Former British heavyweight Cooper dies at 76

LONDON, (Reuters) – Former British and European  heavyweight boxing champion Henry Cooper, one of his country’s  most popular sportsmen, has died at the age of 76, the British  Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) said on Sunday.

Cooper had been ill for some time and died at his son’s  house in Surrey, southern England two days short of his 77th  birthday.

London-born Cooper was at his peak during the 1960s and is  best remembered for a defeat by Cassius Clay, later Muhammad  Ali, in a non-title fight at Wembley in 1963.

He famously sent Clay to the canvas near the end of the  fourth round with his trademark left hook, known as “‘Enry’s  ‘Ammer”, only for the American to earn more recovery time when  trainer Angelo Dundee said Clay’s glove was split. The incident  is still a favourite topic of discussion for boxing fans to this  day.

Cooper lost when the referee stopped the fight because of  his cuts in the fifth round and he lost to Clay again in a world  title fight at Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium in London in 1966,  again when cuts forced the referee to step in.

“He was one of the sporting icons, not just for the boxing  public but sport in general,” BBBC general secretary Robert  Smith told Sky Sports News.

“Ali is possibly the greatest athlete there’s ever been and  Henry put up a great performance and just wasn’t quite good  enough on both occasions — but he’s not the only one who wasn’t  good enough to beat Ali.
“For such a small man, he put up some great performances in  a world-class context.”

“Everyone called him ‘Our Enry’ and he was much loved. He  served boxing wonderfully.”

Britain’s current World Boxing Association world heavyweight  champion David Haye wrote on Twitter that Cooper was “a true  warrior and a great human being”.

AMATEUR CAREER

After an amateur career that included an appearance in the  1952 Helsinki Olympics, Henry and his twin brother George, who  died last year, both turned professional in 1954.

He lost to Sweden’s former world champion Ingemar Johansson  in a European title fight and many of his early defeats were  brought about by his susceptibility to cuts.

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