Boxing in Jamaica was vibrant, especially in the 1970s. In January 1973 the attention of the world was focussed on Jamaica when the country staged a world heavyweight title fight between ‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the champion at the time and the young George Forman, the contender.
Foreman shocked the world on that day. He won in the second round after knocking Frazier to the canvas six times before stopping him.
The country has a history of good boxers and has produced or had a hand in producing some boxing greats. Among the early greats are Bunny Grant, Michael McCallum, the late Trevor Berbick and current contender Glen Johnson.
Bunny Grant has the distinction of being the first Jamaican boxer to fight for a world title.
He fought the American champion Eddie Perkins for the world junior welterweight boxing title at the National Stadium on April 18, 1964, but lost in a unanimous points decision.
In 1962, Grant held as many as four titles simultaneously – the Latin American junior welterweight title, the British Empire lightweight title (renamed the Commonwealth title) and the Jamaica lightweight and welterweight titles.
During his heyday, the boxer, whose real name is George Leslie Grant, was not only a genuine crowd puller but a role model to young aspiring sportsmen as well. He was immensely popular. For his outstanding contribution to boxing, Bunny Grant was inducted to Jamaica’s Sports Hall of Fame on October 21, 1999.
McCallum, who first became a world champion in 1984 by defeating Sean Mannion to win the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) Junior Middleweight title, went on to win world titles in two other weight classes.
Berbick briefly held the World Boxing Council (WBC) world heavyweight championship in 1986, before losing it to Mike Tyson. He was the last man to fight Muhammad Ali, winning in a 10-round unanimous decision in Nassau, Bahamas in 1981. In 2006 he was murdered near his hometown of Norwich, Jamaica.
Glen Johnson, nicknamed The Road Warrior has fought in the middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight division. He won the vacant International Boxing Federation, IBF, light heavyweight title by beating Clinton Woods in 2004.