Britain's Heavyweight Heroes

BOB FITZSIMMONS (Undisputed champion, 1897-1899):

BOB FITZSIMMONS (Undisputed champion, 1897-1899):

Fitzsimmons, who was born in Cornwall but moved to New Zealand as a small boy, was the world's first triple world champion. Having won the middleweight crown in 1891 by knocking out Jack Dempsey (unrelated to the future heavyweight champion) in round 13, he moved up to heavyweight to challenge champion James Corbett in March 1897. Fitzsimmons, by then 34, stopped Corbett in round 14 with a sickening body punch to win the title. He was knocked out in the 11th round of his first defence against James Jefferies in June 1899. Fitzsimmons continued boxing and won the light-heavyweight title by beating George Gardner after 20 rounds in 1903. After five more fights, he retired and became an evangelist.

MICHAEL BENTT (WBO champion, 1993-1994):

Bentt was a rather spurious British world heavyweight title claimant, born in London but spending his whole life in New York. He won the title in sensational fashion, dethroning highly-rated WBO champion Tommy Morrison in just 93 seconds in November 1993. Bentt lost the title in his first defence, when he was beaten by fellow Briton Herbie Hide at Millwall football ground in March 1994. He was taken to hospital with a concussive brain injury after the fight, and never boxed again.

HERBIE HIDE (WBO champion, 1994-1995, 1997-1999):

Hide's emphatic seventh round demolition of Bentt at the age of just 22 suggested the Norwich man was in line for a golden heavyweight future. But was too ambitious for his own good, opting to take on Riddick Bowe in America in his first defence in March 1995. Hide was flattened eight times on his way to a sixth round defeat. Hide regained the vacant title in style two years later by crushing blubbery American Tony Tucker in two rounds in his home town. After two successful defences against little-known Damon Reed and Willi Fischer, Hide - blighted by personal problems outside the ring - took on giant Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko in London in June this year, and was blitzed in just two rounds. His future remains uncertain.

FRANK BRUNO (WBC champion, 1995-1996):

Britain's first true heavyweight hero, Wandsworth-born 'Big Frank' made the front pages of all Britain's newspapers and delighted the nation when he won a world title at the fourth time of asking by beating Oliver McCall at Wembley Stadium in September 1995. Top amateur Bruno was tipped for the top after turning professional in 1982, but suffered his first defeat in his first world title bid, stopped in the 11th round of a WBA tilt by Tim Witherspoon at Wembley. A big puncher but suspect when put under pressure, Bruno landed a shot at Mike Tyson for the undisputed title in February 1989. After a brave performance in which he briefly wobbled the supposedly invincible champion, Bruno was stopped in round five. With Bruno now a national hero, a match with Lennox Lewis when he became WBC champion was a natural. It took place on a wet Cardiff night in October 1993 but Bruno was beaten for the third time in a world title contest, stopped on his feet in round seven. Boxing politics enabled huge ticket seller Bruno to get a fourth world crack against McCall, who had subsequently beaten Lewis. Bruno ground out a points win in front of over 30,000 ecstatic fans, and set up a second meeting with Tyson, who was then on the comeback trail, in March 1996. But he crumbled in round three and never fought again.

HENRY AKINWANDE (WBO champion, 1996-1997):

The 6ft 7ins Akinwande - born in Dulwich but raised in Nigeria - became the tallest ever heavyweight champion when he stopped American Jeremy Williams in round three in California to win the WBO crown in June 1996. An effective but mechanical fighter, Akinwande was successful on points in two drab defences, against Russian Alexander Zolkin and fellow Briton Scott Welch. Akinwande vacated the WBO belt to challenge Lennox Lewis for his WBC title in Lake Tahoe in July 1997. Plainly intimidated, he was disqualified in round five for persistent holding. Amazingly Akinwande, who has long since turned his back on Britain to set up base in Florida, is the WBA's number one contender and heads the list of mandatory obligations inherited by new unified champion Lewis.

LENNOX LEWIS (WBC champion, 1992-1994, 1997-1999. WBC, WBA, IBF champion 1999-)

The man who will start the new Millennium as the undisputed king had the most inauspicious of starts to his career as a world heavyweight champion. Lewis, the reigning British and Commonwealth champion, was handed the WBC belt without stepping into a ring after champion Riddick Bowe famously dropped it in a bin rather than make a mandatory defence against the Briton. Lewis' critics had a field day, and they already had plenty of ammunition. They scoffed at Lewis' claims to be the first British champion this century. Lewis was born in London in 1965 but had won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul while representing Canada, where he had been taken to live at the age of nine. Lewis successfully defended his title three times - on points against Tony Tucker, in round seven against Frank Bruno, and in round eight against Phil Jackson. But his world was shattered in September 1994, when he was knocked out in round two by unknown Oliver McCall at Wembley. Steadfastly refusing to side with American promoter Don King, Lewis was frozen out of the championship picture for three years until the WBC matched him with McCall again in February 1997. Lewis claimed the title in extraordinary fashion for the second time, when McCall burst into tears and refused to fight, the bout stopped in round five. In Lewis' first defence in July, Henry Akinwande was disqualified in the same round for persistent holding. Lewis finally made his mark in October of the same year, when he blitzed the much-fancied Pole Andrew Golota in the second round in Atlantic City. He stopped Shannon Briggs in the fifth round of a war in March 1998, then laboured to a points win over Croat Zeljko Mavrovic six months later as he waited for his first undisputed title clash with Evander Holyfield. The controversy which has dogged Lewis' career struck again in New York in March when, after appearing to have clinched victory on points, he was denied by a majority draw verdict. Lewis made no mistake second time around.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before