The Nigerian Nightmare, Samuel Peter, ripped off his nickname from football player Christian Okoye, a running back for the Kansas City Chiefs in the late ’80s and early ’90s. So it’s catchy, but terribly unimaginative. Nevertheless, it is evocative and it has alliteration in its favor. Sam Peter’s career record to date: 34-3 with 27 kayos
Oak Tree Mark Brown isn’t a great heavyweight, but he has one of the more evocative ring names of the modern age. An oak tree is big and thick and sturdy and strong and rigid. It seems impervious to wind and weather. But they say that the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Oak Tree proved it when Joey Abell knocked him out back in ’06. This New Jerseyite is 41 years old and currently sports a record of 15-3 with 7 kayos.
Prince Badi Ajamu gets bonus points because “Prince” isn’t a nickname; it’s his given name. Ajamu isn’t retired, but he’s no spring chicken these days. At last sighting Prince Badi was providing sparring for Yusaf Mack in California. (27-3-1 with 15 kayos)
Quick Tillis – Like a lot of people who followed boxing only casually back in the ’80s, I knew who James “Quick” Tillis was, but I didn’t know that he had a first name. The man with a well-known tendency to start strong and then tire in the later rounds was simply and unironically known as “Quick.” (42-22-1 with 31 kayos)
Redtop Davis might have had the most mediocre record of any world title challenger in history when he carried a ledger of 60-50-5 into the ring to fight Sandy Saddler for the world featherweight championship in 1955. By the time he finally called it quits Redtop had amassed an incredible record of 71-75-6 with 23 wins by knockout.
Steel Will Grigsby was Minnesota’s last world title holder. Grigsby was a two-time champ, owning the IBF light flyweight title in ’98-’99 and again in ’05-’06. Maybe I should have given this spot to “Sweet Pea” Pernell Whitaker or Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis, but the insular buffoon in me just won’t allow it. (Grigsby’s record: 18-4-1 with 7 kayos)
The Brown Bomber. I’ll confess to you, I reserved the letter T as a fallback for some great name beginning with the word “The.” It turns out that despite all the marvelous boxing nicknames (The Italian Stallion, The Pazmanian Devil, The Beast, The Bayonne Bleeder, The Truth, etc, etc, etc), there’s no greater name in boxing (and no greater heavyweight ever) than Joe Louis Barrow. Final record: 68-3 with 51 kayos
Jose Ugly Arreola. Seriously. Is it a given name? A nickname? I don’t know, but if it’s a nickname, it’s an awful one that a teenaged girl would dread. I know absolutely nothing about this fighter except his name and his record, but I would certainly be interested to learn more. Final record: 4-1 with 1 kayo.
It’s a shame that Ernest Victory couldn’t do more with his name than a single bout, a first-round TKO loss, and retirement. Because if there’s one thing more important than victory, it’s fervently zealous seriousness in pursuit of a worthy objective. You know – earnestness. Final record: 0-1.
William Henry Cheatum managed to cram a seven-fight unbeaten streak and a 14-fight winless streak into one 17-year career. Cheatum’s greatest virtue, other than a willingness to fight absolutely anyone, was a name that suggested villainous intent. It must have been a ring announcer’s delight to introduce this fighter: “…and his opponent, Willie Cheatum?” The feloniously titled boxer retired in 1953 with a final record of 18-50-14 with 3 wins by knockout.
Xavier “Xavy” Moya, a native of Barcelona Spain, took the cupcake approach while building his record. Good old Xavy defeated 2-38 Csaba Olah to run his record to 26-0, then lost in his next outing to 7-5-2 Amadeo Pena Lloveras. Then he lost to Lloveras again in an improbable rematch. The high point of Xavy’s career may have been the draw with 32-3 Jose Ignacio Barruetabena contesting the Spanish Super Middleweight title in 2001, or it may have been lasting five rounds with Javier Castillejo in 2002. Xavy stumbled to a record of 1-3-2 in his last six matches before retiring in 2003. Final tally: 30-5-2 with 13 kayos.
Yory Boy Campas – I guarantee you that not one boxing fan in ten knows that the real name of this former world titlist isn’t “Yory Boy.” Luis Ramon Campas got his name in the Mexican gym of his youth, where Yory Boy meant either “Strong Boy” or “White Boy,” depending on who you ask. There’s no question that Campas was a strong boy, having run his record to 56-0 before losing for the first time to a young Felix Trinidad in 1994. Since that day Campas has gone 36-14 against a high level of competition, but lately he’s been on the slide, going 1-5-1 in his last seven bouts. Total record to date: 92-15 with 74 kayos.
From a historical standpoint, it almost doesn’t matter whether Zip Zizter ever actually existed, because his name is sublime. I might have included this name on this list even if it had been a fiction. But according to Boxrec.com, Zip Zizter was a real person, a resident of Crookston Minnesota, and he fought four times in 1928 and 1929, compiling a record of 1-2-1 with 1 knockout win. Whether Zip’s name was given to him by his parents or was merely a nom de punctum, it’s memorable and it deserves a place at the conclusion of this article. Rest In Pieces, Zippy.