Where is Herbie Hide, the man the great Riddick Bowe said hit him the hardest he was ever hit in his career, today? It’s a great question (sadly one this writer has no answer for). Hide, who turns 50 today, August 27, had a quite amazing ring career. A small heavyweight, really a cruiserweight (even a smallish cruiser at that; Herbie putting weight in his pockets in an effort to weigh in over 200 pounds), the man born in Amauzuri, Nigeria nevertheless went in with giants like Bowe, Vitali Klitschko, and Tony Tucker.
Hide managed to win the WBO heavyweight strap twice yet he is perhaps best remembered for his crushing falls against Bowe and the elder Klitschko brother; not for his impressive stoppage win over a faded yet not totally shot Tucker. Hide had a colourful personality, too. Never one to hold his tongue, Herbie was good at trash-talk and he never once backed down from a verbal confrontation; even chucking the odd table around when the (bad) mood suited him (this was before his short and sweet hammering at the hands of the then-unknown “Dr. Iron Fist,” in the summer of 1999).
Hide smacked Michael Bentt around (who had just done likewise to Tommy Morrison) – both before their 1994 clash for the WBO belt (the two getting into it in a street brawl) and then inside the ring. Hide was on his way, and promoter Barry Hearn (who should have known better) was comparing Hide to the incomparable Muhammad Ali. There was no doubting Hide’s speed, athleticism and power. But the fall came just as the curtain had been raised on Herbie’s career.
Bowe turned Hide into a yo-yo (the headline on the cover of one UK tabloid that covered Bowe’s 6th round stoppage win, read, ‘Hide and Squeak’) and as brave as Herbie had been, it was clear he was no match for the big dudes. Still, Hide opted to stay where the money was, where the glory was. Hide was soon back, bashing up what was left of Tony Tucker, stopping “T.N.T” in a couple of rounds to become a two-time WBO boss.
Then came the Klitschko disaster, then a couple of stoppage losses to veritable no-names. By the time a 35 year old Hide moved down to cruiserweight, this in 2006, it was too late. Hide picked up some so-so wins, yet his days as anything approaching an elite fighter (which Hide could have been) were over. Hide wound up trying his hand at winning the “Prizefighter” tournament in 2010. Then, Hide vanished. Going out with a 49-4(43) record, Hide blazed quite a path for quite a while. How good could Hide have been had he been a career-cruiserweight, we will never know. But for all his faults, Hide added some colour and excitement to the heavyweight division in the 1990s, and Hide’s courage and sheer guts were never in question.
Hide was, in many ways, a one-off. Happy birthday, Herbie.