George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln have had their iconic faces carved out of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The four former United States presidents were chosen to represent American history and America’s cultural heritage in a monument known as Mount Rushmore.
What four boxers would be on the world of boxing's Mount Rushmore? A Mount Punchmore if you will. It is not limited to just Americans or even just champions or even just boxers. It can be trainers, promoters, TV execs and so on. Who should represent boxing history and boxing's cultural heritage?
1) At one time the most famous man in the world. He was as recognizable as the symbol for Coke. He was Michael Jackson before Michael Jackson. Jordan before Jordan. Any boxing monument without this man would illicit the same question from every visitor...where's Ali? Just to avoid such criticism the self-proclaimed "greatest" must be carved in.
He was a gold medal winner. A three-time heavyweight champion when being the heavyweight champion meant everything. He was the catalysis for 3 of the biggest fights in boxing history. He brought trash talk to legitimate sports. His views and musings made him a cultural icon inside and outside the ring.
The man is still revered today as a sporting figure, cultural figure and sympathetic figure. Boxing's most famous champion suffering from boxing's biggest criticism. He was Ring Magazine's boxer of the year more times than any other fighter. This young man rumbled to participating in more Ring magazine's fight of the year than any other fighter. The stinging Butterfly has beaten 7 other hall of famers. The pretty Muhammad Ali has his young round face on Pugilists Point.
2) This fearsome champion generated the first million dollar gate. Cities came to a halt to listen to his bouts. He was one of the riches athletes of his time. But most importantly, he changed boxing into what it is known for today, changed it to what fans now love about boxing. This Scowler took the sport from slow and calculating, men posing, and looking defense first. To ferocious aggression, ripping massive combinations meant to maim and KO. This was at a time when fighters normally looked to toss one punch at a time and allow the rounds to accumulate almost as quickly as the punches thrown.
This Mauler was vicious. He was brutal. He was what a champion came to be known for. Any KO artist is an offshoot of this transcending champion. He changed the sport forever, for the good and without that change, the sport does not reach the heights it has. Jack Dempsey's worn and intimidating face fits perfectly into the stone on Mount Sweet Science.
3) This man was so good he was the reason the pound-for-pound list was created. When the heavyweight champion was just assumed to be the best in the world, he was so good that there had to be a way to illustrate who was really the very best.
He is the real "Greatest." He beat at least 7 hall of famers. This sweet boxer could also really punch and ruled as a welterweight champ. Then as a middleweight champ. He went as far up as to challenge at light heavy. Fought well, but could not sustain and ultimately lost the bout. He's almost unanimously considered the best to ever to stick both hands into leather. Not too much reason to go on too much longer because Sugar Ray Robinson is chiseled into Mount Macho.
4) This man fought them all. At a time when boxers protected their records more than their bank accounts. This champion fought roughly 8 or so current or future Hall of famers. He came up at a time when the heavies made all the real money. But he ended up out-drawing them all, producing nearly 700 million in pay-per-view cash.
With all the great Hispanic fighters that have graced the pound-for-pounds, this pretty boy is the only one to make the mountain. He was a champion in 6 separate weight classes. He owns the most successful promotional company of any former fighter, or athlete. And to avoid every lady dragged to boxing's great monument asking, where's Oscar, his features must be featured. And if a boxer's face is going to be carved 50 ft high it might as well be Oscar De La Hoya.
There it is, a Mount Olympus of boxing. A mountain of greatness. The four most deserving boxers to represent boxing history and boxing's culture. Get the dynamite ready, but no, Kid Dynamite did not make the mountain. Start searching for the granite to carve out the granite chins. And yes, it is regrettable that "Hands of Stone" didn't make it, Rocky Marciano just missed, and obviously no Hasim Rahman.
(created off an idea from a sports network)-Genco