Floyd Patterson was an American boxer and former Heavyweight champion of the world. He was born on January 4, 1935 in Waco, North Carolina, U.S.A to a poor family. Being the youngest of 11 children, Patterson had a troubled life when he was a child.
He began to show interest in boxing at the age of 14 after his almost 2-year stay at the reform school of Wiltwyck School for Boys in Esopus, New York. In 1952, after 3 years of training in boxing with Cus D’Amato, Patterson won the National Amateur Middleweight Championship, the New York Golden Gloves Middleweight Championship and also a gold medal in the middleweight division during the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
When he turned professional, he defeated every boxer he met in the ring. His first loss in the ring was against Joey Maxim on June 7, 1954. In 1956, Patterson was ranked as the top light heavyweight boxer in the light heavyweight division by Ring magazine. After the International Boxing Club announced Patterson’s interest to become a contender for the heavyweight title held by Rocky Marciano who announced his retirement, Ring magazine moved him to the heavyweight division, where he ranked No. 5. On November 30, 1956, Patterson defeated Archie Moore for the Heavyweight Championship of the World by knocking him out in the fifth round. Patterson made a boxing record by becoming the youngest heavyweight champion of the world in history, only at the age of 21 years and also the first Olympic medalist to win a heavyweight title.
Patterson lost his title to Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson in 1959, when the referee stopped the fight after he was knocked down several times in the third round. When they met for a rematch in 1960, Patterson finally reclaimed the title by knocking Johansson out in the fifth round, who laid unconscious for 5 minutes before he was removed from the ring. Patterson came to the aid of Johansson by holding him in his arms until the medics arrived which reinforced his nickname – “The Gentleman of Boxing”. He made another record in boxing by being the first boxer to reclaim his heavyweight title after losing it. During their third fight in 1961, Patterson still managed to defeat Johansson in the sixth round via knockout.
In 1962, Patterson lost his title when he was knocked out by Sonny Liston in the first round. He also lost during their rematch in 1963. He fought Muhammad Ali in 1965 to reclaim the heavyweight title but lost at the 12th round by technical knockout. In 1966, he knocked Henry Cooper out in just 4 rounds in England. When Ali retired, Patterson sought to reclaim the heavyweight title for the 3rd time but lost in a controversial decision to Sweden’s Jimmy Ellis despite Patterson breaking the latter’s nose.
In 1972, he still managed to defeat Oscar Bonavena. However, he was pushed to retirement in the same year after losing in a rematch with Ali for the heavyweight title of the North American Boxing Federation.
When he ended his boxing career, Patterson was 37 year old and had a total of only 8 losses out of 64 fights. He won in 55 fights and 40 of which, he won by knockout. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1987. He died on May 11, 2006 at the age of 71 in New Paltz, New York due to prostate cancer and after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.