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Stars that died 2010

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ron Lyle, American boxer, U.S. Amateur Heavyweight Champion (1970), died from complications from stomach ailment he was 70.

Ron Lyle [1] was an American professional boxer in the heavyweight division died from complications from stomach ailment he was 70..[2] He is considered to have been one of the best contenders of his era and one of the best fighters to never win a world title.[3] He was a crowd-pleasing power puncher.

(February 12, 1941 – November 26, 2011)

Early life

Lyle was born to William and Nellie Lyle. He grew up in the Northeast side of Denver, a predominantly African American section of the city, in public housing projects. He was one of 19 children, and the only one to get in trouble with the law. When he was in his teens, Lyle was arrested and charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of 21-year-old Douglas Byrd in a gang fight. Lyle was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 15–25 years at the Colorado State Penitentiary. While in prison, Lyle was knifed and underwent a seven-hour operation; twice pronounced dead on the operating table, he needed 36 pints of blood to keep him alive. Lyle credited Lt. Cliff Mattax, the athletic director at the prison, with getting him interested in boxing and changing his life.[citation needed]
While in prison, Lyle excelled in four sports: boxing, baseball, basketball, and football. Lyle fought on his prison's boxing team. In his first match, Lyle was defeated by Texas Johnson. However, Lyle never lost a prison boxing match again. After serving seven-and-a-half years in prison, Lyle was paroled on Sunday, November 22, 1969.[4]

Amateur career

After prison, Lyle joined the Denver Elks Gym and started boxing for Bill Daniels. Lyle's first amateur victory was a third round knockout over Fred Houpe (who would later be Leon Spinks's final opponent). His amateur career lasted only 14 months, and he compiled a record of 25-4 with 17 knockouts.[5] He was the 1970 National AAU Heavyweight Champion, the 1970 North American Amateur Heavyweight Champion, and the 1970 International Boxing League Heavyweight Champion. Lyle was a member of the United States Boxing Team. He lost to Russian Ivan Alexi, but knocked out Russian heavyweight Kamo Saroyan in a match broadcast by ABC television's Wide World of Sports.[6]

Pro career

Lyle had a very late start in professional boxing. He turned professional under Bill Daniels, with trainer Bobby Lewis. His first fight was at the age of 30 in Denver, Colorado, against A.J Staples, which he won by knockout in the second round. Lyle went on to post a 19-0-2 record with 17 knockouts, and became the 5th rated heavyweight contender. He scored impressive knockouts over notables Vicente Rondon, a light heavyweight champion; hulking Buster Mathis; won by unanimous decision over former WBA Heavyweight Champion, Jimmy Ellis.[7] Lyle's undefeated streak ended on a one-sided decision to veteran Jerry Quarry: the latter gave one of his career best performances using a boxer/puncher style to create openings first, gaining the initiative using his greater experience very well. Lyle then lost to skilled Jimmy Young in 1975. In a later rematch, Young again edged Lyle and went on to outpoint George Foreman in 1977.

Lyle vs. Ali

On May 16, 1975 he was given an opportunity to face heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, during Ali's second title defense in his second reign as champion. Lyle was the more aggressive fighter in the early rounds, with Ali conserving his energy and covering up in the center of the ring allowing Lyle to score. Lyle also showed restraint and did not respond to Ali's attempts at the rope-a-dope ploy. Though in danger of falling too far behind on points, Ali appeared to be in control of the pace of the fight, and picked his moments to score. The fight was close going into the 11th round, with Lyle winning on all three of the judges' score cards. Ali then hit Lyle with a strong right hand and followed flurrying with several punches scoring. The referee stopped the fight, seeing that Lyle had practically stopped defending himself. Lyle's corner was not happy with the referee’s decision. Lyle was interviewed after the fight and had no visible signs of injury.[8][9]

Lyle vs. Foreman

Lyle is perhaps best known for a brawling fight in 1976 with Hall of Famer George Foreman. Foreman was making a comeback after suffering his first loss to Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle.
The fight is looked upon to this day as one of the most exciting and brutal in heavyweight history. Lyle took the offensive against the former champion and won the opening round. At one point he hit Foreman with a staggering body punch that almost made his trunks fall off. After almost being knocked out in Round Two, Lyle amazed the crowd by flooring Foreman twice in the fourth round. Other than Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Young, Lyle was the only boxer to have ever knocked down George Foreman during a professional boxing match. Foreman later wrote in his autobiography that Lyle was the toughest man he ever fought.[citation needed] The former champion recovered and scored a knockout in the fifth round.
Lyle scored impressive victories over rated Jose Luis Garcia, and big names Oscar Bonavena and Earnie Shavers during his career.[10] He also won a split decision over Joe Bugner, boring in with a thudding body attack in a fine contest.

Later career

1979 marked a decline in Lyle's abilities. Draws with fringe contenders Stan Ward and Scott LeDoux were followed by a stunning one-punch loss to unheard-of Lynn Ball. Ball went on to match other names but never achieved similar success. Ring magazine quoted Lyle as saying afterwards "No one does that to me."
He would return to the ring, however, but not for long. Ron retired again after a first-round knockout loss to then-rising star and undefeated power-hitting Gerry Cooney. By then, Lyle was 39 years old and his best years had gone.[11]


In 1995, at the age of 54, Lyle decided on a brief comeback. After scoring four quick knockouts over second-rate opponents, Lyle tried to get a rematch with George Foreman. However, the match was never made, and Lyle retired from boxing.[12]


While Lyle was working as a security guard in Las Vegas, Nevada, he was accused of another murder. He shot a man in his apartment who had spent time with him in the Colorado State Penitentiary. The retired boxer claimed self-defense and was found not guilty.[13] A biography, called Off the Ropes: the Ron Lyle Story, was written by Candace Toft and released by Scratching Shed Publishing in May 2010.[14]
He ran the boxing gym, Denver Red Shield in Denver, Colorado.[15] He was the former trainer of light welterweight contender Victor Ortiz, who fought out of Denver, during some his amateur career.[16]
1992 he trained a young promising talent from Las Vegas Nevada, Arash Hashemi and under his mentor Hashemi won two Golden Gloves championships.


Lyle died at the age of 70, on Saturday November 26, 2011 from complications from a sudden stomach ailment.[17] "We're gonna miss Ron. He was a friend," Earnie Shavers said.

Lyle in the media and popular culture

Ron Lyle appeared in the film 'Facing Ali', a 2009 documentary, where he discusses his life and career. About his fight against Ali, when referee Fredy Nunez stopped the fight he said "I could not believe it you know, I am ahead on all scorecards. Am I bitter? Forget about it, I never took it personal. If there don't be for Ali, you think you would be sitting here talking to Ron Lyle? About what?"[18]
During this documentary he revealed that, during his stint in prison, where he received one meal a day consisting of a bowl of spinach, he passed time by doing up to 1,000 push-ups in an hour each day.

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