"Beyond the Glory" series returns on Aug. 28 featuring Larry Holmes

11.08.05 - FSN’s one-hour documentary series BEYOND THE GLORY returns with a new episode profiling boxing legend Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes. This episode of BTG tells the story of Holmes’ prolific career from his early days as a protégé of famed champion Muhammad Ali to becoming boxing’s longest reigning heavyweight champion. BTG: LARRY HOLMES airs Sun., August 28 at 6:00 PM local..

As a child growing up in rural Georgia, Holmes learned the necessity of hard work at a very young age. Shortly after moving to Easton Pennsylvania, Holmes’ father left the family, leaving his mother, Flossie, to raise 11 kids on her own. But it was in Easton that Larry Holmes was introduced to the sport that would forever change his life.

Trainer Ernie Butler watched the then teenage Holmes working out in a local gym and saw tremendous potential. While training him for amateur bouts, Butler introduced Holmes to Ali, who took to young boxer instantly. Holmes began to spar and train with Ali in preparation for his own career inside the ring.

Holmes first major fight came against Duane Bobick at the 1972 Olympic trials. Although Holmes was disqualified for clinching, his relentless, aggressive style turned heads in the boxing world. After watching Holmes’ sparring sessions with Ali, veteran trainer Ritchie Giachetti signed him and set Holmes’ sights on becoming the heavyweight champion of the world.

Holmes’ long-awaited heavyweight title-shot came in 1978 against Ken Norton at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Regarded as one of the greatest fights in boxing history, Holmes defeated Norton in a marathon, 15-round bout to become the undisputed WBC heavyweight champion of the world. He would later go on to defend that title a record 20 consecutive times.

In 1980, Holmes fought his friend and mentor Muhammad Ali, as the former champ came out of a 25-month retirement to challenge his heavyweight title. Holmes easily overpowered the aging Ali and earned his eighth straight knockout victory as champion.

Although Holmes remained the undefeated heavyweight champion for more than seven years, he often did not get the respect he felt a champion deserves. Despite defeating some of boxing’s most decorated fighters, Holmes’ was often considered the underdog when defending his title. His reign as champion would end in 1985 after two controversial losses to Michael Spinks. After the second defeat, Holmes left boxing to pursue a remarkably successful career in business.

Holmes would return to the ring in 1988 to fight Mike Tyson, boxing’s newest sensation. Despite being knocked out in four rounds, Holmes leveraged the $4 million he earned from the fight into a variety of business projects in Easton. Four years after that, he stunned the boxing world by winning decisively over then-undefeated contender Ray Mercer. Today Holmes spends his time tending to his many entrepreneurial and real estate ventures, such as his gym in downtown Easton, where he shares his tenured fighting expertise with young boxers.

Those interviewed in addition to Holmes include: brother Jake Holmes, wife Diane, daughter Misty, boxer Gerry Cooney, sparring partner Jody Ballard, trainer Ritchie Giachetti, boxing analysts Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant and others.

Quotes from BTG: Larry Holmes

Larry Holmes: “I had to keep telling myself, you know, ‘I am as good as anybody that walks on this Earth. And I can beat anybody who steps in that ring.’”

Holmes (about Muhammad Ali): “After the fight was all over, I went to his room and he was laying in the bed, getting massaged. I said, ‘I love you, man.’ He says, ‘If you love me, why you beat me up like that?’”

Holmes: “Every time somebody pushed me against the ropes, I felt like I would get a burst of energy…You can’t just shut me down.”

Holmes: “Boxing has matured me, has given me wealth, taken me places I never would’ve went before, made me strong with my family and my friends. A guy who didn’t learn how to read and write until after he got out of school, a guy who took the long road to get to something wasn’t so far away. Boxing has done it all.”

Jim Lampley: “It’s no accident that Larry goes to his hometown of Easton and constructs his own business empire. He doesn’t want to be dependent on anybody else. That’s the nature of Larry Holmes.”

Larry Merchant: “When an athlete gets older, what’s inside of him gets revealed and you find out what he’s made of. And I think that people saw what Larry was made of.”

Jake Holmes: “The toughest guy that I ever boxed with had to be Larry Holmes for the simple reason he was so mean. Larry Holmes will kill you, literally kill you if you let him.”

Upcoming original episodes of BEYOND THE GLORY:

Sun., Sept. 4: BTG: SEX AND SPORTS
Sun., Sept. 25: BTG: Joe Frazier
Sun., Oct. 2: BTG: DAYTONA 500

Article posted on 11.08.2005

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