Talk:Herol Graham

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Generally considered to be the best British boxer to never win a world title? Maybe since World War II, but I think Jock McAvoy, Len Harvey, and Ernie Roderick, amongst others perhaps, have a pretty good case, as well as those putting up that claim for them. I think you should qualify your statement a little more.--Matt Tegen 22:03, 23 Oct 2005 (CDT)

See Michael Jordan's wiki page, to see how they handle the greatness tag: [1]

Wouldn't he be the best British boxer since WWII. If you throw Americans in there, people could make good arguments for Billy Graham, Jerry Quarry, or even their own personal favorites (i.e., in my case Harry "Kid" Matthews). That's getting to be your POV, to call Herol Graham the widely considered best fighter to not win a title in the last 60 years. I would disagree, in putting that statement in anyone's bio.--Matt Tegen 22:18, 30 Dec 2005 (CST)

Reverted one more time, after GNicholas again made the POV statement that Graham is the best boxer to not a world title in the last 60 years. Next time it's going to be locked.--Matt Tegen 14:36, 9 Feb 2006 (CST)

Hi, there is false info on the Herol Graham page, shall I correct it?--Gnicholas75


Instead of just saying that Graham would have posed a challenged for the big four of the 1980's, without saying why; write a good article that would possibly lead someone to believe that Graham would do what you are saying. Specifically, you should describe Graham's early career in detail. I'm sure you have a lot of valuable knowledge on the subject, don't just waste it by making one statement claims, that aren't backed up by facts.


Article was protected again on April 5, 2006, due to two abuse occasions by apparent aliases of former user GNicholas. Since the user outright deletes the whole article, to put in a one line statement of Graham's career, this article is protected. --Matt Tegen 12:29, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

Herol Article


Please give any changes or corrections right here, and a sysop will take of the changes, if apporopriate. Will you be landing at the airport?--Matt Tegen 14:57, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)


Sure, go ahead.--Matt Tegen 16:16, 5 Apr 2006 (CDT)

Herol Graham was one of the trickiest and most avoided British fighters from 1981 to 1992. Flaunting superb reflexes and a fine repertoire of punches, the versatile but light-hitting ‘Bomber’ was a nightmare to hit, and used his tricky southpaw stance to reduce competent professionals to the level of fumbling amateurs.

Despite dominating Britain and dazzling Europe, the flamboyant light-middleweight could never extend his glory to the world stage, although a lot of that was down to him not being aloud to as his world title challenges came at the end of his career when his much-relied elusiveness had decreased. He failed to take both the WBA and WBC middleweight belts under unlucky circumstances in 1989 and 1990 respectively, and - following a belated but impressive comeback - was stopped 8 years later as a 168-pound title challenger.

Born in Nottingham in 1959, Graham relocated to Sheffield and by the late ‘70s was training out of the St Thomas Gym For Boys and Girls, run by Brendan Ingle, in the tough Wincobank area.

Ingle, sick of the traditional upright style associated with British boxing - and dismayed at the low level of coaching he had witnessed from trainers throughout the country - decided to break from the mould, starting from scratch to devise a new style of fighting. He told ‘Boxing Monthly’ in March 1997:

“I’ve identified five different ways to box: orthodox, southpaw, square-on, sideways on, and switch-hitting.” He added “If you can only box orthodox or southpaw you’re going to be very limited”.

Although a natural southpaw, Graham was encouraged to switch stances and present angles, to create openings and accommodate a branch of defensive escape routes. Blessed with snappy reflexes and excellent timing, Herol developed a bottom-heavy physique, using his strong legs to add leverage to his leaping punches, also allowing him to dance out of trouble.

Graham applied his new style and soon became Ingle’s star pupil, winning the 1978 ABA’s and becoming the template for future professionals based in Wincobank, Sheffield.

Turning pro the same year, he won his first 16 bouts before hitting his peak when challenging Pat Thomas for the vacant British 154 pound title in 1981. In a display of defensive genius, Graham dazzled his man. He barely took a punch and controlled every round with a darting right jab, in what is still considered the finest achievement of his career.

Back in 1979, Alan Minter had cancelled Graham as a sparring partner and later claimed “You couldn’t hit him with a hand full of stones. If anybody out there could of beaten ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler, it was Herol Graham.”

Following the success against Thomas, Graham’s reputation as a defensive master skyrocketed. To flaunt his skills, he travelled with Ingle around public houses and social clubs, allowing men to take pot shots at his chin with his hands tied behind his back, in fruitless attempts to knock him out.

Unfortunately, he failed to lure 154 pound kingpin Tommy Hearns into the ring with him, despite proposing a lucrative bout to take place at Hillsborough soccer stadium for the summer of 1983. Ingle claimed Hearns ducked him.

But Hearns’ trainer Emanuel Steward later explained “The prospect of a light-punching, defensive wizard did little to attract American audience. Herol Graham could make you look bad, I believe he could of made anybody look bad. It was a totally unwise thing to do to send Tommy over to England to defend his title against a spoiler who is unheard of in America”.

After winning the Commonwealth and European belts, Herol repeated his success in the middleweight division.

He had debuted in the middleweight division against highly rated Lindell Holmes, in a highly praised one sided affair that didn’t exactly do him many favours if he didn’t want to have America’s leading middleweights being weary of him, to put it mildly.

He defeated Jimmy Price in 1985 for the vacant British title in a ridiculously easy match, he then proved beyond any doubt that he was a top class operator by stopping former world champion Ayub Kalule for the EBU belt in 1986. To put that into perspective, ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard has described Kalule as his most difficult ever opponent.

Following a vintage performance against Mark Kaylor - who famously remarked “How can you beat a man you can’t hit?” - Graham eventually faltered. Suffering personal problems, he was edged by the Italian based African Sumbu Kalambay, who hurt him in the final round of a close fight.

The Kalambay fight had been viewed as a safe warm up for Graham before a shot at the world title, Marvin Hagler had been stripped of his WBA title for failing to defend against Graham and Graham had already signed to fight Iran Barkley for the vacant title before the Kalambay fight.

Kalambay was hardly given a hope of defeating the Yorkshire maestro, but Graham was without Ingle for the first time in his career (having fallen out with his mentor) and also adopted an attacking approach for the first time in his career under new manager Barney Eastwood’s instructions. Graham was probably on the front foot more in this fight than for all of his previous fights combined! Kalambay showed good defence throughout and countered well in a shock upset.

Nevertheless, against journeymen and domestic opposition he was peerless, and having kept busy was soon pencilled in for a shot at the vacant WBA title against the outstanding Mike McCallum, himself fresh from a defeat to Kalambay. Ingle was back in Graham’s corner for the very long-awaited world title shot.

Despite having totally different fighting styles - McCallum being a seamless yet highly efficient technician, and Graham with his free form style of limbo dancing - the two men held some striking similarities that would reflect the closeness of their 1989 contest.

Like Graham, McCallum proved his class by stopping Kalule - way back in 1982 - and each contestant was similarly avoided by his contemporaries. Headliners like Leonard and Duran always stayed away from ‘The Body Snatcher’, while Hearns and Hagler officially turned down bouts with Graham, and in the future British stars Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank were content to snub both McCallum and Graham and fight one another in lucrative bouts.

Although their opposing styles gelled awkwardly, London fight fans witnessed a marvellous bout, as each man took turns to lead, counter, and then counter one another’s counters. Graham, despite this being viewed as a world title shot that had come eight years too late, frustrated McCallum constantly, jumping in with unorthodox punches from seemingly impossible angles, but it was the Jamaican who landed the classier blows throughout.

The two tacticians matched each other punch for punch, and finally went toe-to-toe in a gruelling ninth round that saw Graham rocked and on the ropes, only to rally back with a sickening barrage of crisp hooks and scything uppercuts.

After the tightest of contests, the MC kept everybody in suspense, taking almost ten minutes to present the decision. When it finally did arrive, few could argue with the split decision in favour of McCallum, but in a sport that usually favours the 'home fighter' many felt that Graham might have been given the benefit of the doubt.

After dismissing hot prospect Rod Douglas, Graham earned another crack at a vacant world title - this time for the WBC, against Julian ‘The Hawk’ Jackson. The murderous-punching Virgin Islander reigned for almost two years as the 154 pound WBA king, and - like Graham - was looking to establish himself in the new division.

From the opening bell, Graham made the crude yet dangerous puncher look foolish. Using his unorthodox stance and timing to keep Jackson off-balance, Graham was easily able to back his man up and chip away with both hands, against one of the most feared fighters of his generation.

Aware of Jackson’s well-publicised vision problems - he had suffered a detached retina previously - Graham speared a stinging left that shut ‘The Hawk’s’ left eye. Easily eluding the semi-blind attacks that followed, Herol pecked away at Jackson’s eye in a marvel of controlled aggression. At the end of round three, Jackson was given one more round to continue.

Graham - on the verge of a stoppage win - applied an ill-advised change in strategy. Eager to close the show, Herol backed Jackson to the ropes but his low guard left him hopelessly exposed to the lethal right hook that laid him out for five minutes.

In lieu of the latest disappointment, Graham lowered his sights to the European level. As ever, luck was not on his side - old foe Kalambay was the EBU champion. Despite being on a downward slide, following defeats to McCallum and Michael Nunn, Sumbu edged his man in a highly controversial 1992 decision in his adopted home of Italy.

The dejected Graham shortly diminished, losing for the first time against a British fighter - Frank Grant - and retiring due to a detached retina. Graham found the lure of the ring hard to resist, however, and after his injuries were cleared up he eventually was cleared to box by the reluctant BBBC.

Eager to provide his family with financial security, and to disprove the theory that he couldn’t beat the very best, ‘Bomber’ came back in 1996 and kept busy, beating lower-level opposition before a one-sided decision over Vinny Pazienza secured him a fight with IBF super middleweight champion Charles Brewer in 1998.

Fighting in America for only the second time, the determined 38-year-old demonstrated all of his old skills, as he befuddled and dropped the younger man three times to put himself ahead. The reflexes and stamina didn’t match, however, and Graham was bombed out for his final shot at the championship, losing by tenth round TKO.

Prior to his 1996 comeback Graham told ‘Boxing News’ “You have to accept the losses in life. I’ve lived with them and I’ve accepted them…You win some, you lose some. That’s how life is.”

Six years after his last comeback, it seems Graham has delivered on his promise and accepted the hand that was dealt to him. No one can doubt the quality of opposition he faced - McCallum is now a Hall of Famer, Julian Jackson is widely considered the greatest pure puncher of his generation - and even if he couldn’t beat them, he came damn close.