Boxing has attracted more than its fair share of colorful characters and unusual situations. Once you step into that ring, anything can happen. In this feature, we’ll share with you 10 awesome nuggets of boxing lore that you can bust out around the water cooler to impress people with your knowledge of the sweet science. Take your mouthguard out first.
Shortest Fight of All Time – 9/24/1946
One of the biggest problems with promoting combat sports is that fights can be very long or very short, depending on where the punches land. If you paid money to see Al Couture take on Ralph Walton in 1946, you probably were pretty pissed off with the way things went down. Couture holds the record for the fastest knockout in boxing history. With his first punch, he had Walton unconscious on the mat, and it was all over. Total match time: 10.5 seconds. That’s half a second to throw a punch and 10 seconds for the referee to count him out. No refunds, folks.
The Scotch Woop – 6/29/1917
Featherweight boxer Johnny Dundee is widely regarded as the first man to ever utter the boxing maxim, “styles make fights,” and his style was idiosyncratic at best. The Sicilian pugilist invented a maneuver called the “Scotch Woop,” which involved Dundee throwing his back into the ropes to using them to rebound with great force behind a punch at his opponent. It was a risky move to pull, but it brought him great success until 1917, when he faced the quicker Willy Jackson in a fight. Dundee went for the Woop, but Jackson stuck out a right and Johnny’s own momentum knocked him out in the first round.
Fan Landing – 11/6/1993
All sorts of things have found their way into boxing rings, from thrown beer bottles to the mothers of beaten fighters. But during the Riddick Bowe/Evander Holyfield title bout at Caesars Palace, a man named James Miller became the first a-hole to crash a bout by paraglider. Just as Bowe was rocking Holyfield with a looping left, Miller landed in the ring, only to be swarmed by security and viciously removed. Many observers believe that the 21-minute delay caused by Miller’s interruption allowed Holyfield to get his stamina back and win the championship.
Boxer Albert Griffiths, who fought under the name “Young Griffo,” wasn’t known for his offensive power. Sure, his fists could get the job done, but what made him a legend was his defense. Griffo could bob and weave like no man’s business, avoiding lightning-quick blows from the era’s best boxers. When he finally retired from the sport, he took his skills to vaudeville. Griffo would go in front of an audience, put his left foot on a handkerchief and his hands at his sides, and make bets with the audience that they could try to hit him and he would dodge every blow with his foot never leaving the handkerchief.
14 Rounds to Death – 11/13/1982
Boxing is, by nature, a violent sport with potentially damaging consequences. But no fighter ever went to the ring with a fatalistic attitude like Kim Duk-Koo. The Korean boxer was up for the fight of his career against Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini is Las Vegas in 1982. Kim, however, didn’t think much of his chances, writing “Live or Die” on his lampshade and even having a miniature coffin delivered to his room. When the fight started, the underdog Korean handled himself well, but as it wore on, Mancini gained the advantage. Boom-Boom won by TKO in the 14th round, and Kim lapsed into a coma right there on the mat. Four days later, he died. Tragedy continued as Kim's mother took her own life three months later. Shortly after that, Richard Gree, the referee of the match, also committed suicide.
The Harlem Hammer – 11/23/2001
Emotions run high in the ring, and it’s not surprising that men jacked up on adrenaline and testosterone make some bad choices. At a charity boxing event to benefit families of 9/11 victims, young fighter James “The Harlem Hammer” Butler faced a fighter named Richard Grant. Butler lost by decision, and after the fight went to the middle of the ring ostensibly to congratulate his opponent. Instead, he threw a vicious right hook with his gloves off to Grant’s face, breaking his jaw and lacerating his tongue. He was booked for assault and tossed in jail. Years later, he was convicted of murdering the brother of an HBO boxing analyst.
Bad Bathroom Break – 4/22/2006
When you step into the ring, you’d better be prepared for anything. When boxer Andrew Lewis flew back to his native Guyana in 2006 to battle Denny Dalton for the light middleweight title, fight fans were expecting a scintillating bout. Unfortunately for Lewis, a milkshake that he drank before the fight ended up taking him out of competition. Although he was ahead on points in the seventh round, Lewis dove out of the ring and made a mad dash for the locker room. Apparently, the shake caused a serious case of explosive diarrhea and he had to forfeit the fight.
Panama Lewis’s Shortcut – 6/16/1983
Boxing gloves aren’t just worn to protect the hands; they also help diffuse the impact from punishing punches. If they’re tampered with, the results can be horrific. In a fight between rising star Billy Collins, Jr. and tomato can Luis Resto, legendary trainer Panama Lewis knew that his man Resto had literally no chance of winning. So he removed the padding from Resto’s gloves and wrapped his hands in starched bandages, transforming them into rock-hard piledrivers that caused heavy damage. Resto went ten rounds with Collins, turning his face into hamburger and blinding him in both eyes. After the horribly one-sided fight ended with Resto the winner, Collins’s father (who was also his cornerman) approached the fighter and felt his gloves, unveiling the deception. Resto and Lewis went to jail, but it was cold comfort for Collins, who died less than a year later from the injuries.
There’s No Crying in Boxing – 2/7/1997
One of the most colorful men in the history of boxing is Oliver McCall, the man known as the “Atomic Bull.” McCall has enjoyed a turbulent career in the ring, but his most amazing -- and bizarre -- moment was his rematch with Lennox Lewis in 1997. McCall had beaten Lewis in an upset in 1994 for the WBC title, so there was a lot on the line. The fight started out normally, but in the fourth round McCall started refusing to hit Lewis back, and by the fifth round he was actually crying in the ring, forcing the ref to stop the fight and declare Lewis the victor. In an interview after the bout, McCall claimed that he was trying to do a “rope-a-dope” strategy made famous by Muhammad Ali, and just went too far with it.
Next: When Sports Go Wrong
One-Man Knockout – 12/12/1959
Perhaps the most absurd finish to a fight ever happened in a New York match between Bartolo Soni and Henry Wallitsch. Soni had spent the majority of three rounds playing defensively, using his superior footwork to keep himself out of Wallitsch’s range. In the third, Wallitsch finally got Soni in a clinch and prepared to punish him with a massive blow, but Soni’s feet saved him again as the Italian boxer darted out of the way. The force of Wallitsch’s frustrated swing sent him over the ropes and to the concrete floor, where he hit so hard that he was knocked unconscious and lost the bout.