Joe Bugner former British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion and World title challenger to Muhammad Ali SIGNED, INSCRIBED "Very Best Wishes Mr Hill" and DATED 20.1.76 black & white large 8 3/4" x 5 3/4" promotional photo.
Condition very good (paperclip indentation top left along with light surface creases)
Price: £ SOLD
Muhammad Ali vs Joe Bugner I
József Kreul "Joe" Bugner (born 13 March 1950) is a Hungarian British/Australian former heavyweight.
Born in Szőreg, Hungary, Bugner and his family fled after the 1956 Soviet invasion and settled in England. During the 1970s, Bugner twice held the British and British Commonwealth heavyweight titles and he was a three time European heavyweight champion. He was a top-ranked contender during the 1970s, fighting such opponents as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ron Lyle, Jimmy Ellis and Henry Cooper. He fought for the World heavyweight championship in 1975, losing on points in a second bout with Ali.
Bugner retired in 1977 and moved to Australia. Over the next two decades he made sporadic comebacks with variable success, winning the Australian heavyweight title in 1995. At the age of 49 he won the WBF heavyweight championship. He retired in 1999 with a final record of 69-13-1, including 41 wins by knockout.
Joe and his family fled to the United Kingdom in the late 1950s because of the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary in 1956 after the Hungarian uprising of that year. They settled in the Cambridgeshire town of St Ives. At school Bugner excelled in sports and was the national junior discus champion in 1964.
Joe lived and trained in Bedford during his early boxing years, he was a regular at Bedford Boys Club.
Boxing Career - Professional Debut
Bugner fought sixteen times as an amateur boxer, winning thirteen bouts. He turned professional in 1967 (at the age of seventeen) on the advice of his then trainer and friend Andy Smith. Smith was unhappy with the choice of Bugner's opponents and Smith believed that he could better control the quality of Bugner's opponents in the professional game.
He had a losing debut against Paul Brown on the 20 December 1967 at the London Hilton, where he was knocked out in the third round. After his debut he went on to stop twelve of his next thirteen opponents. This included four one-round wins, and two knockouts over Brown in rematches.
In 1970 Bugner emerged internationally as an outstanding young prospect, and by the end of the year he was on the fringe of the World ratings. He won nine consecutive bouts this year, including victories over well known boxers such as Chuck Wepner, and Brian London. Bugner was now positioned to challenge World rated Englishman Henry Cooper for Cooper's British, British Commonwealth and European titles. However, because Bugner was still too young to fight for the British Commonwealth title (the minimum age was twenty-one years old at the time), this much anticipated bout had to be postponed until the next year.
Starting in his early years as a professional and continuing for the rest of his career, Bugner earned a reputation as an exceptionally defensive and cautious boxer. He was criticized often for lacking natural aggression in the ring.
Some observers argued that Bugner's heart was never in boxing after an early opponent, Ulric Regis, died from brain injuries soon after being outpointed by Bugner at London's Shoreditch Town Hall.
Defeat Of Henry Cooper
In March 1971, Bugner finally met Cooper, and defeated him by a fifteen round decision. This bout was very closely contested, and the outcome remains one of the most controversial decisions in British boxing history. There were no judges and the fight was scored by the referee, Harry Gibbs. Bugner won by ¼ point. The British sporting public and press were deeply divided as to which boxer deserved the verdict.
Nonetheless, Bugner was now the British, British Commonwealth, and European champion, and for the first time he was ranked among the World's top ten heavyweights. Bugner would remain in the World ratings for most of the rest of the decade.
Later in 1971, Bugner lost decisions to underdogs Jack Bodell and Larry Middleton. The Bodell fight was particularly costly, depriving Bugner of his British, British Commonwealth and European championships. Bugner's relative inexperience (his youth and lack of an extensive amateur background) was the chief cause of these defeats.
In 1972 Bugner won eight consecutive fights, including a knockout over Jurgen Blin for the European championship.
By the end of this year Bugner had acquired sufficient seasoning as a boxer that his manager began seeking matches against the World's very best heavyweights.
In 1973 Bugner lost twelve round decisions to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Although the scorecards in these fights were lopsided, Bugner fought well in both bouts and he won the respect of the boxing media and public alike. After their bout, Ali declared that Bugner was capable of being World champion. The fight with Smokin' Joe in July 1973 at Earls Court in London was deemed a classic. After being knocked down by a tremendous left hook in the tenth round, Bugner arose and hurt Frazier to close the round.
Many regard the Frazier bout as being Bugner's best career performance.
After the Ali and Frazier fights, Bugner won eight matches in a row, his most notable victories being over Jimmy Ellis, Mac Foster, and Jose Luis Garcia. By the end of 1974 Bugner was rated among the top five heavyweight contenders in the World.
Bugner challenged Muhammad Ali for the World championship in June 1975, the bout being held in Kuala Lumpur. This fight has been described as one of the most boring championship bouts of all time, with Ali winning a one-sided 15 round decision. Bugner maintained a strictly defensive posture throughout this fight, and as a result he was widely scorned by the media and public. In an interview during an April 2008 reunion with Henry Cooper, Bugner defended his tactics in the Ali fight as having been necessary due to the extreme temperature and humidity of the outside venue. Nevertheless, Bugner had fought 27 rounds against arguably the greatest boxer in history without having ever being seriously troubled.
Early in 1976, Bugner announced his retirement from boxing, stating that he no longer felt motivated to fight professionally. Within months however he returned to the ring, and in October he knocked out Richard Dunn to reclaim the British, British Commonwealth, and European championships.
In 1977, Bugner lost a close 12 round decision to top contender Ron Lyle. After this bout, Bugner again retired, making only sporadic comebacks to the ring over the next decades.
Bugner returned to the ring for brief periods in the '80s and '90s, but due to the effects of age and inactivity, he was never again as effective as he had been during his prime.
In 1982, Bugner lost by technical knockout to Earnie Shavers. He also lost a decision to Joe Frazier's son Marvis Frazier two years later.
In 1986 he moved to Australia, where he acquired the name Aussie Joe Bugner. In Australia, Bugner launched a moderately successful comeback, winning victories over James Tillis, David Bey, and Greg Page. In 1987 however he was stopped in the eighth round in London by Frank Bruno for the Commonwealth championship.
Bugner won the Australian heavyweight title in 1996 by a points victory over Vince Cervi.
He won the lightly regarded 'WBF' version of the heavyweight crown in 1998, by defeating James "Bonecrusher" Smith. At the age of 49 years and a 110 days, it made him the oldest ever boxer to hold a World championship belt.
His record for 83 professional fights is 69 wins (41 on knockouts), 13 Losses and 1 Draw. He last fought in June 1999 beating Levi Billups, who was disqualified for low blows.
In an interview in 2004, Bugner said that the hardest puncher he had ever faced was Earnie Shavers and the biggest beating he took was from Ron Lyle.
Life Outside Of Boxing
On his move to Australia, Bugner and his wife Marlene opened a vineyard. It failed in 1989, and he estimated to having lost some one and a half million Australian dollars.
He now lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland.
Bugner has started to carve a career in the film industry, working with Bud Spencer in his movies in the eighties.
He was the expert adviser on the Russell Crowe film, Cinderella Man, which was a film about the heavyweight boxer James J. Braddock. Bugner was dropped part way through the project, which prompted him to call Crowe, "a gutless worm and fucking girl".
Joe suffers from a serious back injury which sustained from training for fights in his middle years. He also has financial problems. It was these financial problems which forced him back into the ring at such advanced age. A benefit was held for Joe in 2008 by Kevin Lueshing.