Deposing The Greatest

There’s never a bad time to pay tribute to an all-time great trainer and genius of “The Sweet Science,” but with tomorrow being the anniversary of the birth of the one-and-only Eddie Futch, now is a better time than most.

Eddie Futch
The late, great Eddie Futch.

Born in Mississippi in 1911, Futch’s family moved to Detroit when Eddie was a youngster and it was there he soon demonstrated outstanding athletic talent, excelling at track and field and playing semi-pro basketball as a teenager. Around the same time he began learning the skills of pugilism and in 1933 he won the Detroit Golden Gloves as a lightweight. Training at the Brewster Recreation Center, the same gym where Joe Louis honed his talents, he became friends with the future heavyweight king. In fact, Louis often asked the much smaller Futch to spar with him because, as he told Eddie, “If I can hit you, I know I’m sharp.”

Eddie Futch
A young Futch poses for the camera.

A heart murmur prevented Futch from embarking on a pro career so he turned his hand to coaching instead. The list of champions and Hall of Famers Eddie helped guide is a long one and includes such names as Don Jordan, Alexis Arguello, Michael Spinks, Montell Griffin, Marlon Starling, Virgil Hill, Mike McCallum, Bob Foster, Riddick Bowe, Ken Norton and Larry Holmes.

Eddie Futch and McCallum
Futch with Mike McCallum.

But Futch is no doubt best remembered for his work with Joe Frazier. Indeed, the legendary “Smokin’ Joe” might never have been such a potent aggressive force without Futch at his side, as the trainer’s keen eye and strategic thinking were instrumental in Frazier’s amazing run from 1966 to ’72. During that time Joe vanquished such top heavyweight talents as Oscar Bonavena, Eddie Machen, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo, Buster Mathis, Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis and, of course, Muhammad Ali.

Eddie Futch and Joe Frazier
A pair of legends: Futch and Frazier.

In fact, Futch is likely best remembered for the being the master-mind behind both Frazier and Ken Norton scoring impressive victories over Muhammad Ali when “The Greatest” was still in his athletic prime. While of course all credit goes to the fighters for their performances, it was Futch who devised the specific tactics which enabled both Frazier and Norton to secure the biggest wins of their careers.

Futch with Ken Norton and Frazier.

Here, Lee Wylie tells the story of how Futch gave his fighters the strategy they needed to depose the man most regard as the greatest heavyweight of all-time, in the words of Futch himself. Check it out:

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2 thoughts on “Deposing The Greatest

  • October 4, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Great article as always Eddie Futch finds the flaws in Ali boxing and exploit it to the maximum.

  • December 25, 2020 at 11:59 pm

    A fight genius Eddie Fitch has one of the highest boxing iqs ever Every fighter he trained gave Ali a hard time I’m glad he wasn’t around for the third Ali-Norton fight


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