Sir Henry Cooper RIP

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Sir Henry Cooper RIP

Post  eddie on Mon May 02, 2011 4:32 pm

Sir Henry Cooper, a True Giant of the Heavyweight Game, Dies Aged 76

01/5/2011 4:41 PM GMT by Chris McKenna



Boxing has lost one of its true gentlemen with the passing of Sir Henry Cooper, a personality who will always be remembered for far more than famously flooring Muhammad Ali.

Cooper, who passed away at the age of 76 at his son's home on May 1, was a huge personality inside and outside of the ring and will be forever considered fondly by the boxing fraternity and sports fans in general.

The left-handed Londoner was born on May 3 1934 and grew up during the Second World War before beginning boxing professionally in 1954.

Cooper had a mixed start to his ring career and, after earning himself shots at the British, European and Commonwealth crowns, he failed in his first attempts to claim glory.

But that didn't stop the gutsy Cooper and he recovered to overcome Brian London to take the British and Commonwealth straps in 1959.

Cooper's style was noteworthy; a left-hander who stood in the orthodox position, giving him a ferocious left-hook that put an end to many fighter's nights as they fell into the trap of his awkward stance.

After numerous defences of his British and Commonwealth crowns, Cooper's most memorable night came in 1963 when he faced ring legend Cassius Clay - later to become Ali - in a non-title fight in front of a packed Wembley Stadium.

Cooper became famous as he memorably floored the seemingly unstoppable Clay with a sweet left-hook in the dying moments of the fourth round, but alas the bell came to the rescue for his opponent.

The tales about the end of the round have been widely told and spun, but whatever happened that fateful night, Clay was given a few added seconds to recover and Cooper had missed his chance.

In the next round, Ali went to work on cuts Cooper had obtained in earlier rounds and with blood streaming down his face, the referee was forced to stop the Londoner.

The pair fought again in 1966 for the world heavyweight title after Clay had changed his name to Ali, but he was much more aware of the threat posed by Cooper's left hook and won comfortably with a sixth-round stoppage.

Even though there was some angst between the boxers at the time - they remained friends for the remainder of Cooper's life. Ali would later admit that Cooper "had hit me so hard, my ancestors in Africa felt it."

Cooper fought on, defending his British, Commonwealth and European crowns until he finally lost them in 1971 after an epic contest with Joe Bugner.

The defeat saw the Londoner finally hang up the gloves but he remained a well-known figure with numerous TV appearances – most notably as a team captain on A Question of Sport.

Cooper was also one of only three people to win the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Award on two occasions as he picked up the coveted prize in 1967 and 1970.

Post-boxing, his fame also transcended sport. Cooper became a popular national celebrity, making frequent television appearances on high-profile light entertainment shows such as Morecame and Wise and being used frequently in national television advertising campaigns by companies keen to cash in on his stardom.

But the Londoner's biggest recognition came in 2000 when he received a knighthood for his contribution to sport.

Despite never winning a world title, Cooper was always regarded as one of Britain's greatest boxers and the bubbly and outgoing character will be greatly missed.

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Re: Sir Henry Cooper RIP

Post  eddie on Tue May 03, 2011 4:33 am

Heartfelt Tributes Pour In For Sir Henry Cooper, a True British Champion

02/5/2011 4:43 AM GMT By Chris McKenna



You only have to look to see how quickly the tributes poured in to understand how beloved "Our 'Enry" was after one of Britain's most-loved and best sporting figures lost his final fight just two days short of his 77th birthday.

From the modern day title holders like David Haye and Amir Khan to champions past in Barry McGuigan and Lennox Lewis, condolences poured in within hours of the passing of Sir Henry Cooper but it was old foe turned friend Muhammad Ali who spoke most poignantly of the deceased British hero.

Cooper is the man who memorably put Ali, when he was still known as Cassius Clay, on the canvas in 1963 with a spectacular left-hook – a punch that was affectionately known as 'Enry's 'Ammer by his admiring public.

"I am at a loss for words over the death of my friend, Henry Cooper. I was not aware he was ill," said the grieving Ali in a statement.

"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 old friend. He was a great fighter and a gentleman. My family and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and loved ones."

Cooper may have gone on to lose to Ali on that occasion, and again when the pair met in 1966 at Highbury in London, but it was these two fights that endeared him to the British public, an affection that never left him.

Frank Warren, the well-known boxing promoter, described why they public adored Cooper. He said: "He was a true gentleman and he epitomised true British grit, that's why the public took to him. He never won the title but he won everyone's heart and affections because of the spirit he had."

In today's world of multiple world title belts at more weight divisions than you could care to remember, Cooper went without ever winning the coveted crown of world champion in a time when you had to be the very best to earn it.

The British fighter was unfortunate to ply his trade during a time when the heavyweight game was at its peak with Ali, Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson just three of the big names who were prevalent during Cooper's era.

But Cooper was a proud British, Commonwealth and European champion right up until he lost those crowns for the final time in his last ever fight against Joe Bugner in 1971 - one of British boxing's most contentious decisions.

A beast inside the ring, but a gentleman outside of it, even Cooper couldn't take the way he lost that particular fight without a bitter taste.

Many argued the decision of referee Harry Gibbs to give the fight to Bugner, and Cooper never spoke to his final opponent for years, until the pair put their differences aside in 2008 with a heartfelt hug and handshake. Even in such circumstances, Cooper was just too much of a nice guy to remain on bad terms with anyone.

Cooper received many deserved plaudits which included him being a double BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner and, most notably, the recipient of a Knighthood in 2000, leaving his mark not only on boxing, but on British life.

'Enry's 'Ammer became a motif of British boxing and his unique style was a joy to watch for many in a career which included 55 fights – 40 of which were gracious victories.

Cooper's endearing nature made him a goldmine for advertisers in the years after his career ended, but he was also a revered radio pundit and a hilariously entertaining team captain on A Question of Sport.

The Londoner always remained close to the sport of boxing even in his later years, and was a regular attendee of numerous boxing awards and could always be seen telling tales and giving young fighters golden advice.

And two of Britain's current champions, Haye and Khan, spoke about how the legend gave them guidance in their careers and how they remain ever thankful to him.

"He'd let you know his opinion - whether you wanted to hear it or not! - and I believe the advice he's given me over the years is working out because I'm now the heavyweight champion of the world," claimed Haye.

While Khan added: "For me to be able to speak to a legend like that was great for my career and a huge privilege. He gave me great advice at the start of my career and it has proved very useful."

Sadly the passing of his wife Albina in 2008 hurt Cooper more than any blow he was ever struck with in the ring and when his twin brother George also died last year, his ailing health became a real concern.

But he fought like he did in every fight as he battled right until the end and the world of boxing will forever fondly remember Our 'Enry.

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Re: Sir Henry Cooper RIP

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