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Boxers of Yesteryear: Ernie Terrell

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 Ernie Terrell will always be considered as the second best heavyweight of Ali’s first reign

 

Terrell came along at a time that couldn't have been worse from a legacy point of view. This tall heavyweight boxer with the long left jab and frustrating, effective but not crowd-pleasing style will forever be destined to struggle in the shadow of Muhammad Ali’s reign.

Ernie Terrell came along at a time that couldn't have been worse from a legacy point of view. This tall heavyweight boxer with the long left jab and frustrating, effective but not crowd-pleasing style will forever be destined to struggle in the shadow of Muhammad Ali’s reign.

As a professional online poker
guide we are naturally interested in boxing.
We find maltaboxing.net invaluable when finding out which fighter has the
best stats and toughest chin. The indepth articles that are available are
both knowledgeable and informative" pokerlisti
ngs.com

Terrell was born April 4, 1939, in Belzoni, Miss., but he is associated to this day with his adopted hometown of Chicago. The 6-foot-6 pugilist and singer posted a 46-9 record from 1957-73 and, in his prime, was a promiment figure in the heavyweight division. He held the World Boxing Association title from March of 1965, when he decisioned Eddie Machen in 15 rounds, to February of 1967, when he lost a 15-round decision to Muhammad Ali in an infamous unification bout remembered for Ali's ceaseless taunting of Terrell. During his career Ernie defeated such opposition as   Zora Folley, Cleveland Williams, George Chuvalo, Eddie Machen, Luis Faustino Pires, Robert Davila, Jose Luis Garcia, Bob Foster, Doug Jones, Frankie Daniels, Amos Lincoln and "Young" Jack Johnson.

Terrell has an outstanding amateur boxing background: In 1956: He made the final of the Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions at light heavyweight with James Boyd of Montgomery, AL, being awarded the verdict. In 1957 he won on the Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions at light heavyweight by KO in the 1st vs. Larry Vignaroli of Des Moines, IA, and won the Intercity Golden Gloves championship at light heavyweight vs. Eddie Bramlett.

Terrell was a strategist in the ring. He had 21 knockouts in his career, but he wasn't known for the power in his punches. He was known instead for his intelligent, if cautious, manner and his befuddling jabbing-and-holding style wasn’t pretty but it was effective. Terrell attempted to get optimum use from the height and reach advantages that he usually enjoyed, with predictable results.

Terrell turned professional in 1957. He won eighteen of his first twenty contests losing two eight round split decisions to Johnny Gray. In 1960 he was outscored by the capable Wayne Bethea. In 1962 Ernie suffered a major set back when he was halted by the powerful Cleveland Williams.

Terrell began his march to the top in 1963 defeating Williams in a return match and top contender Zora Folley. In 1964 Big Ernie beat Gerhard Zech, Jefferson Davis and stopped a young Bob Foster. A knockout over Henry Wallitsch in October of 1964 in St. Louis gave Terrell 12 consecutive wins, a 37-3 overall record, and a spot among the top contenders vying for the crown now held by Clay.

Terrell was near the top of the ladder in the heavyweight rankings when the World Boxing Association stripped Clay of the title. After Clay upset Sonny Liston in February of 1964 to win the crown, Clay quickly became persona non grata in the eyes of the WBA administration when he announced his alliance with a Muslim sect that embraced a doctrine which referred to white people as devils, was linked with protests and violence, and was perceived to be a dangerous threat to society. Clay, who had changed his name to Cassius X (prior to officially adopting the name Muhammad Ali), was unceremoniously dumped by the WBA. The official reason given was that Clay agreed to give Liston a rematch. The real reason was obvious; the WBA didn't want anything to do with Clay.

When the WBA stripped Ali of his title recognition they matched Terrell with contender Eddie Machen. It was an ugly fight with a lot of wrestling and little punching but Terrell did what he had to do to win the ” vacant ” title.

In November of 1965, Ali put his title (WBC) on the line against Floyd Patterson; Ali was beating everyone who beckoned for a title shot. After dispatching of Patterson, Ali repeated Terrell's feat when he earned a decision over Chuvalo in Toronto. Ali then went overseas and posted victories in quick succession over Henry Cooper and Brian London in England, and over southpaw Karl Mildenberger in Germany. Ali returned home and knocked out Cleveland Williams, who was just a shell of his former self, in three rounds in Houston.

During his reign as WBA Champion, Terrell defended the title twice. Maybe Ernie was not considered the real champion but he did establish himself as the most formidable challenger to Ali. He closed 1965 with a decision over rugged George Chuvalo. In 1966 Terrell defeated slick Doug Jones. Finally after a failed attempt Terrell and Ali were finally matched to unify the title and end the confusion about who was the legitimate heavyweight champion.

The bout would take place in February of 1967 at the Houston Astrodome. Ernie’s bold refusal to acknowledge Ali’s Muslim name and refer to him as Clay irked Muhammad who vowed to punish Ernie.

What most people remember about the Ali-Terrell fight is Ali continually yelling "What's my name?" as he pummeled and punished Terrell mercilessly.

Ali worked Terrell over throughout the fifteen rounder. Round after round Ali would lash out at Terrell with punishing jabs and flurries. Terrell just didn't have the means to neutralize Ali's amazing hand speed. To Ernie’s credit he gamely absorbed the punishment with a very swollen eye. Many observers felt that the referee should have intervened and halted matters some time after the ninth round. The ref didn't, though, and the massacre went on for a lopsided 15 round decision, with Ali reclaiming the undisputed Championship.

Terrell continued to box after losing to Ali, but he never fully recovered.

The WBA would later strip Ali of the title again in 1967 for refusing induction into the Armed Forces.

An eight man elimination tourney was set up to determine Ali’s successor. Ernie was one of the eight contestants and an early favorite to win the tournement. Terrell was eliminated in the first leg of the tourney being upset by Thad Spencer. Terrell looked to be finished when he next lost to Mexican Manuel Ramos. He would not fight again until 1970 and his comeback drew little interest until he scored a major upset in 1972 by halting highly rated Jose Luis Garcia. In 1973 Ernie lost a very controversial verdict to Chuck Wepner but his career then came crashing down when he was belted out in one round by Jeff ” Candy Slim ” Merritt.

In reality Ernie Terrell was a viable contender who was simply overshadowed by “The Greatest”.

As a professional online poker
guide we are naturally interested in boxing.
We find maltaboxing.net invaluable when finding out which fighter has the
best stats and toughest chin. The indepth articles that are available are
both knowledgeable and informative" pokerlisti
ngs.com

In 55 professional fights, Terrell earned a record of 46 wins (21 by knockout), nine losses and no draws. He retired from boxing in 1973 and began a career as a music producer in Chicago, Illinois.

Ernie Terrell ran unsuccessfully for alderman of Chicago's 34th ward in 1987. He finished second in the primary but lost to Lemuel Austin in a runoff.

Terrell is the older brother of The Supremes' early 1970s lead singer Jean Terrell. In the 1960s, she sang with his group, "Ernie Terrell & the Heavyweights".

Sources: Britannica, Mike Dunne (Historian), Cyberzone, Wikipedia and Eastside Boxing.

As a professional online poker
guide we are naturally interested in boxing.
We find maltaboxing.net invaluable when finding out which fighter has the
best stats and toughest chin. The indepth articles that are available are
both knowledgeable and informative" pokerlisti
ngs.com

History of the ring series

 

Boxers of Yesteryear

Boxers of Yesteryear

Boxers of Yesteryear

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