Larry Holmes - The Easton Assassin
American boxer Larry Holmes was born on November 3, 1949 in Cuthbert, Georgia, moving to Easton, Pennsylvania. As a young boy, Holmes learnt to box at a youth centre after becoming a labourer having dropped out of school.
As young professionals, many boxers such as George Foreman, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were given special treatment and financial backing, winning their fame through Olympic gold medals. They had their paths mapped out for them. However, in comparison Holmes was an outsider, unknown for some time.
Holmes met Ali when he opened his training camp in Deer Lake, PA. When Ali was in training, Holmes earned $500 a week as his sparring partner. Although Holmes' talent was still seen as second-rate, as a result of his workouts with Ali he matured as a boxer.
Travelling to many fights around the world with Ali, it wasn't until 1978 that Holmes was given the opportunity to not only fight for the heavyweight title, but also overcome promoter Don King's poor opinion of him.
After winning the WBC title in the 1st round against veteran Ken Norton in June 1978, Holmes defended his title in October 1980 against the 38-year-old former champion Ali. At his peak, he easily handled his former boss.
He won recognition as the best current World Heavyweight Champion as a result of his victories over Mike Weaver in 1979, Muhammad Ali in 1980 and Leon Spinks in 1981. Holmes fought successfully and frequently, and by 1985 had built a record of 48 straight victories and 0 defeats. He was only one win short of the heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record.
At 6'3" tall, weighing 212lbs, Holmes had one of the best jabs ever. His right hand was nicknamed 'Big Jack!'. In his biggest win, he scored a 13th round stoppage over Gerry Cooney in June 1982, a fight tainted by racial overtones during its promotion.
After making 20 successful title defences, he lost on points to reigning light heavyweight king Michael Spinks. He returned to fight Mike Tyson for the title in his 1988 comeback but was knocked out in four rounds.
Holmes started another comeback in 1991 and defeated title contender Ray Mercer early in 1992. He fought and lost against Oliver McCall in 1995 and was defeated by defending champion Evander Holyfield in 1992.
He finally retired in 2002 with a record of 69 wins, 6 defeats and 44 knockouts.