Retired -- and stayed retired
Graham Houston lists seven fighters that walked away from boxing while at the peek of their powers and never looked back.
Born in Japan to North Korean parents, Tokuyama (real name Changsoo Hong) officially retired last year, but he had been inactive for a year after retaining his WBC 115-pound title against Jose Navarro in February 2006. It had been thought that Tokuyama, who had struggled to make weight, would return in the bantam division. However, he was unable to secure a match with the 118-pound champion, Hozumi Hasegawa, and, now 32, he told the Japanese press that he had lost his motivation.
Thailand's Galaxy retired in December 1991 after 19 successful defenses of the 115-pound title. He was 32 and felt he had achieved all he wanted to achieve. It seems he was never tempted to come back.
Gene Tunney was always a cerebral sort, and an attractive life in high society, plus business opportunities, awaited him when he retired as heavyweight champion after stopping Tom Heeney, the "Hard Rock" from New Zealand, in July 1928 in his second title defense. The perception of Tunney was that he was never very much in love with boxing and thus would have found it easier than most to retire while still on top. The boxing public of the day preferred the rough, tough Jack Dempsey, whom Tunney twice defeated. Tunney had shown himself to be a real fighter, however, when going the distance despite suffering severe punishment in his only loss, against the great middleweight champion Harry Greb.
Marciano is the name that everyone thinks of first as a fighter who retired at the top and never came back -- the only heavyweight champion to have gone through his entire career undefeated. Marciano was 32 when he symbolically hung up a pair of boxing gloves at a news conference in April 1956. He had made six successful championship defenses and had started to grow weary of the long training camps and monk-like dedication that his attrition method of fighting required him to undergo. There were no real challenges for Marciano when he retired -- apart from a rematch with Archie Moore, whom he had just knocked out in an exciting fight, or a bout with the young Floyd Patterson. He decided that it was as good a time as any to leave the sport -- although there was a comeback of sorts in his much-hyped "computer" bout with Muhammad Ali. Graham Houston is the American editor of Boxing Monthly and writes for FightWriter.com.
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