Gerry Cooney

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Gerry Cooney
Statistics
Real nameGerry Cooney
Nickname(s)Gentleman Gerry / Great White Hope
Rated atHeavyweight
Height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Reach81 in (206 cm)
NationalityUnited States American
Born(1956-08-24) August 24, 1956 (age 57)
Manhattan, New York, United States
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights31
Wins28
Wins by KO24
Losses3
Draws0
No contests0
 
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Gerry Cooney
Statistics
Real nameGerry Cooney
Nickname(s)Gentleman Gerry / Great White Hope
Rated atHeavyweight
Height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Reach81 in (206 cm)
NationalityUnited States American
Born(1956-08-24) August 24, 1956 (age 57)
Manhattan, New York, United States
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights31
Wins28
Wins by KO24
Losses3
Draws0
No contests0

Gerry Cooney (born August 24, 1956) is a retired Irish-American professional boxer from Huntington, New York. Cooney is best known for his loss to world champion Larry Holmes in 1982, and his win over ex-champion Ken Norton in 1981.

Life before boxing[edit]

Born into a blue collar Irish-Catholic[1] family on Long Island, Cooney was encouraged to become a professional fighter by his father. His brother Tommy Cooney was also a boxer, and reached the finals of the New York Golden Gloves Sub-Novice Heavyweight division.

Amateur boxing[edit]

Fighting as an amateur, Gerry Cooney won international tournaments in England, Wales, and Scotland, as well as the New York Golden Gloves titles. He won two New York Golden Gloves Championships, the 1973 160-lb Sub-Novice Championship and the 1976 Heavyweight Open Championship. Cooney defeated Larry Derrick to win the 1973 160-lb Sub-Novice title, and Earlous Tripp to win the 1976 Heavyweight Open title. In 1975 he reached the finals of the 175-lb Open division, but was defeated by Johnny Davis.

Cooney trained at the Huntington Athletic Club in Long Island, New York, where his trainer was John Capobianco. His amateur record consisted of 55 wins and 3 losses.

When he turned professional, Cooney signed with co-managers Mike Jones and Dennis Rappaport. He was then trained by Victor Valle.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Known for his big left-hook and his imposing size, the tall, lean Cooney had his first paid fight on February 15, 1977, beating Billy Jackson by a knockout in one round. Nine wins followed and Cooney gained attention as a future contender. Although his opponents were carefully chosen. He moved up a weight class and fought future world cruiserweight champion S.T. Gordon in Las Vegas, winning by a fourth round disqualification. Cooney had 11 more wins, spanning 1978 and 1979. Among those he defeated were Charlie Polite, former US heavyweight champion Eddie Lopez, and Tom Prater. These were not rated contenders however.

By 1980, Cooney was being featured on national television. Stepping up, he beat one time title challengers Jimmy Young and Ron Lyle, both by 'knockouts,' although the Young fight was stopped because of cuts sustained by Young.[3] By now he was ranked number 1 by the WBC and eager for a match with champion Larry Holmes.

In 1981, he defeated former world heavyweight champion Ken Norton by a knockout just 54 seconds into the first round with a blisteringly powerful attack.[4] This broke the record set in 1948 by Lee Savold for the quickest knockout in a main event in Madison Square Garden. Since his management team was unwilling to risk losing a big future pay day with Holmes by having him face another viable fighter, Cooney did not fight for 13 months after defeating Norton.[5]

The following year, Holmes agreed to fight him. With a purse of ten million dollars for the challenger, it was the richest fight in boxing history to that time. The promotion of the fight took on racial overtones that were exaggerated by the promoters, something Cooney did not agree with. He believed that skill, not race, should determine if a boxer was good. However, if Cooney won, he would have become the first Caucasian world heavyweight champion since Swede Ingemar Johansson defeated Floyd Patterson 23 years earlier. This caused Don King to label Cooney "The Great White Hope." The bout drew attention worldwide, and Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney was one of the biggest closed-circuit/pay-per-view productions in history, broadcast to over 150 countries.

Cooney fought bravely after he was knocked down briefly in the second round. Some believe he was winning until he was fined three points for repeated low blows in round 10. But, after 12 rounds, the more skillful and experienced Holmes finally wore him down. In round 13, Cooney's trainer stepped into the ring to save his fighter from further punishment.[6]

After a long layoff, Cooney fought in September, 1984, beating Phillip Brown by a 4th-round knockout in Anchorage, Alaska.[7] He fought once more that year and won, but personal problems kept him out of the ring.[8]

Cooney was far past his prime when he made an ill-advised comeback against former world heavyweight and world light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. Boxing carefully, with constant sharp counters, Spinks knocked him out in round 5. Cooney's last fight was in 1990. He was knocked out in a match of the veterans in two slugging rounds by former world champion George Foreman. Cooney did stagger Foreman in the first round, but he was simply over-matched, and Foreman knocked him out two minutes into the second round.

The losses to Holmes, Spinks, and Foreman exposed Cooney's Achilles' heel: his inability to clinch and tie up his opponent when hurt. In the Foreman fight, he rose from a second-round knockdown and simply stood in the center of the ring as Foreman delivered the coup de grâce.[9]

Cooney compiled a professional record of 28 wins and 3 losses, with 24 knockouts. He is ranked number 53 on Ring Magazine's list of "100 Greatest Punchers of All Time".

Boxing style[edit]

Cooney, who is naturally left-handed, used an orthodox stance. This provided him with a powerful jab and a lethal left hook, but a comparatively weak right which he seldom used. Most of his fights ended in quick knockouts; while this benefited him in the beginning of his career, it left him unprepared for his fight with Larry Holmes.[10] Despite his devastating punching power, Cooney's moderate stamina and lack of experience proved to be his downfall. Many feel he had real potential, but was limited by his lack of experience.

Cooney's left-hook is described as one of the most powerful punches in boxing history. Foreman, Holmes, and Lyle all stated that Cooney's left was the hardest they had ever taken. It is also notable that Holmes had also previously fought Earnie Shavers, and at the time stated Shavers had the most powerful blow he had ever received.

Cooney was known for not throwing punches at the head, aiming instead for his opponent's chest, ribs, or stomach. But this made him at times vulnerable against Holmes for example.

Present life[edit]

Cooney founded the Fighters' Initiative for Support and Training, an organization which helps retired boxers find jobs. He has always tried to distance himself from the racism of the Holmes vs. Cooney match promotion. He and Holmes have become very good friends over the years. Cooney is also heavily involved with J.A.B., the first union for boxers. He became a boxing promoter for title bouts featuring Roberto Durán, Héctor Camacho, and George Foreman. Cooney is a supporter with of the "Hands are not for hitting" program, which tries to prevent domestic violence. He also does his part to instill and build interest in the sport by guiding aspiring young fighters in the gym.[11]

In June 2010, Cooney became the co-host of "Friday Night at the Fights" on SIRIUS XM Radio where he shares his views with listeners on active fighters and relevant issues in the sport.[12][13]

Gerry Cooney now resides in Fanwood, New Jersey, with his wife Jennifer and two of their three children, Jackson and Sarah. His other son Chris resides in New York. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame at Walt Whitman High School, where he graduated.

Cooney remains close friends with Holmes several years following their classic fight.[14]

Professional boxing record[edit]

28 Wins (24 knockouts), 3 Losses, 0 Draws [1]
ResultRecordOpponentTypeRoundDateLocationNotes
Loss28–3United States George ForemanKO2 (10)15/01/1990United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United StatesCooney was floored twice in round 2.
Loss28–2United States Michael SpinksTKO5 (15)15/06/1987United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United StatesCooney down twice in round 5.
Win28–1United States Eddie GreggKO1 (10)31/05/1986United States Cow Palace, San Francisco, California, United States
Win27–1United States George ChaplinTKO2 (10)08/12/1984United States Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Win26–1United States Philipp BrownTKO4 (10)29/09/1984United States Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Loss25–1United States Larry HolmesTKO13 (15)11/06/1982United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesFor WBC Heavyweight title. Cooney had 3 points deducted for low blows.
Win25–0United States Ken NortonTKO1 (10)11/05/1981United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win24–0United States Ron LyleKO1 (10)24/10/1980United States Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, United States
Win23–0United States Jimmy YoungTKO4 (10)25/05/1980United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United StatesA cut over Young's left eye, led to a stoppage at the end of the 4th round.
Win22–0United States Leroy BooneTKO6 (10)14/12/1979United States Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win21–0United States John Dino DenisTKO3 (10)09/11/1979United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win20–0United States Malik DozierKO6 (10)09/10/1979United States Suffolk Forum, Commack, New York, United States
Win19–0United States Broderick MasonKO4 (10)22/08/1979United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States
Win18–0United States Tom PraterTKO2 (10)29/06/1979United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States
Win17–0United States Charlie JohnsonUD826/02/1979United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United States
Win16–0United States Eddie LopezKO1 (10)13/01/1979United States Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, United States
Win15–0United States Grady DanielsRTD5 (8)15/12/1978United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, United StatesDaniels not out for round 6.
Win14–0United States Sam McGillUD801/11/1978United States Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York, United States
Win13–0United States Charley PoliteKO4 (8)04/10/1978United States Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York, United States
Win12–0United States G.G. MaldonadoTKO8 (8)22/06/1978United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win11–0United States S. T. GordonDQ4 (10)17/03/1978United States The Aladdin, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win10–0United States Gary BatesKO4 (6)11/02/1978United States Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win9–0United States Austin JohnsonKO1 (6)27/01/1978United States Calderon Theatre, Hempstead, New York, United States
Win8–0United States Terry Lee KiddKO1 (6)14/01/1978United States Colonie Hill, Hauppauge, New York, United States
Win7–0United States Jimmie SykesKO1 (6)21/12/1977United States Roll-A-Rama, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Win6–0United States Quinnie LocklearKO1 (6)30/11/1977United States Westchester County Center, White Plains, New York, United States
Win5–0United States Joe MayeKO4 (6)18/11/1977United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win4–0United States Matt RobinsonPTS403/08/1977United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win3–0United States Jose RosarioKO2 (6)20/03/1977United States Exposition Center, Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Win2–0United States Jimmy RobertsonKO2 (6)02/03/1977United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States
Win1–0United States Bill JacksonKO1 (6)15/02/1977United States Sunnyside Garden, Sunnyside, Queens, New York, United States

Cooney in popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]