*Some of you boxing fans are probably too young to know of him, but Jimmy Ellis was at one time the WBA world heavyweight champion who held the title from 1968 to 1970 and fought in an era of the great modern heavyweights.
Guys like Joe Frazier, Jimmie Young, Ron Lyle, Jerry Quarry, George Foreman, Cleveland Williams, and the great Muhammad Ali are just a few of those tough, talented and skillful fighters who fought in the perod of the sixties.
Originally from Louisville, Kentucky he was a childhood friend of Muhammad Ali and the two oif them fought in the amateurs together and compiled a record of 59-7. He went professional in 1961 and started as a middleweight and fought guys like Rubin ” Hurricane” Carter, and George Benton. He reached out to Angelo Dundee who was Ali’s trainer at the time, to get his assistance to handle his career and became his manager.
By the time Ali had got stripped of his title in 1966 he was fighting as a heavyweight and partcipated in the eight man tournanment that was put on by the WBA for the vacant heavyweight title of which he ultimately won by defeating Jerry Quarry on April 27, 1968 in Oakland, Calif.
He defended the title only once by winning a controversial decision against Floyd Patterson.
He went on to fight Joe Frazier to unify the WBA and New York State heavyweight titles and got knocked out in the fourth round.
He later went against his childhood friend Muhammad Ali at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas on July 26 1971 and got stopped in the twelveth of a scheduled fifteen rounder.
He finally retired on May 6, 1975 and began to train fighters while working for the Louisville Parks and Recreation Dept.
He ultimately developed dementia pugilista a common condition that a lot of fighters acquire from getting hit in the head too many times in their career.
Although Jimmy Ellis was not considerd by many in the boxing world as one of the great ones in the ring, he indeed was a great man outside of it.
Our nthoughts and prayers indeed go out to his family and friends. May God’s peace and blessings be upon him.
Southern California based Mohammed Mubarak’s Ringside Update column can also be seen in the Pace News, the Inland Valley News, and the High Desert Inland Valley News. Mohammed is a portrait artist as well. He can be contacted at [email protected] for your comments.