Jimmy Thunder, one of the sport’s genuine nice guys according to each and every single person who knew him, has sadly passed away at the young age of just 54. According to a news report from TVNZ, the New Zealand heavyweight passed away after having undergone surgery on a brain tumour. Thunder, real name Ti’a James Senio Peau, passed away in his sleep.
A genuinely exciting banger during the talent-rich 1990s heavyweight era, Thunder, born in Samoa but growing up in Auckland, New Zealand, went pro in 1989 and boxed until 2002. A solid and decorated amateur boxer, Thunder won gold at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. At pro level, the 6’2” slugger gave his all each and every time he fought.
Among the big names Thunder faced: Bernardo Mercado (a quick first-round TKO win), Mike “The Bounty” Hunter (a fourth-round KO defeat), Derek Williams (a second-round TKO setback), Henry Akinwande (a 12-round points defeat), Johnny Nelson (a 12-round decision defeat), Tony Tubbs (a 12-round points win), Trevor Berbick (a 12-round decision victory), John Ruiz (a 12-round split decision loss) – and, arguably Thunder’s most famous wins: a decision win over Tim Witherspoon and a first-round, 13-second, KO win over Crawford Grimsley.
Thunder really did, as the saying goes, fight ’em all. A hard worker, in the gym as well as in the ring, Thunder had heart, physical strength and, as he showed to devastating effect in the Grimsley fight, raw punching power.
The Grimsley win of March of 1997 holds the distinction as the quickest KO punch landed in a pro heavyweight bout, at just 1.5 seconds. Grimsley was no world beater but he had, in his fight prior to being crushed by Thunder, gone the full 12 rounds with heavyweight legend George Foreman.
Thunder never fought for a major world title but he did win the IBO and WBF heavyweight titles, as well as the Australian heavyweight belt.
Jimmy’s final record reads a decent 35-14(28). He was stopped seven times.
Our condolences go out to Jimmy’s friends and family at this sad time.