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HENRY COOPER WHO KNOCKED DOWN ALI, PASSES AWAY


PhilBoxing.com




Former British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper, one of Britain's most popular sportsmen who was best known for knocking down Muhammad Ali while he was still known as Cassius Clay has passed away at the age of 76.

Ali said in a statement "I am at a loss for words over the death of my friend, Henry Cooper. Henry always had a smile for me; a warm and embracing smile. It was always a pleasure being in Henry's company. I will miss my ole friend. He was a great fighter and a gentleman. My family and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and loved ones.?

Ali said he visited with Cooper two summers ago during a visit to Windsor.
Cooper dropped Ali, then known as Clay in the fourth round with a patented left hook, the same punch that Joe Frazier used to knock Ali down in their first clash years later. The fight took place at Wembley Stadium in 1963.

Ali?s trainer Angelo Dundee ripped open an already torn glove of Ali and gained some time for the young American to recover which he did and hammered Cooper badly in the next round that the referee had no choice but to stop the bout.

British newspaper reports said Dundee brought a rip in Ali's gloves to the attention of the referee and Ali had time to recover while new gloves were located and brought to the ring.
In a rematch in 1966 at Highbury Stadium in London Ali who was then world champion retained his title by stopping a bruised and bloodied Cooper in the 6th round.

Cooper had a record of 40-14-1 in a 16 year career. He won the British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight titles but never the world crown. He was extremely popular in Britain because of his friendly personality and gentlemanly manner.

Robert Smith, the general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control said "He's not the only one who wasn't good enough to beat Ali but for such a small man, he put up some great performances in a world-class context. It's not just the boxing and your ability, it's the personality as well. He won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year on two occasions, which is a tremendous feat for a boxer. Everyone called him 'Our Enry,' and he was much loved. He served boxing wonderfully."

Cooper retired in 1971 shortly after losing his British, European and Commonwealth belts to Joe Bugner by a quarter of a point. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.

Well known British promoter Frank Warren said "He transcended boxing, He was a true gentleman of sport and had a huge place in the public's affection. He never won the world title but he had true British grit, he tried. His weakness was that he cut very easily."

Cooper also fought heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson.

WBA heavyweight champion David Haye said "One of Britain's greatest sportsmen Sir Henry Cooper passed away today. A true warrior and great human being. Rest in Peace."

Former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis tweeted: "R.I.P. Sir Henry Cooper. Former British, Commonwealth and European Champion. My deepest condolences to the Cooper family."

WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan told BBC Radio that his compatriot had encouraged him in the early stages of his professional career. Khan said "I met Henry in London a few times. He was very humble, we had a good conversation about my own career and what steps I should be taking. He told me not to rush it as a pro, pick the right fights at the right time. I'm young and there are bigger fights ahead. It was great advice."

Cooper had a twin brother George, who turned professional with him in 1965, He died last year while Cooper's wife of 47 years, Albina, died in 2008 of a heart attack. The couple had two sons, Henry Marco and John Pietro.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ronnie Nathanielsz.


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