|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, Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, George Chuvalo, Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle, Buster Mathis, Ken Norton, 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 Angelo Dundee always stated, much better punching power than many expected.
Amateur career 
Ellis got into boxing as a youngster after watching fellow Louisville native Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, fight 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 started to fight on his undercards. Six of his first eight fights with Dundee were on an Ali undercard.
WBA elimination tournament 
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, with eight consecutive wins, was invited to be in the tournament. Joe Frazier, the widely accepted #1 contender, chose not to participate in the tournament. Instead, Frazier fought and knocked out Buster Mathis for the vacant New York State Athletic Commission World Heavyweight Championship.
In his first WBA elimintor, Ellis impressively stopped Leotis Martin in nine rounds on cuts. The fight was about even at the time of the stoppage, but Ellis' sneaky and fast right hand had been a continual danger to Martin throughout. In his next fight, Ellis dropped iron-jawed Oscar Bonavena twice on his way to an easy fifteen-round unanimous decision to reach the WBA tournament final.
On April 27, 1968, Ellis defeated Jerry Quarry by a fifteen-round majority decision to win the vacant WBA World Heavyweight Championship. The referee scored the fight 7-6-2 for Ellis, while the two judges at ringside scored it 10-5 for Ellis and 6-6-3, respectively. Sports Illustrated called Ellis' performance "a tactical masterpiece." Quarry said, "If they'd given me the decision, I'd have given it back. I didn't deserve it.".
Title reign 
In his only successful title defense, Ellis defeated Floyd Patterson by a controversial fifteen-round decision on September 14, 1968 in Stockholm, Sweden. 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. Ellis left the match bloodied with a broken nose.
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, but Cooper was injured and pulled out of the fight. In his biography, Cooper alleges the British Boxing Board of Control blocked the match but the reason is unclear. 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.
On February 16, 1970, Ellis fought Frazier to unify the World Heavyweight Championship. Predictions were split, but Frazier proved too strong and powerful. The undefeated Frazier knocked Ellis down twice in the fourth round, and Dundee stopped the fight before the start of the fifth round. It was the first knockout loss for Ellis.
Fighting Ali 
After winning his next three fights, Ellis fought Ali in the Houston Astrodome on July 26, 1971. Being the manager and trainer of Ellis, but only Ali's trainer, Dundee chose to work with Ellis for the 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." Ali went on to stop Ellis in the twelfth round.
Diminishing skills 
Ellis won his next eight fights by knockout and then fought Earnie Shavers, who was 44-2 (43 KOs). The fight took place on June 18, 1973 at Madison Square Garden. Ellis stunned Shavers with a chopping right to the jaw and backed him into a corner. Then, with a single right uppercut, Shavers put Ellis down for the count. The time was 2:39 in the first round. It was a stunning win for Shavers.
Ellis came back with a knockout of 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 contender 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 Frazier took place in 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 a 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||Referee stopped the bout at 0:59 of the ninth round.|
|Loss||48-6-1||Joe Bugner||PTS||10||12/11/1974||Empire Pool, Wembley, London||0-8.|
|Loss||27-1-1||Ron Lyle||UD||12||16/07/1974||Denver, Colorado||55-59, 52-58, 52-59.|
|Draw||21-4-1||Larry Middleton||PTS||10||04/03/1974||Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland|
|Loss||30-2||Boone Kirkman||SD||10||12/12/1973||Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington|
|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 knocked out at 2:39 of the first round.|
|Win||10-13-2||Rico Brooks||KO||5||05/05/1973||Phoenix, Arizona||Brooks knocked out at 0:48 of the fifth round.|
|Win||4-5-1||Joe Tiger Harris||KO||2||14/04/1973||Huntington, West Virginia|
|Win||8-16-1||Charlie "Emperor" Harris||TKO||1||06/03/1973||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida||Referee stopped the bout at 1:48 of the first round.|
|Win||16-11-1||Bob Felstein||KO||2||21/02/1973||Orlando, Florida||Felstein knocked out at 0:48 of the second round.|
|Win||13-21-2||Harold "70's Version" Carter||TKO||7||26/10/1972||Raleigh County Armory, Beckley, West Virginia||Referee stopped the bout at 0:37 of the seventh round.|
|Win||21-41||Ollie Wilson||TKO||6||21/09/1972||St. Josaphat Auditorium, Parma, Ohio|
|Win||10-11-1||Rico Brooks||KO||2||13/06/1972||Miami Marine Stadium, Key Biscayne, Florida|
|Win||10-13||Dick Gosha||TKO||6||16/05/1972||Seattle Center Arena, Seattle, Washington||Referee stopped the bout at 2:55 of the sixth round.|
|Loss||31-1||Muhammad Ali||TKO||12||26/07/1971||Astrodome, Houston, Texas||WBC NABF Heavyweight Title. 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||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 knocked out at 2:42 of the tenth round.|
|Win||21-20||Roberto Davila||TKO||7||10/11/1970||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida||Referee stopped the bout at 2:26 of the seventh 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. 9-6.|
|Win||26-1-4||Jerry Quarry||MD||15||27/04/1968||Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, California||WBA World Heavyweight Title. 10-5, 7-5, 6-6.|
|Win||31-3||Oscar Bonavena||UD||12||02/12/1967||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||WBA Heavyweight Elimination Tournament. 56-53, 59-53, 55-54.|
|Win||24-1||Leotis Martin||TKO||9||05/08/1967||Astrodome, Houston, Texas||WBA Heavyweight Elimination Tournament. Referee stopped the bout at 1:43 of the ninth round.|
|Win||17-3-1||Johnny Persol||KO||1||22/03/1967||Madison Square Garden, New York City||Persol knocked out at 2:44 of the first round.|
|Win||35-29-4||Tommy "Hurricane" Sims||KO||1||14/11/1966||Astrodome, Houston, Texas||Sims knocked out at 2:38 of the first round.|
|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|
|Win||19-4-1||Leweni Waqa||KO||1||21/05/1966||Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, London|
|Win||13-3-2||Hubert Hilton||PTS||8||29/03/1966||Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario||WBA World Heavyweight Title. 10-5, 7-5, 6-6.|
|Win||11-7-1||Chuck Leslie||UD||10||15/11/1965||The Hacienda, Las Vegas, Nevada||49-43, 48-43, 48-43.|
|Win||66-23-9||Joe Blackwood||KO||1||25/05/1965||Saint-Dominic Academy, Lewiston, Maine|
|Loss||52-9-1||George Benton||MD||10||30/11/1964||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||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||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|
|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||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||Referee stopped the bout at 1:17 of the second 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|
|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|
|Win||18-24-5||Clarence Riley||TKO||2||07/10/1961||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky|
|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|
|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|
- George Chuvalo - The Right Place at The Wrong Time
- Still On His Feet, But Ellis Pays The Price For Boxing Fame
- The Courier-Journal February 23, 1996
- Sports Illustrated December 11, 1967
- Forty years ago: WBA launches heavyweight tourney
- Right On The Money
- New York Times September 15, 1968
- Modesto Bee September 30, 1969
- The Age December 23, 1969
- 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
1968 – February 16, 1970