had taken the middleweight title from Robinson in 1957.
PICK TWO FINGERS: Former heavyweight champ Max Baer (right) picked on the wrong fella this time. That’s Jerome Horwitz, better known as Curly Howard of Three Stooges, wrapped around one of the sport’s most-feared punchers. The gag photo was taken on the MGM lot in Hollywood, Calif., we guess in the mid- to late-1930s. Baer, a born ham, gravitated into the entertainment business after his boxing career. We hope he remembered the classic defense for the two-finger move.
WHO’S WHO: One of the great traditions in boxing is the introduction of fighters and dignitaries before the opening bell of a major fight. The practice goes way back. In this photo, a number of well-known figures were introduced before Jack Johnson knocked out Jim Jeffries on July 4, 1910 in Reno, Nevada. They are (left to right) Hugh McIntosh (promoter), Tommy Burns (former heavyweight champion), John L. Sullivan (former heavyweight champion), Jimmy Coffroth (promoter), Frank Gotch (wrestler, who reportedly had a few pro boxing fights), Billy Jordan (former boxer), Tom McCarey (promoter), Bill Lang (boxer), Bob Fitzsimmons (former heavyweight champion), Tom Sharkey (former heavyweight contender), George Harding (former boxer) and Stanley Ketchel (middleweight champion, who was murdered three months later).
KO KINGS: This fight between Carlos Zarate (left) and Alfonso Zamora might’ve featured the highest combined knockout ratio in the history of big-fight boxing. The Mexicans had a combined record of 74-0, with 73 knockouts, going into the fight. And, of course, the fight didn’t go the distance. Zarate (45-0, 44 KOs) stopped Zamora (29-0, 29 KOs) at 1:11 of the fourth round. It took place on April 23, 1977, at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
TOE TO TOE: Jimmy McLarnin (left) and Tony Canzoneri are two of the greatest boxers ever. They had a two-fight welterweight series in 1936, Canzoneri winning the first by a unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden in New York and (pictured here) McLarnin winning the rematch by a unanimous decision at the same venue. McLarnin outweighed Canzoneri by 6 1/2 and 8 pounds in the two fights, respectively.
FLATTENED: Mike Tyson was a monster at his best, as he proved against then-unbeaten former heavyweight champ Michael Spinks in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1988. It took Tyson only 91 seconds to knock out Spinks and a few more to admire his work. Twenty months later Buster Douglas would remove Tyson’s aura of invincibility in an unforgettable fight in Tokyo.
BOSTON STRONG BOY: The name John L. Sullivan probably is familiar to the average sports fan. The face? Maybe not. Here is a young and very dapper version of the great John L., most likely in the mid-1880s. Sullivan was the first heavyweight champion of the modern era and recognized as the first American sports hero. He was often photographed with a prominent mustache but, as legend has it, he always shaved it off for his fights.
DRAMATIC ENDING: Roland LaStarza, a top heavyweight in the late 1940s and ’50s, gave Rocky Marciano all he could handle in a split-decision loss in 1950. The rematch three years later in New York ended more emphatically. Marciano, who had become heavyweight champ the previous year, put LaStarza through the ropes (shown in this photo) before stopping him in the 11th round in THE RING Fight of the Year.
DOWN AND OUT: Single prints containing a series of images are common in THE RING photo archives and typically tell the story of an important moment. Here, we see the demise of Billy Conn in his first fight against Joe Louis in 1941. Conn was winning until he became overly aggressive and was stopped in the 13th round. Here is how the editors described the series: “Here’s the magic eye camera story of the end of Billy Conn’s gallant bid in New York, June 18, for the heavyweight crown of Joe Louis, beginning in the 13th round (top left) with the champion lashing at the challenger (right) with a series of rights, and ending (lower right) with referee Eddie Josephs wrapping his arms about the battered Conn after the count had been completed.”
CLOSE CALL: Sugar Ray Robinson (left) was only 21 when this photo was taken on May 28, 1942, the day he fought Marty Servo at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Robinson never lost to a fellow welterweight, although he came close in this fight. He won a split decision but, according to The New York Times, many in attendance felt Servo was cheated. Servo would go on to win the world welterweight title. Robinson would go on to become the greatest fighter ever.
ICON: This is a portrait of the great Jack Johnson in his prime, probably taken in the first decade of the 20th century. Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion when he took the crown from Tommy Burns in 1908 in Sydney, Australia.
BLOOD AND GUTS: The photographer captured in this image the savagery of Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano’s historic three-fight series, against which all trilogies are judged. The series took place in 1946, ’47 and ’48, all three ending in knockout. Zale won the first and third meetings, Graziano the second. This photo was taken during Graziano’s sixth-round KO of Zale at the old Chicago Stadium in Chicago.
LONG COUNT: One of the great tales in the history of boxing was the “long count” fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney in 1927, the second meeting between the fighters. Dempsey, behind in the fight, put Tunney down but forgot the new rule requiring fighters to retreat to a neutral corner in the event of a knockdown, which forced referee Dave Barry to delay his count until Dempsey complied. That gave Tunney a few extra seconds to recover. In the second photo, Tunney appears to be alert as he watches Barry give his count. That might support Tunney’s contention that he could’ve gotten up at any time. Tunney won a decision, as he did in the first fight.
ANOTHER LEVEL: Marvin Hagler (right) and Thomas Hearns set a standard for drama that other middleweights will be hard-pressed to meet. Hagler and Hearns engaged in three rounds of absolute mayhem until Hagler won by knockout in the third round. It is considered one of the greatest fights ever.
ALL SMILES: This photo was taken after Cassius Clay stopped Archie Moore in November of 1962. Fifteen months later he would do the same to Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight championship.