Ron Lyle

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Ron Lyle
Ron Lyle boxer2.png
Lyle c. 1967
Real name Ronald Lyle
Weight(s) Heavyweight
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Reach 76 in (193 cm)
Nationality American
Born (1941-02-12)February 12, 1941
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
Died November 26, 2011(2011-11-26) (aged 70)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 51
Wins 43
Wins by KO 31
Losses 7
Draws 1

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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1]

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.[2]

Lyle credited Lt. Cliff Mattax, the athletic director at the prison, with getting him interested in boxing.[citation needed] In his first match for the prison boxing team, Lyle was defeated by Texas Johnson. He never lost a prison boxing match again, however.[citation needed]

Amateur career[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Ron Lyle boxer.png

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.[5] 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[edit]

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.[6][7]

Lyle vs. Foreman[edit]

Lyle is perhaps best known for a brawling fight in 1976 with Hall of Famer George Foreman. Foreman was making a comeback after suffering his first loss to Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle.

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.[citation needed] 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.[8] He also won a split decision over Joe Bugner, boring in with a thudding body attack in a fine contest.

According to George Foreman, Ron Lyle was one of the three hardest punchers he had faced in his career along with Gerry Cooney and Cleveland Williams.[9]

Later career[edit]

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.[10]


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.[11]


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.[12] A biography titled Off the Ropes: the Ron Lyle Story was written by Candace Toft and released by Scratching Shed Publishing in May 2010.[13]

Lyle ran the boxing gym Denver Red Shield in Denver, Colorado.[14] He was the former trainer of light welterweight contender Victor Ortíz, who fought out of Denver during some of his amateur career.[15]

In 1992 Lyle trained a young promising talent from Las Vegas, Arash Hashemi,[16] 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.[17] "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[edit]

Ron Lyle appeared in the film Facing Ali,[18] 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?"[19]

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[edit]

Professional record summary
51 fights 43 wins 7 losses
By knockout 31 4
By decision 12 3
Draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
51 Win 43–7–1 United States Dave Slaughter TKO 2 (10) Aug 18, 1995 United States Regency Hotel, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
50 Win 42–7–1 United States Ed Strickland KO 2 Jun 9, 1995 United States Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.
49 Win 41–7–1 United States Tim Pollard TKO 2 May 12, 1995 United States Peel's Palace, Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.
48 Win 40–7–1 United States Bruce Johnson KO 4 (10) Apr 7, 1995 United States Peels Palace, Erlanger, Kentucky, U.S.
47 Loss 39–7–1 United States Gerry Cooney KO 1 (10), 2:49 Oct 24, 1980 United States Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Hempstead, New York, U.S.
46 Win 39–6–1 United States George O'Mara KO 10 (10), 0:37 Aug 23, 1980 United States Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
45 Win 38–6–1 United States Al Neumann TKO 10 (10) Jun 19, 1980 United States University of Puget Sound Fieldhouse, Tacoma, Washington, U.S.
44 Loss 37–6–1 United States Lynn Ball TKO 2 (10), 2:55 Dec 12, 1979 United States Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
43 Win 37–5–1 United States Scott LeDoux SD 10 May 12, 1979 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
42 Win 36–5–1 Tonga Fili Moala TKO 8 (10), 1:51 Apr 6, 1979 United States San Diego Stadium, San Diego, California, U.S.
41 Win 35–5–1 United States Horace Robinson RTD 8 (10), 0:01 Jun 3, 1978 United States Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
40 Win 34–5–1 United States Stan Ward MD 10 Sep 14, 1977 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
39 Win 33–5–1 United Kingdom Joe Bugner SD 12 Mar 20, 1977 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
38 Loss 32–5–1 United States Jimmy Young UD 12 Nov 6, 1976 United States Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, U.S.
37 Win 32–4–1 United States Kevin Isaac TKO 7 (10), 1:14 Sep 11, 1976 United States Memorial Auditorium, Utica, New York, U.S.
36 Loss 31–4–1 United States George Foreman KO 5 (12), 2:28 Jan 24, 1976 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. For vacant NABF heavyweight title
35 Win 31–3–1 United States Earnie Shavers TKO 6 (12), 0:47 Sep 13, 1975 United States Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
34 Loss 30–3–1 United States Muhammad Ali TKO 11 (15), 1:08 May 16, 1975 United States Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. For WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles
33 Loss 30–2–1 United States Jimmy Young UD 10 Feb 11, 1975 United States International Center Arena, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
32 Win 30–1–1 United States Al Jones TKO 5 (10), 1:43 Dec 13, 1974 United States Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
31 Win 29–1–1 United States Boone Kirkman TKO 8 (10), 2:02 Sep 17, 1974 United States Center Coliseum, Seattle, Washington, U.S.
30 Win 28–1–1 United States Jimmy Ellis UD 12 Jul 16, 1974 United States Denver, Colorado, U.S.
29 Win 27–1–1 Argentina Oscar Bonavena UD 12 Mar 19, 1974 United States Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
28 Draw 26–1–1 Argentina Gregorio Peralta PTS 10 Nov 17, 1973 Germany Frankfurt, West Germany
27 Win 26–1 United States Larry Middleton UD 10 Oct 31, 1973 United States Civic Center, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
26 Win 25–1 Germany Jürgen Blin TKO 2 (10), 1:01 Oct 4, 1973 United States Denver, Colorado, U.S.
25 Win 24–1 Venezuela Jose Luis Garcia KO 3 (10), 1:01 Oct 4, 1973 United States Denver, Colorado, U.S.
24 Win 23–1 United States Lou Bailey UD 10 Jul 3, 1973 United States State Fairgrounds International Building, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
23 Win 22–1 The Bahamas Wendell Newton SD 10 Jun 11, 1973 United States Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
22 Win 21–1 Argentina Gregorio Peralta UD 10 May 12, 1973 United States Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
21 Win 20–1 United States Bob Stallings UD 10 Apr 14, 1973 United States Harry Adams Field House, Missoula, Montana, U.S.
20 Loss 19–1 United States Jerry Quarry UD 12 Feb 9, 1973 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
19 Win 19–0 United States Larry Middleton KO 3 (10), 2:34 Dec 9, 1972 United States Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
18 Win 18–0 Brazil Luis Faustino Pires KO 3 (10), 2:55 Oct 28, 1972 United States Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
17 Win 17–0 United States Buster Mathis KO 2 (10), 2:58 Sep 29, 1972 United States Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
16 Win 16–0 Venezuela Vicente Rondón TKO 2 (10), 1:41 Jul 11, 1972 United States Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
15 Win 15–0 United States Mike Boswell TKO 7 (10) May 25, 1972 United States Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
14 Win 14–0 United States Mel Turnbow TKO 4 (10), 2:59 May 10, 1972 United States Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
13 Win 13–0 United States George Johnson KO 3 (10), 0:31 Mar 25, 1972 United States Coliseum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
12 Win 12–0 United States Chuck Leslie TKO 2 (10), 1:47 Jan 22, 1972 United States Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
11 Win 11–0 Canada Bill Drover KO 2 (10), 0:45 Dec 18, 1971 United States Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
10 Win 10–0 United States Jack O'Halloran KO 4 (10), 2:15 Nov 26, 1971 United States Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
9 Win 9–0 United States Joe E Lewis KO 3 (10) Nov 10, 1971 United States Silver Slipper, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
8 Win 8–0 Mexico Manuel Ramos UD 10 Oct 9, 1971 United States Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
7 Win 7–0 United States Eddie Land TKO 7 (10) Sep 1, 1971 United States Silver Slipper, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
6 Win 6–0 United States Frank Niblett KO 9 (10) Aug 11, 1971 United States Silver Slipper, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
5 Win 5–0 United States Leroy Caldwell UD 5 Jul 24, 1971 United States Playboy Club, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 Jamaica Edmund Stewart TKO 2 (6) Jul 16, 1971 United States Sunnyside Garden Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 United States Gary Bates KO 3 (4), 2:20 Jun 19, 1971 United States Sahara Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 United States Art Miller KO 5 (6) May 22, 1971 United States Matthews Arena, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 United States A J Staples TKO 2 (6) Apr 23, 1971 United States Auditorium Arena, Denver, Colorado, U.S. Professional debut


External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Amateur boxing titles
Earnie Shavers
U.S. heavyweight champion
Duane Bobick
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III
The Ring Fight of the Year
vs. George Foreman

George Foreman vs. Jimmy Young
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III
Round 12
The Ring Round of the Year
Rounds 4, 5 vs. George Foreman

Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks
Round 15