John Tate

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John Tate

Name: John Tate
Alias: Big John
Born: 1955-01-29
Died: 1998-04-09 (Age:43)
Hometown: Marion, Arkansas, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 6′ 4″   /   193cm
Reach: 80″   /   203cm
Boxing Record: click

Trainer: Don Marshall
Manager: Jerry "Ace" Miller

John Tate Gallery

Amateur Career

Professional Career

  • Won the vacant WBA heavyweight title on October 20, 1979, beating Gerrie Coetzee in Pretoria, South Africa. He would lose the title five months later, in Knoxville, Tennessee, suffering a dramatic 15th round knockout at the hands of Mike Weaver.

Personal Life

  • Admitted to a cocaine habit during the 1980s and served time in prison for petty theft and assault before resorting to panhandling on the streets of Knoxville.
  • Died at age 43 in Knoxville, when he suffered a massive stroke, caused by a brain tumor, while driving. The pickup truck crashed into a utility pole. Two other passengers were not seriously injured. The Knox County medical examiner stated that Tate "had been using cocaine regularly in the last 24 hours of his life".
  • Author Kerry Pharr writes an insightful story about John Tate helping to train Keith McKnight for a nationally televised bout shortly before his untimely death in his book Fight The Good Fight: Getting Up After Life Knocks You Down. Available at

Preceded by:
Muhammad Ali
WBA Heavyweight Champion
1979 Oct 20 – 1980 Mar 31
Succeeded by:
Mike Weaver