Born in November 1949, Larry Holmes keeps poking at George Foreman to draw him out. After his first fight, he went home with only sixty-three dollars, and now hopes to make twenty-million with Foreman. With eleven kids at home and his mother on welfare, Larry learned how to fight his way to the top. He dropped out in the seventh grade, but got a PhD in common sense. Recently, his brother Jake’s wife received funds to help on her health care needs. He raised himself out of welfare, and bought his mother a new home when his fight career started to pay off. Larry keeps quiet about helping out his large family. Larry never needed charisma to earn respect in the world. After a certain age, ring rust sets in regardless of opponents. He wants to rouse George Foreman or Gerry Cooney out of retirement. If not with George, Larry wishes to take a rematch with Evander Holyfield, or attempt to get younger fighters back in the ring like Hasim Rahman or Lennox Lewis. Larry and “Big George” were scheduled to fight on January 22 1999 - Foreman's fiftieth birthday; the fight was cancelled when time ran out on a contractual stipulation related to financing. Now, Larry wants to challenge George Foreman. Gerry Cooney recently expressed willingness to take on Holmes in a boxing exhibition, though he commented, "Larry might take it too seriously."
After his third comeback in 2002, Larry won in the tenth round against Eric “Butterbean” Esch. Larry Holmes continues to punch back at over fifty. He continues to hold the distinction of being one of the longest reigning world heavyweight champions in boxing history (1978-1985), second only to Joe Louis. Larry defended his title twenty consecutive times. He held forty-eight wins second only to boxing legend Rocky Marciano (49 wins). Sometimes, the “Easton Assassin” entered the ring over nine times in a year. He successfully defended his title twenty times before losing to Michael Spinks; he returned from first retirement in 1988 and was KO'd in the fourth round by champion Mike Tyson. He launched a second comeback in 1991. He fought and lost title bids against Evander Holyfield in 1992 and Oliver McCall in 1995.
From 1973 with Dupree, he crushed all opponents, winning straight through until 1985. He lost to Michael Spinks in Las Vegas in the fifteenth round by decision where he lost the heavyweight title. In the early eighties, at the peak of his career, Holmes enjoyed some of the rare privileges that smart champions can attain: controlling how his fights were booked and keeping the lion's share of his earnings. He believes that some of the professional jealousy surrounding his success came into play in his closely fought loss to Michael Spinks. The “Easton Assassin displays a proud record of pro record of 69-6 and 44 KOs. At the Larry Holmes Ringside Restaurant, you find hundreds of photographs and memorabilia on display. Larry frequently comes for a large steak around lunchtime at this Easton Pennsylvania restaurant. You find “the champ” eager to chat about the old times and the rumored fight coming up against former heavy weight champion George Foreman. Holmes still sees himself prevailing in the ring. The big banger continues his workouts brisk and focused. When Holmes finishes his daily checkers game and enters the gym, the whole room changes. Everyone steps up the speed or intensity of their workouts. Larry shouts occasional words of encouragement or advice.
Larry’s autobiography, "Against The Odds" (St. Martins Press, 1998) and the Larry Holmes documentary ("In The Arena"), shows the champion’s motivation, self-confidence, and discipline, the essential ingredients for everyone to reach their goals. Larry Holmes fought the odds and won. In his biography, written with Phil Berger, he admitted that he was off the night he fought the “Spinks Jinx.” One specialist believed that he actually risked paralysis by taking the fight with Mike Spinks,in particular if he threw the right hand. Therefore, he failed to unload his right enough, and that cost him. Larry also gave due respect to Spinks, noting that Michael's punches, "came from places I never saw before." He thought that he had hurt the challenger enough to be ahead. He claimed that even the late Rocky's brother, Peter Marciano, thought it was close enough for Holmes to retain his title. The Spinks fight cost him a twelve-year winning record and almost to beat the record for straight wins by “the Rock.”
The assassin makes plenty of money from his business interests. Some might think that he needs to keep fighting to make some money, but he receives considerable income. He said over a lunch, "I consider myself a boxing executive," (definitely not to be confused with the term "white collar boxer"). Among his many interests, all located in his hometown of Easton Pennsylvania, Holmes owns the Ringside Restaurant and Nightclub (above which the offices of Larry Holmes Enterprises), a five-floor office building, and several residential properties. Larry extended his holdings to Internet sports betting and gambling casino, and he endorsed a gaming machine, the "Larry Holmes slot machine." He just keeps moving forward, and not all for the money. Larry actually makes $700,000 per year from the various enterprises. He made the game pay off. He plans to take on some of the old boys--for the right price. Bob Holmes, his brother, helps him run his real estate matters.
One fight brought about some controversy, however. When Holmes fought Gerry Cooney in 1982, many thought that Cooney took a dive. The fight received a racially manipulated atmosphere preceding and a lot of build up. Larry says that he felt nothing personal against the "Great White Hope." Larry claims that Cooney actually hit harder than any opponent in his career. He said, “Gerry Cooney could fight! He hit me so damned hard, I felt it -- boom -- in my bones."
On June 11, 1982, Cooney went twelve gritty rounds before he lost to Holmes in the thirteenth. So many boxing people were certain Cooney would win, and many thought Cooney took a dive. The rumors stemmed from comments made by a self-described member of the Colombo Crime family. The Boxing Commission gave a formal hearing over this. Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion who once admitted to throwing a fight was at the hearing and scoffed at the notion. Jake, who even today will tell you he took a dive against Billy Fox in a 1947 Garden fight, said, "Listen, there are a million ways to throw a fight and Cooney didn't know any of them. He just got the hell beat out of him, that's all." That ended any talk of swan dives.
When asked what made him a “real” fighter, Holmes said, “Dedication and hard work. You have to have some kind of skills; you gotta have talent, and you gotta have some people around you to help you make it.” His best highest moment happened on June 9 1978 in Las Vegas when he won the heavyweight championship of the world, and the birth of his first son. Larry’s celebrity status never overshadowed his love and respect for all of his fans. Larry’s philanthropic heart receives recognition throughout the world by people who seek his support and guidance. Larry Holmes stands far above the typical boxer in many ways. He still represents all the good of the sport, inside and outside the boxing ring.
Joseph de Beauchamp can be reached at email@example.com