‘The Greatest’. ‘Iron’. ‘Sugar Ray’. ‘Hands of Stone’. You can name the boxers just from these iconic designations. Nicknames go a long way to painting the lasting image we have of a boxer. But despite the iconic legacies of Ali, Tyson, Robinson (or Leonard if you prefer) and Duran, their nicknames are not the very best around.
No, we think we can do better. To that end, The Sportsman is bringing a little boxing to your post-Boxing Day haze. Here is our definitive list of the ten best, most creative, funniest or downright coolest nicknames the sport has ever produced. There are world champions, legends, fringe contenders and forgotten men. This list is judged purely on the quality of the nickname. Sorry ‘Big’ George Foreman and Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, this is one ranking of boxing greatness you won’t be included in.
Without further ado, here are the greatest nicknames in boxing history.
‘The Hispanic Causing Panic’ Juan Lazcano
The Mexican contender never quite reached his potential, losing world title challenges to Ricky Hatton and Jose Luis Castillo. But as far as nicknames go, his rhyming attempt at intimidation was an all-timer. Reports that he went through an emo phase and attended a disco are thus far unconfirmed.
‘The Explosive Thin Man’ Alexis Arguello
The legendary Nicaraguan was a three-weight world champion, best known for his astonishing wars with Aaron Pryor. Arguello actually had two nicknames, but ‘The Gentleman of the Ring’ just can’t compete with the evocative brilliance of ‘The Explosive Thin Man’.
O’Neil ‘Give Em Hell’ Bell
A nickname that doubles as a handy pre-fight call to arms. Bell certainly gave Jean-Marc Mormeck hell when unifying the undisputed cruiserweight title in 2006. The Jamaican would drop his titles in a rematch before losing two of his last three fights and retiring in 2011.
‘The Bayonne Bleeder’ Chuck Wepner
A boxer’s moniker is supposed to inspire fear into an opponent, but Wepner’s was all about what happened when you smacked him in the face. The real-life inspiration behind Rocky Balboa, he shared the screen icon’s tendency to wear the crimson mask.
Owen ‘What The Heck’ Beck
What The Heck’ is amusingly PG, using a swear word only Ned Flanders would flee from. Beck challenged for the WBA heavyweight title in 2006, getting stopped in three rounds by Nikolai Valuev. He lost the last ten fights of his career, leading many to ask “What The Heck” he was still doing in a boxing ring.
Andrew ‘Six Heads’ Lewis
This one’s slightly dishonest. Like most boxers, Andrew Lewis only actually had one head. How would having six heads even be an advantage in boxing? Surely giving the other guy half a dozen chins to smash in is a terrible idea? Anyway, it didn’t hold Lewis back, he won the WBA welterweight title in 2001.
Roman ‘Made In Hell’ Karmazin
Sounding less like a boxer and more like the singer of a 1980s thrash metal outfit, Karmazin’s demonic nom de plume is wonderful. The Russian gave names like Kassim Ouma, Keith Holmes and Bronco McKart all the hell they could handle in the 2000s.
‘The Upstate Onion Farmer’ Carmen Basilio
This one evokes the glory days of the WWF, where wrestlers all had day jobs like The Undertaker. When he wasn’t slinging shallots, Basilio was building a legacy as one of the greatest middleweights ever to do it. The fact he beat ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson for the middleweight championship in 1957 says it all.
Michael ‘Second To’ Nunn
Thankfully avoiding anything blasphemous, Nunn instead went for some delicate wordplay. The great two-weight world champion was anything but delicate between the ropes. Wins over Frank Tate, Iran Barkley and Donald Curry backed up the assertion made in his pseudonym.
David ‘Tuamanator’ Tua
Tua was not actually a cyborg sent back from the future to knock out Robert Patrick. But he was a tough, exciting contender during the heavyweight heyday of the 1990s. Former champions Oleg Maskaev, Hasim Rahman and Michael Moorer were among those who fell to his mighty fists.
Bonus Missed Opportunity Nicknames
Some of the greatest fighters of all time had classic nicknames right there for the taking. But sadly not everyone can share the immense vision of Owen Beck or Juan Lazcano. So here’s our attempts at spicing up some of boxing’s finest.
Tyson ‘Fists Of’ Fury
Evander ‘Houses Of The’ Holyfield
Marvin ‘The Negotiator’ Hagler
Bernard ‘Witchfinder’ Hopkins
Johnny ‘Vice-Admiral’ Nelson
Roy ‘Me And Mrs’ Jones Jr
Muhammad ‘Bowling’ Ali
Roberto ‘Duran’ Duran
Okay, I’ll stop.