In the world of boxing, there are too many bad rivalries and even more bad blood. Amongst all this, coming up with ten moments when the world of boxing was put to shame is hardly the most difficult task on the planet. We take this moment to highlight ten such ridiculous moments that no sport, especially one as popular as boxing, should encounter.

Here are its 10 worst moments:

10. The Harlem Hammer

James “Harlem Hammer” Butler, a promising young fighter from New York City, USA, took on Richard “The Alien” Grant in November, 2001. A charity event, the bout was meant to raise money for the survivors of the September 11 attacks. The match went on as usual, without any untoward incidents, and Butler lost the match by a unanimous decision.

Making his way to the centre of the ring to, supposedly, congratulate the winner, Butler walked towards Grant. As Grant came to embrace him, Butler swung a vicious blow to Grant’s face, already having taken his gloves off. Grant suffered a broken jaw, lacerated tongue and several stitches. Butler was arrested and convicted for assault, ending up in prison.

Butler returned to professional boxing upon his release, but could never replicate his success. He was, eventually, convicted for the murder of Sam Kellerman, in October, 2004. The Harlem Hammer’s weapon of choice was, in fact, a hammer.

09. Andrew Golota

With a 27-0 record, Andrew Golota was on the verge of greatness. All that stood in his path was the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Riddick Bowe, with his 38-1 record. Golota responded to the challenge by smashing Bowe to bits. While leading Bowe by a mile on points, Golota seemingly wanted a knockout and the way things were going, it seemed inevitable.

This was extremely surprising because Bowe went into the fight as the overwhelming favourite and even stated, in an interview, “Why do I have to train so hard to fight a bum?”

The crowd at the Madison Square Garden was predominantly a pro-Bowe crowd and Golota was being jeered at every step.

However, the seventh round just changed things around suddenly. For some weirdly unknown reason, Golota began hitting Bowe below the belt. With each blow, the Polish-born Golota was being punished by the referee, who eventually deducted a point, three times.

After these unheard of deductions, the referee was forced to disqualify Golota when he went below the belt again. Bowe’s team spilt into the ring and rushed at Golota and his team. The entire crowd at the Garden got involved in this racially-driven madness and the fight ended up spilling into the crowds.

The police had to be called in as the stadium security wasn’t built to handle the riot. Dozens of fans, boxing officials & personal and police were injured in the riot.

08. Don’s Kingdom

Organizing boxing matches is not difficult, even if you are a convicted killer or numbers’ operator. Enter Don King, who jumped into the fray with Ali & Foreman’s “Rumble in the Jungle”, is one of the dirtiest players in the game.

He was famous for all kinds of fraud, some of them quite publicly even. He made numerous promises to young fighters, adding them illegally to his stable, while continuing his association with murder, bribery, theft, bookmaking, breaching contracts and racketeering, while collaborating with the local mafia.

A true “statesman of the sport”, someone who probably wore his hair that way to hide his horns!

07. The Phantom Punch

Sonny Liston was a promising boxer who learnt the art of the gloves during his time in prison. He destroyed many fighters on his way to the heavyweight title, where he would meet Cassius Clay. Unfortunately, Liston was prominent with Frankie Carbo and “Blinky” Palermo, to mafia mob bosses who, in the eye of the media, controlled Sonny’s actions.

When this highly rated fighter stepped into the first round, against Cassius Clay, he took a dive. It was clearly visible in the replay that Clay had clearly missed with his quick combination, if not grazed his face. Clay went on to win the fight on a knockout. Liston died 5 years later in mysterious circumstances.

06. Meddling Referees

The event was not only rare, but unheard of. When Julio Cesar Chavez, 68-0, fought against undefeated Olympic Gold Medallist and Welter-weight Champion, Meldrick Taylor, everyone thought Chavez would win. However, Taylor had a different plan. He went about smashing Chavez with his fantastic speed and reach.

As the match wore on, Taylor had built an enormous, & seemingly unbeatable, points lead. However, in the final round, his speed began to drop. With 16 seconds to go, in the final round, Chavez landed a decent blow to Taylor, who went into the corner. However, Taylor was quick to get up and was being given the customary 8-count by referee Richard Steele. With Taylor ready to get back in for the remaining 2 seconds of the bout, Steele decided to award the victory to Chavez, stating that Taylor couldn’t continue.

Despite numerous protests from Taylor’s camp, the Nevada State Athletic Association Commission (NSAAC) upheld the decision. Taylor’s career just went downhill from that point forth. The fact that the NSAAC wasn’t known to be the most honest commission around, and that Chavez was promoted by no one but Don “The Fraud” King, may have had some influence on the outcome of the entire match.

05. The Ranking System Itself

When the body that organizes the sport is almost openly corrupt, there is little that others can do. In a sport where only the top 15 fighters in the world can get a shot at the title, there is bound to be a strong influence on the ranking system.

In 1999, IBF president Bob Lee Sr. was convicted on numerous racketeering charges. He was known to have rigged the rankings for boxers & promoters who paid him millions of dollars to get a shot at the title. Hundreds of thousands of dollars was known to routinely change hands, with Don King and Cedric Kushner being the most popular customers. Promoters, who didn’t pay, never saw title fights, leading to a ranking system that had nothing to do with merit.

04. Corrupt beyond Recognition

The name of James D. Norris has gone down in folklore for being one of the biggest match fixers of all time. A man who was wealthy and powerful, decided to hang on the wrong side of good, and played openly with criminals and lowlife. Fixing matches was his specialty!

He was personally know to have fixed numerous matches including some big ones, such as Harry Thomas v/s Max Schmeling, 1937 and Jake Lamotta v/s Billy Fox, 1946. He was the king of corruption, managing many boxers as well, illegally. Some of them, the boxers i.e., were held unwillingly, under stern contracts. He would persuade them to hire his associates as advisors even. A string of farcical matches were passed off as competitive bouts, eroding boxing’s integrity. The fact that James D. Norris’ Hockey Hall of Fame award should have been complemented with Boxing’s Hall of Shame title.

03. A Farce of Olympic Proportions

Roy Jones Jr. had a memorable 1984 Summer Olympic Games, in Los Angeles, USA. This was until the finals of the Boxing competition. Americans had dominated the boxing competition in the Olympics, winning 9 of the 12 medals on offer. Many countries felt cheated by this feat. When Jones took on Park, things were supposed to swing Jones’ way but no one thought it would at such a rate.

Jones landed 86 punches on Park, 54 more than he received. However, at the time the decision was made, Park was awarded the gold medal by judges from Uganda, Uruguay and Morocco. However, this wasn’t the worst of what the competition had to offer.

A bantamweight bout between Byun Jong Il of South Korea and Alexander Hristov of Bulgaria was clearly heading south. New Zealand Referee Keith Walker had already penalised Jong for head-butting his opponent on numerous occasions. The entire match was rampant with fouls but Hristov was the clear winner, probably for committing lesser fouls.

The South Korean’s trainers and fans stormed the ring and brought with them chairs & bottles. They attacked the referee who barely escaped serious injury.

02. Tailored by Panama

At one time, there were few better coaches in the world of boxing, than Carlos “Panama” Lewis. His character, however, was the complete opposite. Constantly under a cloud of suspicion for spiking his boxers’ water with illegal stimulants, Panama was also known to gamble on fights he was involved in. When it came to Luis Resto, Panama had something bigger in mind.

Resto was merely a side-fighter, someone who would come into the boxing scene, and vanish, without raising any eyebrows. However, against rising star Billy Collins, Jr., in 1983, Resto raised a lot more than just eyebrows.

Knowing that Resto was no match for Collins, Panama decided to remove some of the padding from within Resto’s gloves while also pouring an illegal hardening substance on his hand wraps. For 10 rounds, Resto literally smashed Collins around, before being declared the winner.

Collins’ father came to Resto, touched his hands and immediately found the source of his new found skill. He notified the officials at ring-side, got Panama Lewis and Luis Resto’s licenses revoked permanently and got them thrown out of boxing forever.

However, things didn’t go well for Billy Collins Jr. who never fought again. He received injuries he couldn’t recover from and ended up committing suicide a year later.

01. Korean Tragedy

When South Korean superstar Duk Koo Kim took on Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in November, 1982, few gave him a chance. That Kim would get hammered as badly as he did, no one thought so. The bout was brutal and Kim was knocked around by Mancini, before a massive right sent him flying to the ropes, and onto the floor.

Kim got up, but the referee stopped the fight. Minutes later, Kim fell inside the ring and slipped into a coma. He was taken to the hospital where he died of severe brain trauma, four days later. Kim’s death became the saddest moment in boxing history and Ray Mancini also saw a massive decline in his career. Blaming himself for the South Korean’s death, Mancini never fought like before, until he finally retired.

Kim’s mother committed suicide three months after her son’s death while referee Richard Green, overcome by guilt of not having stopped the fight earlier, committed suicide soon after the fight.

Anjali nambissan
Sports Pundit member

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