Gerrie Coetzee former WBA heavyweight champion SIGNED black & white 8" x 10" photo.
Gerhardus Christian Coetzee (born August 4, 1955 in Boksburg), former South African WBA heavyweight champion better known as Gerrie Coetzee. He made history twice: He was the first boxer from the African continent ever to fight for the World Heavyweight title, and the first to win the World Heavyweight title. His nickname was The Bionic Man, because he always had trouble with his right hand, and had a few corrective items put in it during three surgeries.
Rise To Championship Contention
Coetzee started boxing professionally on the night of September 14, 1974, when he beat 19 fight veteran Christian Roos by a decision in four. He followed that win with 21 more consecutive wins to reach a record of 22-0 before fighting for the World Heavyweight Championship (WBA version) for the first time. Among those wins was one over Roos in a rematch, which Coetzee won by a knockout in three rounds; wins over former World title challengers Ron Stander, Randy Stephens and Pierre Fourie; A South African Heavyweight championship victory against Kallie Knoetze (unanimous decision in 10) as well as a first round knockout of former World Heavyweight champion Leon Spinks. With exception of the Spinks bout, held at Monte Carlo, the rest of Coetzee's fights during his early run were held in his native South Africa.
Coetzee had displayed impressive right-hand power, speed and composure in the Spinks win, legitimizing his reputation as a title threat.
First Attempt At A World Title
He was able to challenge John Tate for the WBA's World Heavyweight title that had been left vacant by Muhammad Ali. The fight, according to many South African historians, did cause some social impact because it united 135,000 people to watch an event between a Black (Tate) and a White (Coetzee) in a South Africa that was split by apartheid. It was one of the first major public events where Blacks and Whites could join together in public since that ideology had taken over in South Africa. Coetzee became the first African born heavyweight ever to challenge for a World title, but his dream of becoming the first person from Africa to win the World Heavyweight champion had to wait, because he was beaten by Tate by a decision in 15 rounds.
Coetzee fought lethargically and his stamina and pace were lacking. Such would be the story of much of his career.
Aggressive and willing, Coetzee nonetheless seemed to have no Plan B if he did not knock out his opponent. In future matches, his self-awareness of his stamina issues seemed to play on his performances.
Second Attempt At A World Title
Tate lasted only a short time as World champion, as he was beaten by Mike Weaver in his first title defence. Coetzee knocked out Mike Koraniki in the first round to keep his title hopes alive. Weaver then travelled to South Africa to defend his title against Coetzee, fighting in front of a very large crowd. Coetzee's dream was almost achieved in this fight, as his pressure and aggression saw him leading through 8 rounds, but Coetzee's stamina failed him and he began to throw fewer punches, lean and maul more and get hit more often coming in with his unprotected head high. He was knocked out by a counter right-hand in the 13th round.
Road To A Third Title Bout
Undaunted, Coetzee went back to boxing soon and beat fringe contender George Chaplin before facing Renaldo Snipes, a man who later would be seconds away from becoming World champion when he dropped Larry Holmes in a title challenge. Coetzee dropped Snipes multiple times and seemed to dominate, but the fight was scored by rounds and not on points, and he lost a ten round decision that was deemed one of the worst of the decade.
Coetzee racked up four victories between 1981 and 1983, including a defeat of former World title challenger Scott Le Doux. He faced future World champion Pinklon Thomas, who held him to a draw in a bout where Coetzee again had an early lead.
Third Title Bout
Gerrie Coetzee vs Michael Dokes
Despite the outcome of the Thomas fight, (or perhaps because of it) Coetzee received his third World title try against WBA title-holder Michael Dokes. By now known as someone who could not win "The Big One", the third time turned out to be the charm for Coetzee. In front of a crowd in Akron, Ohio and a HBO Boxing audience, Coetzee dominated Dokes, counter punching and utilizing his rarely used left hand in knocking out Dokes in the tenth round to become South Africa's first World Heavyweight champion.
He also became the first caucasian World Heavyweight champion in 23 years. The fight was KO Magazine's Upset of The Year for 1983.
It turned out that the punch that knocked out Dokes hurt Coetzee even more: his right hand was broken and required his second surgery five days after the fight, in New York.
Short Championship Reign
There was much talk about a unification bout with the other World Heavyweight champion, Holmes, in 1984, and a contract was duly signed. There were massive financial issues when the backer of the bout could not raise the original purse necessary, and Coetzee re-injured his hand during training camp, requiring another surgery. The fight was cancelled.
On his return to the ring, Coetzee was paired with Greg Page (the real #1 contender David Bey, refused to go to South Africa as described in "Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King" by Jack Newfield, Bey became the #1 by outpointing Greg Page over 12 rounds). In a give-and-take match highlighted by Coetzee's total lack of form and apparent overconfidence as well as Page's strong chin, the two exchanged momentum. It was clear however that Coetzee was a sitting duck for Page's counter-punching and his once dependable chin seemed to fail him. Coetzee lost his World title when he was knocked out by a left in round eight. This proved to be another controversial bout.
Coetzee's camp protested that while Coetzee was on the canvas, the bell had sounded and the referee's count should have been waved off, which would have allowed Coetzee to continue for at least one more round. The round in question actually went for almost a minute too long. Despite this, the WBA decided to leave Page as the winner by a knockout in eight.
After losing his title, Coetzee made token attempts at a comeback. He beat Mike Tyson's rival James "Quick" Tillis by a decision in ten, and went to England to fight future World Heavyweight champion Frank Bruno, losing by a knockout in one. After that fight, he announced his retirement, but came back twice during the 1990s, winning by knockout in three against both Dave Fiddler and Wes Turner in 1993, and then winning against Dan Komiscki in three but losing to former World Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion Iran Barkley by a knockout in ten, after dropping him in round two, for a minor Heavyweight belt.
Coetzee has remained in retirement ever since.
His overall record stands at 33 wins, 6 losses and 1 draw, with 20 wins by knockout.