November 29, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz ….

I was perhaps 7 years old, when my father took me and my elder brother to a cinema for the first time. It was “Jack the Giant Killer”, a fantastic movie which I once again watched during the 1970s.

Before the start of  “Jack the Giant Killer” film, the cinema showed us a short film of the Heavyweight Boxing title fight between Ingemar Johansson and Floyd Patterson. Ingemar Johansson, from Sweden was the title holder at that time, and American Floyd Patterson was fighting to regain his lost title.  It was a fight that Patterson won ultimately. Though I was small, I  still remember that fight, where Johansson was drastically beaten by Patterson.

Floyd Patterson

I was thrilled to see that fight on a large cinema screen. In fact that was the first time that I had seen boxing.

That particular fight made Floyd Patterson my hero. All my attention was directed towards boxing. Someone else in my place would have started thinking about learning boxing. But that was not my way. I started collecting photographs of boxers, and collecting whatever information I could get about boxing.

My father used to be subscriber of Time and Life magazine, during 1960s, so I was getting a good number of photographs and information from them. I read books about boxing in the library.

My interest in boxing took me to read about Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis (nicknamed the Brown Bomber due to ferocity of his punches). But Floyd Patterson remained my favourite boxer.

Then came the time when Patterson lost to Sonny Liston in 1962. I saw the recording of the fight in the cinema, and felt very depressed seeing Patterson, my hero, losing to Liston. The Life magazine was filled with the photographs. But I never liked Sonny Liston, most probably because he had defeated my hero.

I was also excited to find Mohammad Ali knocking out Sonny Liston, twice. Mohammad Ali however, could never replace Floyd Patterson in my heart. But I liked Ali because he had defeated the person who had defeated my hero earlier.

The era of Mohammad Ali, captivated me for a long time in boxing. I followed his fights through newspapers and radio. I remember I was studying in college, when Mohammad Ali was fighting against Ken Norton. The news that the jaw of Mohammad Ali was broken by Ken Norton in the fight, was given by our teacher in the class. We all, teachers and students, were very interested in boxing. In fact Mohammad Ali had, along with George Foreman and  Joe Frazier, had taken boxing to great heights of popularity the world over.

With all this going on, I remember very much excitement about the Floyd Patterson fight against Mohammad Ali on 22nd November 1965. My hero, Patterson had challenged Mohammad Ali in his quest to regain the world heavyweight title. I remember I followed that fight through newspapers and magazines. I felt very disappointed and disheartened, finding Mohammad Ali beating Patterson. It was reported that Patterson had entered the ring with a back problem. However, he survived until the 12th round, when considering the punishment that he had taken at the hands of Ali, the referee had stopped the fight, declaring Ali as the winner.

Patterson though still remained my hero. The only point of consolation for me was that he was although he was twice badly punished and beaten up, he did not have a knock-out.

He died on 11th May 2006, at the age of 71. He was and still is my hero.

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