Monday, May 22, 2006
Floyd Patterson a gentle man in a violent world
Floyd Patterson, who died last week at 71, isn't considered one of the greatest heavyweight champions. He might well be remembered, though, as one of the best men ever to hold the crown. My guess is that would be at least as gratifying to the thoughtful, introspective fighter.
Boxing served as a road out of poverty and possibly a life of crime for Mr. Patterson. Hard work and sheer determination propelled him to a middleweight Olympic gold medal in 1952. He quickly turned pro and, despite being small by heavyweight standards, won the championship in 1956. Rarely has the crown been worn with such grace.
He lost the title to Sweden's Ingemar Johansson in 1959. What he vividly remembered about the match was telling. Getting knocked down by his opponent, Mr. Patterson looked into the crowd and saw John Wayne. The fighter said he was embarrassed at having the screen's great American hero watch him lose..............................
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