Due to requests from 2 people very close to me, today’s post will be regarding 2 of the best fighters to have ever come out of Britain. Randolph Turpin and Sir Henry Cooper, arguments regarding these Boxers confirm that they may well be good enough to be placed amongst the best boxers that have ever lived. For me they don’t rank within these elite men, but they do stand tall as 2 of the best Boxers England have ever produced.
A Middleweight fighter that crossed over 2 decades with a record of 66-8-1, earning his status as probably one of the best European Middleweights to have entered the ring, claiming the European crown form Dutchman Luc van Dam after a 48 second Knockout. By this point Turpin had already avenged his defeats and was inline for a World title shot. The task in hand seemed mountainous as he would have to beat probably the best Middleweight that has ever lived in Sugar Ray Robinson. The venue was Earls court in London where Turpin not only beat Robinson but over 15 rounds, completely outclassed him. It proved to be the fight of his life and made him not only a national hero but world known, but it wouldn’t last long, 64 days to be precise.
Robinson had a rematch clause that produced an instant Middleweight classic, producing one of the biggest crowds ever in New York City. Turpin went at Robinson like he did in their last encounter and managed to produce a cut over the eye of Robinson, the cut was so bad Robinson knew he would have to pull everything out the bag as the fight could be stopped at any moment. After knocking down Turpin once, Robinson then produced a combination of punches that forced the fight to be stopped and Turpin’s reign was over.
Turpin then went on to lose to Carl Olson on a UD, a loss Tupin put down to issues in his personal life. He returned to England and Won the Lonsdale and British belts, but victories were becoming Complacent and his personal life seemed to be getting worse, issues with marriage and business seemed to be getting in the way of his career, Turpin’s final bout in 1958 saw him lose to Yolande Pompey after 2 rounds. In 1966 Turpin committed suicide, it would prove that boxing was his break away from a very distorted personal life.
A national treasure and one of my personal favourites of the ring, Cooper was a British Heavyweight who won both British and European crowns but never became a World Champion but came very close. In 1959 Cooper beat Brian London and became the holder of the British title, with the winner of that fight going on to face Floyd Patterson, unfortunately Cooper refused to the fight and it was London who went on to lose to Patterson. It seemed Jim Wicks who was Coopers manager was pulling the strings and would never allow his fighters in the ring with anyone he thought was cause his fighter damage, after being asked if he could setup about between Cooper and Sonny Liston he famously stated ‘I wouldn’t allow ‘Enry into the same room as him. Let alone the same ring’. Fights the British public would have thrived to witness and fights that would have defined Cooper seemed to never materialise, going on to defend his British title against numerous fighters including a rematch with London and then suffering a loss to Zora Folley a highly ranked fighter.
Cooper’s Shot would then come, it was what he had dreamed of and found himself the contender for the World Championship against Muhammad Ali.
It was this fight that put Cooper on the map and remains even now, his greatest moment in the ring. Going into the fight Cooper was lighter, slower and a much more sluggish fighter than Ali, and it would have seemed that the only way to stop Ali was to get in his face, and this is what he did. Ali complained of certain shots he was taking that were very close to the rules during the fight, but in round 4 Ali had no time to complain about the famous left hook of Coopers that left him flat on his back in the ring. Ali regained himself to score a TKO win due to the fight being stopped as Cooper developed a bad cut under his eye. But it was after the Knock down and at the end of round 4 that will always be remembered. Ali initially fell and his head landed on the bottom rope, which in many people’s eyes stopped him from a certain knockout. After composing himself and getting to his feet it was legendary trainer Angelo Dundee that guided Ali to his stall and then proceeded to use smelling salts to regain the Champion. After recognising that Ali was still unsteady after Coopers hook, Dundee then made a tear in one of Ali’s gloves forcing the referee to pause the bout to get the glove re taped, but to also give Ali those valuable few seconds to find his rhythm and go on to retain his world title. This would be closest Cooper ever got to a World title.
Cooper then went on to finally fight Patterson but lost in round 4, he then went undefeated claiming the European title to his name along the way, but it was against Joe Bugner in 1971, his final fight, he would lose his Crown in a closely fought match. Bugner was awarded the fight on points and Cooper then went on to announce his retirement from the ring.
Both Fighters will go down as Boxing legends in Britain and will be known worldwide for their 1 moment when they shocked the Boxing world, Turpin proving that you could outbox Robinson and Cooper showing everyone how you KO Muhammad Ali…..well nearly.