Archie Moore was the American light heavyweight world boxing champion between 1952 and 1959. Moore had one of the longest professional boxing careers in history, from the mid 1930’s to 1963. Nicknamed “The Old Mongoose,” Moore holds the record for the most career knockouts by any boxer – a total of 131 T-K-O’s. In 2003, Ring Magazine ranked Moore number 4 on the list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. He was also the only boxer to fight both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.
Moore kept his fans guessing about his age and his diet. After traveling to Australia, he found diet secrets that helped him gain and lose weight at-will for his matches. The secrets were revealed later in his autobiography. He admitted to sometimes only chewing meat and extracting the juices but not the fiber, which he spit out. He also drank sauerkraut juice flavored with lemon juice.
A Benoit, Mississippi native, Moore grew up in St. Louis, Mo. and was in and out of reformatory school as a child. Moore began in 1935 with a second-round knockout of boxer/piano mover Jones. His career took off in 1938, when he took his matches overseas in Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, the Philippines and Rome, winning all of his matches – the majority by knockout. Overseas he was called him the “Fourth of July Kid.”
By 1941, Moore had suffered several stomach ulcers and claimed retirement after surgeries. His hiatus lasted one year and he was back in the ring, soon fighting for the California middleweight title – which he won and lost. In 1955, Moore had intimidated Rocky Marciano into a match for the heavyweight title. He even spent $50,000 in advertising monies on “wanted” signs with Marciano’s picture on it to force him into the ring. He lost to Marciano in a knockout. He would go after Marciano again in September, only to be knocked out in the ninth round. At the time of the fight, Moore was 42 years old. Moore won the light heavyweight belt in 1952 and kept it until 1958, after defending his title four times.
In his last big professional fight, Moore went up against Cassius Clay, his former student. Clay fired Moore as his coach because he didn’t want to do the janitorial work Moore suggested during his training. Clay told the press that “Archie Moore must fall in four.” And in the 4th round, Moore was TKO’d. Shortly after, Moore announced his retirement.
Moore’s final record was 185 wins, 23 losses, 11 draws and 1 no contest, with 131 official knockouts. He started an acting career, appearing in episodes of “Family Affair”, “Batman”, “Wagon Train” and “Perry Mason”. He also played a runaway slave in a film adaptation of Huckleberry Finn.
Archie Moore died on December 9, 1998 in San Diego. According to the New York Times, Moore was 84 years old.
The oldest boxer to win the world’s light heavyweight crown, Archie Moore, was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.