Michael Bentt

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Michael Bentt
Boxing at the 1987 Pan American Games.JPEG
Real name Michael Bentt
Rated at Heavyweight
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Reach 79 inches (2.0 m)
Nationality American
Born (1964-09-04) September 4, 1964 (age 50)
London, England
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 13
Wins 11
Wins by KO 6
Losses 2
Michael Bentt
Medal record
Competitor for  United States
Men’s Boxing
North American Amateur Championships

Template:1984 Post Olympic USA Amateur Boxing Federation Champion

Gold Beaumont 1985 Heavyweight
World Amateur Championships
Bronze Reno 1986 Heavyweight
Bronze Indianapolis 1987 Heavyweight

Michael A. Bentt (born September 4, 1964 in London, England) is a film and television actor and retired heavyweight boxer. Of Jamaican lineage, he was born in East Dulwich, London, but raised in the Cambria Heights section of Queens in New York City. Bentt is a one-time heavyweight champion, having held the World Boxing Organization championship from October 1993 until March 1994, losing the title in his first defence. As an actor he's best known for co-starring as Sonny Liston in Michael Mann's Ali and as Biggis/El Plaga in Damon Dash's indie urban hip hop classic "State Property 2".

Amateur career[edit]

One of the most decorated amateur boxers in US history, Bentt won four New York City Golden Gloves titles, five United States Amateur Boxing Championships and three (New York State) Empire State Games gold medals. After having won the bronze medal at the 1986 World Amateur Boxing Championships and the 1987 Pan American Games he placed a controversial second place finish at the 1988 United States Olympic Trials and Box-off's to the Seoul Olympics eventual Gold Medalist, Ray Mercer.

As both his mother and father are Jamaican citizens, he won the right to fight on the Jamaican Olympic Boxing Team after stopping the island nation's top amateur heavyweights in the 1988 Jamaican Olympic Trials. However, when confronted with the provision that he would have to relinquish his United States citizenship in order to accompany the Jamaican team to Seoul, he refused. Bentt is regarded as the most decorated boxer in the history of American amateur boxing never to have competed on a United States Olympic boxing team.[1]

His other amateur titles included the 1981 New York City Police Athletic League Champion, 1980 NYC Kids Gloves Champion, Empire State Games Heavyweight Champion (1982, 1983, 1984). He was a three-time selected member of the United States All-American National Boxing Team (1985, 1986, 1987), captain of the 1986 United States Goodwill Games Boxing Team and the 1987 United States Pan American Games Boxing Team. He was a bronze medalist in each of those competitions. He also received the bronze medal at the 1985 World Amateur Championships in Seoul, South Korea and the gold medal at the 1985 North American Championship in Beaumont, Texas.

In 1985, he was the recipient of the Sugar Ray Robinson Award as the most outstanding boxer in the New York Golden Gloves tournament that year(among the 85' class of Golden Gloves champions were future professional champions Riddick Bowe, Kevin Kelly and Junior Jones). Bentt was also a three time member of the United States All-American Amateur Boxing Team.

Bentt counts avenging an earlier defeat,suffered at the hands of,then, three-time USSR World Amateur Heavyweight Champion, Alexander Yagubkin, at the 1986 World Championships in Reno, Nevada as one of his most precious moments.

Before the loss to Bentt, Yagubkin had been victorious over every American heavyweight he encountered during a three-year period. This included a Moscow decision-win over Bentt's older brother Winston, himself a member of the United States National Team. Domestically Bentt went undefeated for a four-year period before being denied an Olympic team berth at the 1988 United States Olympic Trials.

In an homage to Stephan Johnson, a former amateur teammate at the Bed-Stuy famed (Bedford-Stuyvesant) Boxing Association and fellow Golden Glover who succumbed to injuries suffered in a professional boxing match in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Michael privately presented Stephan's mother with a pair of his own New York Golden Gloves champion medallions.

Although he was the officially selected team alternate at 201 lbs Bentt declined to serve as an alternate on the 1988 Olympic Boxing Team.

Professional career[edit]

Bentt turned professional under Emanuel Steward; and was knocked-out in the first round by Jerry Jones in his pro debut. Bentt maintained that neither he nor Steward knew Jones was a southpaw but counts both the devastation and humiliation suffered that night as "hugely valuable and key" to his massive upset of Tommy Morrison some four years later. After a 20-month hiatus following the loss to Jones, Bentt returned to boxing. After a few wins he signed with manager Stan Hoffman, and was trained by former light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. Bentt then put together a modest winning streak, had a couple of losses, and retired with an 11-2 record.

For a two-year period in the early 1990s served as chief sparring partner for then world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

In October 1993, Bentt caused a huge upset with a ninety seven second first round knockout of Tommy Morrison to capture the WBO heavyweight championship. The American-based boxer lost his WBO belt to Herbie Hide at The New Den, Bermondsey, United Kingdom, in 1994. The fight would be his last after being rushed to the hospital and told he could never fight again. Bentt had suffered brain injuries in the loss, and although the injuries did not negatively affect the quality of his thoughts or mental sharpness, it was feared that future impacts to the head could result in permanent long-term injury or even death.[2]

At various times after relocating to numerous U.S. states, Bentt passed written exams and awaited entrance into police academies in New York City, Miami, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Acting career and life after boxing[edit]

Turning to acting, he was the second actor cast after Will Smith in Michael Mann's Ali. Michael landed the coveted role of Sonny Liston, while also serving as both Smith's chief sparring partner and assistant trainer during the six months of boxing training before principal photography began on the film.

Bentt has contributed essays as a writer for Bert Sugar's Fight Game and the HBO boxing website. He has commentated on boxing matches for Bob Arum's Top Rank Boxing on ESPN in the United States, Filmnet in The Netherlands, and BBC Radio in the United Kingdom.

In 2006, he had an on camera audition in Puerto Rico as part of HBO World Championship Boxing's search for an expert boxing commentator for the networks newest boxing segment. Eventually the candidates were narrowed down to Bentt and the then recently retired former Heavyweight Champion, Lennox Lewis.

In 2003, he was the first actor-in-residence at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania, where he played the title role in 'Othello'.

He has worked with directors Michael Mann (five times), Ron Shelton (twice), Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Bill L. Norton (five times). He also starred as Biggis (El Plaga) opposite Beanie Sigel, Noriega, and Damon Dash in the Dash-directed hip hop cult classic State Property 2.

Appeared in Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger. Director Michael Mann handpicked Bentt to play Herbert Youngblood, who along with Dillinger staged the infamous Crown Point Jail break.

Among his guest starring roles in television dramas are 'Calvin Trainier', a Suge Knight-esque record label honcho in Michael Mann's ROBBERY-HOMICIDE DIVISION(CBS-TV),as 'Charles Lambert', an NFL linebacker who years earlier suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his adoptive father, and as 'Dion'- an imprisoned homosexual snitch in SONS OF ANARCHY(FOX-TV).

In the winter of 2011 and summer of 2012 Bentt directed the critically received off-Broadway production of 'Kid Shamrock', a play about the struggles,triumphs,demons and redemption of 1970s Long Island New York middleweight contender 'Irish' Bobby Cassidy Sr.

Bentt is cited by jazz and film composer,Terence Blanchard, as having provided the inspiration for his Opera Theatre Of St.Louis' 2013 production of 'Champion'. Based on the real life ring meeting and subsequent death of Benny 'Kid' Paret at the hands of Emile Griffith, a gay boxer in 1962. Over the years while training Blanchard in boxing, Bentt, would share with him the transcendent and tragic elements that befell the two fighters.

Served as a faculty member and Co-Teacher for the 'Anna Deavere Smith Project: Empathy and Acting' at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco/2013.

Professional boxing record[edit]

11 Wins (6 knockouts, 5 decisions), 2 Losses (2 knockouts, 0 decisions), 0 Draws [1]
Res. Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 11–2 United Kingdom Herbie Hide KO 7 (12) 19/03/1994 United Kingdom Millwall Football Stadium, Millwall, London, England, United Kingdom Lost WBO Heavyweight title.
Win 11–1 United States Tommy Morrison TKO 1 (12) 29/10/1993 United States Civic Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States Won WBO Heavyweight title.
Win 10–1 United States Mark Wills PTS 10 15/07/1993 United States Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Connecticut, United States
Win 9–1 United States Danny Wofford UD 8 28/05/1993 United States Brooklyn, New York, United States
Win 8–1 United States Kenneth Myers TKO 3 (8) 25/09/1992 United States Brooklyn, New York, United States
Win 7–1 United States Jerry Arentzen TKO 3 (6) 14/08/1992 United States Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 6–1 United States David Graves MD 6 02/05/1992 United States Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Win 5–1 United States Rick Honeycutt TKO 1 (6) 11/03/1992 United States Paramount, New York, New York, United States
Win 4–1 United States Lynwood Jones PTS 6 19/11/1991 France Issy-les-Moulineaux, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Win 3–1 United States Willie Johnson TKO 1 (6) 13/09/1991 United States Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Win 2–1 United States Lynwood Jones PTS 6 16/05/1991 United States Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Win 1–1 United States James Holly KO 1 (4) 12/12/1990 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England, United Kingdom
Loss 0–1 United States Jerry Jones KO 1 (4) 07/02/1989 United States Trump Castle, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States


Year Film Role
1999 Shadow Boxers Himself
2000 Black People Hate Me and They Hate My Glasses Supreme
Girlfight Fight Pro
2001 Ali Sonny Liston
2002 Niche David
Dark Blue Officer Clay
2003 Hollywood Homicide Club Security Guard
2004 El Padrino Loc N. Load
Collateral Fever Bouncer
Million Dollar Baby Boxer
2005 State Property 2 Biggis (El Plaga)
Fighting Tommy Riley Mosley
2007 The Neighbor Police Officer
2009 Redemption Peanut
Public Enemies Herbert Youngblood
Blue Mr. Parker
Risen Archie Moore

Television appearances[edit]

Year Series Episode Role
1985 Saturday Night Live Howard Cosell and Greg Kihn Boxer
2001 The Invisible Man Den of Thieves Prison Guard
2002 Robbery Homicide Division Alton Davis Redux Calvin Tranier
Firefly (TV series) War Stories Viktor
2004 The Guardian Remember Charles Lambert
2005 Medium A Priest, a Doctor and a Medium Walk Into an Execution Chamber Guard
JAG Dream Team Chief Master at Arm
Threshold Pulse Officer
Progeny Detective
2009 Heartland I Make Myself Into Something New Joseph Hanratty
Lincoln Heights Persons of Interest Det.Resendez
Sons Of Anarchy Gilead Dion


  1. ^ Finger, David E. (2005). Rocky Lives!: Heavyweight Boxing Upsets of the 1990s. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, Inc. ISBN 1-57488-905-2. 
  2. ^ "Sports People: Boxing; Bentt Released From Hospital". The New York Times (New York, NY). March 22, 1994. p. B-15. Retrieved August 27, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tommy Morrison
WBO World Heavyweight Champion
October 29, 1993 — March 19, 1994
Succeeded by
Herbie Hide
Preceded by
Henry Milligan
US Amateur Heavyweight Champion
Succeeded by
Jerry Goff
Preceded by
Jerry Goff
US Amateur Heavyweight Champion
1986 — 1987
Succeeded by
Ray Mercer