IN THE ring, Gene Fullmer was substance over style.
A mormon from West Jordan, Utah, Gene Fullmer turned pro in 1951, one month before his 20th birthday. He scored knockouts in 14 of his first 16 pro fights while campaigning primarily in the West. Among his significant early victories was a points win over future middleweight champ Paul Pender. Wins over Rocky Castellani, Gil Turner and Ralph "Tiger" Jones in 1956 moved him into title contention.
He captured the middleweight title in 1957 by decisioning legendary champion Sugar Ray Robinson. Again, it was Fullmer's ability to endure punishment and his tireless attack that carried him to victory. In a rematch with Robinson four months later, Sugar Ray scored a one-punch knockout, delivering a left hook in the fifth round that some have called "the perfect punch."
Two years later, Fullmer won the NBA middleweight title by scoring a 14th-round knockout of Carmen Basilio. Seven successful title defenses followed. In that span, he beat Spider Webb, Basilio, Robinson, Florentino Fernandez and Benny Paret and fought to draws against Robinson (in their fourth and final fight) and Joey Giardello.
His reign as middleweight champion ended in 1962 with a 15-round loss against Dick Tiger. Theu fought a rematch in 1963 and the bout ended in a draw. A third match follwed and Fullmer retired after getting knocked out in the seventh round.
Born: July 21, 1931
Died: April 27, 2015