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Jimmy Young (boxer)

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Jimmy Young
James Young

(1948-11-14)November 14, 1948
DiedFebruary 20, 2005(2005-02-20) (aged 56)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Reach74 in (188 cm)
Boxing record
Total fights57
Wins by KO11
No contests1

Jimmy Young (November 14, 1948[1] – February 20, 2005) was an American heavyweight professional boxer. Young was known for his awkward, defensive style and counterpunching. He was one of the top contenders of the 1970s, most notably earning a victory over George Foreman in 1977 and losing a unanimous decision against Muhammad Ali in 1976. 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. A fellow boxer, Bobby Watts, was his cousin.

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, being his 4th loss. Young had tried trading blows and was caught early on by one of the division's hardest punchers,[2] 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.[3] 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 at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland, on April 30, 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 deter Ali from landing blows at his head and risk censure from the referee for "rabbit punching". On several occasions when Ali was inside and Young had his back to the ropes, Young intentionally put his head or upper body out of the ring beyond the ropes to compel the referee to step in and separate the fighters. As a novel boxing tactic this divided opinion between its being a way of neutralizing Ali's game, to its being seen as an unsportsmanlike way of causing tactical stoppages every time Ali possessed an advantage. At one point during the bout the referee did initiate a count due to Young's 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.[4]

Ken Norton, (a rival of Ali) who was commentating at ringside, had the fight even on his own scorecard. Former Ring 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." After the match's televised broadcast, many viewers called to the network to complain about the decision, and Ali's career trainer Angelo Dundee went on record as saying this was Ali's "worst fight". After the match there were calls on Ali to retire from the sport from quarters of the sport's media.[5]

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.[6] 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". Young joined Ali as one of only two men to beat Foreman before his first retirement in 1977.

The Young–Norton eliminator fight[edit]

Now the number two 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 in 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.[7] 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.[8] 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 being 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 three-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 four 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.

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 life[edit]

After his boxing career, Young had financial, drug, and legal problems. During a court hearing on a drug possession charge, his Philadelphia public defender argued that Young had symptoms of chronic traumatic brain injury due to his time in the ring.[9] At a boxing celebrity event, The Ring noted that Young apparently needed to be helped about by his family.[citation needed] He was reported as being afflicted with dementia pugilistica in his last years.[10]


Young died at Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia, at the age of 56 from a heart attack on February 20, 2005. He was interred at Mount Peace Cemetery in Philadelphia.[11]


  • Jimmy Young, Heavyweight Challenger (1979), a biography by E. Dolan and R. Lyttle[12]

Professional boxing record[edit]

57 fights 35 wins 18 losses
By knockout 11 2
By decision 24 16
Draws 3
No contests 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
57 Win 35–18–3
Carl Porter TKO 2 (6) Sep 22, 1990 Mississippi Coast Coliseum, Biloxi, Mississippi, U.S.
56 Win 34–18–3
Frank Lux UD 10 (10) Aug 13, 1988 St. Joseph Civic Arena, St. Joseph, Missouri
55 Loss 33–18–3
Tim Anderson SD 10 Jun 4, 1988 Lee County Civic Center, Fort Myers, Florida, U.S.
54 Win 33–17–3
Rick Kellar UD 10 Apr 9, 1988 Joplin, Missouri, U.S.
53 NC 32–17–3
Mike Jameson NC 2 (10) Aug 9, 1987 Ginásio do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil Referee decreed both fighters "faking"
52 Loss 32–17–3 Eddie Richardson SD 10 Jan 7, 1987 Community Center, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
51 Loss 32–16–3 Chuck Gardner UD 8 Oct 15, 1986 Medina Ballroom, Hamel, Minnesota, U.S.
50 Win 32–15–3 Rocky Sekorski MD 10 Mar 12, 1986 Metropolitan Sports Center, Bloomington, Minnesota, U.S.
49 Win 31–15–3 Rocky Sekorski UD 10 Jan 20, 1986 Marshall, Minnesota, U.S.
48 Draw 30–15–3 Tony Fulilangi MD 10 Nov 1, 1985 Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
47 Loss 30–15–2 Tony Tucker UD 10 Sep 22, 1984 Ford Fieldhouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
46 Loss 30–14–2 Tony Tubbs UD 10 Apr 10, 1983 Hilton Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
45 Loss 30–13–2 Philipp Brown PTS 10 Aug 29, 1982 Civic Center, Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S.
44 Loss 30–12–2 Pat Cuillo PTS 10 Jul 13, 1982 Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
43 Loss 30–11–2 Greg Page UD 12 May 2, 1982 Playboy Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. For USBA heavyweight title
42 Win 30–10–2 Tommy Thomas UD 10 Nov 6, 1981 Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
41 Win 29–10–2 Tom Fischer PTS 10 Sep 26, 1981 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
40 Win 28–10–2 Jeff Sims SD 10 Jul 10, 1981 Auditorium, West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
39 Win 27–10–2 Marvin Stinson UD 10 Jun 30, 1981 Sands Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
38 Win 26–10–2 Gordon Racette TKO 10 (10) Apr 10, 1981 Frank Crane Arena, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
37 Loss 25–10–2 Gerry Cooney RTD 4 (10) May 25, 1980 Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. A cut over Young's right eye, led to a stoppage at the end of the 4th round.
36 Win 25-9-2 Don Halpin TKO 2 (10) Mar 8, 1980 Great Gorge Resort, McAfee, New Jersey, U.S.
35 Win 24–9–2 John L.Gardner PTS 10 Dec 4, 1979 Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England
34 Loss 23–9–2 Michael Dokes UD 10 Sep 28, 1979 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
33 Win 23–8–2 Wendell Bailey TKO 3 (10) Jun 22, 1979 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
32 Loss 22–8–2 Ossie Ocasio UD 10 Jan 27, 1979 Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico
31 Loss 22–7–2 Ossie Ocasio SD 10 Jun 9, 1978 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
30 Loss 22–6–2 Ken Norton SD 15 Nov 5, 1977 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S
29 Win 22–5–2 Jody Ballard UD 10 Sep 14, 1977 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
28 Win 21–5–2 George Foreman UD 12 Mar 17, 1977 Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico
27 Win 20–5–2 Ron Lyle UD 12 Nov 16, 1976 Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, U.S.
26 Win 19–5–2 Mike Boswell TKO 4 (10) Sep 12, 1976 Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, New York, U.S.
25 Win 18–5–2 Lou Rogan TKO 2 (10) Sep 2, 1976 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
24 Loss 17–5–2 Muhammad Ali UD 15 Apr 30, 1976 Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, U.S. For WBA, WBC, and The Ring heavyweight titles
23 Win 17–4–2 Jose Roman PTS 10 Feb 20, 1976 Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico
22 Win 16–4–2 Al Jones TKO 2 (10) Nov 12, 1975 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
21 Win 15–4–2 Bobby Lloyd KO 5 (10) Aug 26, 1975 Catholic Youth Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
20 Win 14–4–2 Ron Lyle UD 10 Feb 11, 1975 International Center Arena, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
19 Draw 13–4–2 Earnie Shavers PTS 10 Nov 26, 1974 Capital Center, Landover, Maryland, U.S.
18 Win 13–4–1 Jose Luis Garcia PTS 10 Jul 6, 1974 Caracas, Venezuela
17 Win 12–4–1 Les Stevens PTS 10 Apr 22, 1974 World SC, Grosvenor House, Mayfair, London, England
16 Win 11–4–1 John Jordan UD 6 Mar 4, 1974 Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland, U.S.
15 Win 10–4–1 Richard Dunn TKO 8 (10) Feb 18, 1974 World Sporting Club, Mayfair, London, England
14 Draw 9–4–1 Billy Aird PTS 8 Oct 23, 1973 World Sporting Club, Mayfair, London, England
13 Win 9–4 Mike Boswell PTS 6 Aug 14, 1973 Convention Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
12 Win 8–4 Obie English PTS 6 Apr 23, 1973 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
11 Loss 7–4 Earnie Shavers TKO 3 (10) Feb 19, 1973 Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
10 Loss 7–3 Randy Neumann PTS 10 Mar 10, 1972 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
9 Win 7–2 Jasper Evans PTS 6 Feb 12, 1972 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
8 Win 6–2 Lou Hicks PTS 8 Oct 26, 1971 Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
7 Win 5–2 Andy Geiger KO 1 (6) Sep 27, 1971 Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
6 Loss 4–2 Roy Williams PTS 4 Feb 22, 1971 Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
5 Win 4–1 Howard Darlington PTS 6 Nov 24, 1970 Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S
4 Win 3–1 Jimmy Gilmore PTS 4 Jun 22, 1970 Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
3 Loss 2–1 Clay Hodges UD 6 Apr 3, 1970 Coliseum, San Diego, California, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 Johnny Gause PTS 6 Dec 9, 1969 Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 Jim Jones TKO 1 (4) Oct 28, 1969 Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.


  1. ^ Biography of Jimmy Young (findagrave.com)
  2. ^ His biography, as detailed in article itself below
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Boxing Records Archive". www.boxrec.com. Archived from the original on May 15, 2002.
  5. ^ "Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search".
  6. ^ Video on YouTube
  7. ^ Howard Cosell 1977 commentary on YouTube
  8. ^ YouTube Young fight commentary
  9. ^ "Jimmy Young, 56, Fighter Who Beat Foreman but Lost to Ali, Is Dead". The New York Times. Associated Press. February 24, 2005. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  10. ^ Archives, L. A. Times (February 24, 2005). "Jimmy Young, 56; Boxer Lost Bouts With Norton, Ali, but Beat Foreman". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  11. ^ Real Combat Media
  12. ^ Pub. Doubleday ISBN 0-385-14097-5

External links[edit]