A Boxing Memory: Herbie Hide
The career of Herbie Hide slowly fizzled out in relative obscurity and the front page headlines he could never really escape from.
The brushes with the law were too frequent, periods of inactivity would stall his career. Hide still achieved plenty, but he would definitely fall into the category of a fighter who could have achieved more.
To be fair to Hide, he achieved success at a weight that was really out of his comfort zone. The two reigns as the WBO heavyweight champion of the world hide the fact that he was more a cruiserweight than a natural heavyweight. But despite his size, he still carried enough power for Riddick Bowe to say Hide hit harder than anybody else he ever faced. With his impressive hand speed to go with that power, the Norwich fighter had a more than decent run as a heavyweight.
Born in Nigeria, Hide came to the UK at an early age and his formative years set the tone for much of his life. A shy youngster with a stammer, and still learning a new language Hide struggled to cope in the boarding schools he frequented. Problems were solved with his fists, sport and a career in boxing always looked his likely path.
After a brief amateur career, Hide met Barry Hearn when he was just 17, Hearn was impressed enough to sign him and Hide stayed unbeaten in 25 fights, and in 1994 challenged Michael Bentt for the WBO heavyweight title.
Bentt had ruined a lot of plans when he shocked Tommy Morrison inside a round. Morrison failed to prepare and lost millions when a scheduled fight with Lennox Lewis went up in smoke with his upset loss to the unfancied Bentt. Hide was never better than that night at Millwall’s football stadium. Bentt finished the night a thoroughly beaten fighter and worse. Bentt thankfully recovered from the beating Hide gave him. Many things ended that night for Bentt. Another reminder of what boxing can do. Bentt was one of the lucky ones.
In 1994 Hide was at his peak, the win over Bentt promised big things. But he had to endure a year of frustration. A planned fight in Hong Kong against Tommy Morrison fell through at the last minute and Hide didn’t fight again until March the following year. Hide went to Las Vegas to defend his title against Bowe. The fight with Bowe highlighted the lack of size for Hide. He was brave but ultimately outgunned. Sometimes size is indeed everything.
Hide had a good start and won the first two rounds, but it didn’t last. Hide was over seven times, before the end came in round six. The title was gone but the fight made him a millionaire. Hide enjoyed his money.
The former champion took time out, he left Barry Hearn to join Frank Warren. Hide returned in 1996, a few wins later courtesy of a quick win over Tony Tucker he was once again the WBO heavyweight champion of the world. Tucker at 38 was past his prime, but Hide was impressive, one last reminder of his talent. Tucker didn’t last six minutes, big fights looked to be in Hide’s future once again. There was talk of a fight with Mike Tyson in Norwich, but it came to nothing. Tyson had his own demons that put paid to many things.
Hide won a couple of routine fights before Vitali Klitschko ended his second and final reign as the world heavyweight champion in 1999. The Dancing Destroyer carried on, there were losses, periods of inactivity, a drop in weight to cruiserweight before the career ended in 2010 after one final appearance in a British ring on one of the Prizefighter shows after a period travelling Europe trying to salvage what was left of his career. The legal troubles continued, his autobiography, Nothing But Trouble, summed up much of his life.