Azumah Nelson’s name doesn’t just roll off the tongue; it jumps off – nay, it zooms off the tongue! The Ghanaian boxer adopted the professional handle “The Professor,” but he need not have done so. When your real name is as memorable as “Azumah Nelson,” an unoriginal affectation like “The Professor” is merely a distraction. (39-6-2 with 28 kayos)
Bonecrusher Smith’s real name was James, but how intimidating is James Smith? Bonecrusher was a household name back in the ’80s. Why? Not because he was a great fighter (though he was the WBA heavyweight champ until he met Mike Tyson), but because he had a great name. “Bonecrusher” is evocative; it brings to mind the image of an awful ogre loudly smashing the desiccated skeletal remains of his vanquished enemies with a hammer – or with his teeth – while the osseous dust of the unfortunates clouds the air white. (44-17-1 with 32 kayos)
Crawford Grimsley carried an old man’s name from infancy. And it’s a good thing, because like the legendary boy named Sue, it seems to have helped him develop a prizefighter’s requisite toughness. Grimsley started his career with seven straight first-round knockouts and had built up a record of 20-0 with 18 stoppages before being matched with George Foreman in 1996. Grimsley lasted all twelve rounds in the unanimous decision loss, but it was the beginning of the end for his career; Grimsley only won twice more before retiring, both wins coming against opponents with awful records. (22-4-1 with 20 kayos)
Dakota Terror couldn’t possibly have been his real name. After all, his final career record was 0-3 with all three losses coming by knockout. That’s why it couldn’t really have been his name; a man who can wear a name like Dakota Terror with confidence will find that his most of his fights are already won before he climbs into the ring. (0-3)
Eric Crumble’s name is real, and it is real fitting. James Eric Crumble fought 31 times between 1990 and 2003, losing all 31 bouts by knockout or technical knockout. Crumble? Don’t mind if I do! (0-31)
“Fabulous Freddie” or “Fabulous Fred” Moore reminds me of a young man who my wife used to work with when she was a waitress. I can’t tell you his real name, but we called him Fabulous Freddie Fingertoes. Maybe I have an affinity for Fabulous Freddies of any variety, or maybe my selection of this Minnesota fighter is proof of my provincialism. Moore finished his career with 5 straight losses and 7 losses in his last 8 bouts, ending up with a final record of 30-8 with 27 kayos.
Gunboat Smith (real name Edward J. Smyth) received his nickname during his time in the US Navy, and not because of his power, or fabulous offensive output – it was allegedly the size of his feet that won him the appellation. Regardless, it’s one of the best monikers ever bestowed on a fighter. (53-28-10 with 39 kayos)
Harry Dick – there’s one in every crowd. In my younger days I delivered packages to a farmer in Goodhue County, Minnesota, whose name was Harry Dick. I also heard from a farmer friend of a milk truck driver in eastern North Dakota whose name was Harry Dick. Then there’s the Harry Dick who lost by 3rd-round knockout to Luigi Buffi (I am not making this up) in Paris France in his only known bout, in 1927. I wonder: were the Frogs in on the joke? Does Harry Dick mean the same thing in French that it does in English? (0-1)
Israel “Izzy” Vasquez? “Iron” Mike Tyson? “Irish” Mickey Ward? I’m almost tempted to select Anthony Ivory here to avoid making a hard choice, but in the end I have to go with Iron Mike. Tyson was a frighteningly in-control monster before he was a frighteningly out-of-control monster. If you followed boxing in the late ’80s and early ’90s you know what I mean. Tyson finished his career a laughingstock, but nobody was laughing when 34-0 Mike Tyson dumped 31-0 Michael Spinks for a KO only 90 seconds into first round in 1988. (50-6 with 44 kayos)
Jimmy Thunder was a big punching heavyweight from Samoa, a man of prominent yet ineffective chin, who achieved knocked-out status in seven of his fourteen career losses. Thunder was a strikingly handsome man, but his game had some ugly flaws. (35-14 with 28 kayos)
Andy “Kaos” Kolle – Okay, I admit the name doesn’t really fit – Kolle’s style of boxing is anything but chaotic. And it’s spelled wrong, I know. But the nickname is alliterative and it’s unique (as far as I know). And he’s a good Minnesota kid. Bottom line: I like him, and this is my article. (21-2 with 15 kayos)
Limey Aldrich may have been an Englishman or he may not have been. I don’t know, and I doubt that anyone else does, either. Regardless, Limey is one of my favorite epithets for those scurvy-prone sailor boys from across the sea, and I applaud this long-deceased pugilist for having taken such a delightful alias. (0-2)
Mills Lane is famous for being a boxing referee, and perhaps even more so for his eponymous TV show. He is also remembered by some for having been a competent attorney and an honest judge. A referee friend tells me that Lane was an entertaining and informative lecturer at referees clinics. But before all that, Judge Mills Lane was a successful amateur boxer (record 45-4) and a professional fighter (record 10-1).