The boxing career of Henry Cooper has spanned three decades. In the 1960s, Cooper was a top contender in the heavyweight division and fought for boxing's world heavyweight championship three times. He lost to Joe Frazier in 1969 and to Muhammad Ali in 1963 and 1966. He was also known for his gruelling battles with Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) in 1963, 1965 and 1966. One of the most famous fights is their third fight, which took place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 5 September 1966.
Cooper's boxing career started in 1954 at the age of 16. In the early stages of his career, he fought a number of inexperienced and overmatched opponents. Cooper's first professional fight was on 7 December 1954 against Manuel Garcia at Jarrow. On 5 March 1955, Cooper won his first title when he beat Joe Erskine for the Southern Area heavyweight championship.
In 1959, Henry Cooper was given another chance to fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World - this time against Floyd Patterson, who was then ranked number one in the world. The Boxing Writers Association of America named it as 'Fight of The Year'.
In 1962, he challenged Floyd Patterson again for the title and lost by a technical knockout in the fifth round.
After a long boxing lay-off following that defeat, Cooper returned to knock out reigning British and Empire heavyweight champion Brian London in two rounds to take his title in November 1963. He successfully defended his British and Empire titles against Johnny Prescott on 20 May 1964 before finally deciding to challenge Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title in 1966.
The Battle of Surbiton
One of the more famous fights of Henry Cooper's boxing career was his third fight against Cassius Clay. It took place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 5 September 1966, which later became known as 'the battle of Surbiton'. As the bell rang for round seven that night, Cooper broke Clay's jaw just before the bell rang. Clay refused to go to the neutral corner after being counted out by the referee; instead he walked over to where Cooper was standing, taunted him with an Ali shuffle dance, and then spat at him twice before leaving the ring.
The fight had been televised live on ABC's Wide World of Sports programme, with Howard Cosell providing commentary.
After retirement in 1971, Cooper became a boxing commentator, mainly on the BBC. He returned to the ring in 1985 for a charity fight at age 50 against then-heavyweight champion Frank Bruno. Cooper was knocked down twice but managed to last the distance, winning on points.
Cooper's final professional fight was on 21 December 1997 against Gary Mason at York Hall, Bethnal Green. Mason was stopped by Cooper and retired from boxing as a result of his injuries from the bout.
Henry The Commentator
Cooper's commentary career began in the late 1960s and he commentated on major world title fights in both Europe and America. Cooper was a regular commentator on ITV's boxing coverage during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, alongside Harry Carpenter and Jim Watt. He also commentated at ringside for BBC Radio 2 and 4, with his voice being picked up by the BBC Television commentary team.
Henry also commentated on boxing events such as Muhammad Ali's three bouts with Leon Spinks at heavyweight, Sugar Ray Leonard's five bouts with Roberto Durán at welterweight, Larry Holmes' two bouts with Michael Spinks at heavyweight, Mike Tyson's bout with Buster Douglas at heavyweight (1990) and Evander Holyfield's six bouts with Riddick Bowe at heavyweight.
Titles He Won
Henry Cooper was a three-time British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion.
He never won the world heavyweight championship, but he did beat Muhammad Ali three times.
In his first outing with Ali in 1963 he had been ahead on points before running out of steam. He fought with him again in 1965 and 1966, losing both times.
* British and Commonwealth Champion
* European Champion
* World Boxing Board Champion
* British, European and World title eliminator
Cooper is the only boxer to have won a Lonsdale Belt outright
Henry Cooper was awarded the Lonsdale Belt in 1967 for 'Outstanding Boxer of the Year'. Cooper was never a world champion, but he won the British and Commonwealth titles and is remembered as one of Britain's all-time greatest heavyweight boxers
The Lonsdale belt was first presented in 1909 in honour of Sir Thomas Lonsdale. It is awarded annually to the outstanding boxer of the year and since it was introduced, there have been five fighters who have won it more than once: Henry Cooper (1967), Jim Driscoll (1960), Ted Kid Lewis (1934, 1937), Bob Fitzsimmons (1897-98) and Jem Smith (1902, 1903).
Henry Cooper, former British Heavyweight Champion, was one of the most famous and popular boxers of the 1960s. Known as “our ‘Enry ‘Iggins”, he was a crowd favourite and enjoyed a thirty-six fight career. His most famous bout was the third-round knockout of Muhammad Ali in front of more than 18,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium in 1966. Cooper’s reign as champion lasted only four months, but he never relinquished his public popularity.