Ingemar Johansson, the Swede who stunned the boxing world by knocking out Floyd Patterson to win the heavyweight title in 1959, has died. He was 76.
Johansson died Friday at a nursing home in Kungsbacka on the
Swedish west coast, his daughter Maria Gregner said Saturday.
Johansson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and dementia
more than 10 years ago when he lived in Stockholm.
Known as "Ingo" to Swedes, Johansson knocked out Patterson in
the third round at New York's Yankee Stadium on June 26, 1959, to
win the heavyweight title. He floored the American seven times
before referee Ruby Goldstein stopped the fight 2:03 into the
Back home, hundreds of thousands of Swedes listened to the live
radio broadcast at 3 a.m. as Johansson became only the fifth
heavyweight champion born outside the United States. Swedish
newspapers printed extra editions with Ingo on the cover.
"What he did was the biggest feat ever in Swedish sporting
history," his longtime friend Stig Caldeborn said. It earned
Johansson The Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year honors in
1959, only the second Swede to win the award.
Patterson avenged the upset loss a year later in the rematch in
New York, knocking Johansson out in the fifth round. In March 1961,
the Swede floored Patterson twice in Miami before being knocked out
in the sixth round of the rubber match. Patterson died in 2006.
Johansson had four more fights - all wins, one of them a
knockout of England's Dick Richardson for the European title in
1962 - before retiring the following year. He finished his career
with a 26-2 record, including 17 knockouts.
A well-schooled upright boxer, Johansson had a good jab that
helped set up a tremendous knockout right hand dubbed "Ingo's
Bingo" and the "Hammer of Thor."
Johansson went 61-10 with 31 KOs as a decorated amateur. His
biggest disappointment came at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki,
Finland, where he was disqualified in the heavyweight final for not
giving his best.
Johansson always claimed that he backed away in that fight in an
attempt to lure his American opponent Ed Sanders into his
right-hand counter. The Swede eventually received his silver medal
30 years later from the International Olympic Committee.
Johansson became a businessman after his boxing career. He later
moved to Florida, where he operated a hotel at Pompano Beach and
started playing golf. He also completed the Stockholm Marathon
before hundreds of thousands of spectators in 1985.
Johansson was married and divorced twice, and is survived by six
children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.