Wednesday, 24 April 2013 04:00

Archie Moore: A Legend in Any Era

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Before George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins there was Archie Moore (185-23-10, 131 KOs). Dubbed "Old Mongoose", the wily Moore was possibly the greatest light heavyweight of all time.
He scored 131 knockouts in a career that spanned from 1936 to 1963 and never lost his crown in the ring.

Although he unsuccessfully challenged twice for the heavyweight title, he did campaign successfully among the "Big Boys" throughout his tenure as a professional boxer.

His record reads like "Who's Who" of boxing history. In 219 recorded bouts, Archie was only stopped seven times - A testimony to his courage and uncanny defensive ability.

Born on December 13, 1913, (or 1916 to Archie) Moore boxed for years without due recognition. He fought all over the country and even traveled to Australia and Argentina in search of fame and fortune.

After six years on the circuit, Archie began to make his move toward the big time. In 1942, he knocked out Shorty Hogue in two rounds. Hogue had decisioned Archie no less than three times earlier in his career. He also beat rugged Jack Chase and drew with Ed Booker. And in 1943, he won two out of three against Chase.

But in 1944, Moore lost by a knockout to Booker and also dropped a decision to the great Charley Burley. However, 1945 was a good year for Archie as he lost only two of fourteen fights. He beat Cleveland's Lloyd Marshall twice but was stopped by another Cleveland native, the outstanding Jimmy Bivins. He also lost a decision to Holman Williams but kayoed Holman in a rematch.

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By this time Archie was formidable enough to warrant a title shot but it would be seven long years before he was granted one.

Along the way Moore would beat Curtis Sheppard and Bert Lytell twice. He would beat Bivins four times in rematches and would defeat Harold Johnson in three out of four contests. He also scored victories over Ted Lowry, Bob Satterfield, Phil Muscato, Alberto Lovell and Jimmy Slade.

The only boxer who could handle Archie was Ezzard Charles. Ezz beat Moore three times, the last time via a spectacular eighth round knockout in Cleveland.

Finally on December 17, 1952, presumably just after his 39th birthday, Archie met yet another Cleveland legend Joey Maxim. With Maxim's world light heavyweight title on the line Archie won a clear cut decision to become a champion at last.

And as world champion the legacy of Archie Moore would flourish.

He defeated Maxim twice in title rematches and triumphed over heavyweights Nino Valdes twice, Bob Baker and Bert Whitehurst. He would also successfully defend his crown with knockouts over Harold Johnson and Bobo Olson.

On September 21, 1955, Archie would get his first crack at the heavyweight crown when he met Rocky Marciano.


In the second round Archie sent Marciano to the canvas but Rocky beat the count, survived the round slowly shifted the tide in his favor. Rocky proved to be too strong for the gritty Moore who finally succumbed in round nine.

Archie kayoed Yolande Pompey in a title defense and on November 30, 1956, he was matched with Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship that a retiring Marciano had vacated. Although Archie was given a good chance to win by experts, the youthful Patterson was much too fast and stopped Moore in round five.

Archie went back to defending his light heavyweight crown stopping the highly regarded Tony Anthony in seven rounds. Moore continued to meet heavyweights in hope of securing one more shot at that title. Archie defeated Howard King twice, Roger Rischer, Willi Besmanoff and Charley Norkus before putting his title on the line.


Moore's 1958 bout with Canada's Yvon Durelle secured Archie's place in fistic history. Repeatedly knocked down in the early rounds and then down again in the fifth, Moore refused to surrender. By the middle rounds Durelle began to tire and Archie came on to stop Durelle in the eleventh round to retain his title in a classic thriller.

In their 1959 rematch, Yvon was a lot less troublesome as he exited in round three. Moore did not defend his title at all in 1960 much to the dismay of the National Boxing Association who withdrew recognition of Archie as a champion on October 25th.

Old foe Harold Johnson beat Jesse Bowdry to claim the vacant NBA title. But still recognized as champion by New York State and the European Boxing Union, Archie decisioned Giulio Rinaldi in his final title defense.

On February 10, 1962 New York and the EBU stripped Archie of his crown - A feat no mere mortal could accomplish in the ring.

Finally the ageless wonder began to slow down.

But Archie still wanted to prove he had something left and met former protege Cassius Clay.

Cassius (Muhammad Ali) had won the light heavyweight Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympics and had trained briefly under Archie early in his pro career. The brash upstart overwhelmed the aging warrior as he had predicted in round four. Afterwards, Archie had no more illusions of becoming heavyweight champion.

Archie Moore, left, with Marvelous Marvin Hagler, center, and Joe Frazier

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Upon his retirement, Archie did some acting and he also became very involved in helping the youth of America. He started a program called "Any Boy Can" and used this as a vehicle to reach young people in a positive manner. Archie's book which is aptly titled "Any Boy Can" explains Archie's views on helping youth as well as Archie covering his life and boxing career.

Archie Moore died of heart failure in 1998, four days before his 85th birthday.

Archie Moore Facts
  • Moore was voted as the #1 light heavyweight of the 20th century by the Associated Press in 1999.

  • Moore holds the record for the most career knockouts (131).

  • He ranks #4 on The Ring's list of "100 greatest punchers of all time," has the longest reign in Light Heavyweight history, and is rated by prominent boxing website BoxRec as the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all-time.

  • Moore defeated Joey Maxim by a fifteen-round unanimous decision to win the World Light Heavyweight Championship on December 17, 1952, four days after his 39th birthday.

  • In his second to last fight, Moore, at the age of 48, was knocked out in four rounds by 20-year-old Muhammad Ali on November 15, 1962.

  • Moore is the only man to fight both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.

  • Moore trained George Foreman and James Tillis.

Archie Moore Highlights