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Floyd Patterson

After The Gold

Patterson made the Olympic team and left school to fight as a representative of the United States. He had become a member of one of greatest U.S. Olympic boxing teams ever put together, a group that won five gold medals, including the one Patterson took home. When he came back from the Olympics and turned professional, he would win three fights in his first month alone. In 1952, Patterson won the Gold Gloves Championship at Madison Square Garden and the National Amateur Athletic Union Championship in Boston. He earned the honor of "Ring Rookie of the Year," given by Ring magazine.


1935 Born January 4 in Waco, North Carolina, and grows up in poverty
1936 Family moves to Brooklyn, New York
1945 Sent to Wiltwyck School for Boys for stealing
1945-49 Discovers boxing while at Wiltwyck, overcomes some of his shyness and self-esteem problems
1949 Begins association with Cus D'Amato at Gramercy Gym. D'Amato becomes his trainer
1950 Enters and wins first Amateur Athletic Union tournament bout
1951 Meets future wife Sandra Hicks
1952 Wins Golden Gloves Championship at Madison Square Garden as well as the AAU Championship in Boston
1952 Wins gold medal at the Olympics in Helsinki
1952 Turns professional and wins pro debut at age of 17
1956 Marries Sandra Hicks for the first time (would remarry her later that year after his conversion to Catholicism)
1959 Knocked down seven times in three rounds by Ingemar Johansson, Floyd's career appears to be over
1960 Returns to ring and defeats Johannson, knocking the Swede out with vicious left hook
1965 Loses to Muhammad Ali in a twelve round bid to retain the heavyweight championship
1968 Leaves the ring for two years after losing to WBA Champion Jimmy Ellis
1972 Fights Muhammad Ali in what would be his last professional fight
1972 Announces his retirement
1976 Takes an interest in 11-year old boxer named Tracy Harris, whom he'd eventually adopt
1994 Informed by Harris that he no longer wants Patterson to manage him
1995 Named athletic commissioner of the State of New York by Governor George Pataki
1998 Steps down from athletic commission, citing memory loss as reason for no longer being able to fulfill duties
1998 Moves permanently to his 17-acre farm in New Paltz, NY

Awards and Accomplishments

1950 New York City Golden Gloves Champion
1952 National Amateur Athletic Union middleweight champion
1952 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist
1956, 1960 Ring Magazine Merit Award Neil Trophy
1976 Inducted in to Ring Magazine Boxing Hall of Fame
1987 Inducted into U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
1991 Inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame

Patterson still wanted to move forward fast, but D'Amato was always there to slow him down. In his first big fight against Joey Maxim, Patterson had lost due to lack of experience. He was devastated. Later he would realize that "he had been outsmarted by the exchampion." He learned to appreciate experience over youth, and he would develop a respect for Maxim.

When he came back to the ring, as was often the case after he took time off, he won his next eleven fights with straight knockouts. Among these fights was his first official heavyweight bout against Archie McBride. With his rising celebrity in the world of boxing, Patterson would merit fights on the West Coast, where he'd hobnob with stars. Yet he missed Sandra, his girlfriend back in Brooklyn. He proposed to her in 1956 and they married. Then, following his conversion to Catholicism, Patterson remarried her two years later. They moved to Mt. Vernon, New York.

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Famous Sports StarsBoxingFloyd Patterson Biography - Growing Up, A Needed Change, Back In The City, After The Gold, Chronology - CONTACT INFORMATION, SELECTED WRITINGS BY PATTERSON: