Larry Holmes

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Name: Larry Holmes
Alias: The Easton Assassin
Hometown: Easton, Pennsylvania, USA
Birthplace: Cuthbert, Georgia, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 190cm
Reach: 206cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Career Overview

Tale of the Tape
Height 6' 3"
Reach 81"
Neck 17½"
Chest (expanded) 45½"
Biceps 15½"
Forearm 13"
Wrist 8"
Fist 13½"
Waist 35"
Thigh 25"
Ankle 10"
  • Won the WBC heavyweight title from Ken Norton by a 15-round split decision on June 9, 1978.
  • Held the WBC heavyweight title from 1978 to 1983 and the IBF heavyweight title from 1983 to 1985. His reign of seven years is the third longest ever in the heavyweight division. Only Joe Louis (1937-1949) and Wladimir Klitschko (2006-2015) have had longer title reigns.
  • Successfully defended the WBC title 16 times and the IBF title three times.
  • Won eight straight title defenses by knockout, beating Joe Louis' record of seven and tying Tommy Burns’ record of 8.
  • Won the lineal World Heavyweight Championship when he defeated Muhammad Ali by a 10th-round RTD on October 2, 1980. Holmes defended it 12 times.
  • Came close to matching Rocky Marciano's record of 49-0. Holmes won his first 48 professional fights before losing a close 15-round unanimous decision to Michael Spinks in 1985.
  • Attempted to regain the title four times, losing to Michael Spinks in 1986, Mike Tyson in 1988, Evander Holyfield in 1992 and Oliver McCall in 1995.
  • Was scheduled to face George Foreman at the Houston Astrodome on January 23, 1999. Foreman was to make $10 million and Holmes $4 million. After they signed the contracts, each boxer received 10 percent of his purse as a nonrefundable deposit. Foreman withdrew from the fight on January 1 because the promoter, Roger Levitt, failed to meet the deadline to pay Foreman the remaining $9 million of his $10 million purse. The fight ran into trouble when one of its major backers pulled out. "They were supposed to have the money last week and they didn't have it," said Roy Foreman, George's brother. "George gave them an extra week and they still didn't have it." [1]
  • Last professional fight was a 10-round unanimous decision win against Eric "Butterbean" Esch on July 27, 2002. Holmes was 52-years-old.
  • Retired with a professional record of 69-6 with 44 knockouts.

Amateur Career

Holmes had an amateur record of 19-3.

He was a sparring partner for Muhammad Ali from 1972 to 1975. According to Holmes, he had "about eleven amateur bouts" when he started working with Ali. Holmes' first trainer, Ernie Butler, took him to Ali's training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, which is about 50 miles northwest of Holmes' hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania.

Holmes suffered his first defeat against Nick Wells in the finals of a tournament in Minnesota in 1972. Wells stopped him in three rounds.

They fought again in the semifinals of the 1972 Olympic trials in Fort Worth, Texas, and Holmes was stopped in the first round.

Holmes wrote of his bouts with Wells in his 1998 autobiography, Larry Holmes: Against the Odds: "It was the first time I'd fought a lefty. It threw my reactions off. I was hesitant and ended up being an easy target for Wells, who had good power. Good enough to give me the worst beating of my career and stop me in the third round. My first-ever defeat. The way things unfolded, I had another opportunity against Wells in a later tournament in Texas. This time I managed to find left-handed sparring partners to get ready for him. Guess what? It didn't matter. Not one bit. That guy Wells had my number, and he beat me again. Badly." [2]

Holmes boxed Duane Bobick at the 1972 Olympic box-offs in West Point, New York. Bobick was unbeaten in his previous 55 bouts.

Holmes was dropped by a Bobick right hand in the first round and was twice warned for holding in the second. After holding again in the third and final round, Holmes was disqualified. [3]

Early in his professional career, Holmes' reputation suffered due to the loss to Bobick. Michael Katz of the New York Times wrote in 1985 that Holmes was considered "a frightened boxer — the word often used was "yellow" — whom people remembered as trying to crawl out of the ring against Duane Bobick in an amateur bout in 1972." [4]

Relinquishing The WBC Title

On May 20, 1983, Holmes defeated Tim Witherspoon by a 12-round split decision to defend the World Boxing Council heavyweight title. Before the fight, according to promoter Don King, Holmes signed a contract to fight Greg Page, the No. 1 WBC contender, for $2.55 million. However, Holmes said he merely signed an agreement for a Page fight, and no purse, site or date were mentioned in the agreement.

Holmes, Page and King met at the promoter's offices in New York on August 10. After the meeting, King said Holmes agreed to fight Page in February or March of 1984. King said Holmes "agreed to fight for $2.55 million. That's just what he signed for before." Holmes said, "I'm not saying what I signed for, whatever he (King) says."

King added, "Greg Page might not be happy because he wanted the fight this year." But Page agreed to wait until 1984, King said, even though Page's lawyer sent a letter to WBC president Jose Sulaiman the day Page was in New York, demanding action be taken to force a Holmes-Page fight or strip Holmes of the title.

Holmes defended the title with a 5th-round TKO of Scott Frank on September 10, and then stopped Marvis Frazier, son of former World Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier, in one round on November 25. Holmes was paid $1.5 million for the Scott fight and $3.1 million for Frazier. The Frazier fight was not sanctioned by the WBC because Frazier was not ranked in their top 10. [5]

After defeating Frazier, Holmes still refused to fight Page unless he was paid more than the $2.55 million King was offering for the fight. "I know I have signed for a fight with Greg Page," Holmes said. "But I won't fight him unless they come up with more money." [6]

On December 11, 1983, Holmes relinquished the WBC title, which he had defended 16 times over five years. Bob Lee, president of the newly founded International Boxing Federation, contacted Holmes on December 10 and told him the IBF would recognize him as champion. [7]

IBF Heavyweight Champion

Holmes was scheduled to defend the IBF title against former World Boxing Association champion John Tate in Reno, Nevada on April 6, 1984, but the fight was cancelled after Tate suffered a shoulder injury in training. Holmes was going to make $3 million. [8]

On March 28, 1984, Holmes and WBA champion Gerrie Coetzee announced that they would fight on June 8 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. The unification match was to be promoted by JPD Sports, a new promotion company based out of Texas. Holmes reportedly was to make $8 million. Don King, who had a promotional contract with Coetzee, was to get $8 million, of which he was to pay $3.2 million to Coetzee and $2.2 million to Cedric Kushner, who also had a promotional agreement with Coetzee. [9]

Muhammad Ali and his attorney, Richard Hirschfeld, threatened to block the fight. Hirschfeld said Holmes signed a contract on October 20, 1983, giving him the rights of first refusal to promote a Holmes-Coetzee fight. Holmes received a $50,000 check in return and also received $110,000 after agreeing to serve as a board member and active participant in Champion Sports Management, of which Hirschfeld was president and Ali was chairman. Hirschfeld said if Holmes didn't fight Coetzee for him or if his contract wasn't bought out for $8 million, he would seek an injunction against the fight. [10]

Holmes asked a federal judge to throw out his contract with Hirschfeld, claiming he was tricked into signing it. "Larry loves kids and he (Hirschfeld) tells Larry he's going to get $110,000 for helping kids," said Charles Spaziani, Holmes' attorney. "He gives Larry a lot of doubletalk." When Holmes told Spaziani about the meeting days later, Spaziani told him, "Larry, this is a sham."

Spaziani said Holmes thought the two checks he received were for his participation in Champion Sports Management, and he returned both. Hirschfeld agreed to take back the $110,000 check but refused to accept the one for $50,000, claiming his contract with Holmes was valid. [11]

The fight was canceled on May 15 because of a lack of funds. JPD Sports was having problems financing the fight and was counting on a $16 million letter of credit from Dr. Edward McDonald, head of a Southern California real estate group, to save the promotion. But the money never came. "We are disappointed...that the Holmes-Coetzee fight will not take place at Caesars Palace because of a breach of our contract by the promoter," said Bruce Aguilera, a Caesars Palace vice president. [12]

Promoter Bob Arum announced on June 1 that Holmes and Coetzee had signed letters of intent with him to fight on August 17. "They'll be fighting for Holmes' International Boxing Federation title," Arum said. "Coetzee is giving up his World Boxing Association title so King won't have any ties to him." Arum claimed King's contract with Coetzee was only for WBA title fights. [13]

Holmes filed suit against King on June 8, contending that King had engaged in a "fragrant and fraudulent attempt" to avoid paying him a large sum of money from his fight with Gerry Cooney in 1982. However, eight days later, Holmes and King reached an agreement on a Coetzee fight. "We signed an agreement on the fight and a tentative agreement on the purse," Holmes said. "King wants the fight in September or October." Holmes said of King, "I settled all my differences with him."

As for Arum's announcement earlier in the month, Holmes said Arum was not connected with the fight. If he was, Holmes said, it was through King. [14] [15]

On August 14, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Champion Sports Management with deceiving investors in a stock offering. Ali was not accused of wrongdoing, but Hirschfeld was named as a defendant. The suit claimed that Hirschfeld misled investors by overstating the value of its assets, disguising a $600,000 loss as a loan that might be collected. [16]

CNN reported on August 27 that King would promote a fight between Holmes and Coetzee on November 16 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, but Holmes said the fight was on hold until a federal judge ruled on a request by Hirschfeld for a preliminary injunction to prevent anyone else from promoting the fight. [17] [18]

On September 10, U.S. District Judge Daniel Huyett III ruled in favor of Hirschfeld and granted him a 90-day right of first refusal. After the verdict, Hirschfeld said he would go to Europe with Ali "to arrange the financing to meet any contingencies." However, King had testified at the injunction hearing that he would not let Coetzee fight Holmes if Hirschfeld were involved. [19]

At a news conference on September 27, Holmes announced that he would fight James "Bonecrusher" Smith on November 9 and said of a proposed match against Coetzee, "I'm going to let that fight die." [20]

On November 14, a federal judge ruled that Hirschfeld defrauded investors and ordered him to dissolve Champion Sports Management, return to the public any funds raised and refrain from attempting to obtain additional funding. [21] [22]

Holmes made his first defense of the IBF title by stopping "Bonecrusher" Smith on a cut at 2:10 of the 12th round. Holmes earned $1 million for the fight. [23]

Exhibition Matches

Awards & Recognition

Professional record

Championship Record


  • Holmes has lived in Easton, Pennsylvania since 1957.
  • Holmes' younger brother, Mark Holmes, was also a professional boxer, winning 38 of 39 bouts.
  • Holmes has defended the World Heavyweight Title against 19 fighters, the second most in history next to Joe Louis (21 fighters).
  • Holmes' 19 consecutive World Heavyweight Title defenses is second only to Joe Louis' 25.
  • In 1998, Holmes released his autobiography, Larry Holmes: Against the Odds.
  • Holmes, who has a band named Marmalade, appeared on the VH1 reality television show But Can They Sing in 2005.
  • The 2006 movie Rocky Balboa was inspired by boxers who fought at an advanced age, such as Archie Moore, George Foreman and Holmes.
  • During an online chat on ESPN SportsNation in 2009, Holmes said his toughest fight from 1978 to 1985 was against Ken Norton. [24]

External Links

Preceded by:
Ken Norton
WBC Heavyweight Champion
1978 Jun 9 – 1983 Dec 11
Succeeded by:
Tim Witherspoon
Preceded by:
Inaugural Champion
IBF Heavyweight Champion
1983 Dec 11 – 1985 Sep 21
Succeeded by:
Michael Spinks