Jimmy Young (boxer)

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Jimmy Young
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Born(1948-11-14)November 14, 1948
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedFebruary 20, 2005(2005-02-20) (aged 56)
Boxing record
Total fights56
Wins by KO11
No contests1

Jimmy Young (November 14, 1948 – February 20, 2005) was an American heavyweight professional boxer. Young was known for his awkward, defensive style and counterpunching. He had his greatest success during the mid-1970s, most notably earning a victory over George Foreman in 1977 and losing a unanimous decision against Muhammad Ali. Young fought many significant fighters of his era, including twice outpointing Ron Lyle and losing only by a split decision to then-number one contender Ken Norton in a title eliminator in late 1977.

Professional career[edit]

Early fights[edit]

An inexperienced Young was matched against contender Earnie Shavers in what was only his 11th professional fight. Shavers, who at that time had a 42-2 record dealt Young his first knockout loss. Young had tried trading blows and was caught early on by one of the division's hardest punchers[1] who was well known for his overwhelming early attacks.

After this defeat Young went undefeated for the next three years, including a win over contender Ron Lyle and a controversial draw in a re-match with Earnie Shavers with many observers scoring the bout for Young.[2] The improved outcome for Young was largely due to improvements made to his defense since his last fight with the devastating hitter. Despite Young's inability to earn a victory over Shavers, it was still enough to earn him a title fight with the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali.

The Young–Ali fight[edit]

Young achieved widespread public recognition when he fought Muhammad Ali in Landover, Maryland in April 1976 for the world heavyweight title, although boxing circles had already noted his ability. Ali weighed in at 230 pounds, the highest for any of his fights up to that point (he would weigh 236.25 pounds in his fight against Trevor Berbick), and was consequently slow and immobile throughout the bout. Seven years younger and 21 pounds lighter, Young adopted a strategy of fighting aggressively from a distance, landing numerous light blows while dodging and parrying Ali's counterpunches, and using his body blows, which had little power behind them but were effective at scoring points. At close quarters, Young would turn passive. In addition to retreating whenever possible, Young often kept his head ducked very low in order to prevent Ali from landing blows to his head, for fear of being called for rabbit punching.

On several occasions when Ali was inside and Young had his back to the ropes, Young would intentionally put his head or upper body out of the ring to compel the referee to separate the fighters. To some[who?], Young's was a brilliant strategy of neutralizing his opponent's strengths and forcing the bout to be fought on his own terms, exposing Ali's inability to fight a counterpuncher. To others[who?], it seemed cowardly as he forced a stoppage to the fight every time Ali held the advantage.

At one point during the fight the referee did initiate a count due to Jimmy Young being outside the ropes. The fight went the full 15 rounds resulting in a controversial one-sided unanimous decision in favor of Ali. Referee Tom Kelly scored it 72-65; judges Larry Barrett and Terry Moore had it 70-68 and 71-64, respectively.[3]

Ken Norton (a rival of Ali) who was commentating at ringside had the fight even on his own scorecard. Former Ring magazine editor Lester Bromberg called the decision a "travesty". New York Daily News reporter Dick Young said: "[Ali won] by the grace of three hero worshipping fight officials. I believe many people, the voting officials among them, refuse to believe what they see when one of their super-heroes doesn't function as expected." As the fight was televised, many viewers called to the network to complain about the decision. Even Ali's ever loyal trainer Angelo Dundee went on record as saying this was the champion's "worst fight". Afterwards, many started calling on Ali to retire.[4] Some[who?] claimed that Young's performance should have earned him a rematch. The WBC agreed and set about organizing a rematch fight scheduled to occur in 1977.

Rematch with Lyle and then George Foreman[edit]

Young defeated Lyle in a November 1976 rematch by using clever defense and a fast offensive style. He was able to dominate the older fighter, with one judge's scorecard having Young winning 11 of 12 rounds.

In March 1977, Young then fought George Foreman in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Foreman was on a five bout win streak since losing the title to Muhammad Ali in "The Rumble in the Jungle", earning victories over top contenders Ron Lyle and Joe Frazier.

The Young-Foreman fight was somewhat steady until the sixth round. The early rounds were punctuated by complaints from Young and his corner about the use of elbows by Foreman, who was punished by the referee with a point deduction. For the first half of the fight, Young used his somewhat unorthodox boxing skills and good defense to keep out of harm's way, while using his punching speed to counter. In the sixth round he became somewhat more aggressive himself and landed a number of clean punches on Foreman.[5] Eleven seconds into the seventh round, Foreman caught Young with a left-handed body punch, and immediately followed with a powerful swinging left hand to the head. Young reeled and turned away and seemed about to go down, while Foreman tried to pursue his advantage, but somehow Young survived to the end of the round. In his after-match comments on TV, he described it as 'desperation'. After the near knockdown Young rallied, and landed a number of good punches of his own. As the fight progressed Foreman's eyes became puffy and his punches lost their menace. For the rest of the contest, Foreman continued to move forward, trying to cut off the ring and looking for the big knock out, while taking punches from the elusive Young. In the final round Young managed a knockdown over Foreman, and earned a unanimous win by 12-round decision. The Ring named the Young-Foreman bout its 1977 "Fight of the Year". Jimmy Young joined Ali as the only two men to ever beat George Foreman before his first retirement in 1977.

The Young–Norton eliminator fight[edit]

Now the number 2 contender, Young's next fight was a mandatory world title eliminator against Ken Norton, the number 1 contender. Young had won five straight since his loss to Ali.

Young lost the Norton match that occurred on November 1977 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a controversial split decision. Many observers watching in attendance felt Young should have been declared the winner. While Young boxed cleverly, drawing Norton onto sneak right hand punches, Norton himself pressed forward dangerously, always his best style. The two had sparred when Norton trained for his second Ali match.[6] Norton had found shots thrown first to the head rarely landed so he used a heavy two-handed attack pounding away to the ribs, then lobbing powerful head shots.[7] The fight was set at 15 rounds. Although this was unusual for a non-title match, the format was adopted due to the bout's importance as an eliminator. Due to the importance of the fight, which was later retro-designated as a WBC title match, a large crowd gathered to watch the bout including then world champion Muhammad Ali. Although the winner of the fight was supposed to go on to fight for the heavyweight championship, Leon Spinks, who had won the championship from Muhammad Ali in an upset win on February 15, 1978 chose a rematch against Ali instead of fighting Norton for the WBC title. As a result, Norton was awarded the WBC championship belt

Later career[edit]

Demoralised at having lost another close decision, Young went into a gradual downward spiral. In June 1978 poor conditioning, an increasing problem, led to Young be outpointed by prospect Ossie Ocasio. While better in a direct rematch, in January 1979, Ocasio again earned the win and went on to fight the world champion Larry Holmes.

Young won a short 3 round brutal battle with unranked Wendell Bailey, showing flashes of old form. But in other matches of note Young fared poorly. He was stopped due to cuts by new heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney after 4 rounds in a fight where he was dominated. He also lost on points to another rising prospect and future heavyweight champion Michael Dokes. In the 1979 match with Dokes Young was out of shape due to lack of training and weighed 229 lbs., nearly the heaviest he had weighed throughout his career and around 15 lbs. heavier than his ideal fighting weight. However Young was able to slim down for his fight against British champion John L. Gardner, occurring in December 1979. Young outpointed Gardner, knocking him down in the 10th round. The triumph over Gardner as well as wins against Marvin Stinson and Jeff Sims were probably his last notable wins.


Young's biography was published in 1979, titled Jimmy Young, Heavyweight Challenger by Edward Dolan and Richard Lyttle, Doubleday pub, ISBN 0-385-14097-5.

Comeback chance[edit]

Starting in 1981 Young appeared to be making a comeback, winning five in a row, including a TKO over previously unbeaten Gordon Racette. In 1982 however, Young's comeback was cut short when he was defeated on points by future champion Greg Page. He became a "trial horse" for emerging contenders, dropping decisions to more future champions in Tony Tucker and Tony Tubbs. He continued fighting with mixed results until 1988, when he retired at the age of 39.

Later years and death[edit]

After his boxing career, Young had financial, drug, and legal problems. During a court hearing on a drug possession charge, it was argued by his Philadelphia public defender that Young had symptoms of chronic traumatic brain injury due to his time in the ring.[8] At a boxing celebrity event, Ring magazine noted Young was helped about by family.

Young died of a heart attack on February 20, 2005 at the age of 56, after six days in the hospital. He was buried at Mount Peace Cemetery in Philadelphia.

Professional boxing record[edit]

34 wins (11 knockouts), 19 losses, 2 draws, 1 no contest[9]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Win 35–19–2
1 NC
United States Carl Porter TKO 2 (6) 9/22/1990 United States Mississippi Coast Coliseum, Biloxi
Win 34–19–2
1 NC
United States Frank Lux TKO 10 (10) 13/08/1988 United States Saint Joseph, Missouri
Loss 33–19–2
1 NC
United States Tim Anderson SD 10 04/06/1988 United States Lee County Civic Center, Fort Myers, Florida
Win 33–18–2
1 NC
United States Rick Kellar UD 10 09/04/1988 United States Joplin, Missouri
NC 32–18–2
1 NC
United States Mike Jameson NC 2 (10) 09/08/1987 Brazil São Paulo, Brazil Referee decreed both fighters "faking".
Loss 32–18–2 United States Eddie Richardson SD 10 07/01/1987 United States Community Center, Tucson, Arizona
Loss 32–17–2 United States Chuck Gardner PTS 8 15/10/1986 United States Hamel, Minnesota
Win 32–16–2 United States Rocky Sekorski MD 10 12/03/1986 United States Metropolitan Sports Center, Bloomington, Minnesota
Win 31–16–2 United States Rocky Sekorski UD 10 20/01/1986 United States Marshall, Minnesota
Loss 30–16–2 Tonga Tony Fulilangi PTS 10 01/11/1985 United States Phoenix, Arizona
Loss 30–15–2 United States Tony Tucker UD 10 22/09/1984 United States Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Loss 30–14–2 United States Tony Tubbs UD 10 10/04/1983 United States Hilton Hotel, Pittsburgh
Loss 30–13–2 United States Philipp Brown PTS 10 29/08/1982 United States Lake Charles, Louisiana
Loss 30–12–2 United States Pat Cuillo PTS 10 13/07/1982 United States Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Loss 30–11–2 United States Greg Page UD 12 02/05/1982 United States Playboy Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey For USBA heavyweight title
Win 30–10–2 United States Tommy Thomas UD 10 06/11/1981 United States Civic Arena, Pittsburgh
Win 29–10–2 United States Tom Fischer PTS 10 26/09/1981 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Win 28–10–2 United States Jeff Sims SD 10 10/07/1981 United States Auditorium, West Palm Beach, Florida
Win 27–10–2 United States Marvin Stinson UD 10 30/06/1981 United States Sands Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 26–10–2 Canada Gordon Racette TKO 10 (10) 10/04/1981 Canada Frank Crane Arena, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
Loss 25–10–2 United States Gerry Cooney RTD 4 (10) 25/05/1980 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 25-9-2 United States Don Halpin TKO 2 (10) 08/03/1980 United States Great Gorge Resort, McAfee, New Jersey
Win 24–9–2 United Kingdom John Lewis Gardner PTS 10 04/12/1979 United Kingdom Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England
Loss 23–9–2 United States Michael Dokes UD 10 28/09/1979 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Win 23–8–2 United States Wendell Bailey TKO 3 (10) 22/06/1979 United States Madison Square Garden, New York
Loss 22–8–2 Puerto Rico Ossie Ocasio UD 10 27/01/1979 Puerto Rico Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Loss 22–7–2 Puerto Rico Ossie Ocasio SD 10 09/06/1978 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Loss 22–6–2 United States Ken Norton SD 15 05/11/1977 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator.
Win 22–5–2 United States Jody Ballard UD 10 14/09/1977 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Win 21–5–2 United States George Foreman UD 12 17/03/1977 Puerto Rico Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico 1977 Fight of the Year by The Ring magazine. Foreman was knocked down in round 12.
Win 20–5–2 United States Ron Lyle UD 12 16/11/1976 United States Civic Auditorium, San Francisco
Win 19–5–2 United States Mike Boswell TKO 4 (10) 11/09/1976 United States Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, New York
Win 18–5–2 United States Lou Rogan TKO 2 (10) 02/09/1976 United States Arena, Philadelphia
Loss 17–5–2 United States Muhammad Ali UD 15 30/04/1976 United States Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland For WBC & WBA World heavyweight titles
Win 17–4–2 Puerto Rico Jose Roman PTS 10 20/02/1976 Puerto Rico Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico
Win 16–4–2 United States Memphis Al Jones TKO 2 (10) 11/11/1975 United States Arena, Philadelphia
Win 15–4–2 The Bahamas Bobby Lloyd KO 5 (10) 16/08/1975 United States Catholic Youth Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Win 14–4–2 United States Ron Lyle UD 10 11/02/1975 United States International Center Arena, Honolulu
Draw 13–4–2 United States Earnie Shavers PTS 10 26/11/1974 United States Capitol Center, Landover, Maryland
Win 13–4–1 Venezuela Jose Luis Garcia PTS 10 06/07/1974 Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela
Win 12–4–1 United Kingdom Les Stevens PTS 10 22/01/1974 United Kingdom World SC, Grosvenor House, Mayfair, London, England
Win 11–4–1 United States John Jordan UD 6 04/03/1974 United States Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland
Win 10–4–1 United Kingdom Richard Dunn TKO 8 (10) 18/02/1974 United Kingdom World Sporting Club, Mayfair, London, England
Draw 9–4–1 United Kingdom Billy Aird PTS 8 22/10/1973 United Kingdom World Sporting Club, Mayfair, London, England
Win 9–4 United States Mike Boswell PTS 6 14/08/1973 United States Convention Hall, Philadelphia
Win 8–4 United States Obie English PTS 6 23/04/1973 United States Arena, Philadelphia
Loss 7–4 United States Earnie Shavers TKO 3 (10) 19/02/1973 United States Spectrum, Philadelphia
Loss 7–3 United States Randy Neumann PTS 10 10/03/1972 United States Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 7–2 United States Jasper Evans PTS 6 11/02/1972 United States Madison Square Garden, New York
Win 6–2 United States Lou Hicks PTS 8 26/10/1971 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia
Win 5–2 Andy Geiger KO 1 (6) 27/09/1971 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia
Loss 4–2 United States Roy Williams PTS 4 22/02/1971 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia
Win 4–1 United States Howard Darlington PTS 6 24/11/1970 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia
Win 3–1 United States Jimmy Gilmore PTS 4 22/06/1970 United States San Diego
Loss 2–1 United States Clay Hodges UD 6 03/04/1970 United States Coliseum, San Diego
Win 2–0 United States Johnny Gause PTS 6 09/12/1969 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia
Win 1–0 United States Jim Jones TKO 1 (4) 28/10/1969 United States Blue Horizon, Philadelphia


  1. ^ His biography, as detailed in article itself below
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2010-08-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ http://www.boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=000276
  4. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=A7-hzOuI2KQC&dat=19760501&printsec=frontpage
  5. ^ Video on YouTube
  6. ^ Howard Cosell 1977 commentary on YouTube
  7. ^ YouTube Young fight commentary
  8. ^ "Jimmy Young, 56, Fighter Who Beat Foreman but Lost to Ali, Is Dead". Associated Press. February 24, 2005. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  9. ^ http://boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=00276&cat=boxer

External links[edit]