Dwight Muhammad Qawi (born Dwight
Braxton: January 5, 1953) is an American former professional boxer
who won world titles at light heavyweight and cruiserweight. He was
inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.
then known as Dwight Braxton, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but
grew up in Camden, New Jersey, where he got involved with crime at
a young age. He was eventually convicted of armed robbery and spent
around five years in prison.
It was at Rahway that Braxton found
his place in life. The prison had an extensive boxing program and
one of its inmates, James Scott, was a light heavyweight title contender
who fought several times inside the prison itself. Braxton took up
the sport and when he was released from prison in 1978, immediately
became a professional boxer. Qawi's style was most often likened to
Joe Frazier and with good reason as he had trained in Frazier's Philadelphia
gym as a professional. He converted to Islam in the early 80's and
had his name changed from Dwight Braxton to Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
He went 1-1-1 in his first three pro fights, but then reeled
off 14 straight victories to move into the world rankings at light
heavyweight. The last of those wins came on September 5, 1981, when
Braxton returned to Rahway to fight Scott, with the winner promised
a shot at Matthew Saad Muhammad's WBC world championship belt. Braxton
won a unanimous 10 round decision.
On December 19 of the same
year, Braxton faced Saad Muhammad in Atlantic City. The ex-convict
was the underdog against Saad, one of the most popular fighters of
his generation and a fellow Hall of Famer, but Braxton defeated him
on a 10th round technical knockout and became a world champion for
the first time. It was shortly after this that he announced his conversion
to Islam and changed his name.
He defended the title three times
in the next 15 months, knocking out Jerry Martin, Saad Muhammad a
second time and Eddie Davis. On March 18, 1983, he lost a close but
unanimous decision to WBA champion Michael Spinks in a unification
Qawi felt that making the division's 175 pound weight
limit had drained him physically, and resolved to seek another world
title in the newly created cruiserweight division. Freed of the need
to fight to keep his weight down, Qawi reeled off another series of
wins and claimed the WBA cruiserweight title on July 7, 1985, knocking
out Piet Crous in Crous' native South Africa.
He won two more
fights, including a victory over former world heavyweight titlist
Leon Spinks, before accepting a challenge from Olympian Evander Holyfield
on July 12, 1986. The fight, in Holyfield's hometown of Atlanta, went
the full 15 rounds with Holyfield winning a split decision.
the loss to Holyfield, Qawi fought off on on for the next 12 years,
but never regained a world title. He rematched with Holyfield in 1987
for the WBA and IBF cruiserweight titles, but was stopped in the fourth
After a short stint in the heavyweight ranks, where in
1988 he lost to George Foreman by knockout in seven rounds, being
forced to quit from exhaustion, he tried to regain the cruiserweight
title. On November 27, 1989, he dropped a split decision to Robert
Daniels for Holyfield's vacated WBA title.
Qawi retired in 1999
at the age of 46, with a career record of 41 wins, 11 losses and one
draw, with 25 wins by way of knockout. Currently, he works as a boxing
trainer in New Jersey.
In 1998, Dwight began working at the Lighthouse,
a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Mays Landing, New Jersey.
He works with both adults and adolescents and is a patient advocate.