Counting over 1,000 deaths in the past century as well as athletes that have been damaged for life, boxing is considered a dangerous sport. While the debates on whether this game should be banned continue due to the violence, boxing is also viewed as the purest form of combat where men can pin their own body’s strength and reactions against others. Unfortunately for box fans, few actually share the latter opinion and boxing history has been sprinkled with embarrassing and regrettable events. Let’s explore the top 10 fateful moments in box.
1. Duk Koo Kim
South Korean superstar Kim is one of the saddest examples of how cruel this sport can be sometimes. He worked his way up the ladder and earned the right to go head to head against the undefeated champion, Ray Mancini. After receiving a crushing right hand punch, Kim suffered severe brain injury and died a few days later. Consumed by guilt, Mancini would never be the same again while the referee of the match committed suicide shortly after. Because she couldn’t cope with the loss, Kim’s mother also killed herself three months after the tragic event.
2. Panama Lewis
Even though he was world renowned for his excellent training skills, the world knows now that Panama Lewis didn’t back away from using illicit methods to win a game. The most famous incident in this sense is the game between an unknown journeyman boxer Luis Resto and undefeated star Billy Collins Jr. Because Lewis knew his trainee had no chance against Collins, he decided to pour a hardening agent on his gloves. Obviously, Collins was seriously mashed up in the next 10 rounds and he would never fight again after this match. In short, Resto and Lewis’s deeds were discovered immediately and both had been sent to jail; Collins Jr. died one year following the match.
3. Mike Tyson
After being seriously dominated in the first two rounds, Tyson was most likely getting pretty irritated by the fact that he was unable to land any successful punches against Holyfield. Enraged, Tyson entered the third round without his mouthpiece and during a clinch, he rolled his head and bit a one-inch piece of cartilage from the top of the right ear of his opponent and spat it on the floor. Horrifyingly, even though Holyfield has suffered massive trauma, the referee established that the game could continue. However, it didn’t take long before Tyson tried to take another bite of Holyfield’s ears, a deed for which he was disqualified, suspended from boxing and shun by all.
4. Jim Norris
A man whose corruption knew no limits, Jim Norris is said to be personally responsible for severed fixed matches, including Jake Lamotta versus Billy Fox and Harry Thomson versus Max Schmeling. All of that in plain sight, since we’re talking about matches broadcasted on national television. In addition, Norris has apparently managed many boxers at the time – even against their will! – and forced them to hire his associates as advisors.
5. IBF president Bob Lee Sr.
Founded as a sanctioning body, the International Boxing Federation was clearly awarding rankings on subjective criteria. Things got completely out of control when the federation’s president Bob Lee Sr. conspired with chairman Douglas Beavers to manipulate the system so they could favor the boxers whose promoters paid the highest bribes. Although Lee was convicted for racketeering and bribery back in 2001, the organization’s reputation has yet to recover.
6. Referee Richard Steel
There’s always a lot of excitement when two champions go head to head to prove who is the best. Not to mention that everyone expects quite a show when Olympic gold medalist Meldrick Taylor fights against undisputed 68-0 champion Julio Cesar Chavez. But when Don King is the promoter of one of the boxers while the match is overseen by Richard Steel, things tend to become predictable. Even though Taylor dominated the entire match and rose to his feet immediately after a knockdown, referee Richard Steel decided to end the match 2 seconds earlier and award the victory to Chavez. The Athletic Commission in Nevada condemned Steel’s decision and his career went up in smoke.
7. Sonny Liston
Sonny Liston’s name was synonymous with fixed games back in the 1960s. Perhaps the most famous fake match of Liston is the one against Cassius Clay, a game worthy of a special chapter in the fixed match manual. In case anyone present still had doubts regarding whether or not Clay actually hit Liston, the slow motion camera clearly showed that the hit was a graze at best. Not only that, but the successful boxer refused to enter the right in the 7th round accusing an injury. Rumors have it that Liston was working with the mafia.
8. Don King
A major “player” for three decades thanks to his famous Rumble in the Jungle match between undisputed heavyweight champion George Forman and contester Muhammad Ali, Don King is perceived as the evilest man in boxing history. In fact, numerous boxers including Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Tim Witherspoon and many others have sued King for fraud, breaching of contract, theft, bribery, and bookmaking. On a side note, it is even said that Don King has even had connections with organized crime cartels.
9. Andrew Golota
A sensation in the 1990s, Andrew Golota had an impressive record and was very close to overthrowing Riddick Bowe, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the time. Apparently, he wanted to break the record so bad that he started hitting Bowe under the belt repeatedly and even though he was penalized several times, the strange behavior continued until the referee had no other choice than to disqualify him. The decision was not to everyone’s liking, considering that soon after both athletes’ teams jumped at each others’ throats, an action that escalated quickly into a violent and racially charged protest: the famous Riot at Madison Square Garden.
10. James Butler
Despite his promising career and great potential, it appears that James Butler can’t take defeat lightly. After he was defeated at a charity event held in November 2011, he pretended to get back in the ring to congratulate his opponent, but instead launched a haymaker in Richard Grant’s face, a powerful punch that resulted in a lacerated tongue and broken jaw. Although he was arrested and imprisoned for assault, he continued his career after the incident only to commit another felony, the murder and arson of boxing analyst Max Kellerman. For the latter, Butler was sentenced to 29 years in prison.