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John Tate
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Boxer
    (January 29, 1955-April 9, 1998)
    Born in Marion, Arkansas
    Former professional boxer and Heavyweight champion of the world (1979-80)
    Professional record 34-3
    Recognized for his size, physical strength, and powerful punch
    Six foot four, usually weighing 230-240 pounds, nicknamed 'Big John'
    He couldn't take a very good punch, being knocked out in less than a minute by Teofilo Stevenson in the Olympics, and while well ahead on points, was knocked out cold with 45 seconds left in the final round of his title defense against Mike Weaver.
    After being knocked out again in his first fight after losing to Weaver, he seemed to lose interest and only fought mediocre opponents for a paycheck and eventually retired without making another serious run at the heavyweight title.
    He began using cocaine in the late 1980's and ended up with a serious addiction which led to prison time for assault and theft and, at one time, was reduced to panhandling on the streets.
    Not surprisingly, this also led to the dissolution of his marriage.
    While driving high on cocaine, he suffered a stroke and crashed his truck into a tree killing himself.
    Most fight fans considered him only a paper champion and recognized Larry Holmes as the real heavyweight champion.
    His bravery in the ring and his powerful punch, especially his right hand, were widely recognized.
    He courageously went to South Africa to fight popular white South African contender, Gerrie Coetzee for the title and won a unanimous decision.
    He didn't complain about his problems outside the ring or blame anyone besides himself for them.

Credit: tom_jeffords


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