January in NYS Boxing History

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On January 1, 1919, Rocky Graziano was bornThomas Rocco Barbella in Brooklyn, NY. Graziano had a career record of 67 wins, 10 losses and six draws. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, located in Canastota, NY and his life story was the basis of the 1956 Oscar-winning film, “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” based on his 1955 autobiography of the same name. He boxed a remarkable 47 times in his home State of New York throughout his career

On January 10, 1992, Bronx, NY-born Iran “The Blade” Barkley knocked out Darrin Van Horn in the second round of their scheduled 12-rounder to win the IBF Super-Middleweight title at the Paramount Theater in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Barkley was a formidable champion and challenger who would step in the ring with the world’s best fighters, including names like Thomas Hearns (who he defeated twice), Roberto Duran, Michael Olajide, and James Toney.

On January 18, 1895 in Brooklyn at the Coney Island Athletic Club, middleweight and Redwood, NY-born Tommy Ryan knocked out “Nonpariel” Jack Dempsey (not to be confused with the great heavyweight from the 1920’s), so named for his early reputation of being unbeatable, in the 3rd round to retain his title. This proved to be Dempsey’s last fight. Ryan, considered one of the greatest middleweights of his era, finished with a career record of 90 wins (71 by KO) against 6 losses, 11 draws and 2 no contests. 

On January 28, 1974 in New York City, “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali avenged one of the two losses on his record at the time (he had earlier beaten Ken Norton to avenge his other loss) when he scored a 12-round unanimous decision victory over “Smokin’” Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden to retain his Heavyweight Championship. In this fight, Referee Tony Perez saved Frazier from an almost certain knockdown in the 2nd round. Just seconds after Ali hurts Smokin’ Joe with a hook, Perez separated the fighters, thinking he had heard the bell. This was the second bout in one of the fiercest trilogies in boxing history, pitting two of the greatest heavyweights of all-time against each other once again. Ali would later go on to TKO Frazier in the last fight of the trilogy, “The Thrilla in Manila,” the following year to take the rubber match. Ali fought in the Empire State a total of eleven times in his stories career. He finished his career with a record of 56 wins (37 by KO) against 5 losses.