Tunney Morgan Hunsaker (September 1, 1930 – April 27, 2005) was a mid-20th century American professional boxer, who also served as the Police Chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia.

Tunney Hunsaker
BornSeptember 1, 1930
Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky, USA
DiedApril 27, 2005(2005-04-27) (aged 74)

Early lifeEdit

He was born in the Western Kentucky town of Princeton, in Caldwell County. In his youth he served in the United States Air Force, stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.[citation needed]

Boxing careerEdit

In 1960, Hunsaker was Cassius Clay's (later Muhammad Ali) first opponent in a professional boxing bout. After the fight Hunsaker said, "Clay was as fast as lightning ... I tried every trick I knew to throw at him off balance but he was just too good". In a thumbnail profile of the fight the following January, young Cassius was reported as having remarked that Hunsaker's style was far different from what Clay had been exposed to as an amateur and Olympian; the young fighter admitted to nervousness going in, and that Hunsaker's aforementioned pro style, had given him trouble.[1] This respect appears genuine, as it was lasting—in his autobiography, Ali said Hunsaker dealt him one of the hardest body blows he ever took in his career. Ali and Hunsaker became good friends and stayed in touch over the years. Hunsaker said he did not agree with Ali's decision to refuse military service, but praised him as a great humanitarian and athlete.[2]

In the fight game, Hunsaker was a small heavyweight, perhaps better suited for light-heavy classification (175 lbs. limit); today, he would most likely compete as a cruiserweight (190 lbs. limit). He fought as a boxer-puncher, by his own telling. Hunsaker once appeared on the undercard at Madison Square Garden. Hunsaker ended up with a record of 17 wins with 15 defeats with 8 wins by knockout.[3] His career ended after a boxing-related head injury suffered on April 6, 1962, in Beckley, West Virginia. Rushed to a Beckley hospital, Hunsaker was in a coma for five days during which he underwent two brain operations.[4]

Law enforcement careerEdit

Hunsaker served as Fayetteville police chief for 38 years, and was later inducted into the Law Enforcement Hall Of Fame.[citation needed]


Hunsaker suffered the physical effects of his last match for the rest of his life. He was 74 when he died on 27 April 2005, having been afflicted with Alzheimer's disease in his last years. His body was buried in Huse Memorial Park cemetery, Fayetteville, West Virginia.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

Tunney Hunsaker Bridge

Hunsaker was active in the Oak Hill Church of the Nazarene for many years, teaching a Sunday School class for fifth and sixth grade boys. He was three times named Sunday School Teacher of the Year. At the time of his death in 2005 he had been married to wife Patricia for over thirty years. The Fayette Station Bridge carrying County Route 82 over the New River at the bottom of New River Gorge was named after him.

Professional boxing recordEdit

17 Wins (8 knockouts, 9 decisions), 15 Losses (7 knockouts, 8 decisions), 1 Draw [3]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 17–15–1   Joe Shelton KO 10 April 6, 1962   Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, Beckley, West Virginia Hunsaker knocked out at 2:43 of the tenth round. Hunsaker was in a coma for nine days following the fight.
Win 17–14–1   Thomas Dejarnette KO 1 February 24, 1962   West Virginia State Penitentiary, Beckley, West Virginia
Loss 16–14–1   Sonny Banks KO 2 October 16, 1961   Detroit, Michigan
Loss 16–13–1   Thomas Dejarnette TKO 8 September 28, 1961   West Virginia State Penitentiary, Beckley, West Virginia Referee stopped the bout at 2:10 of the eighth round.
Win 16–12–1   Herman Wilson TKO 6 August 22, 1961   Fairgrounds Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky
Loss 15–12–1   Tod Herring UD 10 April 25, 1961   City Auditorium, Houston, Texas
Loss 15–11–1   Alejandro Lavorante KO 5 March 21, 1961   Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, Texas Hunsaker knocked out at 2:31 of the fifth round.
Loss 15–10–1   Cassius Clay UD 6 October 29, 1960   Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky Ali's first pro fight. 19–30, 24–30, 23–30
Loss 15–9–1   Tom McNeeley TKO 9 April 12, 1960   Boston Arena, Boston, Massachusetts Referee stopped the bout at 1:30 of the ninth round.
Loss 15–8–1   Johnny Jenkins SD 6 February 5, 1960   Madison Square Garden, New York City
Loss 15–7–1   Jim O'Connell PTS 10 January 16, 1960   Kenova, West Virginia
Loss 15–6–1   Hosea Chapman UD 12 November 14, 1959   Memorial Auditorium, Fayetteville, West Virginia West Virginia Heavyweight Title.
Loss 15–5–1   Bert Whitehurst TKO 10 September 30, 1959   Charlotte, North Carolina
Loss 15–4–1   Ernie Terrell PTS 8 July 24, 1959   Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky
Win 15–3–1   Bennie Thomas PTS 8 July 1, 1959   Louisville, Kentucky
Draw 14–3–1   Hosea Chapman SD 12 June 20, 1959   Ravenswood, West Virginia West Virginia Heavyweight Title. 54–54, 54–55, 58–55
Win 14–3   Billy Walters KO 1 May 2, 1959   Fayetteville, West Virginia
Win 13–3   Terrell Pruitt UD 6 March 28, 1959   Freedom Hall, Louisville, Kentucky
Win 12–3 Tiny Gibson KO 3 September 30, 1958   Fayetteville, West Virginia
Win 11–3   Herbert Hair KO 2 August 16, 1958   Memorial Auditorium, Fayetteville, West Virginia
Loss 10–3   Emil Brtko KO 2 June 23, 1958   High School Stadium, Charleroi, Pennsylvania Hunsaker knocked out at 1:58 of the second round.
Win 10–2   Jim Saddler SD 6 June 9, 1953   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas
Win 9–2   O'Neal Crocker TKO 4 June 2, 1953   Ringside Club, Houston, Texas
Win 8–2   Carl Griffin KO 1 April 20, 1953   Dallas Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas Griffin knocked out at 1:11 of the first round.
Win 7–2   Joe Arthur SD 10 March 10, 1953   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas
Win 6–2   Rancherio Alonzo PTS 8 February 10, 1953   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas
Loss 5–2   Rancherio Alonzo PTS 6 December 30, 1952   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas
Loss 5–1   Whitey Berlier PTS 10 November 5, 1952   Houston, Texas
Win 5–0   Pat Viola UD 6 October 20, 1952   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas
Win 4–0   Jesus Vargas KO 3 October 7, 1952   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas
Win 3–0   Rancherio Alonzo PTS 6 September 23, 1952   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas
Win 2–0   Pat Viola PTS 6 July 31, 1952   Austin, Texas
Win 1–0   Pat Viola UD 4 July 22, 1952   Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas


  1. ^ uncredited (January 1961). "Glove Action". The Ring. XXXIX (12): 66.
  2. ^ Brunt, Stephen (2002). Facing Ali. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. p. 301. ISBN 1-58574-829-3.
  3. ^ a b "Tunney Hunsaker". BoxRec.
  4. ^ "CONDITION OF BOXER SHOWS IMPROVEMENT (April 12, 1962)". Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  5. ^ Entry for Hunsaker's grave in Findagrave website (2019). https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/14470333/tunney-morgan-hunsaker

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Tunney Hunsaker at Find a Grave