|Real name||James Albert Ellis|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Reach||76 in (193 cm)|
February 24, 1940 |
|Wins by KO||24|
James Albert "Jimmy" Ellis (born February 24, 1940) is a retired boxer from Louisville, Kentucky. He fought in what some consider to be the greatest heavyweight era of all-time. The top heavyweights of the time included Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, George Chuvalo, Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle, Buster Mathis, Cleveland Williams, and Earnie Shavers, among others. Ellis held the WBA World Heavyweight Championship from 1968 to 1970. He was a skilled boxer with a good chin and, as manager and trainer Angelo Dundee always stated, much better punching power than many expected.
Ellis got into boxing as a teenager after watching a friend box fellow Louisville native Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, on a local amateur boxing television show called Tomorrow's Champions. "I had a friend of mine named Donnie Hall, and he fought Ali," Ellis said. "Donnie lost, and I thought I could maybe be a fighter then." Ellis went with Hall to Louisville's Columbia Gym, where the coach was a police officer named Joe Martin.
Ellis won 59 of 66 amateur bouts and was a Golden Gloves champion. He boxed Ali twice as an amateur, with Ali winning the first bout and Ellis winning the second.
Early professional career
Ellis turned professional in 1961. Early in his pro career, he was trained and managed by Bud Bruner. With Bruner, he compiled a record of 15-5 (6 KOs) as a middleweight. His five losses were decisions to top middleweight contenders Holly Mims (whom he defeated in a rematch), Henry Hank, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Don Fullmer, and George Benton.
At the end of 1964, after losing three out of four fights, Ellis decided to leave Bruner. He later recalled Bruner fondly. "I liked him, and I fought a lot of top-rated fighters when I was with him, but eventually I had to move on," Ellis said. "He did me justice, and we always remained friends."
Ellis wrote a letter to Angelo Dundee, the trainer of Ali, and asked him to handle his career. Dundee agreed to be his manager and trainer. Ellis became a sparring partner for Ali and fought on his undercards. Six of his first eight fights with Dundee were on an Ali undercard.
Wins WBA world title
By 1966, Ellis was fighting as a heavyweight. When Ali was stripped of the world title for refusing to enter the military, the World Boxing Association staged an eight-man tournament that featured most of the top heavyweight contenders. Ellis, who was ranked eighth in the world after eight consecutive wins, was invited to be in the tournament. Joe Frazier, ranked second by the WBA, chose not to participate in the tournament. Instead, Frazier fought for the vacant New York State Athletic Commission World Heavyweight Championship, which he won with an eleventh-round knockout of Buster Mathis.
In the opening round of the tournament, Ellis fought Leotis Martin on August 5, 1967 in Houston, Texas. Ellis, the betting underdog, battered Martin's face into a bloody mask, and the referee stopped the fight in the ninth round.
Ellis met Oscar Bonavena in the second round of the tournament. The fight took place on December 2, 1967 in Louisville, Kentucky. Ellis, once again the underdog, dropped the iron-jawed Bonavena once in the third round and once in the tenth. After twelve rounds, Ellis was awarded a clear unanimous decision. He controlled the match throughout with perhaps the best display in his career. He advanced to the tournament final.
In the tournament final, Ellis faced Jerry Quarry, a slight betting favorite, on April 27, 1968 in Oakland, California. In a dull fight, Ellis fought what Sports Illustrated called "a tactical masterpiece" and won by a fifteen-round majority decision to capture the vacant WBA Heavyweight Championship. Quarry said, "If they'd given me the decision, I'd have given it back. I didn't deserve it."
In his only successful title defense, Ellis defeated Floyd Patterson by a controversial fifteen-round decision on September 14, 1968 in Stockholm, Sweden. Ellis, who suffered a broken nose in the second round, was awarded the decision by the referee, the sole judge. Many in the crowd of 30,000 disagreed with the decision and started chanting, "Floyd champ!" The New York Times scored the fight seven rounds to six for Ellis, with two even.
Following the defeat of Patterson, Ellis was out of the ring for seventeen months. He was going to fight Henry Cooper in the United Kingdom, even though the British Boxing Board of Control refused to recognize the fight as a world title bout: the BBBofC was affiliated with the World Boxing Council, who stated that they would only recognize a fight between Joe Frazier and a suitable contender as being for the world title. The fight was postponed a couple of times and eventually cancelled because Cooper injured his knee. Ellis then planned to fight Bob Cleroux in Montreal, but Cleroux lost what was supposed to be a tune-up fight against the lightly regarded Billy Joiner. Finally, Ellis was going to fight Gregorio Peralta in Argentina, but promoters canceled the fight 24 hours before it was to take place because of poor ticket sales.
Unification match versus Joe Frazier
On February 16, 1970, Ellis fought Joe Frazier to unify the World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The undefeated Frazier, a heavy betting favorite, proved to be too strong and powerful. Ellis, who had never been floored as a heavyweight, was knocked down twice in the fourth round by a relentless Frazier, and Angelo Dundee stopped the fight before the start of the fifth round. It was the first knockout loss for Ellis.
After winning his next three fights, Ellis fought Muhammad Ali in the Houston Astrodome on July 26, 1971. Angelo Dundee chose to work with Ellis for the fight. He was Ali's trainer, but he was both manager and trainer for Ellis. Working with Ellis meant that he would get a bigger share of the purse. Ali understood completely and got Harry Wiley, who had worked with Henry Armstrong and Sugar Ray Robinson, to be his trainer for the Ellis fight. It was one of the few fights in Ali's career in which Dundee was not in his corner.
Ellis fought well over the first three rounds, but the fight turned after Ellis was hurt by a right hand in the fourth round. The right hand "hurt me so bad I couldn't really fight my best after that," Ellis said. "It ruined me." The referee stopped the fight in the twelfth round as Ellis, who remained on his feet throughout the fight, was taking punishment along the ropes.
After the loss to Ali, Ellis won his next eight fights by knockout. On June 18, 1973, he fought Earnie Shavers, who was 44-2 (43 KOs), at Madison Square Garden. Ellis, ranked fourth by the WBA, stunned Shavers with a chopping right to the jaw and backed him into a corner. Shavers took numerous shots in the corner before clinching. After the referee separated the fighters, Shavers put Ellis down for the count with a wicked right uppercut to the chin. The time was 2:39 in the first round. It was a stunning win for Shavers.
Ellis came back with a knockout win against club fighter Memphis Al Jones, but with his skills in decline, he went winless in his next five fights. He lost a split decision to Boone Kirkman, fought a draw with Larry Middleton, dropped decisions to Ron Lyle and Joe Bugner, and was stopped in nine rounds in a rematch with Joe Frazier.
The rematch with Joe Frazier took place in Melbourne, Australia on March 2, 1975. Ellis won the first three rounds, but Frazier then picked up the intensity and took control. With Ellis bloody and battered, Angelo Dundee signaled for referee Bob Foster to stop the fight in the ninth round.
On May 6, 1975, in what would be his last fight, Ellis knocked out club fighter Carl Baker in the first round. He retired after suffering a training injury that left him partially blind in his left eye. Ellis finished with a record of 40-12-1 (24 KOs).
After retiring from boxing, Ellis trained boxers and worked for the Louisville Parks Department. He now suffers from dementia pugilistica. It has been reported that Ellis' condition is so bad that he believes his deceased wife is still alive.
Professional boxing record
|40 Wins (24 knockouts, 16 decisions), 12 Losses (4 knockouts, 8 decisions), 1 Draw |
|Win||21-22-1||Carl "The Tank" Baker||KO||1||06/05/1975||Orlando, Florida|
|Loss||31-2||Joe Frazier||TKO||9||02/03/1975||St. Kilda Junction Oval, Melbourne, Victoria||The referee stopped the bout at 0:59 of the 9th round.|
|Loss||48-6-1||Joe Bugner||PTS||10||12/11/1974||Empire Pool, Wembley, London||The referee's score: 0-8-2|
|Loss||27-1-1||Ron Lyle||UD||12||16/07/1974||Denver, Colorado||Scores: 55-59, 52-58, 52-59|
|Draw||21-4-1||Larry Middleton||PTS||10||04/03/1974||Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland||Scores: 46-44, 45-46, 47-47|
|Loss||30-2||Boone Kirkman||SD||10||12/12/1973||Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington||Scores: 93-97, 95-98, 98-97|
|Win||5-20-2||"Memphis" Al Jones||KO||7||23/10/1973||Atlanta Municipal Auditorium, Atlanta, Georgia|
|Loss||44-2||Earnie Shavers||KO||1||18/06/1973||Madison Square Garden, New York City||Ellis was knocked out at 2:39 of the 1st round.|
|Win||10-13-2||Rico Brooks||KO||5||05/05/1973||Phoenix, Arizona||Brooks was knocked out at 0:48 of the 5th round.|
|Win||4-5-1||Joe Tiger Harris||KO||2||14/04/1973||Huntington, West Virginia||Carmen Basilio was the referee.|
|Win||8-16-1||Charlie "Emperor" Harris||TKO||1||06/03/1973||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida||The referee stopped the bout at 1:48 of the 1st round.|
|Win||16-11-1||Bob Felstein||KO||2||21/02/1973||Orlando, Florida||Felstein was knocked out at 0:48 of the 2nd round.|
|Win||13-21-2||Harold "70's Version" Carter||TKO||7||26/10/1972||Raleigh County Armory, Beckley, West Virginia||The referee stopped the bout at 0:37 of the 7th round.|
|Win||21-41||Ollie Wilson||TKO||6||21/09/1972||St. Josaphat Auditorium, Parma, Ohio||The referee stopped the fight after the 5th round.|
|Win||10-11-1||Rico Brooks||KO||2||13/06/1972||Miami Marine Stadium, Key Biscayne, Florida||The fight took place on a barge.|
|Win||10-13||Dick Gosha||TKO||6||16/05/1972||Seattle Center Arena, Seattle, Washington||The referee stopped the bout at 2:55 of the 6th round.|
|Loss||31-1||Muhammad Ali||TKO||12||26/07/1971||Astrodome, Houston, Texas||NABF Heavyweight Title. The referee stopped the bout at 2:10 of the 12th round.|
|Win||63-16-2||George Chuvalo||UD||10||10/05/1971||Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario||Scores: 48-46, 48-44, 49-43|
|Win||36-8-1||"Irish" Tony Doyle||KO||10||02/03/1971||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida||Doyle was knocked out at 2:42 of the 10th round.|
|Win||21-20||Roberto Davila||TKO||7||10/11/1970||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida||The referee stopped the bout at 2:26 of the 7th round.|
|Loss||24-0||Joe Frazier||TKO||5||16/02/1970||Madison Square Garden, New York City||WBC/WBA/NYSAC World Heavyweight Titles.|
|Win||46-6-1||Floyd Patterson||PTS||15||14/09/1968||Solna Stadion, Stockholm||WBA World Heavyweight Title. The referee's score: 9-6.|
|Win||26-1-4||Jerry Quarry||MD||15||27/04/1968||Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, California||WBA World Heavyweight Title. Scores: 10-5, 7-5, 6-6-3.|
|Win||31-3||Oscar Bonavena||UD||12||02/12/1967||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||WBA Heavyweight Elimination Tournament. Scores: 56-53, 59-53, 55-54|
|Win||24-1||Leotis Martin||TKO||9||05/08/1967||Astrodome, Houston, Texas||WBA Heavyweight Elimination Tournament. The fight was stopped on cuts.|
|Win||17-3-1||Johnny Persol||KO||1||22/03/1967||Madison Square Garden, New York City||The fight was on the undercard of Muhammad Ali vs. Zora Folley.|
|Win||35-29-4||Tommy "Hurricane" Sims||KO||1||14/11/1966||Astrodome, Houston, Texas||The fight was on the undercard of Muhammad Ali vs. Cleveland Williams.|
|Win||10-2||Eddie Dembry||KO||1||27/10/1966||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||20-14-1||Billy "The Barber" Daniels||PTS||6||10/09/1966||Waldstadion, Frankfurt, Hesse||The fight was on the undercard of Muhammad Ali vs. Karl Mildenberger.|
|Win||19-4-1||Leweni Waqa||KO||1||21/05/1966||Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, London||The fight was on the undercard of Muhammad Ali vs. Henry Cooper II|
|Win||13-3-2||Hubert Hilton||PTS||8||29/03/1966||Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario||The fight was on the undercard of Muhammad Ali vs. George Chuvalo I.|
|Win||11-7-1||Chuck Leslie||UD||10||15/11/1965||The Hacienda, Las Vegas, Nevada||Scores: 49-43, 48-43, 48-43|
|Win||66-23-9||Joe Blackwood||KO||1||25/05/1965||Saint-Dominic Academy, Lewiston, Maine||The fight was on the undercard of Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston II.|
|Loss||52-9-1||George Benton||MD||10||30/11/1964||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Scores: 45-46, 45-46, 46-46|
|Loss||32-11-2||Don Fullmer||SD||10||21/10/1964||Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||5-2||Joe Spencer||KO||1||21/04/1964||Lexington, Kentucky|
|Loss||18-4||Rubin Carter||UD||10||28/02/1964||Madison Square Garden, New York City||Scores: 2-7, 3-6, 3-7|
|Win||54-5-5||Lou Gutierrez||PTS||10||27/09/1963||Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||31-11-5||Johnny Halafihi||KO||1||18/06/1963||Empire Exhibition Stadium, Wembley, London||The fight was on the undercard of Cassius Clay vs. Henry Cooper I.|
|Win||20-15-2||LeRoy Green||UD||10||03/12/1962||Columbia Gymnasium Arena, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Loss||52-16-3||Henry Hank||UD||10||01/09/1962||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||Scores: 45-47, 46-47, 44-47|
|Win||2-2||Sammy Poe||PTS||4||13/06/1962||Phoenix Hotel Ballroom, Lexington, Kentucky|
|Win||14-10-1||Charlie Glover||PTS||4||13/06/1962||Phoenix Hotel Ballroom, Lexington, Kentucky|
|Win||34-27-4||Rudolph Bent||TKO||2||07/06/1962||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||The referee stopped the bout at 1:17 of the 2nd round.|
|Win||57-22-6||Holly Mims||UD||10||04/05/1962||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||14-3-3||Johnny Alford||MD||6||17/02/1962||Madison Square Garden, New York City||The fight was on the undercard of Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Denny Moyer II.|
|Win||45-14-2||Herman Calhoun||KO||1||11/01/1962||Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Loss||56-22-6||Holly Mims||UD||10||29/11/1961||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||The fight was on the undercard of Cassius Clay vs. Willi Besmanoff|
|Win||18-24-5||Clarence Riley||TKO||2||07/10/1961||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||The fight was on the undercard of Cassius Clay vs. Alex Miteff.|
|Win||34-19-1||Wilf Greaves||MD||10||22/08/1961||Fairgrounds Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||21-4||Johnny Morris||SD||6||22/07/1961||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||The fight was on the undercard of Cassius Clay vs. Alonzo Johnson.|
|Win||11-3-1||Gene Leslie||PTS||8||06/05/1961||Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||15-12-1||Arley Seifer||TKO||3||19/04/1961||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||The fight was on the undercard of Cassius Clay vs. LaMar Clark.|
- "George Chuvalo - The Right Place At The Wrong Time Part 1"
- The Washington Times - July 31, 2004
- The Courier-Journal - February 23, 1996
- Sports Illustrated - December 11, 1967
- Boxing history by Sam Andre, Hamlyn publisher
- Boxing history by Sam Andre, Hamlyn, & also fight videos
- "Forty Years Ago: WBA Launches Heavyweight Tourney"
- Sports Illustrated - May 6, 1968
- The New York Times - September 15, 1968
- Washington Afro-American - September 30, 1969
- The Montreal Gazette - July 22, 1971
- The Age - December 23, 1969
- Muhammad Ali vs. Jimmy Ellis: The Inevitable Fight - 40 Years On
- Sports Illustrated - August 2, 1971
- The Montreal Gazette - June 19, 1973
- "Jimmy Ellis: From Ali Sparring Partner To Heavyweight Champion"
- "The Sweet Science: Boxing And Getting One's Head Examined"
|Awards and achievements|
|WBA World Heavyweight Champion
April 27, 1968 – February 16, 1970