Jimmy Bivins, a boxing great of the 1940s and 1950s who defeated some of the greatest fighters of his time, has died at 92.
Bivins died of complications from pneumonia early Wednesday at an East Cleveland nursing home, according to his family.
Bivins retired from boxing in 1955 after more than 100 professional fights and was inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999.
He never fought for a world title, but in 1942 he was given the unprecedented ranking of No. 1 contender in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. He met seven fellow Hall of Famers, beating four, and 11 world champions, defeating eight.
Bivins had winning bouts with world champions Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles, Gus Lesnevich, Melio Bettina, Anton Christoforidis and Teddy Yarosz. He also went the distance with Joe Louis and fought Jersey Joe Walcott to a split-decision.
He finished with a record of 86-25-1 (31 KO).
Gene Glen, secretary of the Ohio State Former Boxers & Associates Inc., said Bivins was an outstanding fighter, who made ”outstanding contributions, not only as a boxer, but also as a human being.”
Bivins taught kids about boxing in his later years, said Jerry Nelson, who is married to Bivins’ nephew.
The year before Bivins was inducted into the Hall of Fame, police found him in the attic of his daughter’s Cleveland house. He was covered with bedsores and weighed only 110 pounds (50 kilograms), 70 pounds (32 kilograms) below his fighting weight. Bivins’ son-in-law later pleaded guilty to criminal neglect.
Bivins recovered and lived with a sister for years before moving to the nursing home in 2009, Nelson said.
”He was a kind and gentle man who always had a smile on his face,” Nelson said.
She said Bivins is survived by a daughter, five grandchildren and several great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Funeral arrangements were pending.