This Day in Boxing January 4, 1935 Floyd Patterson is born
Cus D’amato’s first champion
Amateur Record: 40-4, 37 KOs
At age 14, Patterson started working out at the Gramercy Gym on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, owned and run by Cus D’Amato. He started boxing as an amateur in 1950.
In 1951, Patterson won the New York Daily News Golden Gloves and the New York Golden Gloves Tournament Of Champions, both in the open middleweight division.
In 1952, Patterson won the New York Daily News Golden Gloves, the New York Golden Gloves Tournament Of Champions and the Intercity Golden Gloves Championship, all in the open light heavyweight division.
Patterson won the 1952 National AAU Middleweight Championship.
Patterson won the Gold Medal in the middleweight division at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Results:
Professional Career Record: 55-8-1, 40 KOs
Won the vacant World Heavyweight Championship with a fifth-round KO of Archie Moore on November 30, 1956. At age 21, Patterson was the youngest ever World Heavyweight Champion. His record was surpassed by Mike Tyson, who won the WBC Heavyweight Championship at age 20 in 1986.
In his fifth title defense, Patterson lost the championship to Ingemar Johansson by a third-round TKO on June 26, 1959.
Knocked out Ingemar Johansson in five rounds on June 20, 1960, to become the first person to regain the World Heavyweight Championship.
Knocked out Ingemar Johansson in six rounds on March 13, 1961, to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
In the third title defense of his second reign, Patterson lost the championship to Sonny Liston by a first-round KO on September 25, 1962. An embarrassed Patterson left the stadium wearing dark glasses and a fake beard.
Attempted to regain the championship from Sonny Liston on July 22, 1963, and was again knocked out in the first round.
Defeated Eddie Machen by a twelve-round unanimous decision on July 5, 1964.
Defeated George Chuvalo by a twelve-round unanimous decision on February 1, 1965.
Attempted to regain the championship from Muhammad Ali on November 22, 1965, and was stopped in twelve rounds.
Fought a ten-round draw with Jerry Quarry on June 9, 1967. Most of the ringside press thought Patterson won.
Lost to Jerry Quarry by a disputed twelve-round majority decision on October 28, 1967. The fight was part of the WBA’s eight-man elimination tournament to fill the title vacancy left after Muhammad Ali was stripped of the title for refusing to be drafted into the U.S. Army.
Fought Jimmy Ellis for the WBA Heavyweight Championship on September 14, 1969, and lost by a disputed fifteen-round decision.
Defeated Oscar Bonavena by a ten-round unanimous decision on February 11, 1972.
In his last fight, Patterson was stopped after six rounds by Muhammad Ali on September 20, 1972.
Trained his adopted son, Tracy Harris Patterson, who won world titles in two weight divisions.
Also trained heavyweight contender Razor Ruddock.
From 1977 to 1984, Patterson was a member of the New York State Athletic Commission. From 1995 to 1998, he was the chairman of the commission. On April 1, 1998, Patterson resigned as commission chairman after a published report said a three-hour videotape of a deposition he gave in a lawsuit revealed he couldn’t remember aspects of his job or important events in his boxing career. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease soon afterward.
Awards & Recognition
1954 Boxing Writers Association of America James P. Dawson Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year.
Named the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year in 1956 and 1960.
Named The Ring Fighter of the Year in 1956 and 1960.
Inducted into The Ring Boxing Hall of Fame in 1976.
Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1985.
Inducted into the United States Olympic Committee Hall of Fame in 1987.
Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.
1995 Boxing Writers Association of America James J. Walker Memorial Award for “long and meritorious service in boxing.”
Ranked as the 21st greatest heavyweight of all-time by The Ring in 1998.
Floyd Patterson ranked 27th of all-time in Hamilton’s Historical Order of Merit published on December 31, 2013.
Born in a cabin in Waco, North Carolina, on January 4, 1935. He was the third eldest of 11 children.
Grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
Patterson was a frequent truant who fell behind in school. At age 11, he could not read or write. He would not talk, and when someone talked to him he refused to look the person in the face. His mother had him committed to Wiltwyck School, a school in upstate New York for emotionally disturbed boys. His new teachers helped him learn to read and encouraged him to take up boxing.
His younger brother, Ray Patterson, also became a professional heavyweight boxer.
Patterson’s autobiography, Victory Over Myself, was published in 1962.
Died on May 11, 2006, at his home in New Paltz, New York. He suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and prostate cancer.
Patterson is the subject of Alan H. Levy’s biography Floyd Patterson: A Boxer and a Gentleman.
Floyd Patterson: A Boxer and a Gentleman, a biography by Alan H. Levy, was published in 2008.
Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion, a biography by W. K. Stratton, was published in 2012.