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A list of boxing 'AKAs'

"The Greatest" "The Hitman" "Raging Bull" - a good nickname will be remembered.


By Bill "Oh Canada" Tibbs

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This list could go on forever as there are simply so many great nicknames in the world of sports – especially in the fight game. Boxing has been called the ‘theatre of the unexpected’ and it is indeed that; and it is indeed theatre. Fighters are always looking to add some shine to their brand and a good nickname, to catch fan’s attention, is a good start. Just for fun, in no particular order, let’s take a look at some great nicknames in the world of boxing.


  1. Muhammad Ali – “The Greatest” – (56-5, 37 KO’s) The alternate handle says it all. From the moment he left the Olympics and turned pro, the colorful, legendary heavyweight champion told anyone who would listen that he was the greatest – and he wasn’t wrong. An amazing man in and out of the ring who was a crossover celebrity whom many consider to be the greatest fighter of all time. If he wasn’t the greatest, he was the most influential, and famous. A man of great talent in the ring and a man of deep conviction and principles out of it.

  1. Roberto “Manos De Piedra” (Hands of Stone) Duran – (103-16, 70 KO’s) A multiple world champion fought from lightweight up to middleweight and the Panamanian, Hall of Fame legend carried concrete in his fists. Famous for facing the likes of Tommy Hearns, Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler, he fought for 33-years, amassed a record of 103-16 (70 KO’s) and won world titles at light, welter and middleweight.


  1. Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns – (61-5-1, 48 KO’s) Also known as the ‘Motor City Cobra’, “The Hitman” could indeed crack facing the best of the best from welterweight all the way to cruiserweight. If Tommy lined up that long right hand, and it connected, you would more than likely be looking up at the lights.


  1. Chuck “The Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner – (36-14-2, 17 KO’s) Lots of people felt the Rocky movie series could have been inspired by this fringe heavyweight, all-pro tough guy, who was known to bleed often, and lots, in fights. He may never have won the heavyweight title, although he did get a shot at then champ Muhammad Ali and his WBA and WBC titles in 1975. No matter, over 14 years and 56 fights, the popular brawler did his hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey proud.


  1. “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya – (39-6, 30 KO’s) From featherweight up to middleweight, the former gold medal Olympian, faced the best of the best in his multiple world title, Hall of Fame career. He was gold with promoters at the box office and with fight fans (especially female) in a career that saw him live up to all the expectations. Now a successful promoter, De La Hoya is still a major player in the game from the safe side of the ropes. He left boxing with a record of 39-6 and titles at super featherweight, lightweight, super lightweight, welterweight and super welterweight. He was a hit with the ladies but don’t let the smile and good looks fool you, he was as tough as they come in the ring and he wanted to, and did, face the very best he could.


  1. Michael “Manitas De Piedra” (Little Hands of Stone) – (49-4, 33 KO’s) The Hall of Fame residing, pride of Phoenix, Arizona brought attention to the little, big men of boxing with an outstanding career that saw him in many classics against the likes of Humberto Gonzalez and Jorge Arce, among others. He was a world champion less than 2 years after he turned pro and he was old school - fighting in tough tune-ups between title defences. He fought for 10 years and vowed 2 things - to become a world champion and also to retire as a world champion; he did both. Throughout his career he paid tribute to one of his boxing idols, Roberto Duran, by using a nickname that referenced the “Hands of Stone”. One of the nicest guys you could hope to meet out of the ring, he runs “Michael Carbajal’s 9th Street Gym” in Phoenix across the street from the house he grew up in and still lives in today.


  1. Jimmy “The Mississippi Hippie” Heair – (99-32-1, 65 KO’s) He didn’t fight much beyond the club/fringe contender level, but he was boot tough with a little bit of crazy as well. When the bell rang, he came forward and it was ‘go-time’ from start to finish. He fought out of Memphis, Tennessee but was from Greenville, Mississippi. He was busy – he fought 132 times in 13 years as a pro. While his nickname conjures up thoughts of a laid back, southern man sitting on the back porch with a cold one in his hand, don’t be fooled; he lived hard out of the ring and he was all-brawl in it.


  1. James “The Heat” Kinchen - A solid pro through his 1980-1992 run that saw him take on some of boxing best middles. He would later land 2 world title shots at 175. He could box and bang and would leave the game with a very respectable 48-9 (33 KO’s) record. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the Kinchen.

  1. Johnny “Bump City” Bumphus – (29-2, 20 KO’s) The name is the nickname for Oakland, California but Johnny was from Tacoma, Washington and resided in Nashville, Tennessee. So, we are going to assume that “Bump City” was a play on his own last name. Either way, it’s a great AKA. He turned pro in 1980 and had a world title around his waist in a little over 3 years. A pro for 7 years, Bumphus faced a list of very good fighters and champions in that time. Sadly, we lost Johnny recently – Rest in Peace, Champ.


  1. Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao - (62-7-2, 39 KO’s) An amazing, 8-time world champion who is still fighting today in his 40’s. The Philippine senator is a living legend in the game and is still competing at the world championship level. He turned pro 25 years ago and has fought boxing’s best from flyweight to super welterweight. A nickname that references his last name and the old school arcade game of the same name. “Pac Man”, like the character in the video game, has been chewing up opponents for decades.


  1. Juan “The Hispanic Causing Panic” Lazcano (37-5-1, 27 KO’s) Well, one way to get the large and passionate Spanish boxing core on your side is include them in your nickname. Lazcano had more than a great nickname in 15 years in the ring as his 37-5-1 (27 KO’s) record will attest. Lazcano had 2 world title shots and fought boxing’s best at 140 pounds.

  1. Arturo “Thunder” Gatti – (40-9, 31 KO’s) It was a storm warning at the Gatti home as Montreal, Canada, born and raised Arturo fought under the nickname “Thunder” and his brother Joe fought under the nickname “Lighting”. Arturo was one of the most exciting fighters in boxing and he indeed brought thunder throughout his fantastic career fighting the best from featherweight to welterweight. He fought 49 times in 16 years and the former world champion wasn’t called “The Human Highlight Reel” for nothing. He was in multiple ‘Fight of the Year’ brawls and was one of the most popular fighters of his time. Sadly, he passed at the all-too-young age of 37 in 2009. Rest in Peace, Champ. Thanks for bringing the thunder each and every time.


  1. Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis - From Georgetown, Guyana, Lewis was a banger who racked up 20 knockouts in his 23 wins (23-4-2, 20 KO’s). He won the WBA world welterweight title in 2001 and made 2 title defenses before losing it a year later. How did he get his unique nickname? One time he knocked out an opponent so badly when he came to he said, “All I saw was “6 heads”…that was good enough for Andrew, so it stuck.


  1. Pernell ‘Sweet Pea” Whitaker - Called “Pete” by everyone he knows, an announcer once mistakenly called him “Sweet Pea” instead of “Sweet Pete” and it stayed from there. Considered one of the best defensive fighters in the game, Whitaker was a multiple world champ who fought the best of the best in his career fighting from 1984-2001, going 40-4-1 (17 KO’s) winning world titles from lightweight to welterweight. Sadly, we lost Pete last year at age 55, Rest in Peace, Champ.

  1. Vinnie “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza – (50-10, 30 KO’s) Vinny Paz had 60 fights in 22 years and was as famous for making a comeback after a horrific, life-threatening car crash (it was made into a movie) as he was for winning world titles. He entrained audiences with his animated ring entrances and non-stop action once the bell rang. But, he wasn’t just sizzle, there was lots of steak in this guy who was a tough as any fighter there ever was. He thrilled audiences of “Pazmaniacs” in his hometown of Cranston, Rhode Island after he turned pro and they loved watching him win titles from lightweight through to super middleweight. Iron-tough and wildly entertaining. Vinnie was as crazy and raucous in the ring as he is warm and friendly out of it.

  1. Alexis Arguello - “El Flaco Explosivo” (The Explosive Thin Man). (77-8, 62 KO’s) I think his nickname literally sums him up - he was rail thin but packed dynamite in his fists. Famed for his exciting bouts with the likes of Conelius Boza-Edwards, Andy Ganigan, Ray Mancini and Aaron Pryor the beloved native of Managua, Nicaragua certainly packed a punch.


  1. “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler - (62-3-2, 52 KO’s) Looking to put some light on his respected, but lacking sparkle, image, Hagler legally changed his first name to Marvelous to get some press attention and highlight the fact that he was indeed that in the ring. A ferocious brawler and skilled boxer with an iron chin. He was the whole package that allowed him to dominate the middleweight division for years and retire with a reputation as one of boxing’s all-time great 160-pounders.


  1. Andy “The Hawaiian Punch” Ganigan – (34-5, 30 Ko’s) He could really swat and he hailed from Waipahu, Hawaii. Of his 34 wins, 30 didn’t hear the final bell. He had a very good career facing the likes of Alexis Arguello, Sean O’Grady and Jimmie Paul. He did challenge for a world title getting stopped by WBC lightweight champion Arguello in his 2nd last fight. As the old TV commercial used to say, “How’d ya’ like a nice Hawaiian Punch?”


  1. Eric “Butterbean” Esch (77-10-4, 58 KO’s) He made a career fighting 4-round bouts, and with his almost cartoon-like physique charmed audiences and promoters in support bouts on some of boxing’s biggest cards. But, don’t let the rotund body fool you, he had deceptively fast hands, was very tough, and he could crack, as 58 KO’s in 74 wins will attest. How did he get the nickname? He entered a tough man contest with the weight limit at 400 pounds. Looking to shed some weight, he went on diet of nothing but butterbeans to hit the 400-mark.


  1. Kevin Kelley - “The Flushing Flash” The long-time featherweight contender had a great career facing some of boxing’s top 126-pounders in his 21-year run. He went (60-10-2, 39 KO’s) and won the WBC feather title in the early 80’s. Throughout his career he always did his home of Flushing, Queens, New York proud.


  1. Jake Lamotta – “The Bronx Bull” – (83-19-4, 30 KO’s) Also known as “The Raging Bull” (Robert DeNiro starred in a great movie of the same name about his life) Jake was a long-time 1940’s and ‘50’s middleweight contender who finally won the world title in 1950, almost 10-years into his career. Known for his crazy life both in and out of the ring, he did his native Bronx, New York proud every time he stepped in the ring; as ferocious and tough a fighter as there ever was. Jake passed a few years back at age 95.


  1. Wilbert “Vampire” Johnson – (29-8-2, 18 KO’s) With his front teeth missing, his remaining teeth giving a fang-like appearance and wearing a cape into the ring, Middletown, Ohio’s Johnson had a perfect nickname in “Vampire”. ‘Count Blackula’ even lay in a coffin in the lobby of the fight host hotel to promote his bout with middleweight contender John “The Beast” Mugabi. A popular ESPN fighter who did whatever he could to (v)amp up a promotion.


  1. Hector “Macho” Camacho – (79-6-3, 38 KO’s) Boxing’s Macho Man made sure everyone in the building knew what time it was when he entered the ring – it was ‘Macho Time’. There wasn’t enough mustard in the world for this hotdog who entered the squared circle in lavish outfits amid crazy ring entrances. However, don’t get fooled by the in-ring bling, this guy was tough, and he could box beautifully from his shoot and pivot southpaw stance.


  1. Demarcus “Chop Chop” Corley - He fought for 23 years and faced the very best at 140-147 pounds over his very impressive run as one of boxing’s top boxers. He turned pro in 1996 and had the WBO world super lightweight title around his waist within 5 years. In 85 pro fights, (51-33-1, 28 KO’s), the Washington, D.C. native indeed sliced and diced some very good fighters.


  1. Michael “Second To” Nunn – (58-4, 38 KO’s) The undefeated and very talented slick, southpaw, IBF middleweight champion was indeed second to none until he ran into a James Toney left hook in his 6th world title defence. Toney ruined the hero’s home coming and took his title on that hot afternoon in Davenport, Iowa. Nunn would rebound 2 fights later winning the WBA world super middleweight title. He would also contend for the world light heavyweight title after his 168-pound run was done. An impressive 18-year, 62 fight career.


  1. Anthony “Two Ton Tony” Galento – (80-26-5, 57 KO’s). Orange, New Jersey’s popular brawler didn’t weigh two tons, but he hit like he did, and he was a heavyweight. Tony racked up 57 stoppage wins in his 16-year, 111 fight career. In his 106th fight he lost via TKO to legend Joe Louis for the heavyweight title at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, NY.


  1. Athit Praditphon (Alias) Kiatchai “The Ice Jelly Baby” Singwancha. Thailand’s southpaw super middleweight racked up a 34-13, 23 KO record over 47 bouts fighting some very good and tough competition like Australia’s Shannon Taylor and Dwight Ritchie. For any aspiring ring announcers, here’s one for you – in his 2nd bout he faced Jomhodiek Hongahanmaesomjit. A tough all action middleweight who did it with a great nickname.


  1. Marty “The Dart”/”Popgun” Jakubowski - (118-9-7-, 34 KO’s). And, dart and pop he could, in and out, while firing off lightening quick combinations. Whiting Indiana’s Jakubowski faced some tough competition in his 13-year, 134-fight run including 2 bouts with Mexican legend Julio Caesar Chavez. One of boxing’s few 100+ win fighters.


  1. David “Holy” Toledo – (34-3-2, 15 KO’s) Paterson, New Jersey’s rugged featherweight Toledo clocked in 39 times in 13 years as a pro facing the likes of Emanuel Augustus and Angel Manfreddy. While he never challenged for a word title, he picked up some boardwalk boosters from the Garden State faithful and he did it with a great nickname.


  1. Sean “Green Day” Gibbons – (14-7-3, 9 KO’s) Yes, that Sean Gibbons. Before he started representing fighters the world over, he did climb through the ropes a few times and did it while repping his favorite band, California punk legends Green Day. Gibbons, who currently holds the world’s record for most Green Day shows attended, was too nice a guy to be a fighter, but he did rack up a somewhat impressive 24 fight record before he decided to stick to the safe side of the ropes. Viva Green Day!


  1. Dwight “The Fighting Cowboy” Ritchie – (19-2, 2 KO’s) You could have come into the ring on a stallion with guns on your hips and it wouldn’t have rattled Australia’s Ritchie – this guy was born to fight! Not a puncher as his record will attest but they came no tougher, nor more game. As nice as he could be out of the ring, he was as rugged in it. A world class, world title bound super middleweight who we, sadly, lost last year at the young age of 27. Rest in Peace, Cowboy. Gone but never forgotten.


  1. Lester “Master Blaster” Ellis - (41-8, 28 KO’s). And blast he did, stopping 28 fighters in his 41 wins. England born and Australia residing, he faced some very good fighters in his 19-year career including Calvin Grove, Tommy Cordova, Anthony Mundine and Barry Michael.


  1. Iran “The Blade” Barkley (43-19, 27 KO’s) Bronx, New York’s Barkley sliced through some of boxing’s best middleweights facing the likes of Tommy Hearns, Robert Duran, Michael Nunn and James Toney in his career. As tough as they come, Blade won the WBC middleweight title in 1988, KO’ing Hearns in 3.

  1. Tim “Dough Boy” Tomashek (53-12, 18 KO’s) – While he sounded like he was straight outta central casting from TV’s, “Leave it to Beaver”, he was as game as they come on the Midwest club circuit. A good showing as a last-minute replacement against Tommy Morrison got him some attention and a guest spot on The David Letterman Show where he charmed the late-night talk show host. He faced some tough competition in his career including Morrison, Bobby Czyz and Johnny Duplooy. While his physique wasn’t quite as bad as his nickname would indicate, the nickname somehow seemed perfect.


  1. Ron “The Bluffs Butcher” Stander (37-21-3, 28 KO’s) Rugged doesn’t begin to describe the iron-tough, favorite son of 1970’s Omaha, Nebraska boxing fans. The rugged heavyweight clashed with the likes of Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Gerrie Coetzee and James Tillis in his 13-year career. Born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, ‘Butcher’ still calls Omaha home to this day.


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