Born on this day in 1960 in Hutchinson, Kansas, was former cruiserweight/heavyweight warrior/contender Olian Alexander. Not too familiar with the name? Perhaps not too many fight fans are. But maybe they should be. Alexander, an athletic, skilled, and courageous competitor (courageous – is there any other kind of competitor?), shared a ring with numerous big-name fighters at both amateur and pro levels.
Mike Tyson, Henry Tillman, and Willie de Witt all defeated Alexander at an unpaid level, yet Olian was good enough to become the 1983 National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champ. And then the 6’2” boxer nicknamed “Baby O” went pro.
Alexander, after losing his pro debut, this by TKO to a guy named Paul Roper in October of 1984, romped to 15 straight wins, with Olian defeating future cruiserweight champ Orlin Norris by decision during this period. Alexander also picked up wins over Lorenzo Boyd (surely everyone’s favorite heavyweight trial-horse/journeyman) and Dwain Bonds. Then, after a points loss to Mike Gans, 27-year-old Alexander defeated Henry Hearns (brother of and head cheerleader for Thomas Hearns), and he was then stopped by Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
Phil Jackson stopped Alexander before Olian for some reason and boxed the winless Andre Smiley three times in a row, Alexander winning each fight by stoppage. Jorge Luis Gonzalez then stopped Alexander, as did Lou Savarese, Obed Sullivan, and Michael Grant, and Corrie Sanders – while Lorenzo Boyd decisioned Alexander in a return fight! Talk about an up-and-down, very curious ring career.
Because that was it, Alexander called it quits after the Boyd defeat, with him walking away with a 24-10(18) record. Interestingly, there had been, in 1988, talk of a George Foreman fight for Alexander. How would that one have gone had it come off?
Not everyone can be a world champion, but guys like Olian Alexander help to make up so many of the bones of the sport we all love so much. Wherever he is today, let’s all hope Olian has a happy birthday. He fought some of the best, three world champions included.