English 'Bouie' Fisher dies at 83

Updated: July 1, 2011, 11:43 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

This story has been corrected. Read below

English "Bouie" Fisher, the Philadelphia trainer who guided Bernard Hopkins for most of his career, including to the undisputed middleweight championship, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 83.

Fisher was a mainstay of the Philadelphia boxing scene for decades. Although he worked with many fighters during his long career, he is best known for training Hopkins.

Fisher took Hopkins, an ex-convict with an 0-1 professional record, under his wing in 1989 and helped lead him to a middleweight title in 1994.

With the quiet Fisher manning his corner, Hopkins would go on to become the undisputed 160-pound champion in 2001 when he won promoter Don King's Middleweight World Championship Series by outpointing Keith Holmes in the semifinals. He then delivered a tour de force in the final -- a 12th-round knockout of favored Felix Trinidad.

Hopkins' win against Trinidad was the crowning moment of Fisher's career. His relationship with Hopkins, however, would not last.

In early 2002, Fisher and Hopkins went through a nasty breakup and the trainer sued Hopkins, claiming he had been underpaid by $255,000 for three bouts -- against Holmes, Trinidad and Carl Daniels.

They were apart for 18 months before reuniting in late 2003. Fisher was with Hopkins when he knocked out Oscar De La Hoya in the ninth round in 2004 and also when he outpointed Howard Eastman in 2005 for his record-setting 20th middleweight title defense.

Fisher was also with Hopkins when he lost a decision and the undisputed title to Jermain Taylor in July 2005. That would be their last fight together.

They split again before Hopkins' December 2005 rematch against Taylor with Naazim Richardson, Fisher's longtime assistant, taking over as Hopkins' head trainer. Another lawsuit followed in which Fisher claimed Hopkins owed him more than $200,000 in unpaid money from other bouts, including the De La Hoya fight.

Although Hopkins and Fisher never mended fences, Hopkins knew he was ill and visited him in the hospital last week when Fisher's son, James, who had been an important part of Hopkins' team when his father was training him, got in touch with Hopkins to tell him about his father's condition.

"Bouie was a man's man, a gentle soul and a great trainer," said promoter Lou DiBella, a longtime friend. "He had a laid back attitude and was a quiet guy, but make no mistake, that quiet nature should never have been taken for weakness. He was a very strong person. He was a great parent, a great family man and just an old-school trainer. They don't make them like that anymore."

Fisher, who boxed as an amateur and professionally in the late 1940s, won the 2001 Boxing Writers Association of America's Eddie Futch-John F.X. Condon Award for trainer of the year, the same year Hopkins won fighter of the year.

"He was a good friend and an amazing guy," DiBella said. "I always admired Bouie and always thought his sons had a lot of his dignity in them."

Among the other fighters Fisher, who counted Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson among his boxing heroes, worked with were heavyweights Hasim Rahman and Jesse Ferguson, light heavyweight Will Taylor and junior welterweight Ivan Robinson.

Fisher is survived by his wife, Peggy; eight children, Andre, Bernadette, Bernard, Cecilia, James, Josephine, Valerie and Victoria; and 15 grandchildren.

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.

A June 30 story on ESPN.com incorrectly noted the first name of trainer English "Bouie" Fisher, who died earlier that day.