Open main menu

Ernest "Ernie" Terrell[1] (April 4, 1939 – December 16, 2014) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1957 to 1973. He held the WBA heavyweight title from 1965 to 1967, and was one of the taller heavyweights of his era, at a height of 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m). Terrell was the older brother of The Supremes' early 1970s lead singer Jean Terrell. In the 1960s, Jean sang with Ernie's group Ernie Terrell & the Heavyweights.[2]

Ernie Terrell
Ernie terrell.jpg
Statistics
Weight(s)Heavyweight
Height6 ft 6 in (198 cm)
Reach82 in (208 cm)
NationalityAmerican
BornErnest Terrell
(1939-04-04)April 4, 1939
Belzoni, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedDecember 16, 2014(2014-12-16) (aged 75)
Evergreen Park, Illinois, U.S.
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights55
Wins46
Wins by KO21
Losses9

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Terrell was born on 4 April 1939 in Inverness, Mississippi, and spent his early childhood in Belzoni. He was born into a family of ten children, whose father was a Mississippi sharecroper, who during Terrell's childhood moved the family North to Chicago when he found employment in the factories there. Terrell received his formal education at Farragut School in Chicago. Before turning professional, he won the Chicago Golden Gloves in his youth as a light heavy-weight, and he also formed a pop music singing act called "The Heavyeights" with 3 of his siblings.[3]

Professional careerEdit

In his early career, Terrell defeated some good contenders, including Cleveland Williams (Terrell won the rematch by decision after losing to Williams in their first fight by knockout), Zora Folley, and future Light Heavyweight champion Bob Foster. However, he is best remembered for his fight with World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali, on February 6, 1967—a bout in which he was badly beaten.

Ali was scheduled to fight World Boxing Association champion Ernie Terrell (the WBA stripped Ali of his title after his agreement to fight a rematch with Liston) on March 29, but Terrell backed out and Ali won a 15-round decision against substitute opponent George Chuvalo. The World Boxing Association matched Terrell and Eddie Machen for the vacant crown. Terrell defeated Machen to win the belt on March 5, 1965. He held it until February 6, 1967, when he lost to Muhammad Ali. During this time, most in the boxing world continued to recognize Ali as the legitimate champion, since he had not lost his championship in a boxing match. The WBA's rival, the World Boxing Council, had also continued to recognize Ali as champion.

During his reign as WBA Champion, Terrell defended the title twice, beating Doug Jones and George Chuvalo.

In February 1967, Ali and Terrell met to end the debate about who was the legitimate heavyweight champion. Before the bout, Terrell repeatedly called Ali by his birth name. He said later that he had known Clay for years in the amateurs and hadn't gotten used to calling him another name. Ali took offense to this, and vowed he would punish Terrell. For his part, Ali further stoked the prefight ill-will by labeling Terrell "an Uncle Tom nigger who is going to get his ass whupped."[4]

Ali won a lopsided 15-round decision, reclaiming the undisputed championship. The Daily Telegraph wrote that the resulting fight was "the nastiest display of Ali's celebrated ring career", describing how he seized Terrell in a headlock and dragged Terrell's eye along the top rope, and declared, "The fight will be remembered for Ali's constant taunts of 'what's my name?' to an opponent he was apparently content not merely to defeat, but also to belittle and humiliate."[4] The match is recounted in the film Ali.

Terrell lost an upset 12-round decision to Thad Spencer later in 1967 in the WBA Heavyweight Tournament which was organized after Ali was stripped of his title in April 1967. He left the sport for three years following the loss, but returned in 1970, winning seven consecutive fights before losing to Chuck Wepner by decision (the Wepner decision was highly controversial and most who saw the fight thought Terrell had won).[5]

In 55 professional fights, Terrell earned a record of 46 wins (21 by knockout), nine losses and no draws. He retired from boxing in 1973 following a knockout loss to Jeff Merritt.[6].

Later lifeEdit

After retiring from boxing he began a career as a record producer in Chicago. He ran unsuccessfully for Alderman of Chicago's 34th ward in 1987. He finished second in the primary but lost to Lemuel Austin in a runoff.

DeathEdit

Terrell died at the age of 75 on December 16, 2014 in a hospital at Evergreen Park, Illinois. He had been suffering from dementia.[7] His body was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

Terrell married Maxine Terrell (nee Sibley) in 1974, the couple raised two children.[9]

Professional boxing recordEdit

Professional record summary
55 fights 46 wins 9 losses
By knockout 21 2
By decision 25 7
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
55 Loss 46–9   Jeff Merritt TKO 1 (10), 2:42 Sep 10, 1973   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
54 Loss 46–8   Chuck Wepner PTS 12 Jun 23, 1973   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. For vacant National Americas heavyweight title
53 Win 46–7   Bill Drover TKO 1 (10), 2:28 Feb 19, 1973   Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
52 Win 45–7   Jose Luis Garcia KO 6 (10) Oct 23, 1972   Caracas, Venezuela
51 Win 44–7   Roberto Davila UD 10 Jul 24, 1971   Playboy Club, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, U.S.
50 Win 43–7   Luis Faustino Pires UD 10 May 10, 1971   International Amphitheatre, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
49 Win 42–7   Vic Brown UD 10 Apr 28, 1971   Cleveland Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
48 Win 41–7   John Hudgins TKO 1 (10), 1:58 Apr 3, 1971   Playboy Club, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, U.S.
47 Win 40–7   Sonny Moore UD 10 Dec 15, 1970   The Eagles Club, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
46 Loss 39–7   Manuel Ramos UD 10 Oct 14, 1967   Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
45 Loss 39–6   Thad Spencer UD 12 Aug 5, 1967   Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S.
44 Loss 39–5   Muhammad Ali UD 15 Feb 6, 1967   Astrodome, Houston, Texas, U.S. Lost WBA heavyweight title
43 Win 39–4   Doug Jones UD 15 Jun 28, 1966   Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas, U.S. Retained WBA heavyweight title
42 Win 38–4   George Chuvalo UD 15 Nov 1, 1965   Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Retained WBA heavyweight title
41 Win 37–4   Eddie Machen UD 15 Mar 5, 1965   International Amphitheatre, Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Won vacant WBA heavyweight title
40 Win 36–4   Henry Wallitsch RTD 6 (10), 0:01 Oct 23, 1964   St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
39 Win 35–4   Bob Foster TKO 7 (10), 0:58 Jul 10, 1964   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
38 Win 34–4   Jefferson Davis UD 10 Jun 17, 1964   Municipal Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
37 Win 33–4   Gerhard Zech UD 10 Mar 6, 1964   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
36 Win 32–4   Zora Folley UD 10 Jul 27, 1963   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
35 Win 31–4   Cleveland Williams SD 10 Apr 13, 1963   Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
34 Win 30–4   Herb Siler TKO 3 (10) Mar 7, 1963   Little River Auditorium, Miami, Florida, U.S.
33 Win 29–4   Young Jack Johnson UD 10 Jan 5, 1963   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
32 Win 28–4   Young Jack Johnson UD 10 Dec 14, 1962   Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
31 Win 27–4   Reiniero Rey Lopez KO 3, 2:15 Sep 25, 1962   Comiskey Park, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
30 Win 26–4   Eddie Jackson TKO 2 (10), 2:54 Aug 24, 1962   Grand Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
29 Win 25–4   Amos Lincoln UD 6 Jun 9, 1962   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
28 Loss 24–4   Cleveland Williams TKO 7 (10), 1:43 Apr 3, 1962   Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas, U.S.
27 Win 24–3   Herb Siler PTS 10 Feb 28, 1962   Exhibition Hall, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
26 Win 23–3   Ernie Cab RTD 3 (6), 0:01 Dec 4, 1961   Convention Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
25 Win 22–3   Chuck Garrett UD 10 May 15, 1961   Marigold Gardens, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
24 Win 21–3   Willie Coleman KO 1 (8) Apr 17, 1961   Marigold Gardens, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
23 Win 20–3   Ernie Cab TKO 8 (10) Feb 6, 1961   Marigold Gardens, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
22 Loss 19–3   Wayne Bethea SD 10 Dec 5, 1960   Marigold Gardens, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
21 Win 19–2   Joe Hemphill UD 8 Jul 20, 1960   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Won Illinois heavyweight title
20 Win 18–2   Frankie Daniels KO 7 (10) May 18, 1960   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
19 Win 17–2   Lee Williams UD 10 Mar 30, 1960   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
18 Win 16–2   Clay Thomas KO 1 (6) Jan 6, 1960   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
17 Win 15–2   Chuck Garrett PTS 6 Nov 11, 1959   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
16 Win 14–2   Tunney Hunsaker PTS 8 Jul 24, 1959   Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
15 Loss 13–2   Johnny Gray SD 8 Feb 25, 1959   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
14 Win 13–1   Willie Coleman PTS 8 Jan 14, 1959   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
13 Win 12–1   Sid Peaks UD 8 Nov 3, 1958   Joe Louis Gymnasium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
12 Win 11–1   John Hobart KO 1 Oct 7, 1958   East Chicago, Indiana, U.S.
11 Win 10–1   Joe Hemphill TKO 1 (6) Sep 24, 1958   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
10 Win 9–1   Billy Pickett KO 2 (8) Jul 1, 1958   Midwest Gymnasium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
9 Loss 8–1   Johnny Gray SD 8 Apr 30, 1958   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
8 Win 8–0   Johnny Harper TKO 1 (8) Mar 11, 1958   Midwest Gym, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
7 Win 7–0   Emil Brtko TKO 2 (8) Feb 4, 1958   Joe Louis Gym, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
6 Win 6–0   Calvin Butler SD 6 Jan 8, 1958   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
5 Win 5–0   Ted Poole TKO 1 (6) Oct 30, 1957   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
4 Win 4–0   Neal Welch UD 6 Aug 21, 1957   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
3 Win 3–0   Ray Griggs KO 1 (4) Jul 24, 1957   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
2 Win 2–0   Andy Bond TKO 1 (4) Jun 26, 1957   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
1 Win 1–0   Norman Bolden UD 4 May 15, 1957   Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ December 18, 2014. "Ernie Terrell - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  2. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Biography: Jean Terrell". AMG. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  3. ^ Obituary for Ernie Terrell, 'The Guardian', 23 December 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/23/ernie-terrell-heavyweight-boxer-obituary
  4. ^ a b "Ernie Terrell - obituary". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  5. ^ Ryan, Joe (February 21, 2013). "1975". Heavyweight Boxing in the 1970s: The Great Fighters and Rivalries. McFarland. p. 177. ISBN 9780786470747. Retrieved June 30, 2017 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Ryan, Joe (February 21, 2013). "The 1960s". Heavyweight Boxing in the 1970s: The Great Fighters and Rivalries. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 9780786470747. Retrieved June 30, 2017 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Ali's 'What's My Name?' opponent Terrell dies at 75". Asia.eurosport.com. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  8. ^ Entry for Terrell's grave in Findagrave website (2019). https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/140161792/ernie-terrell
  9. ^ Obituary for Ernie Terrell, 'The Guardian', 23 December 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/23/ernie-terrell-heavyweight-boxer-obituary

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
World boxing titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Muhammad Ali
stripped
WBA heavyweight champion
March 5, 1965 – February 6, 1967
Succeeded by
Muhammad Ali
Heavyweight status
Previous:
Ingemar Johansson
Oldest living world champion
January 30, 2009 – December 16, 2014
Next:
Muhammad Ali