Rugged heavyweight contender Ron Lyle passed away on Saturday, November 26, at the age of 70. Kieran Mulvaney of ESPN remembered Lyle today in a tribute piece:
Born in Denver in 1941, he went to prison at 19 years old for second-degree murder, although he proclaimed his innocence. While in prison, he was stabbed by a fellow inmate and needed a transfusion of 35 pints of blood to survive. But survive he did, and while incarcerated he learned how to box. In 1971, already 30 years old, he fought his first professional contest. He went undefeated in his first 19 bouts before dropping a decision to Jerry Quarry. He suffered his second defeat, also on points, to Jimmy Young in 1975. Despite that defeat, he found himself facing Ali for the title just three months later.
Lyle would lose to Ali despite fighting very well, and then after that stopped the hard-punching Earnie Shavers in six rounds. But as Kieran says, it was Lyle's brawl with George Foreman, coming back from losing the Rumble in the Jungle in October 1974, for which Lyle will be best remembered. It was a hell of a fight -- a rusty Foreman, a determined and powerful Lyle, and a fight that had it gone just a little differently, had Big George not found himself after shaking off the cobwebs, could have put the career of one of the all-time great heavyweights in serious doubt in January 1976.
If you've never seen it, you've got to watch it.
Rest in peace, Ron.