By Jim Amato

Who was the best heavyweight to come out of Ohio since the late 50’s? Well of course James”Buster”Douglas, the original conqueror of Mike Tyson would be mentioned. Also the popular power punching two-time title challenger Earnie Shavers. Mike Dokes and Tony Tubbs both held fragments of the heavyweight title. Ted Gullick was a pretty good banger and Mike Koranicki was a clever boxer.

One name that probably would not come up but deserves to be mentioned is rugged Amos Johnson.Big Amos fought professionally out of Medina, Ohio but had many bouts in the Akron area. He had a solid pro career but he really made his mark as a celebrated amateur.

All Amos did, as a simon-pure was defeat Cassius Clay at the 1959 Pan Am Games. The year before in Chicago he beat the great future light heavyweight champion, Bob Foster.

Amos turned pro in 1960 but it was not until he got out of the Army in 1963 that his career took off. He lost an important bout to slick Billy Joiner but rebounded to beat Willi Besmanoff and Jefferson Davis.

In 1964 he was surprised in one round by Chip Johnson but surged right back to defeat Joiner for the Ohio State heavyweight title. Then he traveled to Germany and drew with their contender Karl Mildenberger.

In 1965 he made his way to England and beat their pride and joy, Henry Cooper. Less then a year later he returned to England and lost a highly controversial contest to Brian London.

Things began to unravel for Amos after the Brian London setback. The come backing Sonny Liston halted him although he reportedly gave a very good account of himself against the former champion. Then rough and tough Oscar Bonavena outscored him. Kayo losses to Leotis Martin and Elmer Rush followed. He then lost an Akron showdown to the talented Ray Anderson.

Now how many heavyweights from Ohio can boast that they traded leather with Clay, Liston, Bob Foster, Henry Cooper, Mildenberger,Bonavena and Leotis Martin with a good degree of success?

Not too many!!!

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing


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