Soon after the boxing world has made peace with the passing of Joe Frazier, another boxing legend from the Golden Years of boxing in the 1970s has passed away. Ron Lyle died this Saturday on the 26th of November after a brief stomach illness.
He was 70.
Unlike other boxers Ron Lyle had a strange introduction to boxing. He did not start his career as a young boxer turning pro at an early age but instead he learnt the sport at the most unlikely of places - Colorado State Penitentiary. Soon after dropping
out of high school, Denver’s Ron Lyle was convicted of second degree murder and was given a prison terms for taking the life of Douglas Byrd. While in prison he excelled at boxing, basketball and football. His career could have been thwarted before it even
kicked off when he was stabbed in the abdomen by a fellow inmate. He was pronounced dead twice by the medical staff but Lyle was a fighter and he fought his death to make a name for himself in boxing. After serving seven and a half years in prison, he was
let out on parole in 1969. He wanted to proof to his parents that he could make a name for himself and he began boxing as an amateur upon his release.
Ron Lyle fought 29 amateur fights before he turned pro at the age of 30. He got his initial training in prison and he credits the athletic director for giving purpose to his life. Before turning pro he had one loss while at prison in his first ever bout.
He was well prepared to fight professionally even at the ripe age of 30.
He fought Jerry Quarry in 1973 a fight he lost on points. He would fight Jimmy Young in 1975 but his true moment came in 1975 when he fought the great Mohammad Ali for the title of the Heavyweight box champion of the world, in his second reign as champion.
It was an intriguing fight. Ron Lyle was leading on all three judges card till the 11th round. Ali in his usual manner was boxing rope a dope but Lyle being a true fighter was punching his way through Ali till Ali countered in the 11th
round by hitting a right punch followed by a combination to Lyle’s head. The referee stopped the fight awarding the fight to Ali as a Technical Knock Out. After the fight Lyle did not show any signs of injury and he was robbed off a fair result.
He fought another great of the sport George Foreman in 1976. After Foreman had lost his title to Ali at the Rumble in the Jungle, he fought Lyle. The match was won by George Foreman in the 5th Round but does not tell the whole story. Lyle came
out guns blazing knocking Foreman down twice in the 4th round but he was eventually knocked out by Foreman in the 5th round to win. Besides Ali, Lyle is the only other boxer to have floored the former champion.
Lyle’s career never reached the same heights. After fighting lower ranked boxers, he hung up his gloves by 1979 when his own prowess declined. He retired as a security guard in Las Vegas and trained Victor Ortiz.
Ron Lyle never became a champion but he fought as one. He learnt the sport while at prison in adversarial circumstances and can really hold his head up high while fighting the greats from the Golden Years of boxing.