Celebrating Black History Month with Legendary Black Boxers and Kickboxers
In honor of Black History Month, we are discussing some of the world’s most renowned boxers and kickboxers who have helped shape these sports into what they are today. Each legend on our list has left a memorable mark on the industry, either through their perseverance in the ring or their willingness to help others become legends of their own. Take a look at some of the Legendary black boxers and kickboxers who have been an inspiration to the world and to 9Round.
Xavier “Bad Pads” Biggs, Director of Boxing for 9Round
Photo Credit: Xavier Biggs Facebook
Xavier “Bad Pads” Biggs grew up in West Philadelphia, where he was surrounded by the captivating culture of boxing. He competed professionally from 1979-1983, but eventually gave up his career to help train his brother, Tyrell Biggs, a three-time world amateur boxing champion who went on to win a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in the Super Heavyweight Division.
Having many opportunities to advance his boxing skills while traveling with Tyrell, Xavier Biggs was able to open his own amateur boxing training studio in Atlanta, GA, in 1998. He eventually took on his first professional fighter, Raul Fernandez, who enjoyed a short reign as undefeated.
Biggs has been instrumental in transforming the careers of many amateur and professional boxers, including Atlanta’s first premier female boxer, Isra Girgrah, who went on to win five world titles. Today, Biggs operates the Decatur Boxing Club and serves as Director of Boxing for 9Round. He hosts boxing classes at each of our new franchisee Training Camps and teaches new gym owners how to fight like a true champion. He has undoubtedly made his mark over the years by training many great fighters.
Photo Credit: Britannica
Joseph Louis Barrow, nicknamed the Brown Bomber, is one of the world’s most influential American boxers of all time. During his career, he was able to win 66 out of the 69 fights he competed in from 1934 to 1951. Of those fights, 27 of them were for the world heavyweight title, which he held from 1937 until 1949. He was victorious in 25 consecutive title defenses and was named the best heavyweight champion of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization. The Ring magazine also ranked him as one of the “100 greatest punchers of all time.”
Louis is known for having the longest single reign in history as a champion in the heavyweight division. BoxRec even named him the world’s best heavyweight 11 times, which is the second-most in history, only behind Muhammad Ali. His cultural impact outside the ring made even more of an impact, as he is widely regarded as the first African American to become a nationwide hero. He also became a major focal point of anti-Nazi sentiment leading up to and during World War II.
Ernesto Frits Hoost
Photo Credit: The Fight Site
Ernesto “Mr. Perfect” Hoost is considered one of the greatest kickboxers of all time. He is originally from the Netherlands and was born July 11, 1965. His debut into the professional world of kickboxing was at the 1993 K-1 World Grand Prix, where he was only one win short of claiming the world title. He continued to compete with great perseverance for other K-1 Championship titles until he finally found his claim to fame by winning in a three-round unanimous decision at the 1997 K-1 Championship match against Andy Hug.
He went on to become a four-time K-1 World Champion, winning again in 1991, 2000, and 2002. After taking an eight-year hiatus, he returned to the ring in 2014 at the age of 48 to claim the WKO World Heavyweight Championship in Japan by scoring two knockdowns against Thomas Stanley.
Johnny “Superfoot” Davis
Photo Credit: IKF Kickboxing
Born in Dillon, South Carolina, Johnny Morris Davis started off learning martial arts like many other kickboxers and was able to achieve a second-degree black belt in karate before moving on to full-contact kickboxing. He was able to win numerous regional kickboxing titles before he beat Alvin Prouder for the PKA World Welterweight Championship in February of 1985. That same year, he also won the FFKA Championship and the ISLA U.S. Middleweight Championship. Overall, he competed in 31 total fights and won 25 of them, with 13 wins by knockout.
Davis ended up retiring in 1998 from his fighting career but remained involved with kickboxing by promoting various matches and working with the International Kickboxing Federation (IFK). He also went on to produce his own promotional company, AK Promotions, which hosts his podcasts Johnny Davis Live! He is also the founder and president of Point Boxing Sparring Circuit, which hosts programs based on semi-contact strikes and the technical aspects of boxing.
Peter “Sugarfoot” Cunningham
Photo Credit: IKF Kickboxing
Pete Cunningham is regarded as one of the greatest full-contact fighters of all time. He is a seven-time world champion and a Hall of Fame kickboxer whose skills in the ring have been praised by many martial arts legends. His nickname "Sugarfoot" was derived from the names of two great fighters who his personal style resembled, "Sugar" Ray Leonard and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. His peers at his first dojo in Edmonton, Canada, were the ones who gave him the nickname when he was still a teenager.
Cunningham’s many accomplishments include becoming the:
- K.A. Lightweight World Champion
- K.A. Super Lightweight World Champion
- K.A. Junior Welterweight World Champion
- I.C.K. Super Lightweight World Champion
- M.F. Junior Welterweight World Champion
- M.A.C. World Junior Welterweight World Champion
- S.K.A. Welterweight World Champion
- S.K.A. inaugural Hall of Fame inductee – 1998
- Martial Arts Hall of Fame – 2013
He also received an Edmonton Golden Gloves Gold Medal and a Canadian Games Bronze Medal in 1981. After retiring from his professional kickboxing and boxing careers, he became an exceptional trainer in martial arts. He has been able to train many amateur and professional fighters, as well as a few popular celebrities. Cunningham was even invited to be one of the coaches for the USA Kickboxing Team in 2014, and he has helped the team bring home many gold medals from several international tournaments and events.
Photo Credit: The Washington Post
Muhammad Ali, nicknamed “The Greatest,” is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated boxers of all time, as well as a passionate activist and philanthropist. He was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where he began training as an amateur boxer at the age of 12. His first notable fight was at the 1960 Summer Olympics where he won the gold medal for the light heavyweight division. This kicked off his professional boxing career.
Throughout his professional career, he also became a devout Muslim and began refusing his slave name, Cassius Clay, in favor of being called Muhammad Ali. He famously refused to be drafted into the military for the Vietnam War becoming an icon for the counterculture generation and was later found guilty of draft evasion, which stripped him of his boxing titles and caused him to face five years in prison. Later, the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971 after nearly a four-year fight for his freedom. He also became a notable figure for African Americans during the civil rights movement.
As a fighter, Ali was a champion heavyweight boxer and was the only three-time lineal champion of that division. He was also the only boxer in history to be ranked by BoxRec as the world’s best heavyweight champion twelve times and named The Ring magazine’s Fighter of the Year six times. He participated in many historic boxing matches, including the Fight of the Century with Joe Frazier and the Rumble in the Jungle with George Forman, which has arguably been called the greatest sporting event of the 20th century. It garnered over one billion viewers worldwide, making it the most-watched television broadcast of that time period.
After retiring from his boxing career in 1981, he dedicated more time to his religion and helping others. Three years later in 1984, he announced his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, which caused his public experiences to slowly dwindle over time, until his death on June 3, 2016.
This amazing group, and many more, have left such a mark on not only the boxing and kickboxing industry over the years but on the world. They have inspired many to pursue their passion for martial arts and full-contact sports, including our own founder and CEO, Shannon “The Cannon” Hudson, whose martial arts training led him to develop the circuit system we use today at every 9Round studio.
Feeling inspired? See for yourself why so many people love kickboxing fitness with a FREE Introductory Workout at your local 9Round studio! Find your nearest location and sign up today, and we’ll see you soon for a KILLER workout!