Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On This Day: Gene Fullmer: The Cyclone From West Jordan Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Gene Fuller was one of the roughest and toughest fighters to ever hold the World middleweight title, he was a throwback to the fighters of the turn of century, who stood toe-to-toe with every opponent they met.

Fullmer was born on July 21, 1931, in West Jordan, Utah, and turned professional in 1951.  Fullmer made up for in strength and endurance, what he lacked in science, and finesse.  On January 2, 1957, Fuller caused a huge upset when he won the World middleweight title by out-pointing the already legendary Sugar Ray Robinson.   However in a rematch 3 months later, Robinson regained his World middleweight title by knocking out Fullmer with a perfect left hook in the 5th round.

After losing the title back to Robinson, Fullmer put together a run of 9 victories, and then on August 28 he fought Carmen Basilo for the vacant NBA version of the World middleweight title (Robinson  having been stripped of recognition by the NBA due to his inactivity.) Fullmer won the NBA title by stopping Basilo in the 14th round after a brutal contest.

Fullmer made 8 defences of his NBA World middleweight title, successfully defending it against Spider Webb, Joey Giardello, Carmen Basilo, Sugar Ray Robinson (twice) Florentino Fernandez and Benny Paret, before losing his championship on October 23, 1962, when he was out-pointed by Dick Tiger.

Fullmer would try to regain his title twice from Tiger. On February 23, 1963, he and Tiger fought to a draw after 15 rounds and then six months later, Tiger stopped Fullmer in the 7th round. That was the end of the road for Gene, and on July 23, 1964, he announced his retirement, with a final record of 55(24koes)-6-3.

Fullmer would go on to be part owner of the Rocky Mountain Region Golden Gloves Boxing franchise in 1964. In 1978, he would open the Fullmer Brothers Gym with his brothers Jay and Don in Utah, where he would train boxers, along with his brothers. He lived a provincial life in Utah, raising quarter horses, minks, and farming while participating on the fair board with his second wife, Karen. He also taught Sunday school and headed priesthood classes at his Mormon Church.

The International Boxing Hall of Fame inducted Fullmer in 1991. Unfortunately, on April 27, 2015, Gene Fullmer, who had Alzheimer's, dementia, and was battling a bacterial infection, died in Taylorsville, Utah. Ironically, he would die hours after his brother Jay’s funeral, who had been suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL.) His brother, Don, also died from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in 2013.

Watch the documentary "The Fullmer Brothers":

Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to www.theboxingglove.com

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