Monday, 2 May 2011

Henry Cooper RIP

British boxing heavyweight legend Sir Henry Cooper dies

By Andy Bloxham
01 May 2011

The heavyweight was best known for knocking down a young Cassius Clay in 1963, in a fight which many commentators believed he should have won.

He floored Ali in the fourth round with "Enry's Ammer" - his trademark left hook - but Ali was given the chance to recover when his corner claimed he needed to change his ripped gloves.

Ali eventually won the non-title fight at Wembley, with Cooper bleeding, as was common in his fights, around the eyes.

Ali triumphed again when they boxed three years later but Cooper remained a favourite with the British public.

In 1970, Sir Henry become the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion, and cemented his reputation as one of the greatest post-war home-grown boxers.

He remains the only boxer to have won three Lonsdale belts outright. He was knighted in 2000.

Robert Smith, the general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, paid tribute to Cooper tonight and described him as "one of the sporting icons, not just for the boxing public but sport in general".

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Smith continued: "He fought Muhammad Ali twice, once when he was Cassius Clay and once when he was Muhammad Ali, and he put up wonderful performances.

"Ali is possibly the greatest athlete there's ever been and Henry put up a great performance and just wasn't quite good enough on both occasions - but he's not the only one who wasn't good enough to beat Ali.

"Ali was one of the first 'big' heavyweights and Henry lost to Joe Bugner, who was 15-odd stone and Henry was 14 - just bigger men. For such a small man, he put up some great performances in a world-class context."

On the affection in which Cooper was held, he added: "It's not just the boxing and your ability, it's the personality as well.

"He won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year on two occasions, which is a tremendous feat for a boxer. Everyone called him 'Our Enry', and he was much loved, he served boxing wonderfully."

Muhammad Ali laments death of 'ole friend' Sir Henry Cooper
Muhammad Ali yesterday lamented the loss of his two-time foe and British sporting legend Sir Henry Cooper, who passed away on Sunday, aged 76.

By Gareth A Davies
02 May 2011

"I am at a loss for words over the death of my friend, Henry Cooper," Ali said in a statement Sunday night. "I was not aware he was ill. I visited with him two summers ago during a brief visit to Windsor as part of the Equestrian Games being held there.

“He was in good humour and looked quite fit. Henry always had a smile for me; a warm and embracing smile. It was always a pleasure being in Henry's company. I will miss my ole friend. He was a great fighter and a gentleman."

Sir Henry, one of Britain's most popular sportsmen who was best known for knocking down Muhammad Ali while he was still known as Cassius Clay, met with Ali when ‘The Greatest’ was on a tour of Britain two years ago.

Cooper floored Ali, then an up-and-coming contender named Clay, in a 1963 non-title fight at Wembley Stadium. The pair stayed firm friends.

Promoter Bob Arum, who brought Ali to face Cooper a second time, at Arsenal football stadium in 1966, described Sir Henry as “the epitomy of an athlete and a gentleman.”

Arum, the veteran American fight organiser, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

"Henry was a real gent and that was apparent from first to last when we dealt with him in London when Ali fought there against him for the first time."

"There was something special about him as a personality and of course, he belonged to a different age. He was a gracious man. He carried himself with dignity at all times. Later, he became an elder statesman and was one of the good guys in boxing. He will be sadly missed. I know Ali enjoyed seeing him in Windsor two years ago when Ali visited. A legend has gone. He won't be forgotten.

"Lonnie, Ali’s wife, told The Daily Telegraph that Sir Henry had seemed in good health two years ago when they met in Windsor at a charity function, the day before the American heavyweight world champion travelled to Ennistown, Ireland, where he met distant relatives.

Bert Randolph Sugar, the esteemed American boxing writer and historian, told The Daily Telegraph: “I met Sir Henry and talked with him at length at the Hall of Fame a few years back. He wore a white coat, a white formal jacket, and stood very erect. He was very proper – almost the quintessential British gentlemen. He will go down as one of Britain’s all time greats, or at the very least, one of the most revered.”

1 comment:

  1. Rest In Peace Henry.
    In these days of alphabet world champions and trash talkers Boxing can ill afford to lose a class act like Henry, a true gentleman.