Monday, 2 May 2011

Henry Cooper: 1934 - 2011

British boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper has died, aged 76

Sir Henry Cooper OBE (3 May 1934 – 1 May 2011) was an English Heavy weight Boxer known for a particularly effective left hook (known as "Enry's 'Ammer") and his knockdown of the young Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay. Cooper held the British and European heavyweight boxing titles, and, following his retirement from the sport, continued his career as a television and radio personality. In later years, he retired from commentary on boxing as he became "disillusioned with boxing", wanting "straight, hard and fast boxing that he was used to from his times." Cooper received an OBE in 1969 and a Knighthood in 2000. He was enormously popular in Britain: he was the first (and is today one of just three people) to twice win the public vote for BBC Sports Personality of the year Award

Henry Cooper was born in Westminster, London. He and his identical twin brother, George (who died in 2010), grew up in a council house on the Bellignham Estate on Farmstead Road, South East London, although during the Second World War they were evacuated to Lancing on the Sussex Coast.

Around 1942, their father, Henry Senior, was called up to serve in the war; the rest of the family did not see him again for almost three years. The twins attended Athelney Road School in Lewisham. The Cooper brothers were particularly close growing up and, in his biography, Henry talks of how they came to each other's aid when things turned nasty in the school playground. One particular incident landed the young Henry his first knockout in the playground. At school, the only subject that seemed to interest Henry was history, where he enjoyed acting out scenarios.

Life was tough in the latter years of the Second World W ar, and London life especially brought many dangers during the blackout. Henry took up many jobs, including a paper round before school and made money out of recycling golf balls to the clubhouse on the Beckenham course. All three of the Cooper brothers excelled in sport, with George and Henry exercising talents particularly in Football and also Cricket. George Cooper, Henry's twin, died on 11 April 2010 at the age of 75.

Henry Cooper is best known for knocking down Muhammad Ali. However he defeated a string of well known heavyweights during his career, including; Zora Folley, Roy Harris, Karl Mildenberger & Alex Miteff . Henry died on 1 May 2011 at his son's house in Surrey, after a long illness.

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