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Who Are The Best Colorado Boxing Legends?

Who Are The Best Colorado Boxing Legends?


Who Are The Best Colorado Boxing Legends? photo

Who Are The Best Colorado Boxing Legends?

Boxing is one of the most exciting sports, full of adrenaline and tactics. Several American boxers have left a mark in this discipline since it started to become popular at the beginning of the last century. Colorado, “the Centennial State,” has been the house of many athletes; whether they were born in the state or started their career there.

So who are the best of the best from the Colorado boxing legends?

Colorado Boxing Legends

Stevie Johnston

Stevie Johnston was one of the champions in boxing in the 90s. The lightweight was commonly known as “Lil’ But Bad” and became a double WBC lightweight champion until he retired in 2008. Johnston had an amazing international career, as he participated in the Pan American Games in Cuba and the World Championships in Peru, representing the U.S.

Born in Denver, Colorado, Stevie Johnston had an impressive winning record of 42 fights out of 49 overall and battling the likes of Angel Manfredy and Jose Luis Castillo. And, Johnston won silver and gold medals from organizations on different occasions for his performance as a light welterweight.

Denver Ed Martin

Professionally known as “Denver Ed,” Edward Martin is one of the biggest legends when it comes to boxing. Martin was born in Denver and was one of the first persons to draw attention to the sport in the twentieth century. Denver Ed’s career started in 1899, and there are records that say that he participated in about 42 fights.

The Colorado Giant was famous for his height, which helped him to have a strong punch and be a champion in heavyweight. Still, he was also a champion in the Colored Heavyweight championship in 1902 after winning against Frank Childs. He retired around 1908 but had a few exhibition matches later in his life, including his fight against heavyweight Harry Wills, while he managed a cigar shop until he passed away in 1937.

Lonnie Smith

One of the best Colorado athletes ever, who should have had an honorable mention in the list of Colorado best athletes on this website, is Lonnie Smith.“The Lighting” Lonnie Smith was brought into the public eye in 1985 when he knocked out the champion at the time, Billy Costello, by a knock-out, and later because of his encounter with Julio César Chávez after losing due to a one-sided decision.

He’s a native of Colorado, where he developed most of his amateur career, which surprisingly enough wasn’t as victorious as when he went pro, but that didn’t stop him from becoming the WBC Light Welterweight in 1985, taking the title that the undefeated Costello previously held. After a thriving 19-year-long career as a light welterweight with only seven losses through 53 fights, Lonnie Smith retired in 1999.

Mike Alvarado

The 2013 WBO light welterweight winner, Mike “Mile High” Alvarado, is a native of Denver, Colorado. Throughout his career, Alvarado only lost five of his 45 fights, 28 of which by knock-out; he matched with remarkable boxers, such as Ruslan Provodnikov, Brandon Ríos, and Juan Manuel Márquez.

Though he has been developing in bare-knuckle boxing since 2023, he retired from boxing in 2019 after losing against Arnold Barboza Jr. He made his bare-knuckle at 42 and signed with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.

Young Corbett II

William H. Rothwell, mostly known as Young Corbett II, was born and raised in Denver. He picked his name in honor of James J. Corbett, a heavyweight champion and actor, before becoming the World Featherweight champion himself. While some people considered he shouldn’t have competed in that category, Corbett remained at the top of his kind.

Corbett was welcomed into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010, becoming one of the few Colorado boxers with this recognition, like Jack Dempsey. Throughout his career, from 1896 to 1910, he fought in 111 matches, with a winning record of 68 and only 22 losses, a few of them against his famous rival, Young Erne. Corbett died of heart failure at 46 and spent his last years enjoying exhibition matches.

Jack Dempsey

Probably the most known Colorado native boxer in history, Dempsey has been inspiring boxers since he debuted in 1919. Dempsey had a short but remarkable career of 85 fights in seven years, with a winning record of 64 in heavyweight, which made him one of the best punchers to this date.

He started his professional career after filling in for his brother during a fight, though he was known by a few as “Young Dempsey” and “Kid Blackie.” After becoming a pro, the Manasa native became the 1919 heavyweight champion of the world after defeating fan favorite at the time, Jess Willard. Dempsey’s aggressive, almost streetlike fighting became history as he was part of one of the first live broadcast matches in the history of T.V. He was introduced in the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, seven years after he died at 87 years old due to heart failure.

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Michael is the CEO of Last Word On Sports INC and is happy to be involved with Big Fight Weekend. He is credentialed with several international governing bodies. He cites the Hagler-Leonard fight as his introduction to boxing--and what an introduction that was!

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