Floyd Patterson, by W K Stratton
Sunday 18 November 2012
He was an Olympic champion, the youngest boxer to win the world heavyweight title, the first to lose then regain it, and Muhammad Ali called him "the most skilled as a boxer" of all Ali's opponents. Yet history has not been kind to Floyd Patterson.
W K Stratton calls him "Boxing's Invisible Champion", which is pitching things a bit strong, but his shy, introverted nature, self-doubt and instinctive chivalry – more than once he helped up an opponent after flooring him – confused people, some of whom thought him just too nice to be a true champion. Yet, blessed with blistering hand speed and a great left hook, at his best he was brilliantly dangerous, as 40 knockouts in 55 victories testify.
Stratton also argues that Patterson's record as a civil rights supporter has been undervalued. A loyal member of the NAACP, America's oldest civil rights organisation, he travelled to support Martin Luther King in the 1963 Alabama protests at significant personal risk. But he also described himself as a patriot, and his later support for the Vietnam War and rejection of the separatist views of the Black Muslims and Malcolm X led Ali and others to castigate him, unfairly, as an Uncle Tom.
Patterson died aged 71 in 2006 suffering from dementia, which was probably a by-product of the punishment he suffered during a 20-year professional career. But in Stratton he has an author worthy to champion his cause for posterity.
Published in hardback by Mainstream, £16.99
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Comic-Con 2014: Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and Game of Thrones' George RR Martin set to attend
Hercules, review: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson takes centre stage in preposterous movie
Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?
George R. R. Martin responds to 13-year-old fan's 'heartfelt' letter asking for a grisly death in Game of Thrones
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia