Boxing: Moore, the knock-out king, dies at 84

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ARCHIE MOORE, who knocked out more opponents than anyone else in the history of boxing, died in San Diego, California, last night at the age at 84.

Moore's son, Billy, said his father was taken to a San Diego hospice about a week ago because of his poor health.

Moore retired at 49 after a career that is considered one of the most amazing examples of longevity in the sport. He held the light-heavyweight title for 11 of the 27 years he was in the ring, knocking out 141 opponents in 228 bouts. "His nickname is Ageless Archie," his son once said. "They named him that because he wouldn't tell people how old he was when he started boxing. Now, I guess it means something else - that he will live on forever."

Moore, whose real name was Archibald Lee Wright, was born in Benoit, Mississippi, in 1913. He won his first professional fight 23 years later, with a decision over Murray Allen in Quincy, Illinois. He won the light heavyweight title in 1952 at age 39 with a victory over Joey Maxim. He successfully defended his title nine more times, but along the way lost to the heavyweight champions Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali. He was the only boxer who fought both Marciano and Ali.

Moore had some of his greatest battles with Harold Johnson, who held a portion of the crown. They fought five times from 1949 to 1954 with Moore the winner all but once. They met only once with the title at stake. Moore won that bout at New York in 1954, retaining his crown with a 14th- round knock-out. His other title defences came against Bobo Olson, Yolande Pompey, Tony Anthony, Guilio Rinaldi and twice against Yvon Durelle.

Fighting in an era where fixed bouts were not uncommon, Moore said he never took a dive. In a 1989 interview with Sports Illustrated magazine, Moore recalled valuable advice he received from an aunt. "Archie, take your rest, mind your trainer and bring no disgrace to your family, like throwing fights," he quoted her as saying.

Moore fought Marciano in 1955, but lost on a ninth-round knock-out. It did nothing, however, to diminish his image as one of the most courageous boxers ever. Fighting an undefeated heavyweight king 10 years his junior, Moore - also known as the Mongoose - floored Marciano in the second round. Marciano eventually wore Moore down, to the point where the referee wanted to stop the fight after eight rounds. "Oh, no," an exhausted Moore protested. "I want to be counted out. I'm a champion, too."

Moore was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1966, three years after his final bout, a three-round knock-out of Mike DiBiase, and five years after he was stripped of his title by the National Boxing Association because of political infighting within the sport.