Boxing, one of the most thrilling yet often overlooked sports, is highly competitive due to its intense nature. There are several renowned figures in this field, such as Tyson Fury, the current WBC heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, and the legendary Muhammad Ali, whose names are widely recognized.
Many might not be aware, but Colorado has produced numerous outstanding boxers. For boxing enthusiasts, it’s worth exploring these names, as they include five of the most celebrated boxers hailing from Colorado
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5. Denver Ed Martin
The first name on this list dates back to the 1800s when people couldn’t watch matches online or on TV. Edward “Denver Ed” Martin, born in Denver, Colorado, dedicated most of his life to becoming one of the best boxers of his time.
It is reported that Ed fought in over 42 fights from 1899 to 1908, winning 23, most of them by knockout. Also known as The Colorado Giant, the heavyweight was over 6 ft 3 and a half inches tall, yet was mainly known for his strong punch.
Martin broke several records during his time, such as becoming the Colored Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Frank Childs in 1902, until he lost his title against Jack Johnson. After retiring, he made a short comeback in 1921, when he fought Harry Wills. He then owned a cigar shop until his death in 1937.
4. Stevie Johnston
We are going with a name that is a little more recent. Steven Earl Johnston, a.k.a. Lil’ But Bad, surprised every lightweight boxer he encountered. Johnston won the WBC lightweight champion title twice, as he had a great record of 42 wins from the 49 fights of his career.
He became a professional boxer in 1993, still had some memorable moments throughout his amateur career from 1989 to 1992 when he participated in several tournaments, such as the World Championships in Peru, where he got a silver medal, or the Pan American Games in Cuba where he became a gold medallist.
His career ended in 2008 after he was knocked out by up-and-coming boxer Edner Cherry, as Johnston remained unconscious for several minutes even after the match was finished.
3. Lonnie Smith
Though there are several Lonnie Smiths, no one can compare to the Colorado welterweight champion, Harlan Alonso Smith. Also known as “Lightning,” he got into the spotlight after he knocked out Billy Costello in 1985, who, at the time, was at the top of his career as the undefeated reigning champion.
This victory got him the world title of WBC Light Welterweight. Smith started with a bumpy road in 1980, losing over 22 fights, still, once he became professional, he managed to lose only seven of his 53 fights.
He’s also known for his very public confrontation with Mexican boxer Julio César Chávez in an airport in Las Vegas after Lonnie lost against him because of a one-sided decision. He retired in 1999 after he was defeated by Disobelys Hurtado.
2. Young Corbett II
Born in Denver, Colorado, William H. Rothwell, better known as Young Corbett II, is still one of the most important featherweight champions in American and international boxing. He’s been part of the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2010, but he started his professional career in 1896 with a great start of 13 undefeated fights. He named himself after the heavyweight champion James J. Corbett.
In total, he boxed in 111 fights, only losing 13, one of them by decision after he fought against his nemesis, Young Erne. Though his career was controversial due to his weight, and full of ups and downs, he managed to remain at the top of his field until he retired in 1910. He then kept doing exhibition matches for 17 more years until he suddenly died of heart failure at age 46.
1. Jack Dempsey
We finish this list with one of the most remarkable names in boxing history. Jack Dempsey’s career started more than a hundred years ago, but he remains at the top of boxing as he became one of the biggest icons in the sport, thanks to his performance in heavyweight from 1919 to 1926. Dempsey is part of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and is considered one of the greatest punchers of the last 50 years.
During his career, he boxed in 85 fights, winning 64 of them, only being defeated a small number of times by some other great boxers, such as Gene Tunney, Willie Meehan, and Fireman Jim Flynn, the only boxer who got him knocked out.
Born in Manassa, Colorado, he started his boxing career very early in his life, as he dropped out of school to work when he was only 16 years old. Still, he spent his free time fighting under the names “Kid Blackie” and “Young Dempsey,” until he began his career under Jack Dempsey after he substituted for his older brother in a fight.
Dempsey’s style was described as very aggressive, similar to street fighting, but with a great punch, and he was one of the first athletes to live broadcast his matches in the history of sports. After retiring, he