Last Updated on Sunday, 01 May 2011 22:31
Written by Alexander Zammit
Sunday, 01 May 2011 22:03
A Tribute ToSir Henry Cooper
3 May 1934 - 1 May 2011
BOXING legend Sir Henry Cooper has died, just two days before his 77th birthday.
The former British heavyweight champion, a national treasure, has just passed away in Oxted, Surrey, at his son's house earlier today the first of May - 2011.
Alongside Frank Bruno, Tommy Farr and Lennox Lewis, he is regarded as one of the best all-time British heavyweights. The former British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion fought 55 times but never won a world title and retired in 1971 after losing to Joe Bugner
Sir Henry Cooper OBE, KSG was a Commonwealth (British Empire), BBBof C British and EBU (European) heavyweight champion.Through out his career he officially had 55 fights of which he won 40 (27 by KO) – Lost 14 and had 1 draw.
He started his boxing career in 1949 as an amateur with the Eltham Amateur Boxing Club, and won seventy-three of eighty-four contests. At the age of seventeen, he won the first of two ABA light-heavyweight titles and before serving in the Army for his two years' National Service represented Britain in the 1952 Olympics (outpointed in the second stage by Russian Anatoli Petrov). Henry and his twin brother, George (boxing under the name Jim Cooper) turned professional together under the caring management of Jim Wicks, who was one of boxing's great characters and nicknamed 'The Bishop' because of his benign nature. He would never allow one of his boxers into the ring if he felt he was over-matched. He famously said when promoters were trying to match Henry with Sonny Liston: "I would not allow 'Enery into the same room as him, let alone the same ring."
(George Cooper, Henry's twin, died on 11 April 2010 at the age of 75.)
In 1969 he gave up his British title after the British Boxing Board refused to recognize his fight with WBA champion Jimmy Ellis as a world title fight but only as a final eliminator, the winner to meet Joe Frazier.
However Sir Henry’s claim to immortality in the annals of boxing history must surely be his historic fight at Wembley Stadium, London on the 18th June, 1963 – when in the fourth round he caught Cassius Clay (later Mohamed Ali) with a terrific right to the chin, which sent Clay between the ropes and on his back side on the apron of the ring.
In 1966 Cooper fought Ali, now world heavyweight champion, for a second time. However Ali was now alert to the danger posed by Cooper's left and more cautious than he had been in the previous contest; he held Cooper in a vice like grip during clinches and when told to break leapt backward several feet. Accumulated scar tissue around Cooper's eyes made him even more vulnerable than in the previous meeting and a serious cut was opened by Ali which led to the fight being stopped, Cooper again suffering a technical knockout when he was ahead on the scorecards.
After the loss to Ali, Henry Cooper fought former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, losing by a fourth round knockout. After that he went undefeated until the final fight of his career, and made more defences of his British & Commonwealth titles against Jack Bodell (TKO 2 and PTS 15) and Billy Walker (TKO 6). In 1968 Henry Cooper added the European crown to his domestic titles with a win over Karl Mildenberger, and later made two successful defences of his title. In his last fight, in 1971, he faced the emerging British heavyweight hope Joe Bugner for the British, European and Commonwealth belts. Fight referee Harry Gibbs awarded the fight to Bugner by the narrowest of margins: a quarter of a point.
Henry Cooper was the first to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award twice (in 1967 and 1970) and one of only three two-time winners in the award's history (the others being Nigel Mansell in 1986 and 1992 and Damon Hill in 1994 and 1996). Cooper was given the award in 1967 for going unbeaten throughout the year. One of the most memorable fights of the year was his defeat of challenger Jack Bodell in June. His second award came in 1970, when Cooper had become the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion, cementing his reputation as one of the greatest post-war British boxers. Henry Cooper was knighted in 2000.
Sir Henry Cooper lived in Hildenborough, in Kent and he was the chairman of Nizels Golf Club in the town until his death on 1 May 2011.