Gerry Cooney - It All Looked So Good For Him Once!

gerry cooney05.10.07 - By James Slater: Some thirty years ago this year, heavyweight power puncher Gerry Cooney boxed as a professional for the very first time. And what promise this huge heavyweight - huge not only in stature but in punching power also - showed as he punched for pay for the very first time. “Gentleman Gerry” stopped one Bill Jackson in a single round on the 15th of February in Long Island, New York.

The KO was the first in a number of devastating and quick destruction jobs the big Irish-American would score. Some good names fell at Gerry’s feet too. Both former heavyweight title challengers Ron Lyle and Jimmy Young went out in quick time, as did former heavyweight boxing champion Ken Norton. In fact, the Norton fight contained one of the most brutally chilling annihilations of a top class fighter in heavyweight history - albeit one against an over the hill boxer, as Kenny was at the time. Still, the genuine and absolute power in the fists of the young Cooney was again proved to be beyond doubt.

Unfortunately, history ultimately remembers Gerry Cooney as a failure, and unquestionably his career did all but peter out after his first world title shot. Boxing bravely during his big opportunity against the great Larry Holmes - in a fight that was one of the biggest promotions of its time - Gerry was stopped after thirteen grueling rounds. Thereafter, Gerry only boxed sporadically - hanging the gloves up for good after being flattened in two rounds by the also come backing George Foreman in 1990. And though he is looked upon today as a fighter who let his potential down, Cooney, at one time, was a hugely popular and exciting heavyweight sensation.

Forced into the sport by a domineering father, Cooney’s heart was never one hundred percent in boxing. His courage was admirable, however, as he showed in the Holmes fight in 1982. But, feeling as though he’d let both himself and, more importantly (in his own mind, at least) his fans down, Gerry was never to be the same again after the honorable loss. It was over two years before he boxed again, and when he did so it was only on five occasions. Three of these fights were wins, while the other two bouts saw Gerry lose by KO - in five one-sided rounds versus Michael Spinks in his second shot at the heavyweight championship, and in the two round blow-out to Big George almost three years later.

A very wealthy man due to his boxing career, Gerry these days gives back to the sport that made him rich. Setting up the F.I.S.T organization, a scheme that helps retired boxers financially, the fifty-one year old lives a happy and contented life. And though his career could have certainly turned out better than it did, the New Yorker is at peace with himself and knows now that back when he was fighting he worried too much about letting others down, when in fact, he should have concerned himself only with doing what was best for Gerry Cooney. And who knows, if he was in his prime today he just might have managed to win the title he so badly wanted in the early 1980’s?

Gerry, a truly exciting heavyweight fighter for a few years in the late '70's and early '80's, retired with a final record that reads 28-3 (24 KO’s).

Article posted on 07.10.2007

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