Billy Collins Jr.

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Billy Collins
Real name William Ray Collins Jr.
Weight(s) Light middleweight
Nationality American
Born (1961-09-21)September 21, 1961
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Died March 6, 1984(1984-03-06) (aged 22)
Antioch, Tennessee, U.S.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 15
Wins 14
Wins by KO 11
No contests 1

William Ray "Billy" Collins Jr. (September 21, 1961 – March 6, 1984) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1981 to 1983. His career was cut short after his final fight when he sustained serious injuries against an opponent who used illegal, tampered gloves and hands which had been soaked in plaster of Paris.

Professional career[edit]

Billy Collins was born to a working-class family in Antioch, Tennessee of Irish descent. His father was a former welterweight professional boxer who had once fought world champion Curtis Cokes. He trained his son to follow in his footsteps. Also a welterweight, Collins won his first 14 fights as a professional, among them a decision over future world title challenger Harold Brazier.

Final fight against Luis Resto[edit]

Collins was matched against Puerto Rican journeyman Luis Resto at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 16, 1983, on the undercard of the Roberto Durán vs. Davey Moore light middleweight title fight. Collins entered the fight as a betting favorite but took a heavy beating and lost by a unanimous decision.

At the end of the fight, Collins' father and trainer, Billy Sr., noticed that Resto's gloves felt thinner than normal and demanded that they be impounded.[1] A subsequent investigation by the New York State Boxing Commission concluded that Resto's trainer, Panama Lewis, had removed an ounce of padding from each glove. It made Resto's punches harder and more damaging to Collins. The fight result was changed to a no contest.

Lewis' New York boxing license was permanently revoked, effectively banning him from any official role in American boxing for life. Resto was suspended indefinitely and never fought again. In 1986, Lewis and Resto were tried and convicted of assault, conspiracy, and criminal possession of a deadly weapon (Resto's fists); prosecutors felt that Lewis' actions made the fight an illegal assault on Collins. Both served 2½ years in prison.[2]

Injuries and suicide[edit]

In the Resto fight, Collins' eyes were swollen shut. He suffered a torn iris and permanently blurred vision, which left him unable to box again. After losing two jobs in a short time after the fight, he began drinking heavily. His violent mood swings threatened his marriage[citation needed].

On March 6, 1984, he committed suicide by crashing his car into a culvert near his home in Antioch, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. He was killed on impact. Many commentators, as well as Collins' family, believe that the loss of his livelihood broke him psychologically.[1]

Legal action[edit]

In July 1983, Collins and his family sued Lewis, Resto, fight promoter Top Rank Boxing, the inspectors, the bout's referee and Everlast (the manufacturer of Resto's gloves) for gross negligence and loss of income. However, the suit was derailed by Collins' death. Collins, Sr. and Collins' widow Andrea then sued the New York State Boxing Commission for failing to protect Collins. The commission argued that the term "inspection" was so broad that there was no way to determine whether the fight's inspectors could have done more than they did. It also claimed that Top Rank actually hired the inspectors and bore more responsibility for their behavior. A court ruled in favor of the commission, and the court also noted that Collins' death ended any potential future damages.[1] However, Collins' widow, now known as Andrea Collins-Nile, attempted to reopen the suit. The request was denied. The state subsequently changed its rules to prevent a repeat of what happened to Collins.

Further revelations by Resto[edit]

In 2007, Resto made a tearful apology to Collins-Nile for his role in the scheme. He also admitted that his hand wraps had been soaked in plaster of Paris before the fight. This caused them to harden into plaster casts like those used to set broken bones. The hand wraps were never confiscated and did not figure into the official investigation of the tampering incident. However, the combined effect of the plaster casts and unpadded gloves meant that Resto was effectively striking Collins with rocks.[3] At a 2008 press conference, Resto not only admitted to knowing that Lewis had tampered with the gloves, but had done so at least twice before.[4] The 1983 incident and subsequent aftermath is covered in the 2008 HBO documentary Assault in the Ring.[5]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
15 fights 14 wins 0 losses
By knockout 11 0
By decision 3 0
No contests 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
15 NC 14–0 (1) Puerto Rico Luis Resto UD 10 Jun 16, 1983 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Originally a UD win for Resto, later ruled an NC after he was found to have used tampered gloves and handwraps
14 Win 14–0 United States Fernando Fernandez KO 6 May 5, 1983 United States Bristol, Tennessee, U.S.
13 Win 13–0 United States Steve Johnson KO 1 Mar 16, 1983 United States Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
12 Win 12–0 United States Dennis Horne UD 10 Jan 20, 1983 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
11 Win 11–0 United States Ricky Whitt KO 4 (10), 2:48 Oct 17, 1982 United States The Claridge Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
10 Win 10–0 United States Eddie Flanning TKO 3 (10) Sep 30, 1982 United States USS Yorktown (CV-10), Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
9 Win 9–0 United States Harold Brazier PTS 6 Sep 11, 1982 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
8 Win 8–0 United States Mike Pollitt KO 3 Aug 4, 1982 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
7 Win 7–0 United States Roosevelt Moss KO 1 Jul 17, 1982 United States Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
6 Win 6–0 United States Jose Fuentes KO 3 Jun 23, 1982 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
5 Win 5–0 United States Bruce Strauss KO 3 May 20, 1982 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 United States Tony Taylor PTS 6 Mar 17, 1982 United States Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 United States Keith Corbett KO 6 (6) Feb 4, 1982 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 United States Gary Baker KO 2 Jan 19, 1982 United States Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 United States Kevin Griffin KO 3 Dec 2, 1981 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Professional debut


  1. ^ a b c Pearlman, Jeff. Bare Knuckles Archived January 31, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.. Sports Illustrated, 1998-10-26.
  2. ^ "Luis Resto vs Billy Collins Jr. 1983 fight resulted no-contest". Sports Mirchi. 
  3. ^ "After 25 years, boxer admits tampering". The Tennesseean. 
  4. ^ Mladnich, Robert. Resto Comes Clean: He Knew Gloves Were Loaded Archived April 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. The Sweet Science, 2008-04-06.
  5. ^ "HBO: Assault in the Ring". July 18, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 

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