Tunney Morgan Hunsaker (September 1, 1930 – April 27, 2005) was the police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia in 1960 when Hunsaker was Cassius Clay's (now Muhammed Ali) first opponent in a professional boxing bout. After the fight Hunsaker said, "Clay was as fast as lightning ... I tried every trick I knew to throw at him off balance but he was just too good". In a thumbnail profile of the fight the following January, young Cassius was reported as having remarked that Hunsaker's style was far different from what Clay had been exposed to as an amateur and Olympian; the young fighter admitted to nervousness going in, and that Hunsaker's aforementioned pro style, had given him trouble. This respect appears genuine, as it was lasting—in his autobiography, Ali said Hunsaker dealt him one of the hardest body blows he ever took in his career. Ali and Hunsaker became good friends and stayed in touch over the years. Hunsaker said he did not agree with Ali's decision to refuse military service, but praised him as a great humanitarian and athlete.
In the fight game, Hunsaker was a small heavyweight, perhaps better suited for light-heavy classification (175 lbs. limit); today, he would most likely compete as a cruiserweight (190 lbs. limit). He fought as a boxer-puncher, by his own telling. Hunsaker once appeared on the undercard at Madison Square Garden. Hunsaker ended up with a record of 17 wins with 15 defeats with 8 wins by way of KO (as of boxrec). His career ended after a boxing-related head injury suffered on April 6, 1962, in Beckley, West Virginia. Although rushed to a Beckley hospital, Hunsaker was in a coma for nine days and suffered the physical effects for the rest of his life. He was 74 when he died after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. He was a Journeyman with more wins than defeats.
In his private life, Hunsaker was active in the Oak Hill Church of the Nazarene for many years, teaching a Sunday School class for fifth and sixth grade boys. He was three times named Sunday School Teacher of the Year. At the time of his death in 2005, he had been married to wife Patricia for over thirty years.
Hunsaker was the youngest police chief in the history of West Virginia, at age 27. He served as law enforcement to the people of Fayetteville, for 38 years. He was later inducted into the Law Enforcement Hall Of Fame. He was remembered as having performed many humanitarian gestures in his capacity, such as escorting the elderly home at dusk, or operating as a crossing guard to insure the safety of small children, standing on wait for buses entering town, etc. The Sheriff proved an inspiration to the children of Fayetteville. On a lighter note, a hobby of his was to turn the traffic signals off during rush hour and after the high school football games to direct traffic, something that became somewhat of a sport to him and an expected occurrence to residents.
In his youth, Sheriff Hunsaker served honorably in the United States Air Force, stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX.
The Tunney Hunsaker Bridge (former U.S. 19 Bridge) crossing the New River Gorge has been named after him.
The Tunney Hunsaker Bridge is visible on the left hand side of the image, through supports of the New River Gorge Bridge.
Professional boxing record
|17 Wins (8 knockouts, 9 decisions), 15 Losses (7 knockouts, 8 decisions), 1 Draw |
|Loss||3-4-1||Joe Shelton||KO||10||06/04/1962||Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, Beckley, West Virginia||Hunsaker knocked out at 2:43 of the tenth round. Hunsaker was in a coma for nine days following the fight.|
|Win||1-0||Thomas Dejarnette||KO||1||24/02/1962||West Virginia State Penitentiary, Beckley, West Virginia|
|Loss||8-2||Sonny Banks||KO||2||16/10/1961||Detroit, Michigan|
|Loss||--||Thomas Dejarnette||TKO||8||28/09/1961||West Virginia State Penitentiary, Beckley, West Virginia||Referee stopped the bout at 2:10 of the eighth round.|
|Win||0-1||Herman Wilson||TKO||6||22/08/1961||Fairgrounds Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Loss||13-0||Tod Herring||UD||10||25/04/1961||City Auditorium, Houston, Texas|
|Loss||10-1||Alejandro Lavorante||KO||5||21/03/1961||Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, Texas||Hunsaker knocked out at 2:31 of the fifth round.|
|Loss||--||Cassius Clay||UD||6||29/10/1960||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky||19-30, 24-30, 23-30.|
|Loss||17-0||Tom McNeeley||TKO||9||12/04/1960||Boston Arena, Boston, Massachusetts||Referee stopped the bout at 1:30 of the ninth round.|
|Loss||14-4-5||Johnny Jenkins||SD||6||05/02/1960||Madison Square Garden, New York City|
|Loss||6-9-1||Jim O'Connell||PTS||10||16/01/1960||Kenova, West Virginia|
|Loss||17-2-1||Hosea Chapman||UD||12||14/11/1959||Memorial Auditorium, Fayetteville, West Virginia||West Virginia Heavyweight Title.|
|Loss||26-17-5||Bert Whitehurst||TKO||10||30/09/1959||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Loss||13-2||Ernie Terrell||PTS||8||24/07/1959||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||18-7-1||Bennie Thomas||PTS||8||01/07/1959||Louisville, Kentucky|
|Draw||17-2||Hosea Chapman||PTS||12||20/06/1959||Ravenswood, West Virginia||West Virginia Heavyweight Title. 54-54, 54-55, 58-55.|
|Win||5-3-1||Billy Walters||KO||1||02/05/1959||Fayetteville, West Virginia|
|Win||--||Terrell Pruitt||UD||6||28/03/1959||Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky|
|Win||--||Tiny Gibson||KO||3||30/09/1958||Fayetteville, West Virginia|
|Win||1-2||Herbert Hair||KO||2||16/08/1958||Memorial Auditorium, Fayetteville, West Virginia|
|Loss||22-9||Emil Brtko||KO||2||23/06/1958||High School Stadium, Charleroi, Pennsylvania||Hunsaker knocked out at 1:58 of the second round.|
|Win||1-1||Jim Saddler||SD||6||09/06/1953||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
|Win||16-7-1||O'Neal Crocker||TKO||4||02/06/1953||Ringside Club, Houston, Texas|
|Win||3-0||Carl Griffin||KO||1||20/04/1953||Dallas Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas||Griffin knocked out at 1:11 of the first round.|
|Win||23-19-1||Joe Arthur||SD||10||10/03/1953||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
|Win||13-12-2||Rancherio Alonzo||PTS||8||10/02/1953||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
|Loss||12-12-2||Rancherio Alonzo||PTS||6||30/12/1952||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
|Loss||13-15-3||Whitey Berlier||PTS||10||05/11/1952||Houston, Texas|
|Win||6-11-1||Pat Viola||UD||6||20/10/1952||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
|Win||1-1||Jesus Vargas||KO||3||07/10/1952||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
|Win||12-10-2||Rancherio Alonzo||PTS||6||23/09/1952||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
|Win||5-9-1||Pat Viola||PTS||6||31/07/1952||Austin, Texas|
|Win||5-8-1||Pat Viola||UD||4||22/07/1952||Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas|
- uncredited (January 1961). "Glove Action". The Ring. XXXIX (12): 66.
- Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. p. 301. ISBN 1-58574-829-3.
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