Boxing Boxing

Defeat to Ali best sporting moment of my life, says Dunn

Ali, pictured at a pre-fight lunch in the West End in 1963, had two fights with Henry Cooper in the capital.
Ali, pictured at a pre-fight lunch in the West End in 1963, had two fights with Henry Cooper in the capital.

LONDON, United Kingdom, June 5 – A fifth round stoppage by boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a world title fight remains former top British boxer Richard Dunn’s favourite sporting moment he told the Press Association on Sunday.

Dunn, 71, proved to be the late Ali’s last British opponent in his final bout in Europe when he pummelled the then British, Commonwealth and European champion sending him to the canvas five times including twice in the fifth round in Munich before the referee stopped the bout in May 1976.

However, Dunn in paying homage to Ali — who died of septic shock on Friday at the age of 74 after decades of battling Parkinson’s disease — said he would not swap that experience for anything.

“It goes on forever, that night,” Dunn told the Press Association.

“I think it was the best sporting moment of my life. Even getting there and walking down to the ring and waiting for him to come in was phenomenal.

“It was just a good fight. He was the best man on the night and that was it. I had no arguments with it.”

Dunn, who became president of his local Parkinsons UK branch out of respect to Ali, had endured the traditional smart talk from his opponent just weeks before the fight on English Television when the American referred to his experience in the British Army.

“So you’ve taken 67 parachute drops,” Ali said on the ITV programme ‘This is Your Life’.

“Well, I want you to mark this down now: you have one more big drop to come, a big hard drop, it’s going to be the longest sharp drop you’ve ever had.”

Ali predicted to a T how the fight would go, for when he handed his gloves over to the promoter after the bout so they could be sold to help a boxer, who had lost an eye, inside one was ‘Ali wins’ and in the other ‘the fifth’.

However, Dunn just remembers him as a hugely impressive person.

“He had charisma, style, panache,” he said.

“He had everything and he knew how to work a crowd, he knew exactly what to do.”

Dunn, who lost his subsequent two bouts prompting him to retire from the ring, saw Ali again when he came for a four day visit to Newcastle in the north east of England in 1977.

“I’ll never forget him. I considered him a friend,” said Dunn.

“I’ve got the original tape of our fight. It’s locked away in the bank. I’m not going to lose it so I’ve had copies made and given those out.”

Dunn, though, won’t be making his way to Louisville for Friday’s public memorial service in honour of the great man.

“I’ll say goodbye in my own way,” said Dunn.