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The history of heavyweight boxing champions is rich and filled with legendary fighters. Here’s a list of some of the most famous heavyweight boxing champions up to my knowledge cutoff date in September 2021:
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John L. Sullivan (1882-1892) – Often regarded as the first widely recognized heavyweight champion under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.
James J. Corbett (1892-1897) defeated John L. Sullivan in the first gloved heavyweight championship fight under the Queensberry Rules.
Bob Fitzsimmons (1897-1899) – Fitzsimmons was known for his tremendous punching power.
James J. Jeffries (1899-1905) – Jeffries was a dominant champion, retiring undefeated.
Jack Johnson (1908-1915) – Johnson became the first African American to win the heavyweight title.
Jess Willard (1915-1919) – Willard defeated Jack Johnson to become champion.
Jack Dempsey (1919-1926) – Dempsey was a ferocious fighter and a cultural icon during the “Roaring Twenties.”
Gene Tunney (1926-1928, 1928-1930) twice defeated Jack Dempsey in title bouts.
Max Schmeling (1930-1932) – A German boxer who briefly held the title during the early 1930s.
Jack Sharkey (1932-1933) won the title after defeating Max Schmeling.
Primo Carnera (1933-1934) – An Italian boxer who became champion during the 1930s.
Max Baer (1934-1935) – Baer was known for his mighty right hand.
James J. Braddock (1935-1937) – Braddock was an unlikely champion who defeated Max Baer.
Joe Louis (1937-1949) – Louis is often considered one of the greatest heavyweight champions in history.
Ezzard Charles (1949-1951) – Charles was a skilled boxer who held the title for a brief period.
Jersey Joe Walcott (1951-1952) – He defeated Ezzard Charles to become champion.
Rocky Marciano (1952-1956) – Marciano retired undefeated as champion, holding a record of 49-0.
Floyd Patterson (1956-1959, 1960-1962) became the youngest heavyweight champion at 21.
Sonny Liston (1962-1964) – Liston was a dominant force in the heavyweight division.
Muhammad Ali (1964-1967, 1974-1978, 1978-1979) – Ali is one of the most iconic figures in boxing history.
Joe Frazier (1970-1973) – Frazier had a famous rivalry with Muhammad Ali.
George Foreman (1973-1974, 1994-1995) – Foreman had two reigns as heavyweight champion.
Leon Spinks (1978) – Spinks briefly held the title after defeating Muhammad Ali.
Larry Holmes (1978-1985) – Holmes was a dominant champion and had a long reign.
Mike Tyson (1986-1990) – Tyson was known for his explosive knockouts.
Evander Holyfield (1990-1992, 1993-1994, 1996-1999) – Holyfield had multiple reigns as champion and faced many top opponents.
Lennox Lewis (1992-1994, 1997-2001, 2001-2003) was a highly skilled and respected champion.
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