Something of an enigma, 1970s heavyweight contender Roy “Tiger” Williams today celebrates his 75th birthday. But don’t go expecting any interviews with, or appearances by Williams. Who knows what Williams is doing these days, where he is located (please feel free to offer any info if you have it, much appreciated). What is known is how tough, dangerous and physically strong Williams was.
Born in Frankford, Pennsylvania on April 9th, 1945, Williams was a big, 6’5” brute of a fighter. Turning pro in October of 1966 with a points win over Jimmy Hayes, “Tiger” would go 9-0 before losing back to back to Jeff Meritt (UD) and Larry Middleton (SD). But then, in 1971, Williams defeated a 4-1 Jimmy Young; Young of course going on to become one of the trickiest, cleverest heavyweights of the 1970s. Williams, who fought at such legendary fight venues as The Blue Horizon and The Philadelphia Spectrum, reeled off a further half dozen wins before losing a close decision to Richard Dunn in England in 1973.
Soon, Williams was hired by the great Muhammad Ali, with Ali using the big guy as his go to man for heavy duty sparring. Ali used “Tiger” to get ready for the George Foreman fight. Williams also sparred Larry Holmes at Deer Lake, giving the future heavyweight ruler plenty of hard work. Williams was reportedly fired by Ali, over a money issue, and the two boxed a couple of exhibition bouts not too long after Ali’s epic win over Foreman. Some say Williams really went at Ali hard, getting the better of things. Who knows for sure.
Williams then, after dropping a decision to the useful Henry Clark, went on to have the two big fights he is most known for. In April of 1976, on the under-card of Ali-Young, Williams pushed Holmes hard all the way in dropping a ten round unanimous decision. Holmes says all these years later that he didn’t want to fight Williams, that it was Don King’s idea – and Holmes was not given anything like sufficient time to get ready for Williams, having fought just 25 days before.
Holmes ranks Williams as one of the toughest men he ever faced. Then came the simply incredible, words-don’t-do-it-justice, rumble “Tiger” had with Earnie Shavers in Las Vegas in December of ’76. There have been many legendary heavyweight wars over the years, but this fight really is in a class all by itself due to its jaw-dropping, wow-inducing action. Please check the fight out NOW on YouTube, rounds nine and ten especially, you will NOT regret it.
Shavers came out with a great quote regarding Williams, stating, with half seriousness, half-joking sentiment, how “I was afraid to drive through Tiger Williams’ neighborhood for fear of running into him!”
Williams was unable to win the big one, and Holmes says “Tiger” was avoided by a number of top name fighters. After the Shavers slugfest, Williams won seven on the bounce, beating so-so fighters. Going out with a KO over Walter Santemore in March of 1979, Williams went on to become a footnote in heavyweight history. But Roy “Tiger” Williams is way more than just that.
Again, what is the 75 year old doing these days? Some reports surfaced on the internet that say Williams was sent to prison for life, another report said Williams became a soul singer! If he is out there and is accommodating to the idea, who wouldn’t want to hear what Williams himself has to say about his life and exciting ring career.