Raymond Anthony Mercer (born April 4, 1961) is a retired American professional boxer, kickboxer, and mixed martial artist who competed from 1989 to 2009. Best known for his boxing career, Mercer won a heavyweight gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics as an amateur, and later held the WBO heavyweight title from 1991 to 1992 as a professional. Boxrec ranks him as the world's No.9 heavyweight of 1990.[1] As a mixed martial artist, he scored a notable first-round knockout win over former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia in 2009.

Ray Mercer
Ray Mercer, 1988.JPEG
Mercer in 1988
BornRaymond Anthony Mercer
(1961-04-04) April 4, 1961 (age 60)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Other namesMerciless
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Reach77 in (196 cm)
Years active
  • 1989–2008 (boxing)
  • 2004–2005 (kickboxing)
  • 2009 (MMA)
Professional boxing record
By knockout26
By knockout2
Kickboxing record
By knockout1
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout1
Other information
Boxing record from BoxRec
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
last updated on: October 18, 2016

Early yearsEdit

Mercer, being a son of a retired Army NCO Raymond Mercer Sr., grew up as a military brat in Fort Benning, Georgia, and later in Hanau, West Germany. He later recalled:

As a kid I was a little hardheaded. I had a tough time in school until my father, Raymond, he was a mechanic in the military, got me straight. When he was in the field, whether at Fort Benning, Georgia, or in Germany, I'd take advantage of my mother and act up. My father tried to get me to play some kind of sports. I was negative. Team sports wasn't in my blood. I'd come home and play Go-Karts or shoot BB guns or ride choppers. With my father, I was fishing by the age of nine and hunting by fourteen. We'd go for deer, rabbit and squirrel at Fort Benning. My father had a good life in the military. I figured I'd do the same. I wanted to go back to Germany. I liked it over there.

— —Ray Mercer on his childhood.[2]

Mercer played linebacker at high school in Hanau, didn't plan to go for a college education. After graduating from Richmond County Military Academy in Augusta, Georgia, he coasted for a year before enlisting in the Army.[2]

Military serviceEdit

Mercer served with the USAREUR, V Corps, infantry, he was stationed with Company D, 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry, in Baumholder, West Germany.[3] His latest military rank was sergeant.[4]

Amateur boxing careerEdit

Mercer started boxing at the age of 23 while serving in the U.S. Army in West Germany. Mercer said he had never even put on a pair of gloves until after he enlisted, "The Army taught me everything I know about boxing," explained Mercer.[5] While he had street fights as a youth, it wasn't until he was offered a chance to avoid a 30-day field exercise by serving as a sparring partner for the post's heavyweight champion, which in winter of 1984, with the wind-chill factor driving temperatures below zero, was quite an opportunity, that he found a sanctioned way to use his aggression. The beginnings were tough, "I came back from that first day of sparring with a bleeding nose and my lips swollen. For two months I got pounded. But then it became a challenge. I'm not a quitter. I figured the other guy learned the moves, so could I." He learned quickly enough, winning military titles and a United States Amateur Boxing Federation title.[2] He became 1985 U.S. Army and inter-service heavyweight champion, along with Wesley Watson, who was inter-service superheavyweight champion[6] (Mercer later beat Watson in professionals). But in 1985, when Army Coach Hank Johnson sought to recruit Mercer for a stateside training camp for the 1988 Olympics, Mercer turned down the offer. "I was in my prime at partying. The training was not a sacrifice I wanted to make. I told Hank, you won't see me until the Olympics", he said.[2] He first boxed in organized competition in 1983 at Schweinfurt, West Germany. He won a battalion box-off and then won the brigade championship. "After that, I won the VII Corps novice and open championships and was runner-up at U.S. Army, Europe," Mercer said. When he was reassigned to Baumholder, he won three USAREUR crowns while carrying the banner for V Corps[3] (he won the USAREUR Championship less than a year after his first amateur fight.[7]) As he served with USAREUR, for that reason in 1986—1987 Mercer had several international bouts in Germany, he also competed internationally at Western Europe open tournaments.[3] In summer of 1988 he again won the inter-service heavyweight championship.[8] His next step was to apply for the all-Army boxing trial camp and win a spot on the Army team.[5] "Right now, I want to be the 'woodwork' man. I'm 26 years old and relatively unknown. My plans are to stay healthy, and I need to do well in international competition prior to the Olympics to build confidence."[3]

He won the 1988 United States amateur heavyweight championship.[9] At the USA vs. Cuba match-up, Mercer twice staggered Félix Savón, but was impeded from doing further damage by questionable intervention by the Cuban referee, Alfredo Toledo.[10] At the USA vs. Europe match-up, Mercer with a hard right to the nose turned it into a "No mas!" fight for Yugoslavian Željko Mavrović.[11]

1988 OlympicsEdit

Going to the Olympic Team, he was one of the most highly regarded American Olympic boxers.[12] Of all the U.S. 1988 Olympians, Angelo Dundee, a legendary trainer, chose Ray Mercer and Andrew Maynard, as the most likely to develop into world champions after they would have turned into professionals: "Mercer's 27, but that's not too old. The maturity is there. And the punch. Give him 10 fights as a pro and he'd be ready to start moving up," Dundee said on Mercer's potential as a pro.[13] According to Kelvin Richardson of the '88 All-Army Team, Mercer was such a hard puncher, that even 16-ounce gloves weren't of much help for his sparring partners from being knocked off the ring, and his superheavyweight Olympic teammate, Riddick Bowe, didn't want to spar with Mercer for that reason.[14]

Before one of Maynard's fights, Mercer and Anthony Hembrick took off with their flags and good-naturedly dodged the people who tried to get in their way. A few tried to trip the pair, another tried to tackle the heavyweight Mercer, and one security guard even stopped him and tried to steer him back to his seat. Mercer would have none of it. "He didn't speak English, and I don't speak Korean, so he talked his stuff and I talked mine. I don't think we connected, so I just kept on going." said Mercer. Soldiers from his unit back in Germany was rooting for him. Right before the Olympics they made a large banner with everyone's signature on it and shipped it overnight to Seoul. "They've been a big part of my support, and a gold medal would mean almost as much to them as it would to me. That banner really picked me up. I'm fighting for the people of the United States, but especially for the ones back in my unit," he told his audience during one of his post-fight interviews.[15]

Mercer knocked out all four of his Olympic opponents, winning Gold of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as a heavyweight. When asked if he thought he needed to stop the South Korean in order to win the gold medal, he replied: "Definitely. Or I'll make him wish he was knocked out. One of the two."[16] He was the oldest member of the United States Olympic Boxing Team at 27.[17]


Mercer had a total of 70 fights as an amateur, competing all his amateur career in the 201-pound class, and compiling an amateur record of 64 wins, 6 losses (no stoppages.) Upon winning the Olympic Gold Medal, Mercer was approached by boxing promoter Bob Arum, to whom he signed a contract to turn professional. Under the deal, he was to be trained in Las Vegas, Nevada, under Hank Johnson of Fort Bragg, who was the All-Army Coach, and the assistant Olympic coach. Also under the deal, Arum got the rights to promote a certain number of televised bouts, leaving the boxer free to fight for others.[18]

Upon winning the 1988 Olympics he was named Armed Forces Athlete of the Year in November 1988 (which was quite an achievement, considering that the Army branch alone produced 19 Olympians in 1988.[19]) In January 1989, being honorary discharged, Mercer left the Army to pursue a professional boxing career.[20]

Professional boxing careerEdit

Mercer turned pro in January 1989 and debuted with a 3rd TKO of Jesse Hughes. He scored a series of knockouts and in August 1990 knocked down and outpointed big punching Smokin' Bert Cooper in a spectacular 12 round brawl that earned him Cooper's NABF title. In January 1991 he challenged undefeated Francesco Damiani for the WBO heavyweight title, scoring a one punch knockout victory in the 9th when behind on points. Later that year he beat undefeated puncher Tommy Morrison in five, and with a major world title fight on the horizon vacated his WBO belt and fought 42-year-old legend Larry Holmes rather than mandatory challenger Michael Moorer. It proved an unwise decision, as the crafty Holmes conned Mercer out of the fight, outjabbing the puzzled Mercer and gaining both the points decision, and Mercer's world title fight with heavyweight king Evander Holyfield.

Having split fights with dangerous veteran Jesse Ferguson (Mercer was investigated for allegedly asking Ferguson to "throw the fight" during their first encounter), labored when overweight to a draw with trialhorse Marion Wilson, and saw a proposed 1994 bout in Hong Kong with Frank Bruno fall through, Mercer enjoyed an unexpected run of form in major fights, losing on points in a thrilling brawl with Holyfield in May 1995, losing a controversial decision in another wild punch up, this time with Lennox Lewis, in June 1996, and scoring a controversial points win over ex-champ Tim Witherspoon in yet another high action bout in December 1996. In the frame for a bout with Andrew Golota in 1997, Mercer suffered a neck injury and was out of action for 14 months. He returned February 1998 with a 2-round KO of Leo Loiacono, but contracted Hepatitis B and was again inactive, this time for 20 months.


In February 2001 a 39-year-old Mercer launched a final comeback, knocking out four journeymen before being matched with WBO title holder Wladimir Klitschko in a high-profile bout on HBO. Once famed for his incredible iron chin, Mercer looked his age and was knocked down in the first and stopped in the 6th. A brief dalliance in the mixed martial arts nixed a 2004 bout with DaVarryl Williamson. However, Mercer did return to boxing in 2005, now aged 44, but he was stopped in seven rounds by Shannon Briggs.

Kickboxing careerEdit

Continuing to seek a fighting career, Mercer opted to travel to Japan and challenged Musashi in the kickboxing combat sport K-1 on June 6, 2004. Mercer held a reasonable account of himself, but his age and inability to successfully defend kicks was evident as he went on to lose the bout via unanimous decision. On March 19, 2005, he had one more K-1 bout against Remy Bonjasky, to whom he lost via verbal submission. The first and only strike of the night, a head kick, landed square on the head of Mercer. It wasn't your typical fight; Mercer took the head kick and then quit the fight.. As Mercer put it, "I got the shit kicked out of me". [1]

Mixed martial arts careerEdit

After a series of scheduled boxing matchups fell through (including a proposed bout against former champion Hasim Rahman), Mercer decided to try mixed martial arts (MMA) and approached Felix Martinez, co-founder of Cage Fury Fighting Championships, about working with the promotion. On March 21, 2007, Cage Fury announced that Mercer had signed to face underground street fighter and Internet legend Kimbo Slice at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall on June 23, 2007, as part of Cage Fury Fighting Championship 5. The bout was a non-sanctioned exhibition under the New Jersey Unified MMA rules.[21]

Kimbo Slice won the fight in the first round with a guillotine choke submission. Mercer later stated in the press conference at Adrenaline III: Bragging Rights, when he was scheduled to fight Tim Sylvia under MMA rules instead of Boxing rules, that he had expected Kimbo Slice to box with him, and said that he did not really train in any other aspect of MMA and was unprepared for the guillotine choke.

On June 13, 2009, Mercer made a big splash when he defeated former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia at Adrenaline III: Bragging Rights. He won the fight via knockout in 9 seconds with a huge right hand to the chin, becoming the first man to ever defeat Sylvia by knockout.

In March 2010, it was announced that Mercer had signed with the King of the Cage organization, although no bouts would materialize.[22]

Professional boxing recordEdit

Professional record summary
44 fights 36 wins 7 losses
By knockout 26 2
By decision 10 5
Draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
44 Win 36–7–1   Richel Hersisia MD 6 Sep 5, 2008   Nöjesfabriken, Karlstad, Sweden
43 Loss 35–7–1   Derric Rossy UD 12 Jan 26, 2008   Venetian Arena, Macau, SAR For vacant WBCABCO, WBF International, and WBO–NABO interim heavyweight titles
42 Win 35–6–1   Mikael Lindblad KO 1, 1:50 Sep 15, 2007   Löfbergs Arena, Karlstad, Sweden
41 Loss 34–6–1   Shannon Briggs KO 7 (10), 0:41 Aug 26, 2005   Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
40 Win 34–5–1   Darroll Wilson UD 10 Jun 24, 2005   Nikki Beach Concert Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
39 Win 33–5–1   Steve Pannell TKO 3 (10), 0:50 Feb 28, 2004   Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Florida, U.S.
38 Win 32–5–1   Shawn Robinson TKO 3 (10), 1:49 Nov 11, 2003   Caesars, Elizabeth, Indiana, U.S.
37 Win 31–5–1   Mario Cawley KO 3 (10), 1:08 Aug 23, 2003   Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Florida, U.S.
36 Loss 30–5–1   Wladimir Klitschko TKO 6 (12), 1:08 Jun 29, 2002   Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. For WBO heavyweight title
35 Win 30–4–1   Troy Weida TKO 1 (10), 0:28 Feb 23, 2002   Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
34 Win 29–4–1   Brian Scott KO 2 (10), 0:57 Oct 13, 2001   Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark
33 Win 28–4–1   Don Steele KO 5 (10), 3:00 Mar 17, 2001   Silver Star Hotel & Casino, Choctaw, Mississippi, U.S.
32 Win 27–4–1   Jeff Pegues TKO 2 (10), 2:59 Feb 11, 2001   Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin, Illinois, U.S.
31 Win 26–4–1   Jimmy Haynes KO 1 (10), 0:43 Dec 18, 1999   Grand Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, U.S.
30 Win 25–4–1   Leo Loiacono KO 2 (10), 0:46 Feb 21, 1998   Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, Miami, Florida, U.S.
29 Win 24–4–1   Tim Witherspoon UD 10 Dec 14, 1996   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
28 Loss 23–4–1   Lennox Lewis MD 10 May 10, 1996   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
27 Loss 23–3–1   Evander Holyfield UD 10 May 20, 1995   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
26 Draw 23–2–1   Marion Wilson SD 10 Jul 28, 1994   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
25 Win 23–2   Jesse Ferguson SD 10 Nov 19, 1993   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
24 Win 22–2   Mark Wills UD 10 Oct 6, 1993   Broadway by the Bay Theater, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
23 Win 21–2   Tony Willis TKO 1 (10), 2:11 Aug 12, 1993   Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.
22 Loss 20–2   Jesse Ferguson UD 10 Feb 6, 1993   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
21 Win 20–1   Jerry Halstead RTD 2 (12), 3:00 Dec 10, 1992   Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
20 Win 19–1   Mike Dixon RTD 7 (10), 3:00 Oct 7, 1992   County Center, Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
19 Loss 18–1   Larry Holmes UD 12 Feb 7, 1992   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
18 Win 18–0   Tommy Morrison TKO 5 (12), 0:28 Oct 18, 1991   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBO heavyweight title
17 Win 17–0   Francesco Damiani KO 9 (12), 2:47 Jan 11, 1991   Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Won WBO heavyweight title
16 Win 16–0   Bert Cooper UD 12 Aug 5, 1990   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Won NABF heavyweight title
15 Win 15–0   Lionel Washington TKO 4 (10), 1:59 May 31, 1990   Community War Memorial, Rochester, New York, U.S.
14 Win 14–0   Kimmuel Odum UD 12 Mar 2, 1990   Hacienda, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Won vacant IBF Inter-Continental heavyweight title
13 Win 13–0   Wesley Watson TKO 5 (10), 0:44 Jan 15, 1990   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
12 Win 12–0   Ossie Ocasio SD 8 Dec 7, 1989   The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
11 Win 11–0   Jerry Jones UD 8 Nov 14, 1989   South Mountain Arena, West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
10 Win 10–0   Eddie Richardson TKO 1 (8), 2:16 Oct 17, 1989   State Fairgrounds, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
9 Win 9–0   Arthel Lawhorne TKO 2 (10), 1:05 Sep 19, 1989   Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
8 Win 8–0   Dino Homsey TKO 1 (8), 1:58 Sep 5, 1989   Harrah's Lake Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.
7 Win 7–0   Tracy Thomas KO 1 (6), 2:09 Aug 15, 1989   South Mountain Arena, West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
6 Win 6–0   Al Evans TKO 1 (6), 2:55 Jul 15, 1989   Broadway by the Bay Theater, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
5 Win 5–0   Ken Crosby KO 1 (6), 2:45 Jun 12, 1989   Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
4 Win 4–0   David Hopkins KO 1 (4), 1:07 May 16, 1989   Tyndall Armory, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
3 Win 3–0   Garing Lane UD 4 Mar 28, 1989   Showboat Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
2 Win 2–0   Luis Walford KO 1 Mar 4, 1989   Civic Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, U.S.
1 Win 1–0   Jesse McGhee TKO 3 (4), 0:30 Feb 24, 1989   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.

Kickboxing recordEdit

0 Wins (0 (T) KO's, 0 decision), 2 Losses
Date Result Record Opponent Event Method Round Time Location
March 15, 2005 Loss 0–2   Remy Bonjasky K-1 World Grand Prix 2005 in Seoul TKO (Right High Kick) 1 0:22   Seoul, South Korea
June 6, 2004 Loss 0–1   Musashi K-1 World Grand Prix 2004 in Nagoya Decision (Unanimous) 3 3:00   Nagoya, Japan

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
1 match 1 win 0 losses
By knockout 1 0
By submission 0 0
By decision 0 0

Professional recordEdit

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 1–0 Tim Sylvia KO (punch) Adrenaline MMA 3: Bragging Rights June 13, 2009 1 0:09 Birmingham, Alabama, United States

Exhibition recordEdit

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 0–1 Kimbo Slice Submission (guillotine choke) Cage Fury Fighting Championship 5 June 23, 2007 1 1:12 Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States


  1. ^ "BoxRec's Annual Ratings: Heavyweight Annuals". BoxRec. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Berger, Phil (October 17, 1991). "Neither Mercer Nor Morrison Set Out to Make His Living in the Ring". The New York Times. p. 14. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Rogers, David R.; Dove, Billy (September 1988). "Soldiers Vie For Olympics". Soldiers. 43 (9): 46. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  4. ^ "Army Olympic Update". Army. 38 (11): 71. November 1988. ISSN 0004-2455. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Schad, Dave (January 1989). "Three Gold Medals". Soldiers. 44 (1): 17. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  6. ^ Garrett, George (March 1986). "Army Boxers Win National Title". Soldiers. 41 (3): 51. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  7. ^ Garcia, Elroy (June 1993). "All-Army Athletes". Soldiers. 44 (6): 37–38. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  8. ^ Army News Service (June 1988). "Army Takes 10 Titles". Soldiers. 43 (6): 55. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  9. ^ "Mercer Just May Be Sowing the Seeds for a High-Paying Career". Los Angeles Times. September 29, 1988.
  10. ^ Berger, Phil (May 1, 1988). "U.S. Outslugged By Cuban Boxers". The New York Times. p. 6. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  11. ^ Berger, Phil (June 6, 1988). "Rout For Americans". The New York Times. p. 11. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  12. ^ Anderson, Dave (September 17, 1988). "Coach Calls U.S. a Contender". The New York Times. p. 48. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Anderson, Dave (October 2, 1988). "Green to Gold, Now Green Again". The New York Times. p. 2. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Schad, Dave (January 1989). "Seoul Olympics: The Army Story". Soldiers. 44 (1): 17–19. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  16. ^ Anderson, Dave (September 29, 1988). "3 Americans Reach Finals". The New York Times. p. 18. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  17. ^ Anderson, Dave (October 1, 1988). "Mercer Stops South Korean". The New York Times. p. 47. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  18. ^ AP (October 16, 1988). "Theories on Boxing". The New York Times. p. 10. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  19. ^ Schad, Dave (January 1989). "Army Olympic Athletes". Soldiers. 44 (1): 21. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  20. ^ Armed Forces Sports Office (February 1989). "Ray Mercer Named Athlete of Year". Soldiers. 44 (2): 3. ISSN 0093-8440. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  21. ^ "Freak Show or Convert? Kimbo Slice Interview". MMAWeekly. June 22, 2007. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007.
  22. ^ "Ray Mercer Returns to Fight Undefeated Ron Sparks". MMAFighting.com. March 12, 2010.

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Amateur boxing titles
Michael Bentt
U.S. heavyweight champion
Javier Alvarez
Regional boxing titles
Preceded by NABF heavyweight champion
August 5, 1990 – January 1991
Title next held by
Orlin Norris
World boxing titles
Preceded by WBO heavyweight champion
January 11, 1991 – December 28, 1991
Title next held by
Michael Moorer