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Archie Moore

[moor, mawr, mohr]
A Book on Archie Moore
Career Snapshot
Born December 13, 1913
Died December 9, 1998
Total Fights 506* (1 No Decision)
Won 505*
Lost 0*
Draw 0*
Knockouts 504* (* Varied figures)
Titles Won Light Heavyweight

Archie Moore, Born Archibald Wright (December 13 1913December 9 1998), was light heavyweight world boxing champion between 1952 and 1959 (and again in 1961) and had one of the longest professional careers in the history of his sport. A native of Benoit, Mississippi, raised in St. Louis, Mo., he died four days short of his 85th (or 82nd) birthday, in his adopted home of San Diego, California. He was an important community figure, and became involved in African American causes once his days as a fighter were over. Nicknamed "The Old Mongoose", Moore still holds the record for the most career knockouts by any boxer, at 145. He also became a successful character actor in television and film.

Before Boxing

Moore often found himself in trouble as a youngster, and was in a reformatory until 1934. In 1935, he began his boxing career with nine fights as a boxer, winning 5 and losing 4. (He also claimed to have boxed some under the name "Fourth of July Kid," so he may have had even more fights.)

Professional Boxing Career

He turned professional in 1938 and boxed all but one of his 12 bouts that year in San Diego. Moore had eight bouts in 1939, going 5-2 during that span, with one "no contest". He lost to fringe contender Teddy Yarosz during that time, and his no contest was against Jack Coggins, in eight rounds. In 1940, Moore a tour of Australia had him fighting in Melbourne, Tasmania, Adelaide and Sydney. He won all of his seven bouts there, including six by knockout. Upon returning to the United States, he defeated Pancho Ramirez by a knockout in five, but lost to Shorty Hogue on a six round decision.

First Retirement and Comeback

Moore had four fights in 1941, during which he went 2-1-1, with the draw against Eddie Booker. By then, however, he had suffered through several stomach ulcers, with the resulting operations, and he announced his retirement from boxing.

His retirement was brief, however, and by 1942 he was back in the ring. He won his first six bouts that year, including a second round knockout of Hogue in a rematch, and a ten round decision over Jack Chase. He met Booker in a rematch, and reached the same conclusion as their first meeting had: another 10 round draw.

In 1943, Moore fought seven bouts, winning five and losing two. He won and then lost the California State Middleweight title against Chase, both by 15 round decisions, and beat Chase again in his last bout of that year, in a ten round decision. He also lost a decision to Aaron Wade that year.

The Atlantic Coast

In 1944, he had nine bouts, going 7-2. His last bout that year marked his debut on the Atlantic Coast, and the level of his opposition began to improve. He beat Jimmy Hayden by a knockout in five, lost to Charlie Burley by a decision, and to Booker by a knockout in eight.

He won his first eight bouts of 1945, impressing Atlantic coast boxing experts, and earning a fight with fringe contender Jimmy Bivins, who defeated Moore by a knockout in six at Cleveland. He returned to the Eastern Seaboard to fight five more times before that year was over. He met, among others, Holman Williams during that span, losing a ten round decision, and knocking him out in eleven in the rematch.

By 1946, Moore had moved to the light heavyweight division, and he went 5-2-1 that year, beating fringe contender Curtis Sheppard, but losing to future world heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles by a decision in ten, and drawing with old nemesis Chase. By then, Moore began complaining publicly that, according to him, none of boxing's world champions would risk their titles fighting him.

1947 was essentially a year of rematches for Moore. He went 7-1 that year, his one loss being to Charles. He beat Chase by a knockout in nine, Sheppard by a decision in ten and Bivins by a knockout in nine. He also defeated Burt Lytell, by a decision in ten.

He fought a solid 14 fights in 1948, losing again to Charles by a knockout in nine, losing to Leonard Morrow by a knockout in the first, to Henry Hall by a decision in ten and to Lloyd Gibson by a disqualification in four. But he also beat Ted Lowry, by a decision in ten, and Hall in a rematch, also by decision.

1949 was also a good year for Moore: He had 13 bouts that year, going 12-1. He defeated the Alabama Kid twice; by knockout in four and by knockout in three, Bob Satterfield by a knockout in three, Bivins by a knockout in eight, future world Light Heavyweight champion Harold Johnson by a decision, Bob Sikes by a knockout in three, and Phil Muscato by a decision. He lost to Clinton Bacon by a disqualification in six.

By Moore's standards, 1950 was a vacation year for him: he only had two fights, winning both, including a 10 round decision in a rematch with Lydell.

In 1951, Moore boxed 18 times, winning 16, losing one, and drawing one. He went on an Argentinian tour, fighting seven times there, winning six and drawing one. In between those seven fights, he found time for a trip to Montevideo, Uruguay, where he defeated Vicente Quiroz by a knockout in six. He knocked out Bivins in nine, and split two decisions with Johnson.

World Light Heavyweight Champion

1952 was one of the most important years in Moore's life. After beating Johnson, Jimmy Slade and Clinton Bacon (knocked out in four in a rematch), the seemingly inevitable happened: Moore was given an opportunity for the world title by world light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim. (Maxim had just defeated Sugar Ray Robinson by a technical knockout in 14 rounds, after Robinson was forced to quit in his corner due to heat exhaustion.) Moore consistently landed powerful right hands on his opponent throughout the fight, hurting Maxim several times, and finally became world champion after beating Maxim with a decision in fifteen rounds. He had finally achieved his dream of becoming a world boxing champion, sixteen long years after beginning his professional boxing career and at the age of thirty-nine.

However, he was far from done. The next year, he won all nine of his bouts, including a 10 round non title win against fringe heavyweight contender Nino Valdez of Cuba, and a 15 round decision over Maxim in a rematch to retain the belt. He made two more bouts in Argentina before the end of the year.

In 1954, he had only four fights, retaining the title in a third fight with Maxim, who once again went the 15 round distance, and versus Johnson, who he knocked out in 14. He also beat Bob Baker that year. In 1955, he beat Valdez again, and defended against Bobo Olson, the world middleweight champion, who was coming off a decision victory over Joey Maxim. Moore defeated Olson by a knockout in three to retain his title.

Rocky Marciano

Next, on September 21, 1955, it was Moore's turn to go up in weight and challenge a bigger champion, when he stepped into the ring to face Rocky Marciano for Marciano's heavyweight championship. Moore briefly dropped Marciano in the second round (the second and last time Marciano had been knocked down), but Marciano recovered and knocked Moore down 5 times, knocking him out in the ninth to retain the belt. Marciano would retire after this fight, his sixth title defense.

In 1956, he went back to the light heavyweight division, and won 13 fights in a row, including a ten round knockout to retain the world's crown against Yolande Pompey in London, before going up in weight once again, and challenging again for the world heavyweight crown. The title was left vacant by Marciano, but Moore lost to Floyd Patterson by a knockout in five. (Patterson himself made history that night, becoming, at the age of 21, the youngest world heavyweight champion yet, a record he would hold until 1986.)

Going down to the light heavyweights once again, Moore won all six of his bouts during 1957. He retained the title against Tony Anthony by a knockout in seven, and had two fights in Germany and one in Canada.

In 1958, Moore had 10 fights, going 9-0-1 during that span. His fight with Yvon Durelle in particular was of note: defending his world light heavyweight title in Montreal, he was felled three times in round one, and once again in round five, but then dropped Durelle in round 10 and won by a knockout in the 11th.

1959, his last full year as uncontested champion, was another rare low-profile year; in his two fights, he beat Sterling Davis by a knockout in three, and then Durelle again, also by a knockout in three, to once again retain his world Light Heavyweight title. On June 17, a story appeared that George Reeves, television's Superman, was scheduled to box a two-round exhibition match with Moore in San Diego that same day, an event that wouldn't take place owing to Reeves' suicide the day before. The story originated with the detective investigating the TV star's death and was picked up by the wire services. Moore, who was then in San Diego training for his rematch with Durelle, seems never to have commented on the alleged event, and San Diego papers contain no reference to the supposed event.

During 1960, Moore was stripped of his world light heavyweight title by the National Boxing Association (NBA), but he won three of his four bouts that year, his lone loss coming in a ten-round decision versus Giulio Rinaldi in Rome.

He was re-instated as world light heavyweight champion in 1961, and he won two fights before defending his crown for what would be the last time, beating Rinaldi by a 15 round decision to retain the belt. In his last fight that year, he once again ventured into the heavyweights, and met Pete Rademacher, a man who had made history earlier in his career by becoming the first man ever to challenge for a world title in his first professional bout (when he lost to Patterson by a knockout in six). Moore beat Rademacher by a knockout in nine.

Muhammad Ali

In 1962, he was again stripped of his world light heavyweight title, this time for good. He decided to campaign exclusively as a heavyweight from then on, and beat Alejandro Lavorante by a knockout in 10 and Howard King by a knockout in one round in Tijuana. He then drew against former world Light Heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano in 10,

Then, in his last fight of note, he faced a young heavyweight out of Louisville named Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). Moore had been Clay's trainer for a time, but Clay became dissatisfied and left Moore because of Moore's attempts to change his style, and his insistence that Clay do dishes and help clean gym floors.

In the days before the fight, young Clay's increasingly notorious rhyming skills predicted that "Archie Moore / Must fall in four." Moore replied by saying that he had perfected a new punch for the match: The Lip-Buttoner.

However, just as Clay predicted, Moore was beaten by a knockout in four rounds. Still, Moore is the only man to have faced both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.

After one more fight in 1963, against Mike DiBiase in Phoenix (which he won by a knockout in the third round), Moore announced his retirement from boxing, for good.

Second Retirement

Despite retiring, Moore couldn't escape the limelight, and received numerous awards and dedications. In 1965, he was given the key to the city of San Diego, California.. In 1970, he was named "Man of The Year" by Listen Magazine, and received the key to the city of Sandpoint, Ohio.

He was elected in 1985 to the St. Louis city Boxing Hall of Fame, and he received the Rocky Marciano Memorial Award in the city of New York in 1988. In 1990, he became a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in Canastota, being one of the original members of that institution.

The oldest boxer to win the world's light heavyweight crown, he is believed to have been the only boxer who boxed professionally in the eras of Joe Louis, Marciano and Muhammad Ali. He is one of only a handful of boxers whose careers spanned four decades; his final record was an astonishing 199 wins, 24 losses, 9 draws and 1 no contest, with 145 official knockouts.

However, at least three of Moore's record 145 knockouts came in predetermined matches against pro wrestlers on wrestling cards: "Professor" Roy Shire in 1956, Sterling Davis in 1959, and Mike DiBiase in 1963 (Moore's 145th and final knockout). All three matches are officially listed as third-round TKO stoppages. But even if one amends Moore's career numbers, he would still hold the record. The second-highest amount of knockouts in boxing history is 125, a total shared by light heavyweight Young Stribling and welterweight Billy Bird.

Acting career

In 1960, Moore was chosen to play the role of the runaway slave Jim in Michael Curtiz's film adaptation of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, opposite Eddie Hodges as Huck. Moore garnered positive reviews for his sympathetic portrayal of Jim, which some viewers still consider the best interpretation of this much-filmed role.

Moore did not choose to pursue a full-time career as an actor, but he did appear in 1960s films such as The Fortune Cookie and The Carpetbaggers and on television in episodes of Family Affair, Perry Mason, Wagon Train, Batman and the soap opera One Life to Live. He made a brief return to film in 1975, playing a chef in Breakheart Pass with Charles Bronson, and had a cameo role as himself in the 1982 Jamaa Fanaka film Penitentiary II, along with Leon Isaac Kennedy and Mr. T.

Personal life

In 1997, Moore's daughter, J'Marie, became the first daughter of a famous boxer to herself become a professional boxer

With his first wife Elizabeth A. Thorton, Moore had two children: Archie Moore Jr. and Betty Moore of City Heights, California.

Moore and wife Joan had five children: Reena Marie, Joanie Marie, Hardy Lee, D'Angelo Greeg,and Billy Ray Moore.

Death

Archie Moore died of heart failure in 1998 at age 84. He was cremated and is interred in a niche at Cypress View Mausoleum and Crematory, in San Diego.

Accolades

References

External links

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