R.I.P George Benton - The Philly Master Passes Away At Age 78

By James Slater: In very sad news, it has been reported that George Benton, known best for his great skills as a trainer and corner-man, passed away in the early hours of Monday, Sept. 19th. Benton, age 78, had been battling pneumonia and he passed inside St. Joseph’s Hospital in North Philadelphia.

Benton, born in the tough streets of Philly in 1933, turned pro at the young age of 16. Benton’s early fights were fought at welterweight, but he soon moved up to middleweight, where he remained until the very end of his 76-bout pro career. Despite never fighting for the world title, Benton did pick up impressive wins over three future world champions, in Joey Giardello (WU10), Freddie Little (WM10) and Jimmy Ellis (WM10).

Other notable fighter Benton fought include “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, Rubin Carter and Luis Manuel Rodriguez. Never once knocked off his feet as a pro, Benton was stopped only on TKO’s by Briscoe and by Rodriguez. Shot in the back after an altercation in a bar in 1970, Benton was forced to switch from boxer to trainer. It was as a trainer and corner-man that George achieved his biggest fame, however.

A student of the legendary Eddie Futch, Benton worked with countless greats such as Joe Frazier. Benton was in Joe’s corner for the unforgettable “Thrilla in Manila” of 1975 (about which George speaks at length on the great documentary named after the third clash between Ali and Frazier).

Over the years, having learned so much, Benton began moulding fighters of his own into dominant world champions. Working with Lou Duva, Benton helped modern day greats such as Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor and many others on their way to the top. A master when it came to devising a winning fight strategy, Benton was also a fine motivator in the corner.

In 2001 Benton was elected into The International Boxing Hall of Fame.

His final pro career reads 62-13-1(37). George fought as a pro from 1949 to 1970.

Benton deserves to go down in history alongside the finest boxing trainers of all-time.

Article posted on 20.09.2011

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