Jerry Quarry

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Name: Jerry Quarry
Alias: Irish / Bellflower Bomber
Hometown: Los Angeles, California, USA
Birthplace: Bakersfield, California, USA
Died: 1999-01-03 (Age:53)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 183cm
Reach: 183cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Jerry Quarry, once described as the greatest fighter never to have won a title, was one of the best and most popular heavyweights of the 1960s and 1970s. He fought such boxers as Muhammad Ali (twice), Joe Frazier (twice), Floyd Patterson (twice), Eddie Machen, Thad Spencer, Jimmy Ellis, Buster Mathis, George Chuvalo, Mac Foster, Ron Lyle, Earnie Shavers and Ken Norton. [1]

Quarry was given his first pair of boxing gloves by his father, Jack Quarry, when he was three-years-old and had his first fight when he was five. He won a Junior Golden Gloves title at the age of 10 and repeated for the next three years. [2]

Quarry won the National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship in 1965 and was named the tournament's most outstanding fighter. He knocked out all five of his opponents, setting a tournament record which still stands. He stopped Lynn Farr in the semifinals and Jim Donlinger in the finals. Both suffered broken jaws. [3]

Quarry compiled an amateur record of 170-13. [4]

Managed by his father and veteran fight manager Johnny Flores, Quarry turned professional in May 1965 at age 19. After 12 straight wins, Quarry fought a 10-round draw with Tony Doyle in November 1965. In 1966, Quarry fought two 10-round draws with Tony Alongi and suffered his first pro defeat, dropping a 10-round unanimous decision to tough veteran Eddie Machen. He attributed his loss to poor conditioning and promised that poor conditioning would never again cost him a fight.

After Muhammad Ali was stripped of the World Heavyweight Championship in 1967 for refusing to be inducted into the United States Army, Quarry took part in the World Boxing Association's eight-man elimination tournament to fill the title vacancy.

Quarry's first tournament bout was in October 1967 against former World Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson, whom he fought to a 10-round draw four months earlier. Quarry defeated Patterson by a 12-round majority decision. Three months later, Quarry stopped Thad Spencer in 12 rounds in the semifinals.

In April 1968, Quarry fought Jimmy Ellis in the tournament final for the vacant WBA Heavyweight Championship and lost by a 15-round majority decision. Disappointed in his performance, Quarry said afterward, "If they'd given me the decision, I'd have given it back. I didn't deserve it." Shortly after the bout, Quarry learned that he had fought Ellis with a cracked vertebra. [5] [6]

After upsetting Buster Mathis by a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision in March 1969, Quarry got another title shot, fighting Joe Frazier for a portion of the World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden in June 1969. Frazier was recognized as champion in six states — New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania and Texas. Frazier retained the title when the fight was stopped after the seventh round due to a cut under Quarry's right eye. The bout was named Fight of the Year by The Ring. [7]

Following two quick knockout wins, Quarry lost to George Chuvalo by a seventh-round TKO in December 1969 at Madison Square Garden. Quarry returned to the Garden six months later and scored a sixth-round knockout against Mac Foster, who was 24-0 with 24 knockouts.

Boxing Illustrated named Quarry the most popular professional boxer in the world in 1968 and 1969, and Quarry shared the honor with Muhammad Ali in 1970.

In October 1970, Quarry was the first comeback opponent of Ali, who was returning to the ring after three years of inactivity. The fight was stopped after the third round due to a cut over Quarry's left eye, and Ali was declared the winner. Quarry won his next six fights and then fought a rematch with Ali in June 1972. Ali dominated the fight and won by a seventh-round TKO.

After six consecutive wins, including a 10-round decision victory against Ron Lyle and a first-round knockout of Earnie Shavers, Quarry had a rematch with Joe Frazier in June 1974. Frazier battered Quarry and stopped him in five rounds.

Quarry turned to alcohol and cocaine as his boxing career faded, dulling his reflexes and leaving him virtually defenseless in the ring.

Following a fifth-round TKO loss to Ken Norton in March 1975, Quarry announced his retirement.

Quarry earned $2.1 million in purses but lost it all through drug and alcohol abuse and three marriages. [8]

Quarry returned to the ring in November 1977 and scored an unimpressive ninth-round knockout win against Lorenzo Zanon. Quarry, who lost the first seven rounds, went back into retirement following the fight. He made another comeback in 1983 and defeated two mediocre opponents. After winning the second fight by a controversial 10-round majority decision, Quarry again called it quits. He made one final comeback attempt in 1992 and lost to club fighter Ron Cranmer by a six-round decision. Quarry made $1,050 for the fight. [9]

Before his 1983 comeback, Quarry underwent examinations for a Sports Illustrated article about brain damage in boxing. His neurological exam was normal, but his CAT scan and his neuropsychological results were poor. By the age of 50, the pounding he had taken in the ring turned him into a confused, childlike man whose relatives had to take care of him. [10]

Jimmy Quarry, Jerry's oldest brother, started the Jerry Quarry Foundation for Pugilistica Dementia in 1994. Younger brothers Mike Quarry and Bobby Quarry also fought professionally and suffered brain damage from boxing. [11]

The Ring ranked Quarry as the 27th greatest heavyweight of all-time in 1998.

Quarry died on January 5, 1999. He had been hospitalized on December 28 with pneumonia and then suffered cardiac arrest. Family members directed doctors to remove life support after being told that Quarry would be bedridden and have to be fed through a tube. [12]


  • On June 4, 1968, Quarry was saved from drowning by a 21-year-old surfer named Randy LaDow at Newport Beach, California. [13]
  • Quarry acted in various television shows, such as Batman ("Ring Around the Riddler" 1967), I Dream of Jeannie ("The Strongest Man in the World" 1968), Adam 12 ("Log 73: I'm Still a Cop" 1969) and The Six Million Dollar Man ("The Infiltrators" 1977). Quarry also appeared in an episode of Knight Rider ("Redemption of a Champion" 1986) with former opponent Ken Norton and promoter Don King. [14]
  • The Great White Hope is written on Quarry's gravestone. [15]