The ‘Ole’ Mongoose: Archie Moore
By Simon Graham
Due to my love of history and of course boxing I am able to take great delight in spending whatever time I have to myself researching the many great fighters we all know and admire, especially the fighters from the golden era’s.
We know their names but what do we actually know about the men who over the many decades, laced up their gloves and entered the world of boxing.
A name that often crops up when I’m researching a fighter especially the heavier boxing divisions is Archie Moore, which in hindsight should not be a surprise to anyone when you consider how long his boxing career lasted.
When you think of Moore you think of his epic battle with Rocky Marciano, famously handing the Rock his second knockdown of his career. Moore’s dream was always to be heavyweight champion sadly it wasn’t to be.
During a career that spanned almost 4 decades Moore fought some of the greats at heavyweight Ezzard Charles, Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson and a young Cassius Clay but it was at light heavyweight that Moore reigned supreme
Moore fought out of an unconventional style, crossed arms and crouched low this enabled him to bob and weave his way through his opponents’ offensive punches where he could land his signature right cross and his array of punch combinations.
Moore was a master tactician comfortable fighting at range, and also stepping inside to trade powerful punches, this style would propel Moore into the World Boxing Hall of Fame as the only fighter too score a very impressive 141 knockouts.
Moore reigned as light heavyweight champion for 10 years which today is still a record, remarkably Moore would switch divisions from light to heavy in pursuit of the heavyweight belt only to drop back down a weight to either retain or recapture his light heavy weight title.
As a young boxer climbing up the ranks Moore could be found travelling the country taking part in boxing matches building up a very creditable boxing record. Between the years 1941 to 1952 Moore would average 10 to 12 fights a year.
In 1944 Moore toured the Atlantic coast fighting and beating many of the top contenders and future champions like Holman Williams, Charlie Burley at middleweight before moving up a division to beat future heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles.
But it would still be almost 10 years before Moore would get any recognition and a shot at one of the world titles.
After returning from a south America tour that shot finally came in 1952, Moore was finally given an opportunity at the age of 36 to fight for world light heavyweight title against champion Joey Maxim.
After sixteen long years, Moore had finally achieved his dream he became light heavyweight champion winning the decision over 15 rounds.
For the next 4 years Moore dominated the light heavyweight division winning all 21 of his fights, but still he dreamed of becoming heavyweight champion.
At the age of 39 long after most boxers retire the ageing Moore stepped into the ring at Yankee Stadium 1955 against the unbeaten Rocky Marciano.
Moore was attempting to become the first reigning world light heavyweight champion to win the world heavyweight championship.
Marciano was dropped in the second round by a right hand, but he came back to knock Moore down three times before flooring him for the full count in the ninth round this would be Marciano’s final fight retiring undefeated 49-0.
Moore however, would battle on for a further 7 years trying but failing to once more win the heavyweight title against Floyd Patterson yet still winning convincingly at light heavyweight recapturing the title twice.
Archie Moore finally retired in 1963 fighting a total of 219 times winning 186 times with 141 KO’s which is the most of any fighter in boxing history, he was inducted in 1980 into the World Boxing Hall of Fame he is not only the greatest light heavyweight champion in boxing history, he is one of the greatest fighters to ever step in the ring.
Moore literally fought every fighter of note from middleweight to heavyweight between the mid-1930s to the early 1960s.
The word Legend is tagged onto fighters far too often these days but as one of the top 5 pound for pound fighters of all time the Legendary Status is a status truly deserving by the ‘Ole Mongoose’ Archie Moore.