John Tate killed in car crash

by Pedro Fernandez

"Big" John Tate, a former WBA heavyweight titilist (for about a minute) was killed yesterday when his pick up truck hit a telephone pole on I-40 near the fighter's hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. Tate was with traveling with two other people when his truck flipped over on the Interstate.

Although authorities refused to confirm or deny it was Tate who had died, ESPN radio and a Knoxville cop confirmed that it was Tate who had been killed in the one vehicle incident.

"Big" John Tate won the vacant WBA title on October 20, 1979, with a 15-round points win over South African Gerrie Coetzee. He then lost the WBA diadem in his first defense to Mike Weaver, who drilled Tate with a 15th round barrage in a fight where Tate had won almost every round leading up to the surprise stoppage in the final (15th) round on March 31, 1980.

A 1976 Olympian, who netted Bronze in Montreal as part of that Rolly Schwartz coached Olympic team that included Gold Medalist's Ray Leonard, Leo Randolph, Michael and Leon Spinks, as well as Howard Davis was a disappointment as a pro.

A "simple country type of fellow," Tate was drilled in his next fight on June 20, 1980, when he was stopped in the late rounds against underdog Trevor Berbick underneath the first Roberto Duran-Ray Leonard fight in Montreal. He retired according to the Associated Press at 34-3, although I was of the opinion that he had lost more than three times in 37 fights.

Funeral services are pending.

Pedro Fernandez
Ring Talk News Desk
The writer has his own site at and hosts a radio show that is heard in over 160 countries Saturday & Sunday nights at 11 PM ET on the TALK AMERICA Radio Network with live Internet audio at

This Saturday's guests include; Irish Pat Lawlor vs "Ms. Boxing" Jackie Kallen. These two will be featured in a debate on female pugilists. Also confirmed "Cool" Vince Phillips, the world 140 lb. champion and HBO's Larry Merchant who will discuss next week's Naseem Hamed vs Wilfredo Vasquez WBO featherweight fight from Manchester, UK. HBO will air the fight at 9:30 ET Saturday April 18, on a delayed basis from England. Evander Holyfield had agreed to appear, but has not yet confirmed his status as a guest for this weekend.

On Sunday night it's the "Pocket-Rocket" Wayne McCullough who will headline an April 17, card on FOX Sports that begins at 8 PM ET on both Fox Sports in English and FOX Americas in Espanol. Sunday's Ring talk airs on "The Deuce" or TALK AMERICA 2 with live audio at remember the Sunday show is on TALK AMERICA 2, while the Saturday show is on TALK AMERICA 1. Pedro Fernandez can be reached at

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