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Thread: R.I.P. - Jimmy Bivins

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    R.I.P. - Jimmy Bivins

    I just received this from Jerry Fitch of Cleveland.

    Was just informed that at 1:05 am today, July 4th, Cleveland and all of boxing lost the great Jimmy Bivins. Although he was 92 his passing deeply saddens me. He will always be remembered as a great fighter but I will remember him more so as a great friend. Rest in Peace Champ! December 6, 1919 to July 4, 2012.

    James Louis Bivins, (born December 6, 1919) is a former American heavyweight boxer whose professional career ran from 1940 to 1955. He was born in Dry Branch, Georgia. Although he was never given the opportunity to fight for a world title, despite at one point being the number one contender in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, Bivins fought and defeated many of the great fighters of his era. In recognition of his achievements in the ring - among other things, he defeated eight of the eleven world champions he faced - Bivins was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999. He was also the one-time husband of Dollree Mapp, the subject of prominent Supreme Court case regarding the rights of search and seizures.

    Although he was born in Georgia, Bivins fought out of Cleveland, Ohio for the entirety of his career. He made his professional debut on January 15, 1940, winning by knockout in the first round, and went on to win his first nineteen fights, all fought in 1940, before losing a split decision to Anton Christoforidis, whom he had previously beaten. Bivins won his first four fights of 1941, including contests with Teddy Yarosz and Curtis Sheppard, but lost three of his other four contests that year, which included a points loss to Melio Bettina. He began 1942 with wins against Billy Soose and Gus Lesnevich and a split-decision loss to Bob Pastor. After this loss, Bivins had a twenty-seven fight undefeated streak that lasted for four years; it was during this period that Bivins established himself as one of the great heavyweights of his era - a remarkable achievement given that, at 5' 9", he was often significantly smaller than his opponents.

    Bivins first fight after losing to Pastor was a split-decision win against Joey Maxim, a fellow Cleveland fighter who went on to become a member of the hall of fame. Bivins fought four more contests in 1942, including a rematch with Bob Pastor and a bout with Lee Savold, and won them all. He began 1943 with a remarkable win against Ezzard Charles, in which he recorded seven knockdowns against the future heavyweight world champion. On February 23, 1943 he defeated Anton Christoforidis on points for the duration light heavyweight title - as all the world titles had been frozen for the duration of World War II, this was the closest he ever came to holding a world title. In the three years after this fight Bivins went on to defeat Tami Mauriello, Pat Valentino, Lloyd Marshall, Melio Bettina, Curtis Sheppard and Archie Moore, whom he knocked-down six times en route to a knockout victory. Bivins served with the United States Army from March, 1944 until his honorable discharge in November of the same year - during 1944 he fought only one professional fight, a points victory over Lee Q. Murray.

    On February 25, 1946 Bivins fought Jersey Joe Walcott at the Cleveland Arena. The fight was Bivins' first loss in four years, the split decision was interesting in that one official had the fight 6-4 to Bivins, the second had it 9-1 to Walcott and the last had it 5-4-1 to Bivins but gave the fight to Walcott because of a third round knockdown in his favour. After losing his long unbeaten streak, Bivins' record as a fighter became somewhat average. After his loss to Walcott, Bivins went on to lose his next two contests, against Lee Q. Murray and Ezzard Charles, before winning the following four. Bivins suffered a knockout loss to Ezzard Charles on March 10, 1947 and went on to lose a further two of his final seven fights that year, to Lee Q. Murray and Archie Moore. He went on to win six of his nine fights in 1948, losing only to Joey Maxim, Ezzard Charles and Archie Moore. In 1949 he won five of his eight fights, but lost to both Archie Moore and Harold Johnson. He only fought twice in 1950, but returned to fighting regularly the following year. In 1951 he defeated Ted Lowry on points, but was once again knocked-out by Archie Moore and lost by unanimous decision to both Joe Louis and the undefeated Bob Baker. Bivins had a further eleven fights after his loss to Baker, and won eight of them. His only big-name opponent during these final fights was Ezzard Charles, who won by decision on November 26, 1952. Bivins retired following a victory over the journeyman Chubby Wright in June 1953, but returned for two final fights, both of which he won, a couple of years later.



    http://boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?hum...9974&cat=boxer

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    Re: R.I.P. - Jimmy Bivins

    What an amazing part of boxing history Jimmy was, a one in a million athlete. R.I.P. Mr. Bivins.

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    Re: R.I.P. - Jimmy Bivins

    another Great, not always first noted as such, but a great like so many of them who are now appreciated.

    enjoy your heavenly crown champ and the company of hero's and legends. God Bless & Keep you.

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    Re: R.I.P. - Jimmy Bivins

    Jimmy Bivins Obit
    By Grant SegallThe Plain Dealer

    Jimmy Bivins, Cleveland's iron-tough boxer who whipped eight world champions in his youth and, decades later, survived after nearly starving in his family's filthy attic, died this morning, July 4, at McGregor Home. He was 92.

    During his boxing career -- which spanned the 1940s and 1950s -- Bivins' powerful left jab and equally mighty bravado made him a star whom boxing fans across the country loved to hate.
    Yet in retirement, while driving a bakery truck around Cleveland and coaching local kids, many grew to love the grizzled fighter for his gentle and generous ways.
    "He was one of the last of the blue-collar workers in boxing," Gene Glen, president of the Lake Erie Assocation of USA Boxing, said Wednesday. "He worked an eight-hour shift and came to the gym and worked out. He was an outstanding person, always fun to be around, always looking out to assist other people."
    Gary Horvath, a local boxing champion and coach, said, "Jimmy pulled out all the stops for you."
    Bivins was born in Dry Branch, Ga., in 1919, and his family moved north to Cleveland three years later.
    It was clear from the start that Bivins was smart, cocky and confrontational.
    When he was an honor student at Central High School, he taunted classmates, holding up his grade-A homework, asking if they could do better.
    Angry kids chased him home every day until the afternoon Bivins grew weary. He stood and fought. Bivins beat a boy who turned out to be a Golden Gloves champ.
    And Bivins never ran again.
    He entered organized boxing in 1936 at 112 pounds. Four years later, he turned pro, stacking silver dollars in his shoes to make himself heavy enough to qualify.
    His first fight was against a guy named Emory Morgan. Bivins knocked Morgan out in the first round, earning $25. Later that year, after 20 more fights, Bivins clobbered future world champion Anton Christoforidis and earned $2,500.
    "The champs of today, they couldn't lick their own lips when I was fighting," Bivins said in recent years. "I'm not bragging. It's the truth."
    Bivins knocked the biggest names in boxing onto the mats of the biggest venues in the world. When he came home to Cleveland for an occasional Friday-night match, the event shattered one attendance record after another.
    Yet hardly anyone liked him. "They would stand crowded in the rain just to boo him. I never understood it," the late Maria Baskin, one of Bivins' sisters, told The Plain Dealer in 2003. "He was the fighter they loved to hate."
    Bivins never let it bother him. Somehow he used their hatred to pump up his bravado. In 1943, when Bivins fought Tami Mauriello at New York's Madison Square Garden, it seemed like no one was in his corner.
    Gambling was a no-no, but everyone there knew that the odds makers favored Mauriello.
    Frank Sinatra, a friend of Mauriello's, sang the national anthem that night. And everyone also knew that Sinatra bet a bundle on Mauriello.
    Bivins wasn't intimidated. When the bell rang, Bivins pummeled Mauriello. "I beat his butt so bad, I made Frank Sinatra cry," Bivins would say later.
    It was a sweet victory. Some boxing insiders said afterward that Bivins was the guy who could finally knock Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis from his throne.
    Louis, who was in the Madison Square Garden audience that night, might have thought the same thing. But he faced no immediate challenge. Boxing officials had frozen Louis' title while he served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War II.
    A couple months after Bivins beat Mauriello, Louis presented Bivins with a cardboard crown and bestowed him with the honorary title of "duration" heavyweight champion.
    "You're the champ while I'm gone," Louis told Bivins.
    It was a spectacular moment. Bivins, who later joined the Army himself, knew Louis respected him as the No. 1 contender. The two men would surely fight for the title when the war was over.
    But it never happened. Louis refused, choosing to fight lesser-ranked boxers instead.
    Bivins grew increasingly bitter and, as the years passed, obsessed with the idea of whomping Louis.
    "All I wanted was a chance. I deserved a chance," Bivins told people.
    In the late 1940s, Bivins finally sparred with Louis in a meaningless exhibition. A few days later, Bivins' wife told police her husband had beaten her unconscious.
    Dollie Bivins said the violence erupted while Bivins was telling her how he could earn $500,000 in a fight with Louis. When Bivins paused and asked his wife what she was cooking for dinner, she told him they had no money for food.
    Bivins, she said, punched her in the head.
    When a reporter called Bivins to get his side of the story, Bivins was watching a film of Louis battling another boxer. He denied hitting his wife. "Maybe our prosperity has gone to her head," Bivins said.
    Bivins and Joe Louis wouldn't meet again until 1951, when Louis was trying to make a comeback. Louis bet his whole purse that he would knock out Bivins in four rounds.
    Louis lost the bet.
    After the fourth round, Bivins was undaunted. Showing off his 79-inch wingspan, he taunted the champ, "I'm still here, I'm still here." Outraged, Louis punched Bivins in the back so hard that he broke a rib.
    It was the worst injury Bivins ever suffered. Bivins lost the fight in a split decision but took home his largest-ever purse -- $40,000.
    During his career, Bivins boxed in 112 professional fights, accumulating 86 wins, 31 knockouts, one draw and 25 losses. He remains the only boxer ever simultaneously ranked the No. 1 contender in both the light-heavyweight and the heavyweight divisions.
    But he never got a shot at a championship belt.
    "These guys today don't know what time it is, and they're giving them belts, diamonds," Bivins said through the years. "Somebody owes me a belt."
    A new leaf When he was boxing, Bivins' personal life was rocky. His first marriage ended quickly. Dollie, his second wife, divorced him after claiming he beat her. Bivins even described himself as "nasty" during those years.
    Things changed in the early 1950s. He married his third wife, Elizabeth, and she calmed him.
    He joined the Teamsters, driving bakery and snack trucks, and spent most of his spare time trying to lure street-tough boys into local gyms. Bivins dazzled the kids with his colossal, leathery hands -- nearly the size of catcher's mitts. Each scar, each gnarled knuckle carried with it a different tale of knockouts, broken noses or busted lips.
    At first, the boys wandered into the gym just to see Bivins or to hear his bloody stories. But many came back through the years to hear Bivins' blunt, fatherly advice.
    Most of the kids were poor like Bivins had been as a boy, and Bivins tried to help them.
    He showed them how to land and duck a punch. He warned them about the dangers of drinking and drugs. And he counseled them on women.
    "I talked to this doctor at the Cleveland Clinic one time, and he told me if you have sex it takes 72 hours to get your energy back," Bivins told his aspiring boxers. "And that's only one time. Some of these guys go four, five, six times. Shoot, you're digging your own grave."
    Once a week, Bivins made sure the boys ate, ate all they could. On Sundays, he cooked a simple but massive feast and carted it to the gym. What he served changed -- pot roast, chicken, noodles -- but the meal always ended with sweet, homemade cobbler and store-bought ice cream.
    Boxers came and went. None achieved Bivins' success, but there were some highlights. Kids he coached won Cleveland's Golden Gloves. Young boxers won amateur matches. And in 1988, a Cleveland police officer, Jim Davidson, won the light heavyweight national championship at the Police Olympics in Las Vegas.
    Bivins, dressed in white from head to toe, walked the strip with Davidson after the victory. In Cleveland, hardly anyone knew who the old boxer was. But in Las Vegas, a boxing Mecca, everyone seemed to recognize him.
    For that night, Bivins was again a star.
    Slipping away When Bivins' wife, Elizabeth, died in 1995, his life forever changed. He spent less and less time at the gym. He grew weak and depressed. And finally he quietly moved into the Collinwood home of his daughter and son-in-law, Josette and Daryl Banks.
    As months passed, Bivins' boxing buddies worried. No one knew where Bivins was.
    In April 1998, Cleveland police found him. They had gone to the Banks house to investigate a report of child neglect. They found no child, but in the attic, they found Bivins.
    The former heavyweight had withered to 110 pounds, about 75 pounds below his fighting weight. He was wrapped in a urine-soaked and feces-caked blanket that covered his face. At first they thought he was dead.
    But when the officers asked Bivins if he was OK, he politely responded that he wasn't doing so well. Then he asked the officers how they were doing.
    Police initially charged Josette and Daryl Banks with felonious assault. Daryl Banks later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to eight months in jail. Charges against Josette Banks were dropped after investigators determined that her husband had made all decisions regarding Bivins' care.
    Many 78-year-olds might not have survived, but Bivins proved to be as tough as his leathery hands.
    He spent most of his remaining years in the Shaker Heights home of his sister, Maria Bivins Baskin. Slowly, he started showing off the road map of his scars again, carefully unfurling his boxing stories to the nurses and visitors who tended him.
    When children stopped by , he taught them how to throw a perfect punch, still marveling at the reach of his own long arms.
    And, if someone asked, Bivins would tell them about his nemesis, the champ Joe Louis. "Somebody still owes me a belt," Bivins said.
    In 1999, a Sports Illustrated article said Bivins may have been the greatest modern heavyweight who never got a shot at the title crown.
    The same year, Bivins traveled to New York, where he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Although Bivins was still a little wobbly on his feet, the tuxedo he wore couldn't hide his boxer's physique, thick again after months of good food and decent care.
    In 2009, Baskin died, and Bivins moved into McGregor. The Ohio State Former Boxers and Associates threw birthday parties for him there.
    "It's been quite a life," Bivins told The Plain Dealer. "It's been quite a life."
    According to his family, Bivins outlived his two sons, three sisters and a step-daughter. He left behind a daughter, Josette Banks; four grandchildren and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

    Jimmy Bivins
    1919-2012

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    Re: R.I.P. - Jimmy Bivins

    HOF Heavyweight Jimmy Bivins Is On His Feet - SI - August/8/1999

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...6550/index.htm

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    Re: R.I.P. - Jimmy Bivins

    That is some heartbreaking story of almost unendurable suffering. The pain that Sam Langford and Jimmy Bivins had to deal with, that level of poverty is chilling.
    Thank God someone got to him in time.

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