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Lyle c. 1967
|Real name||Ronald Lyle|
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Reach||76 in (193 cm)|
February 12, 1941|
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||November 26, 2011
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Wins by KO||31|
Ronald "Ron" Lyle (February 12, 1941 – November 26, 2011) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1971 to 1980, and in 1995. He challenged once for the undisputed world heavyweight title, losing to Muhammad Ali in 1975. Lyle was known for his punching power, crowd-pleasing fighting style, as well as courage and determination inside the ring. He held notable wins over Buster Mathis, Oscar Bonavena, Jimmy Ellis, Earnie Shavers, Joe Bugner, and Scott LeDoux, but is best known for his slugfest against George Foreman in 1976, which won Fight of the Year honors by The Ring magazine.
Lyle was one of 19 children born to William and Nellie Lyle of Dayton, Ohio. In 1954, they moved to Denver, Colorado as his father got a job as a sandblaster at Buckley Air Force Base. He grew up on the Northeast side of the city, a predominantly African American area, in public housing projects.
During his time in Denver, Lyle was known to have associated with violent gangs. At 19, after dropping out of Manual High School, Lyle was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 21-year-old gang rival Douglas Byrd. Lyle argued he was being attacked with a lead pipe and was not the one who pulled the trigger.
He was sentenced to 15–25 years in the Colorado State Penitentiary. While in prison, Lyle nearly died on the operating table after being stabbed by an inmate. He was released after serving 7 1/2 years.
Lyle credited Lt. Cliff Mattax, the athletic director at the prison, with getting him interested in boxing. In his first match for the prison boxing team, Lyle was defeated by Texas Johnson. He never lost a prison boxing match again, however.
After prison, Lyle joined the Denver Elks Gym and started boxing for Bill Daniels. Lyle's first amateur victory was a third-round knockout over Fred Houpe (who would later be Leon Spinks's final opponent). His amateur career lasted only 14 months, and he compiled a record of 25–4 with 17 knockouts. He was the 1970 National AAU Heavyweight Champion, the 1970 North American Amateur Heavyweight Champion, and the 1970 International Boxing League Heavyweight Champion. Lyle was a member of the United States Boxing Team. He lost to Russian Ivan Alexi, but knocked out Armenian (USSR) heavyweight Kamo Saroyan in a match broadcast by ABC television's Wide World of Sports.
Lyle had a very late start in professional boxing. He turned professional under Bill Daniels, with trainer Bobby Lewis. His first fight was at the age of 30 in Denver, Colorado, against A.J Staples, which he won by knockout in the second round. Lyle went on to post a 19–0 record with 17 knockouts, and became the 5th rated heavyweight contender. He scored impressive knockouts over notables Vicente Rondon, a light heavyweight champion; hulking Buster Mathis; and won by unanimous decision over former WBA Heavyweight Champion, Jimmy Ellis. Lyle's undefeated streak ended on a one-sided decision to veteran Jerry Quarry: the latter gave one of his career best performances using a boxer/puncher style to create openings first, gaining the initiative using his greater experience. Lyle then lost to Jimmy Young in 1975. In a later rematch, Young again edged Lyle and went on to outpoint George Foreman in 1977.
Lyle vs. Ali
On May 16, 1975 he was given an opportunity to face heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, during Ali's second title defense in his second reign as champion. Lyle was the more aggressive fighter in the early rounds, with Ali conserving his energy and covering up in the center of the ring allowing Lyle to score. Lyle also showed restraint and did not respond to Ali's attempts at the rope-a-dope ploy. Though in danger of falling too far behind on points, Ali appeared to be in control of the pace of the fight, and picked his moments to score. The fight was close going into the 11th round, with Lyle winning on all three of the judges' score cards. Ali then hit Lyle with a strong right hand and followed with several flurrying punches, scoring. The referee stopped the fight, seeing that Lyle was unable to defend himself and Ali was punching him in the head at will. Lyle's corner was not happy with the referee's decision.
Lyle vs. Foreman
The fight is looked upon to this day as one of the most exciting and brutal in heavyweight history. Lyle took the offensive against the former champion and won the opening round. At one point he hit Foreman with a staggering body punch. After almost being knocked out in Round Two, Lyle amazed the crowd by flooring Foreman twice in the fourth round. Other than Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Young, Lyle was the only boxer to have ever knocked down George Foreman during a professional boxing match. Foreman later wrote in his autobiography that Lyle was the toughest man he ever fought. The former champion recovered and scored a knockout in the fifth round.
Lyle scored impressive victories over rated Jose Luis Garcia, and big names Oscar Bonavena and Earnie Shavers during his career. He also won a split decision over Joe Bugner, boring in with a thudding body attack in a fine contest.
The year 1979 marked a decline in Lyle's abilities. Draws with fringe contenders Stan Ward and Scott LeDoux were followed by a stunning one-punch loss to unheard-of Lynn Ball. Ball went on to match other names but never achieved similar success. The Ring magazine quoted Lyle as saying afterwards "No one does that to me."
He would return to the ring, however, but not for long. Ron retired again after a first-round knockout loss to then-rising star and undefeated power-hitting Gerry Cooney. By then, Lyle was 39 years old and his best years had gone.
In 1995, at the age of 54, Lyle decided on a brief comeback. After scoring four quick knockouts over second-rate opponents, Lyle tried to get a rematch with George Foreman. The match was never made, however, and Lyle retired from boxing.
While Lyle was working as a security guard in Las Vegas, he was accused of another murder. He shot a man in his apartment who had spent time with him in the Colorado State Penitentiary. Lyle claimed self-defense and was found not guilty. A biography titled Off the Ropes: the Ron Lyle Story was written by Candace Toft and released by Scratching Shed Publishing in May 2010.
Lyle ran the boxing gym Denver Red Shield in Denver, Colorado. He was the former trainer of light welterweight contender Victor Ortíz, who fought out of Denver during some of his amateur career.
In 1992 Lyle trained a young promising talent from Las Vegas, Arash Hashemi, and under his mentorship Hashemi won two Golden Gloves championships.
Lyle died at the age of 70, on Saturday November 26, 2011 from complications from a sudden stomach ailment. "We're gonna miss Ron. He was a friend", Earnie Shavers said. "He was the strongest man I have ever known, inside-and-out. When he gave advice, it was solid. He will never know how much I loved him. I will greatly miss him now that he is gone. I will never have a close friend like him again", states Lisa Dawn Sheridan.
Lyle in the media and popular culture
Ron Lyle appeared in the film Facing Ali, a 2009 documentary, where he discusses his life and career. About his fight against Ali, when referee Fredy Nunez stopped the fight, he said "I couldn't believe it, you know. I'm ahead on all scorecards. [...] Am I bitter? Forget about it. I never took it personal. If there don't be no Ali, you think you'd be sitting here talking to Ron Lyle? About what?"
During this documentary he revealed that, during his stint in prison, where he received one meal a day consisting of a bowl of spinach, he passed time by doing up to 1,000 push-ups in an hour each day.
Professional boxing record
|Professional record summary|
|51 fights||43 wins||7 losses|
|51||Win||43–7–1||Dave Slaughter||TKO||2 (10)||Aug 18, 1995||Regency Hotel, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|50||Win||42–7–1||Ed Strickland||KO||2||Jun 9, 1995||Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.|
|49||Win||41–7–1||Tim Pollard||TKO||2||May 12, 1995||Peel's Palace, Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.|
|48||Win||40–7–1||Bruce Johnson||KO||4 (10)||Apr 7, 1995||Peels Palace, Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.|
|47||Loss||39–7–1||Gerry Cooney||KO||1 (10), 2:49||Oct 24, 1980||Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Hempstead, New York, U.S.|
|46||Win||39–6–1||George O'Mara||KO||10 (10), 0:37||Aug 23, 1980||Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.|
|45||Win||38–6–1||Al Neumann||TKO||10 (10)||Jun 19, 1980||University of Puget Sound Fieldhouse, Tacoma, Washington, U.S.|
|44||Loss||37–6–1||Lynn Ball||TKO||2 (10), 2:55||Dec 12, 1979||Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.|
|43||Win||37–5–1||Scott LeDoux||SD||10||May 12, 1979||Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|42||Win||36–5–1||Fili Moala||TKO||8 (10), 1:51||Apr 6, 1979||San Diego Stadium, San Diego, California, U.S.|
|41||Win||35–5–1||Horace Robinson||RTD||8 (10), 0:01||Jun 3, 1978||Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|40||Win||34–5–1||Stan Ward||MD||10||Sep 14, 1977||Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|39||Win||33–5–1||Joe Bugner||SD||12||Mar 20, 1977||Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|38||Loss||32–5–1||Jimmy Young||UD||12||Nov 6, 1976||Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|37||Win||32–4–1||Kevin Isaac||TKO||7 (10), 1:14||Sep 11, 1976||Memorial Auditorium, Utica, New York, U.S.|
|36||Loss||31–4–1||George Foreman||KO||5 (12), 2:28||Jan 24, 1976||Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||For vacant NABF heavyweight title|
|35||Win||31–3–1||Earnie Shavers||TKO||6 (12), 0:47||Sep 13, 1975||Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|34||Loss||30–3–1||Muhammad Ali||TKO||11 (15), 1:08||May 16, 1975||Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.||For WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles|
|33||Loss||30–2–1||Jimmy Young||UD||10||Feb 11, 1975||International Center Arena, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.|
|32||Win||30–1–1||Al Jones||TKO||5 (10), 1:43||Dec 13, 1974||Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.|
|31||Win||29–1–1||Boone Kirkman||TKO||8 (10), 2:02||Sep 17, 1974||Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
|30||Win||28–1–1||Jimmy Ellis||UD||12||Jul 16, 1974||Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|29||Win||27–1–1||Oscar Bonavena||UD||12||Mar 19, 1974||Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|28||Draw||26–1–1||Gregorio Peralta||PTS||10||Nov 17, 1973||Frankfurt, West Germany|
|27||Win||26–1||Larry Middleton||UD||10||Oct 31, 1973||Civic Center, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.|
|26||Win||25–1||Jürgen Blin||TKO||2 (10), 1:01||Oct 4, 1973||Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|25||Win||24–1||Jose Luis Garcia||KO||3 (10), 1:01||Oct 4, 1973||Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|24||Win||23–1||Lou Bailey||UD||10||Jul 3, 1973||State Fairgrounds International Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|23||Win||22–1||Wendell Newton||SD||10||Jun 11, 1973||Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|22||Win||21–1||Gregorio Peralta||UD||10||May 12, 1973||Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|21||Win||20–1||Bob Stallings||UD||10||Apr 14, 1973||Harry Adams Field House, Missoula, Montana, U.S.|
|20||Loss||19–1||Jerry Quarry||UD||12||Feb 9, 1973||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|19||Win||19–0||Larry Middleton||KO||3 (10), 2:34||Dec 9, 1972||Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|18||Win||18–0||Luis Faustino Pires||KO||3 (10), 2:55||Oct 28, 1972||Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|17||Win||17–0||Buster Mathis||KO||2 (10), 2:58||Sep 29, 1972||Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|16||Win||16–0||Vicente Rondón||TKO||2 (10), 1:41||Jul 11, 1972||Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|15||Win||15–0||Mike Boswell||TKO||7 (10)||May 25, 1972||Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.|
|14||Win||14–0||Mel Turnbow||TKO||4 (10), 2:59||May 10, 1972||Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|13||Win||13–0||George Johnson||KO||3 (10), 0:31||Mar 25, 1972||Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|12||Win||12–0||Chuck Leslie||TKO||2 (10), 1:47||Jan 22, 1972||Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|11||Win||11–0||Bill Drover||KO||2 (10), 0:45||Dec 18, 1971||Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|10||Win||10–0||Jack O'Halloran||KO||4 (10), 2:15||Nov 26, 1971||Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|9||Win||9–0||Joe E Lewis||KO||3 (10)||Nov 10, 1971||Silver Slipper, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Manuel Ramos||UD||10||Oct 9, 1971||Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|7||Win||7–0||Eddie Land||TKO||7 (10)||Sep 1, 1971||Silver Slipper, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|6||Win||6–0||Frank Niblett||KO||9 (10)||Aug 11, 1971||Silver Slipper, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|5||Win||5–0||Leroy Caldwell||UD||5||Jul 24, 1971||Playboy Club, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, U.S.|
|4||Win||4–0||Edmund Stewart||TKO||2 (6)||Jul 16, 1971||Sunnyside Garden Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||Gary Bates||KO||3 (4), 2:20||Jun 19, 1971||Sahara Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Art Miller||KO||5 (6)||May 22, 1971||Matthews Arena, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||A J Staples||TKO||2 (6)||Apr 23, 1971||Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.||Professional debut|
Titles in boxing
|United States heavyweight champion
- Groke, Nick (November 27, 2011). "Denver's Ron Lyle, heavyweight boxer, dies at age 70". Denver Post.
- Groke, Nick (November 27, 2011). "Denver's Ron Lyle, heavyweight boxer, dies at age 70". Denver Post.
- KO Corner » Ron Lyle
- RUSSELL: Former local tackles bio of boxing great Lyle
- "Most Popular". CNN. October 9, 1972.
- Fighthype \\ Ron Lyle: "Ali Just Transcended The Sport And I Don'T Ever Think We Could Repay Him"
- Down Memory Lane: George Foreman vs. Ron Lyle | Bleacher Report
- Henderson, John (June 7, 2009). "Ex-boxer Ron Lyle muscling up on life". Denver Post.
- Amazon.com: Off the Ropes: the Ron Lyle Story (9780956252623): Candace Toft: Books
- Pugmire, Lance (November 8, 2007). "He's his own man". Los Angeles Times.
- Groke, Nick (November 27, 2011) Ron Lyle, heavyweight boxer, dies at age 70 The Denver Post
- Ron Lyle on Facing Ali (2009 documentary on Muhammad Ali) | Boxing History