Wayne Bethea vs. Ernie Knox

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Associated Press article

Wayne Bethea 205 lbs beat Ernie Knox 153 lbs by KO at 1:15 in round 9 of 10

  • Date: 1963-10-14
  • Location: Coliseum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • Referee: Tom Kelly


  • Ernie Knox died of a subdural hematoma on the brain two days after he was knocked out by Wayne Bethea.
  • According to Sports Illustrated, Bethea had a $500 guarantee. Knox got a purse of only $243, which was 15 percent of the gross gate paid by a crowd of 869.
  • Robert H. Boyle of Sports Illustrated reported:
Knox looked fit when he entered the ring in the 10-round main event. Bethea, a plodding boxer who likes to stay on top of an opponent, seemed out of shape. At the end of every round he was breathing hard. For the first four rounds Knox held his own, slipping away and jabbing his opponent. But then Bethea began to bull Knox against the ropes, where he scored with his right uppercuts to the body and short left hooks to the head. The blows were not hard but they were insistent. Early in the ninth round Bethea hit Knox with a looping right to the head. Knox stumbled back against the ropes and slid to the canvas. Accounts disagree as to when Knox arose, but it was no later than the count of four. After giving Knox the mandatory eight count, Referee Tom Kelly let the fight resume. Knox tried to clinch, but Bethea knocked him to his knees, and the referee counted him out.
  • Knox, who was 178 pounds at the official weigh-in on the day of the fight, weighed only 153 when his body was submitted for autopsy. Bobby Gleason, Bethea's manager, said both Bethea and Knox stepped on the scales wearing trousers, shorts, socks and shoes. "With those clothes on, Knox weighed 184 pounds," said Gleason. "They credited his clothes with weighing six pounds and made his weight 178." Dr. Charles S. Petty, assistant medical examiner for the city of Baltimore, conceded that Knox might have lost a pound a round under the hot ring lights in the grueling fight. That would have made his weight 169. Thirty-one hours elapsed between the knockout and death, and Dr. Petty said a person deprived of all fluids and foods for 24 hours would lose from one and a half to four pounds. Allowing Knox to lose the maximum of six pounds, that would bring his weight down further to 163, still 10 pounds off the mark. And, as Dr. Petty pointed out, Knox was not deprived of fluids but was fed intravenously. At most, the brain operation would account for only a half-ounce loss in weight.
  • A grand jury investigated Knox's death. After reporting that "no fraud" was found in the death of Knox, the jury urged the state to enact tighter regulations for control of boxing. The jury suggested that all weigh-ins be held only on official scales of the state athletic commission and examining physicians or a member of the commission directly supervise the weigh-ins.

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