|Real name||Ingemar Johansson|
The Hammer of Thor
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Reach||183 cm (72 in)|
September 22, 1932|
|Died||January 30, 2009
|Wins by KO||17|
|Competitor for Sweden|
Jens Ingemar Johansson (September 22, 1932 – January 30, 2009) was a Swedish boxer and former heavyweight champion of the world. Johansson was the fifth heavyweight champion born outside the United States. In 1959 he defeated Floyd Patterson by TKO in the third round, after flooring Patterson seven times in that round, to win the World Heavyweight Championship. As a result, Johansson was awarded the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year - the only non-American to do so in the Belt's entire 27-year existence - and was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year". He holds notable victories over Floyd Patterson, Eddie Machen, Joe Bygraves (two times), Henry Cooper, Brian London, Dick Richardson, Joe Erskine among others.
Johansson enjoyed a successful career as a heavyweight. When he retired in 1963 he had a record of 26 wins, 17 by KO, and only 2 losses. He called his right fist "toonder and lightning" for its concussive power (it was also called "Ingo's Bingo" and the "Hammer of Thor"), and in 2003 he was ranked at #99 on The Ring's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. He reputedly had bone trouble in his right hand on and off throughout his career as a result.
Johansson's introduction to the sport's limelight was inauspicious. He was at the age of eighteen disqualified for running from the eventual Olympic gold medalist, Ed Sanders, during the final of the Helsinki 1952 Summer Olympics heavyweight competition. Johansson maintained he was not fleeing Sanders (who also got a warning for passivity), but rather was trying to tire his huge opponent for a planned third round onslaught. Johansson said he had been limited to a 10-day training camp, he had been trained by novices and he had been told by his team leader to let Sanders be the aggressor. Nevertheless, his silver medal was withheld for this poor performance, but he was presented with the medal in 1982.
After the Olympics Johansson went into seclusion for six months, and considered quitting boxing. But he returned to the ring and turned professional under the guidance of the Swedish publisher and boxing promoter Edwin Ahlquist, and won his first 21 professional fights. He captured the Scandinavian pro title by knocking down and outscoring the Dane Erik Jensen (breaking his vaunted right hand in the process) A broken hand and a one year military service kept him out of the ring until late 1954. In August 1955 in his twelfth professional fight, Johansson knocked out former European Heavyweight Champion Hein ten Hoff in the first round. He took the Scandinavian heavyweight title in 1953 and on 30 September 1956 he won the European Heavyweight championship by scoring a 13 round KO over Italy’s Franco Cavicchi in 13 rounds in Milan for the European title.
Johansson earned his shot at the world heavyweight crown when he KOed top ranked contender Eddie Machen in the first round of their elimination match on 14 September 1958. In front of 53,615 screaming fans in Ullevi football stadium, Johansson downed Machen three times, finally flattening him with a barrage of punches at 2:16 of the first round. Johansson then signed to fight champion Floyd Patterson.
Johansson was a colourful figure in New York as he trained for the fight. Eschewing the monastic training regimen favored by Patterson and other fighters, Johansson trained at the Catskill resort of Grossingers. He didn't seem to train particularly hard, and was often seen at night spots with his attractive girlfriend, Elaine Sloane, whom he asked out while she was working for Sports Illustrated.
He entered the ring in Yankee Stadium on 26 June 1959, as a 5-1 underdog. Johansson spent the first two rounds of the encounter retreating and flicking a light left jab at the champion. In the third round, Johansson threw a wide left hook that Patterson blocked with his right hand. When he moved his right hand away from its protective peek-a-boo position before his chin, Johansson drilled him with a short powerful right hand. Patterson went down, arose on unsteady legs and was out on his feet. Johansson followed up his advantage and sent Patterson down 6 more times in the round before the bout was stopped by referee Ruby Goldstein. Johansson celebrated with his girlfriend and future wife Birgit Lundgren and the next day a headline in a New York newspaper expressed the city's amazement. It read: "Ingo -- It's Bingo."  When Johansson returned to Sweden, he flew in on a helicopter, landing in the main football stadium in Gothenburg, his home town, and was cheered by 20,000 people. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as well as the cover of Life Magazine on 20 July 1959, alongside Birgit.
Johansson was a flamboyant champion - a precursor to the "Swinging Sixties". One publication dubbed Johansson "boxing’s Cary Grant" and in 1960 he appeared in the movie All the Young Men as a Marine, alongside stars Alan Ladd and Sidney Poitier. Wherever he went, in the U.S. or in Sweden, he had a beautiful woman on his arm, with paparazzi snapping pictures.
To train for the third fight with Patterson, Ingemar sparred with a young Muhammad Ali, (known then as Cassius Clay) in Miami Beach. After Cassius had "boxed his way around the ring, as if it was he, using 'Ingo' as a sparring partner," somebody offered $100,000 to Ingemar to fight in a televised event with Ali, but Ingemar declined saying that the fight wouldn't draw three ticket holders and that Ali didn't have the ability to step in the ring with him at that time.
Rematch with Patterson
Johansson proposed to girlfriend Birgit in April 1960 after the champion visited Egypt. Then he turned his attention to defending his title against Floyd Patterson. The two signed for a rematch on 20 June 1960. Patterson knocked Johansson out in the fifth round with a leaping left hook to become the first man to recover the world's undisputed heavyweight title. The punch caught Johansson's chin and he hit the canvas with a thud, out cold before he landed flat on his back. With blood trickling from his mouth, his glazed eyes staring up at the ring lights, and his left foot twitching the Swede was counted out. After the count, Patterson showed his concern for Johansson by cradling his motionless opponent, and promising him a second rematch. Johansson lay flat on his back on the canvas for five minutes before he was placed on a stool brought into the ring. He was still dazed and unsteady fifteen minutes after the knockout as he was helped out of the ring.
Third match with Patterson
Patterson and Johansson fought their final match on 13 March 1961. Johansson appeared to be in the worst physical condition of his three bouts with Patterson. A. J. Liebling, writing in The New Yorker, said the outcome seemed preordained and that Johansson was not dieting for the fight, eating creamed chicken, strawberry shortcake, and cherry cheesecake. Nonetheless the fight was competitive. Johansson caught Patterson leaping at him in the very first round and knocked him down. He followed his advantage up by scoring another knockdown, but was himself caught going in wide open by that famous Patterson left hook. It knocked him down. As the fight progressed, it became obvious that Johansson was spent. Patterson won when the referee (very swift) stopped the contest in round six when after Johansson had been down.
Later career and retirement
Johansson, then only 29, returned to Europe. He recaptured the European crown from Dick Richardson by an eight round KO on 17 June 1962. By this time, Sonny Liston had captured the heavyweight crown from Patterson, and efforts were underway to match Johansson with Liston. Boxing fans would have loved the match.
Johansson, however, fought journeyman heavyweight Brian London on 21 April 1963, in a non-title twelve-round match. Johansson won most of the rounds by boxing fairly well but not throwing a serious right hand punch throughout the entire fight. In round twelve, with four seconds remaining in the fight, London tagged Johansson with a powerful right hand that knocked him down flat on his back. Johansson arose at the count of four, just as the bell rang to end the fight. Film of this fight clearly illustrates Ingo was upright but groggy at the sound of the bell.
The next day, the front page of Stockholm's newspapers showed a photo of him dizzy, climbing the ropes, with the headline "Wake up Ingo – You won!" After seeing this, he sat down and wrote a letter to the European Boxing Union, resigning his title and retiring from boxing at the age of 30, somewhat younger than many.
Professional boxing record
|26 Wins (17 knockouts, 8 decisions, 1 disqualification), 2 Losses (2 knockouts)|
|Win||26-2||Brian London||PTS||12||21/04/1963||Johanneshov Ice Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden|
|Win||25-2||Dick Richardson||KO||8 (15)||17/06/1962||Nya Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden||Won EBU (European) Heavyweight title.|
|Win||24-2||Wim Snoek||KO||5 (10)||15/04/1962||Kungliga tennishallen, Stockholm, Sweden|
|Win||23-2||Joe Bygraves||TKO||7 (12)||02/09/1962||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, sweden|
|Loss||22-2||Floyd Patterson||KO||6 (15)||13/03/1961||Convention Hall, Miami Beach, Florida, United States||For World Heavyweight title.|
|Loss||22-1||Floyd Patterson||KO||5 (15)||20/06/1960||Polo Grounds, New York, New York, United States||Lost World Heavyweight title.|
|Win||22-0||Floyd Patterson||TKO||3 (15)||26/06/1959||Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, United States||Won World Heavyweight title.|
|Win||21-0||Eddie Machen||KO||1 (12)||14/09/1958||Nya Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden||Spectator record for Swedish Boxing.|
|Win||20-0||Heinz Neuhaus||TKO||4 (12)||13/07/1958||Nya Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||19-0||Joe Erskine||TKO||13 (15)||21/02/1958||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden||Retained EBU (European) Heavyweight title.|
|Win||18-0||Archie McBride||PTS||10||13/12/1957||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||17-0||Henry Cooper||KO||5 (15)||19/05/1957||Råsunda Stadium Stockholm, Sweden||Retained EBU (European) Heavyweight title.|
|Win||16-0||Peter Bates||KO||2 (10)||28/12/1956||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||15-0||Franco Cavicchi||KO||13 (15)||30/09/1956||Palazzo Dello Sport, Bologna, Italy||Won EBU (European) Heavyweight title.|
|Win||14-0||Hans Friedrich||PTS||10||15/04/1956||Kungliga tennishallen, Stockholm, Sweden|
|Win||13-0||Joe Bygraves||PTS||8||24/02/1956||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||12-0||Hein ten Hoff||KO||1 (8)||28/08/1955||Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||11-0||Guenter Nurnberg||KO||7 (8)||12/06/1955||Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany|
|Win||10-0||Uber Bacilieri||UD||8||03/04/1955||Kungliga tennishallen, Stockholm, Sweden|
|Win||9-0||Aldo Pellegrini||DQ||5 (8)||04/03/1955||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||8-0||Kurt Schiegl||TKO||5 (8)||13/02/1955||Kungliga tennishallen, Stockholm, Sweden|
|Win||7-0||Ansell Adams||PTS||8||06/01/1955||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||6-0||Werner Wiegand||TKO||5 (8)||05/11/1954||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||5-0||Raymond Degl’lnnocenti||KO||2 (6)||03/12/1953||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||4-0||Erik Jensen||PTS||6||12/03/1953||K.B. Hallen Sports Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark||Won Scandinavian Heavyweight title.|
|Win||3-0||Lloyd Barnett||PTS||8||06/03/1953||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||2-0||Emile Bentz||KO||2 (6)||06/02/1953||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Win||1-0||Robert Masson||KO||4 (8)||05/12/1952||Maesshallen Sports Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden|
Legend: Win Loss Draw/No contest Notes
Ingemar Johansson and Floyd Patterson became good friends who flew across the Atlantic to visit each other every year.
In the 1960s along with other business interests, Johansson co-promoted boxing cards in Sweden, including several with ex-champ Sonny Liston (1966 and 1967). On April 22, 1966, he boxed a five-round exhibition with European Heavyweight Champion Karl Mildenberger for his first co-promotion. He also owned a fishing boat and a bar called "Ingo's".
By the 1970s he resided in Pompano Beach, Florida, for part of each year and ran in marathons (including the Boston Marathon) all over the world until the mid-1980s. In 1985 he completed the Stockholm Marathon.
During the 1990s Johansson and Patterson would attend boxing conventions and also sign their autographs on boxing memorabilia. They continued to be friends until the onset of Alzheimer's disease incapacitated them both. It is thought the illness was of the type linked to boxing, although his career was fairly short compared to some champions. In the 1990s Johansson's business interests in Sweden included sports apparel and a light lager beer entitled HAMMER, named for his punching prowess.
In 2000, the Swedish Sports Academy selected Johansson as Sweden's third-best athlete of the 20th century, behind tennis great Björn Borg and Alpine skiing great Ingemar Stenmark. In 2002, he was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Having suffered from Alzheimer's disease and dementia since the mid-1990s, he lived in a nursing home in Kungsbacka while his health deteriorated. In the later stages of his illness, he was reunited with his second wife, Birgit, who was at his side when he died on January 30, 2009, from complications following pneumonia. At the time of his death, he was at age 76 the oldest living heavyweight champion. Johansson was married and divorced twice, and is survived by five children.
In January 2011, the 1959 Johnny Lion song "Ingemar Johansson", which chronicles the 1959 Patterson fight, was re-released on the compilation album From The Vault: The Coed Records Lost Master Tapes, Volume 1.
- Ingemar Johansson - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- According to the Swedish Taxation Agency, Johansson was registered as Jens Ingmar Johansson
- http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/boxing/news/story?id=3905121 Sweden's Johansson remembered
- Ingemar Johansson: Boxer who beat Floyd Patterson to win the world heavyweight title February 3, 2009. The Independent
- Ingemar Johansson, Who Beat Patterson for Heavyweight Title, Dies at 76 New York Times. January 31, 2009.
- Video on YouTube
- wikipedia's own Pugilistica Demenia article
- Boxing News: Ingemar Johansson dies
- Baptista, Todd (March 2011). “Lost and Found”, Goldmine, Volume 37, Issue 797, Page 97.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ingemar Johansson.|
- Ingemar Johansson at IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0423959/
- Ingemar Johansson at Find a Grave
- svenska.yle.fi/arkivet: Interview with Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson
|World Heavyweight Champion
|European Heavyweight Champion
September 30, 1956 - March 27, 1960
|European Heavyweight Champion
June 17, 1962 - April 22, 1963
|Oldest Living Heavyweight Champion
February 2, 2005 – January 30, 2009
|Edward J. Neil Trophy
(BWAA Fighter of the Year)
|Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year