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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Most Controversial Boxers of all time

Top 10 Most Controversial Boxers of all time

Publish Date: 12/19/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Boxing is the home of controversy. It can be boxers, trainers, promoters, you name it and it’s controversial in boxing. So, this is a hard list to make with so many candidates.

10. Naseem Hamed

As is often the case with controversial fighters, Naseem Hamed generated highly divergent opinions. Some saw him as an all-time great; for others, he was an unbearable showboat and fraud exposed by Marco Antonio Barrera.

Hamed was an impressive boxing player in his own right, an agile and explosive puncher who displayed skills no one else had witnessed, making him one of the top boxing stars during the 1990s.

Video: Amazing Boxer Whom Will Be Never Forgotten - Prince Naseem Hamed

Amazing Boxer Whom Will Be Never Forgotten – Prince Naseem Hamed

9. Andrew Golota

The Foul Pole was a supremely talented heavyweight who was his own worst enemy. He dominated Riddick Bowe twice but fouled the was to two losses. He froze against Lennox Lewis, beat Michael Grant but imploded at the end of the fight once again coming up short, and looked scared and intimidated by Mike Tyson.

Video: The scandalous confrontation of Riddick Bowe and Andrew Golota

The scandalous confrontation of Riddick Bowe and Andrew Golota

8. Edwin Valero

Valero was undefeated at the time of his death and had knocked everybody out he had faced.

The talent could not erase his demons and Valero was arrested for assault on multiple occasions and eventually would admit to murdering his wife. While in Jail for the murder he hanged himself.

Video: The DARKEST Story In Boxing!! - Edwin Valero

The DARKEST Story In Boxing!! – Edwin Valero

7. Abe Attell

Attell was an undisputed champion who knocked out more than 50 opponents during his career. But along the way, he developed a relationship with Arnold Rothstein – an influential organized crime figure  – leading him to be involved with one of the largest sports scandals of the 20th century – the 1919 Black Sox Affair.

Attell was charged alongside various White Sox players of conspiring with players to throw the World Series.

Video: Boxing History 101: Abe Attell A Complex Champion

Boxing History 101: Abe Attell A Complex Champion

6. Primo Carnera

Nat Fleischer in his book The Heavyweight Championship, mentions only that Jack Sharkey’s corner had complained of a loaded glove after their fighter was counted out in the sixth round after having led on paper.

Fleischer was one of the premier boxing writers of his era, yet he would be reluctant to make blanket accusations of fraud without extensive evidence. However, he did note unscrupulous handlers quickly exploited Carnera.

As Carnera would later suffer embarrassing losses against Max Baer and Joe Louis, his victory against Sharkey must count as one of the more spectacular upsets ever witnessed within this division–at minimum.

Video: Primo Carnera: The Heavyweight Prototype

Primo Carnera: The Heavyweight Prototype

5. Jake LaMotta

One of the toughest, most relentless fighters in boxing history. However, at one of his career peaks, he was embroiled in one of boxing’s most infamous fight-fixing scandals when he dropped a Round 4 TKO against Billy Fox and became embroiled in one of boxing’s most notorious scandals.

The movie Raging Bull did not do just as to what kind of man LaMotta truly was; he was much worse than the movie depicted!

Video: Jake Lamotta Admits Taking a Dive in Boxing Match (June 14, 1960)

Jake Lamotta Admits Taking a Dive in Boxing Match (June 14, 1960)

4. Ike Ibeabuchi

Begore his career came tumbling to an end, his life devolved into chaos.

There was much money to be made off Ibeabuchi as a fighter, and his ultimate conviction indicates how desperately people tried to market him throughout his career.

Ibeabuchi was one of the most exciting heavyweights of the last 30 years. His 12-round war with David Tua set the record for punches thrown during a heavyweight contest.

Fan interest was so great following that victory that people around him were more than willing to overlook his clear signs of insanity when he displayed them; even after kidnapping one of his girlfriend’s 15-year-old sons and fleeing police authorities, promoters continued offering fights for him.

After assaulting another woman at a Las Vegas hotel in 1999, he was finally sentenced to prison – ending his career at 20-0 with 15 KOs.

Video: The Legendary Power and Tragedy of Ike Ibeabuchi

The Legendary Power and Tragedy of Ike Ibeabuchi

3. Jack Johnson

Johnson was the first Black Man to hold the Heavyweight Championship of the World, and because of that reason today in a politically correct world Johnson has been raised up as a hero.

His violation of the Mann Act is often cited as Johnson being persecuted because of racism. The fact is overlooked that he did the crime, and yes many white men were arrested for the same crime back then. The Truth is that Johnson was a vile human being.

Video: The Legendary Jack Johnson - A Look Back at His Iconic Career

The Legendary Jack Johnson – A Look Back at His Iconic Career

2. Mike Tyson

Tyson was frightening. He first made an impactful debut as a teenager just a few years after leaving juvenile detention, only for his fame to quickly dissipate as soon as he reached his early 20s.

Soon after losing to Buster Douglas in an upset bout in 1990, he was arrested and served three years in federal prison for rape charges. Once released in the mid-1990s, he briefly held on to part of the heavyweight title but could never quite regain its former strength.

Highlights of his post-prison career include biting Evander Holyfield’s ear, trying to break Frans Boths’a arm and wanting to eat Lennox Lewis children.

Video: Mike Tyson SAVAGE Moments!

Mike Tyson SAVAGE Moments!

1. Muhammad Ali

Ali’s decision to join the Nation of Islam during the Civil Rights era only fueled his already controversial persona.

At the height of his powers as a fighter, Muhammad Ali made headlines for defying the U.S. government by refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam conflict that he felt strongly against. He was stripped of all his titles and banned from competing again for this act.

He came close to jail time, with his case even reaching the Supreme Court. By standing against the Vietnam War, Ali became an iconic figure who transcended sports and made an indelible mark on American culture.

Video: Muhammad Ali Refuses Induction, Opposing Vietnam War - April 28, 1967

Muhammad Ali Refuses Induction, Opposing Vietnam War – April 28, 1967

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