Luis Ángel Firpo was boxing’s Wild Bull of the Pampas

Subtlety wasn’t his style. He was all about aggression and clubbing his opponents into submission

Luis Ángel Firpo was boxing’s Wild Bull of the PampasExtending over 14 acres, La Recoleta is a famous cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A 2013 CNN travel piece called it one of the world’s 10 most beautiful. Today’s layout dates from the early 19th century and is said to resemble “a city more than a burial ground with its impressive neo-classical gates opening up…

Rocky Marciano was formidable from his first fight to his last

Rocky was all about brute force, relentless aggression, destructive punching power and a non-fastidious attitude toward the rules

Rocky Marciano was formidable from his first fight to his lastBeing heavyweight champion of the world was a big deal when professional boxing was a mainstream sport – a very big deal. And in the early 1950s, an Italian-American called Rocky Marciano was the guy. Born Rocco Marchegiano on Sept. 1, 1923, he was one of six children in a working-class Italian immigrant family –…

The Mayweather-Paul bout was bad for boxing but good for capitalism 

Exhibition matches aren’t a true test of a pro boxer. They are more about showboating

The Mayweather-Paul bout was bad for boxing but good for capitalism Former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought YouTube personality Logan Paul in an eight-round exhibition match on Sunday. The public spectacle attracted extensive media attention and, according to early figures, a significant number of buy rates on pay-per-view. To list all the great boxing matches of every weight class in history is impossible. Mayweather-Paul will…

The cultural ripples of the fight of the century

First Ali-Frazier fight was surrounded by name calling and racial strife, with political overtones

The cultural ripples of the fight of the centuryIt was 50 years ago this month – March 8, 1971 – that Madison Square Garden, in New York, hosted what was billed as the fight of the century. Or as it’s otherwise known, Ali-Frazier I. Previous generations might’ve begged to differ. Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney in the 1920s or Joe Louis-Max Schmeling in the 1930s…

The 1960 Olympics were spectacular in more ways than one

Wilma Rudolph, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Peter Snell and Herb Elliott were the brightest stars in Rome

The 1960 Olympics were spectacular in more ways than oneSixty years ago this week, the Summer Olympics kicked off. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 11, Rome was the centre of international sporting attention as athletes from more than 80 countries competed for glory. And there was more happening than athletic competition. The Second World War had only concluded 15 years previously and the selection…

Floyd Patterson: the boxer who came back

Written off as a hopeless case, he brought a ruthless, coiled fury to the ring, taking back the world championship

Floyd Patterson: the boxer who came backOn June 20, 1960, 25-year-old Floyd Patterson did something that hadn’t been done before. He became the first man to ever regain the world heavyweight boxing championship. Others had tried – including legendary figures like Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis – but none had succeeded. Conventional wisdom speculated that perhaps it couldn’t be done. Although…

How Gene Tunney brought down a boxing legend and an era

He beat Jack Dempsey twice to become heavyweight champion – and his staid personal style foreshadowed the end of the Roaring ’20s

How Gene Tunney brought down a boxing legend and an eraLast week’s column argued that Jack Dempsey’s July 1919 winning of the world heavyweight boxing championship prefigured the celebrity-obsessed Roaring ’20s. If so, Gene Tunney’s dispatching of Dempsey in 1926 and again 1927 can be viewed as a harbinger of the decade’s end. To be sure, the party didn’t come to a shuddering halt until…

Jack Dempsey and the birth of the Roaring ’20s

The boxer was a prime example of the ascension of celebrity, perhaps rivalled only by baseball’s Babe Ruth

Jack Dempsey and the birth of the Roaring ’20sThe case can be made that the Roaring ’20s actually began 100 years ago this month. On July 4, 1919, Jack Dempsey won the world heavyweight boxing title from Jess Willard in Toledo, Ohio. Waged in a purpose-built outdoor arena with an ambient ringside temperature of around 100F (37C), the fight is considered one of…

America’s first ethnic working-class hero

An Irish-American Catholic, champion boxer John L. Sullivan rose to popularity from modest roots

America’s first ethnic working-class heroBefore inclusiveness became a social mantra, newly arrived immigrant groups invariably went through a period of being viewed warily by society’s established mainstream. Irish-American Catholics were no exception to this probationary process. Indeed, it wasn’t until John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential victory that acceptance was fully sealed. Along the way, the process got a boost…

Before Ali, there was Joe Louis

Where Ali was flamboyantly boastful, Louis was studiously modest and where Ali was outspokenly defiant, Louis was respectfully deferential

Before Ali, there was Joe LouisMuhammad Ali’s recent death brought to mind another famous 20th century black American boxer. In his own way and in his own time, Joe Louis was just as famous as Ali. And by some estimations, he was an even better fighter. Born Joseph Louis Barrow in 1914 rural Alabama, Louis moved with his family to…