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Gene Fullmer, Boxer APRIL 29, 1957

Jan. 19, 2004
Jan. 19, 2004

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Jan. 19, 2004

Gene Fullmer, Boxer APRIL 29, 1957

Any aspiring boxer who walks into the old sugar factory in West
Jordan, Utah, after six on weeknights can get a lesson in the
sweet science from none other than former world middleweight
champion Gene (Cyclone) Fullmer. Four years ago the 72-year-old
Utah native opened Fullmer Brothers Boxing, a club where anyone
11 or older can get free instruction from Gene and his two
brothers, Jay, 67, and Don, 65, both prizefighters in the 1960s.
"The training keeps the kids off the streets and away from
drugs," says Gene. "When I was growing up, Marv Jenson [a former
gym operator] did the same for me. If I was sitting at home
instead of doing this, the kids wouldn't benefit and I wouldn't
either. In here they get the trouble pounded out of them in a
hurry."

This is an article from the Jan. 19, 2004 issue

Fullmer was pummeled plenty himself during a 12-year pro career.
A classic brawler with an iron chin and plow-horse stamina, he
turned pro in 1951 and slugged his way to a 55-6-3 record. He was
still working full time as a $17.56-a-day apprentice welder when
he upset Sugar Ray Robinson in January 1957 to win the world
middleweight title at Madison Square Garden.

But Fullmer is best known for a blow he took in the fifth round
of his second fight with Robinson, at Chicago Stadium four months
later. As Fullmer prepared to throw a roundhouse right, Robinson
uncorked a superbly timed left hook that knocked out Fullmer for
the only time in his career. "I never saw that punch," Fullmer
says of the hit that The Ring magazine selected in 1997 as the
best knockout punch in history. "When I came to, my manager
[Jenson] was holding on to me and I could see Ray jumping up and
down. 'How come Sugar Ray's doing exercises between rounds?' I
asked him. 'It's not between rounds,' he told me. 'The fight's
over.'"

Fullmer regained the middleweight belt with a TKO over Carmen
Basilio in 1959 and made seven successful defenses (two against
an aging Robinson) over the next four years before being
outpointed by Dick Tiger in October 1962. The two fought to a
draw four months later, and then Tiger delivered a seventh-round
TKO in August '63.

Fullmer retired after that loss--"I just figured there was no use
endangering my life anymore," he says--and turned to breeding
mink on the West Jordan homestead he had purchased from his
father in 1960. Gene and his first wife, Dolores, raised four
children (Kaye, 47; Delaun, 45; Bart, 42; and Marianne, 39)
before Dolores died in 1983. The following year Fullmer married
his present wife, Karen, shut down the mink business and became a
full-time retiree.

Though he had heart surgery in 1998, he was determined to start
the free boxing program. Recent knee-replacement surgery has
slowed him, but Fullmer remains committed to grooming future
boxers. "I limp," he says, "but it's not like I have to get in
there and kick their butts. I just have to tell them to kick each
others'." --Luis Fernando Llosa

COLOR PHOTO: HY PESKIN (COVER) HOOKED Fullmer (left, vs. Robinson) still answers the bell.COLOR PHOTO: GEORGE FREY [See caption above]

A former world middleweight champion, Fullmer bred mink for 30
years and now gives free boxing lessons in his native Utah.