Lawrence Gene Fullmer (July 21,
1931 - April 27, 2015) was an American middleweight boxer and world
Fullmer began his professional
career in 1951 and won his first 29 fights, 19 by knockout. His manager
during many years of his career was his mentor, Marv Jenson, who encouraged
many youth in West Jordan, Utah, to enter boxing as amateurs.
Fullmer won the world middleweight championship on January
2,1957, when he upset the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson by soundly
winning a unanimous 15 round decision. On May 1, 1957 they fought
a rematch. The fight began as expected, with Fullmer using his strength
and awkwardness to bull into Robinson and really force him onto his
heels. In the fifth round Robinson, while backing up, lashed out with
what has been called the perfect left hook. It caught Fullmer flush
on the chin and knocked him out.
In 1959, the National Boxing
Association withdrew its recognition of Robinson as middleweight champion.
Fullmer and fellow former middleweight champion Carmen Basilio fought
for the vacant NBA title on August 28, 1959, and Fullmer won the crown
when he TKOed Basilio in the 14th round. Meanwhile, Robinson was to
lose his version of the middleweight championship to Paul Pender.
and Pender never met to settle their claims to the middleweight title,
and Pender eventually retired. Meanwhile, Fullmer fought and turned
back the challenges of many top contenders, such as Basilio, Spider
Webb, Florentino Fernandez, and welterweight champion Benny "Kid"
Paret. He narrowly escaped being dethroned when he was held to 15
round draws by Robinson and future titleholder Joey Giardello. The
draw against Robinson was widely criticised by almost every ringside
observer, who had Robinson winning 11-4 or 10-5 in rounds. In their
final meeting, a title bout in 1961, Fullmer beat Robinson by unanimous
Losing the title
Fullmer finally lost the middleweight
title to Dick Tiger on October 23, 1962 in a unanimous decision. They
fought a rematch on February 23, 1963, which resulted in a draw. Fullmer's
attempts to regain the middleweight crown finally ended when he was
TKOed in seven rounds by Tiger on August 10, 1963.
final record included 55 wins (24 by KO), 6 losses, and 3 draws.
had two younger brothers who boxed: Don Fullmer who twice challenged
for the World Middleweight Title, and Jay Fullmer who boxed as a lightweight.
was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS
Church), and his living the tenets of his religion, especially the
Word of Wisdom, was heavily covered in the press. It was also frequently
mentioned that he was a father and that he paid tithing on his boxing
Fullmer appeared in a cameo role in the 1968 film The
Devil's Brigade as a Montana bartender.
Fullmer is featured on
the cover of the album Greatest Hits by Alice in Chains.
21, 1962, Fullmer appeared on What's My Line? but not as a mystery
guest. His line was that he was a mink rancher.
His fight with
Dick Tiger appears prominently in the music video for the Iggy Pop
song 'American Balhalla'.
On April 27, 2015, "the day his younger
brother Jay Fullmer was laid to rest," Gene died at the age of 83
in his home surrounded by friends and family.