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Gerry Cooney

Gerry Cooney Profile Image
  • Nickname: Gentleman
  • Date of Birth: 4th August 1956 (67 years old)
  • Retired: 15th January 1990 (Career length: 12 years 11 months)
  • Status: Retired
  • Nationality: USA Flag USA
  • Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, USA Flag Manhattan, New York, USA
  • Residence: Huntington, New York, USA Flag Huntington, New York, USA
  • Division: Heavyweight
  • Height: 199cm
  • Reach: 206cm
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • BoxRec: Gerry Cooney
  • Debut: 15th February 1977

Biography

Gerry Cooney, a name that resonates with boxing enthusiasts as one of the most fearsome punchers in heavyweight history, emerged from a humble Irish-Catholic background on Long Island to become a genuine contender for the world title. Born on August 24, 1956, Cooney was encouraged by his father to pursue a career in the ring, following in the footsteps of his brother Tommy, who had reached the finals of the New York Golden Gloves Sub-Novice Heavyweight division.

As an amateur, Cooney's talent shone brightly. He won international tournaments in the United Kingdom and captured two New York Golden Gloves Championships. His impressive amateur record of 55 wins and only 3 losses was a testament to his potential.

When Cooney turned professional in 1977, he quickly made a name for himself with his imposing size and devastating left hook. Under the guidance of trainers John Capobianco and Victor Valle, Cooney won his first ten fights, nine of which ended by knockout. His early victories against future world cruiserweight champion S. T. Gordon and top contenders like Charlie Polite, Eddie Lopez, and Tom Prater showcased his immense potential.

As Cooney's career progressed, he began to gain national attention, featuring on television and stepping up to face tougher opposition. Impressive wins over former title challengers Jimmy Young and Ron Lyle, both by stoppage, solidified his position as a top contender. However, his sensational 54-second knockout of former world heavyweight champion Ken Norton in 1981 truly announced his arrival on the world stage. This victory tied the record for the quickest knockout in a main event at Madison Square Garden, previously set by Lee Savold in 1948.

With an unbeaten record and a ranking as the WBC's number-one contender, Cooney was eager for a shot at Larry Holmes's heavyweight crown. The stage was set for a mega-fight, and on June 11, 1982, Cooney challenged Holmes for the title in a bout that garnered worldwide attention. The fight's promotion took on controversial racial overtones, with Cooney being labelled the "Great White Hope," a moniker he disagreed with, believing that skill, not race, should determine a boxer's worth.

The Holmes-Cooney fight, with a purse of ten million dollars for the challenger, became the richest in boxing history. Cooney fought valiantly, recovering from a knockdown in the second round and battling through a points deduction for low blows. After 12 gruelling rounds, Holmes' experience and skill prevailed, with Cooney's trainer, Victor Valle, stopping the fight in the 13th round. Despite the loss, Cooney's performance earned him respect, and he and Holmes forged a friendship that would last long after the final bell.

Following the Holmes fight, Cooney's career momentum slowed, with personal problems and long layoffs keeping him out of the ring for extended periods. He returned in 1987 to challenge Michael Spinks for the heavyweight title but was knocked out in the fifth round. Cooney's final fight in 1990 against George Foreman ended in a second-round knockout loss, signalling the end of his boxing journey.

Throughout his career, Cooney's power was unquestionable. With a knockout percentage of 85.7%, he is regarded as one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight history. His left hook, in particular, was a devastating weapon, described by many as one of the most potent punches ever witnessed in the sport. However, his Achilles' heel proved to be his inability to clinch and tie up opponents when hurt, a weakness exposed in his losses to Holmes, Spinks, and Foreman.

Beyond the ring, Cooney's impact on the sport has been significant. He founded the Fighters' Initiative for Support and Training, an organization dedicated to helping retired boxers find employment. Cooney also became involved in promoting title bouts featuring legends like Roberto Durán, Héctor Camacho, and George Foreman. His commitment to preventing domestic violence through the "hands are not for hitting" program and his guidance of young fighters in the gym demonstrate his passion for making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Today, Gerry Cooney resides in Fanwood, New Jersey, with his wife Jennifer and their children. His legacy in the sport of boxing is secure, not only as a fighter with immense power and potential but also as an individual who has used his platform to effect change and support those in need. The impact of the "Gentleman Gerry" extends far beyond the ring, and his name will forever be etched in the annals of boxing history.