Jimmy Bivins: Boxer


Jimmy Bivins, who died on 4 July at the age of 92, was a boxing great of the 1940s and '50s who defeated some of the greatest fighters of his time.

He never fought for a world title, but in 1942 he was given the unprecedented ranking of No 1 contender in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. He met seven fellow Hall of Famers, beating four, and 11 world champions, defeating eight.

Bivins retired from boxing in 1955 after more than 100 professional fights and was inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999. He won bouts against numerous world champions, including Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles, Gus Lesnevich, Melio Bettina, Anton Christoforidis and Teddy Yarosz. He also went the distance with Joe Louis and fought Jersey Joe Walcott to a split decision.

Playing the villain and sticking his tongue out at opponents, Bivins became a huge attraction with his punishing left jab. At one point he was a leading title contender in both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. Joe Louis was among many in the sport puzzled that Bivins was not given a shot at a championship. "I can't understand why he hasn't gotten further than he has," Louis said in 1948. Bivins finished his career with a record of 86 wins, 31 by knock-out, 25 draws and a single defeat. He went on to coach children in his later years.

The year before Bivins was inducted into the Hall of Fame, police found him in the attic of his daughter's house in Cleveland. He was covered with bedsores and weighed only 110lb, 70lb below his fighting weight. Bivins' son-in-law later pleaded guilty to criminal neglect.

Gene Glen, secretary of the Ohio State Former Boxers & Associates Inc, said Bivins was an outstanding fighter, who made "outstanding contributions, not only as a boxer, but also as a human being."