James Smith (boxer)

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James Smith
Champions for Kids.jpg
Smith in 2018
Height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Reach82 in (208 cm)
Born (1953-04-03) April 3, 1953 (age 66)
Magnolia, North Carolina, U.S.
Boxing record
Total fights62
Wins by KO32

James "Bonecrusher" Smith (born April 3, 1953) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1981 to 1999, and held the WBA heavyweight title from 1986 to 1987.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born in Magnolia, North Carolina. After graduating from high school in, he attended James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, North Carolina, earning an associate's degree in Business Administration in 1973.[1] Two years later, he earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.[1]

Amateur career[edit]

After serving in the US military and working as a prison guard, Smith competed as an amateur compiling a record of 35–4,[2] before turning professional in November 1981, at the late age of 28.

Professional career[edit]

He lost his first fight against James "Broad-Axe" Broad, a world class amateur and qualifier for the 1980 Olympics who was 2–0 as a pro. The fight was broadcast on ESPN, and Smith had come in at short notice and was not in great shape, looking out of depth against the skilled Broad. Smith was dropped in 4 rounds with body shots, and counted out.

The following year Smith upset future cruiserweight world champion and southpaw Ricky Parkey, then 2–0 as a pro, by winning a 6-round points decision. After scoring two knockouts, Smith followed up the Parkey win with another upset, an 8-round points decision over Chris McDonald, who was 8–0–1 as a pro and had been a top amateur. He went on to score nine straight knockouts, before traveling to the UK in 1984 to fight a world title eliminator against the hard hitting undefeated British prospect Frank Bruno, who was 21–0 (21 KO). Once again Bonecrusher would throw a spanner in the works. Having been outboxed with relative ease by Bruno for the first nine rounds, he unleashed a salvo of power punches to KO Bruno in the tenth and final round, and qualified for a world title shot. The fight showed all his strengths and weaknesses — he couldn't box with the best, but had a great chin and world class power in both hands.

In November 1984 he fought the long reigning Larry Holmes for the IBF heavyweight championship. Holmes had a record of 45–0 and had won eighteen straight world title fights. After rocking Holmes several times, a waning Smith was stopped on advice of the doctor in the 12th round, due to a bad cut. He again was behind on points.

Smith came back in 1985 relegated to fighting on Don King undercards. He lost a 10-round decision to 19–0 amateur star and future world champ Tony Tubbs in an eliminator, won a 10-round decision over 18–1 Cuban contender Jose Ribalta, but then he dropped a wide 12-round decision to ex-world champ Tim Witherspoon in a bid for Witherspoon's NABF belt.

1986 started no better as he dropped Marvis Frazier, also breaking Frazier's jaw, but still lost the 10-round decision. At this time Bonecrusher began consulting a psychiatrist. In his next fight he demolished hard-punching ex-world champ Mike Weaver in one round. He followed it up with two 10-round decisions over Jesse Ferguson (14–2) and David Bey (15–2), arguably his most important decision wins.

In December 1986, while preparing for a fight with the erratic Mitch "Blood" Green, Don King informed him at short notice that Tony Tubbs had dropped out of his upcoming challenge to reigning WBA champ Tim Witherspoon, and now Smith would be getting a rematch with his former conqueror, his second world title fight. Knowing of Witherspoon's mental weariness and lack of passion due to a never ending legal war with King, Smith came out fast. He dropped the usually durable Witherspoon three times in the opening round, scoring a first-round knockout and winning the WBA title in an upset.[3]

With his surprising victory over Witherspoon, Smith took his place in the heavyweight unification series, an ongoing competition being conducted by HBO and King to try to crown an undisputed world heavyweight champion for the first time since the retirement of Muhammad Ali. The victory garnered Smith another high-profile fight, where he was to defend his belt against newly crowned WBC champion Mike Tyson in a unification contest. Taking place on March 7, 1987, the bout saw Tyson beat Smith to the punch in nearly every round while Smith resorted to holding to keep himself in the fight. The lopsided decision saw Smith lose eleven rounds on two scorecards and all twelve on another, and the professional consequences were worse as Tyson's management refused to allow Smith to fight on any Tyson undercards afterwards.

Final years[edit]

He returned to the ring for a few months. He took on Brazilian contender Adilson "Maguila" Rodrigues in São Paulo, but dropped a very controversial decision.

In 1989, now aged 36, he took on the young power-punching Jamaican-Canadian Donovan (Razor) Ruddock. Smith's own punch power was still evident as he decked Ruddock hard in the 2nd round, but seemed to punch himself out trying to finish Ruddock, who was a crafty survivor. The next few rounds saw Smith tire, as Ruddock's youth and power overwhelmed him, knocking him clean out in the 7th round for the full 10 count. Ruddock would go on to become a star and feature in several high-profile fights. Smith's career appeared to be over. He announced his retirement after the loss and said he would now pursue politics.

Smith was back in the ring only two months later, KOing journeyman Calvin Jones jaw and followed up with three more knockouts before being matched with former victim Mike Weaver in a battle of hard hitting ex-champs. This time Smith was resigned to having to win a dull 12 round points decision over Weaver, although he did score a knockdown in a brief moment of excitement. He also earned the WBA Americas belt, and a world ranking.

After a year layoff he was back, now aged 38, and scored six knockouts, including a notable 8-round knockout of the cement-skulled journeyman Everett (Bigfoot) Martin (who had just taken George Foreman the distance), and a first-round knockout of equally hard hitting ex-contender Jeff Sims.

However he lost his world ranking and all his momentum in November 1991 when he dropped a shocking 10-round decision to club fighter Levi Billups who had a patchy 15–5 record. Smith looked under-prepared as he was banged around and generally outhustled by Billups. He rallied to knock down the underdog in the 9th, however it was too little too late.

Still active in 1992, now aged 39 and with a 33–9–1 record, Smith regained some credibility with a 10-round decision over Mark Wills. His old agitator Don King gave him another opportunity on one of his undercards and matched him with warhorse Greg Page, in a battle of two ex-champs. In the opening round Bonecrusher tried to rush Page as he had done Witherspoon, however was decked himself for his efforts, and was outpunched by Page over the 10 round distance.

In 1993 Smith lost to undefeated southpaw and #1 contender Michael Moorer. The paying audience jeered the two passive fighters through to the 10 round finish, where Smith lost a lopsided decision.

Smith competed in the One-Night Heavyweight Tournament in Bay St Louis (not included in the official record, counted as show), where a group of heavies of varying quality would fight a series of 3 round fights with the winner being awarded one million dollars. He beat Lester Jackson and Marshall Tillman, before losing in the semi-final to Romanian prospect Daniel Dăncuţă. Smith's old buddy Tony (TNT) Tubbs eventually won.

In 1994 he was matched with power punching Tyson-lookalike Lionel Butler, who was highly ranked and on a red hot string of knockouts. Smith collapsed in 3 rounds, having offered little resistance.

Later that year he traveled to Europe to drop a points decision to German Axel Schulz, and in Denmark he was stopped in 5 rounds due to a cut from a headbutt, courtesy of Brian Nielsen. Smith was overweight for both of these fights, and his days as a contender were definitely over.

He fought on and off for a few more years. In 1998 he traveled to Australia to battle Joe Bugner for the WBF Heavyweight Championship, but had to retire after one round when his shoulder popped out. The same injury ended a fight in 1999 with former world champion Larry Holmes. After this loss Smith retired at the age of 46 and with a record of 44–17–1 (32 KOs).

In 1995, Smith helped establish the North Carolina Boxing Commission. He served as its first chairman.[1]

Life after boxing[edit]

Smith became an ordained minister in 1996[1] and dedicated his life to helping young people stay clear of crime and drugs. Three years later, he retired from boxing.[1]

In 2004 Smith started the non-profit organization Champion For Kids Inc. to provide scholarships to high school students.

Smith began working as a recruiter and the Director of Intramural Athletics for Sandhills Community College in June 2005.

He now works for the Working Families Party in New York City.[citation needed] He now lives in Myrtle Beach South Carolina.

Deeply committed to helping impoverished fighters, Smith was a guest at the Ring 10 Veterans Boxing Foundation 2nd Annual Fundraiser in 2012 where he expressed his support of initiatives to better provide for those in need.[4]

Smith is currently working with organizers to establish the Legends of Boxing Hall of fame in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. [5]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
62 fights 44 wins 17 losses
By knockout 32 7
By decision 12 10
Draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
62 Loss 44–17–1 United States Larry Holmes TKO 8 (10), 2:00 Jun 18, 1999 United States Crown Coliseum, Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S.
61 Win 44–16–1 United States Dave Slaughter TKO 2 (8), 1:50 Nov 27, 1998 United States Genesis Convention Center, Gary, Indiana, U.S.
60 Loss 43–16–1 Australia Joe Bugner RTD 1 (12), 3:00 Jul 4, 1998 Australia Carrara Indoor Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia For vacant WBF (Federation) heavyweight title
59 Win 43–15–1 United States Lynwood Jones UD 8 Feb 25, 1998 United States The Ritz, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
58 Win 42–15–1 Canada Troy Roberts TKO 3 (10), 2:36 Apr 11, 1996 Canada University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
57 Win 41–15–1 United States Eli Dixon TKO 3 (8) Aug 22, 1995 United States Civic Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
56 Win 40–15–1 Germany Bernd Friedrich SD 10 Mar 25, 1995 Germany Düsseldorf, Germany
55 Loss 39–15–1 Denmark Brian Nielsen TKO 5 (8) Oct 7, 1994 Denmark K.B. Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
54 Loss 39–14–1 Germany Axel Schulz UD 10 Sep 17, 1994 Germany Leverkusen, Germany
53 Loss 39–13–1 United States Lionel Butler TKO 3 (10), 2:19 Jan 18, 1994 United States Civic Auditorium, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
52 Win 39–12–1 United States Lester Jackson UD 3 Dec 3, 1993 United States Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.
51 Win 38–12–1 United States Marshall Tillman UD 3 Dec 3, 1993 United States Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.
50 Loss 37–12–1 Romania Daniel Dăncuţă UD 3 Dec 3, 1993 United States Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.
49 Win 37–11–1 United States Elijah Tillery TKO 6 (10), 2:51 Sep 14, 1993 United States Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
48 Win 36–11–1 United States Andrew Stokes UD 10 Aug 7, 1993 United States Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
47 Win 35–11–1 United States Kevin Ford TKO 9 (10) Jun 26, 1993 United States Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
46 Win 34–11–1 United States Donnell Wingfield TKO 2 (10), 1:53 Jun 1, 1993 United States The Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
45 Loss 33–11–1 United States Michael Moorer UD 10 Feb 27, 1993 United States Showboat, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
44 Loss 33–10–1 United States Greg Page UD 10 Jun 26, 1992 United States CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
43 Win 33–9–1 United States Danny Wofford TKO 8 Apr 24, 1992 United States Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
42 Win 32–9–1 United States Mark Wills UD 10 Feb 15, 1992 United States The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
41 Win 31–9–1 United States Andre Crowder KO 1 (10), 1:50 Dec 13, 1991 United States Union Hall, Countryside, Illinois, U.S.
40 Loss 30–9–1 United States Levi Billups UD 10 Nov 4, 1991 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
39 Win 30–8–1 United States Marshall Tillman TKO 10 (10), 2:14 Sep 24, 1991 United States Metairie, Louisiana, U.S.
38 Win 29–8–1 United States Jeff Sims KO 1 (10), 1:41 Sep 17, 1991 United States The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.
37 Win 28–8–1 United States Everett Martin TKO 8 (10), 0:50 Aug 6, 1991 United States Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, California, U.S.
36 Win 27–8–1 United States Kimmuel Odum TKO 3 (12), 2:37 Jul 22, 1991 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S. Won vacant IBC Junior heavyweight title
35 Win 26–8–1 United States Terry Armstrong KO 2 Jun 28, 1991 France Salle Leyrit, Nice, France
34 Win 25–8–1 United States Lawrence Carter TKO 1 (12), 2:28 Apr 28, 1991 United States Civic Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.
33 Win 24–8–1 United States Mike Weaver UD 12 Apr 4, 1990 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Won WBA Americas heavyweight title
32 Win 23–8–1 United States Manoel de Almeida RTD 6 (10), 3:00 Feb 20, 1990 United States Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
31 Win 22–8–1 United States Mike Rouse KO 7 (10), 1:42 Dec 14, 1989 United States St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
30 Win 21–8–1 United States Jesse McGhee TKO 2 Oct 21, 1989 United States Grady Cole Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
29 Win 20–8–1 United States Calvin Jones TKO 8 (10) Sep 29, 1989 United States Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
28 Loss 19–8–1 Canada Donovan Ruddock KO 7 (10), 2:18 Jul 2, 1989 United States Cumberland County Memorial Arena, Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S.
27 Draw 19–7–1 United States Mike Rouse TD 3 (10) Jul 30, 1988 United States Broadway by the Bay Theater, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. TD after Rouse was cut from an accidental head clash
26 Loss 19–7 Brazil Adílson Rodrigues SD 10 Aug 9, 1987 Brazil Ginásio Estadual do Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo, Brazil
25 Loss 19–6 United States Mike Tyson UD 12 Mar 7, 1987 United States Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Lost WBA heavyweight title;
For WBC heavyweight title
24 Win 19–5 United States Tim Witherspoon KO 1 (15), 2:12 Dec 12, 1986 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Won WBA heavyweight title
23 Win 18–5 United States David Bey UD 10 Aug 23, 1986 United States Cumberland County Auditorium, Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S.
22 Win 17–5 United States Jesse Ferguson MD 10 Jun 7, 1986 Bermuda Hamilton, Bermuda
21 Win 16–5 United States Mike Weaver TKO 1 (10), 2:29 Apr 5, 1986 United States Coliseum Theatre, Colonie, New York, U.S.
20 Loss 15–5 United States Marvis Frazier UD 10 Feb 23, 1986 United States Memorial Auditorium, Richmond, California, U.S.
19 Loss 15–4 United States Tim Witherspoon UD 12 Jun 15, 1985 United States Riviera, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. For NABF heavyweight title
18 Win 15–3 Cuba Jose Ribalta SD 10 Apr 29, 1985 United States Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, U.S.
17 Loss 14–3 United States Tony Tubbs UD 10 Mar 15, 1985 United States Riviera, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
16 Loss 14–2 United States Larry Holmes TKO 12 (15), 2:10 Nov 9, 1984 United States Riviera, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. For IBF heavyweight title
15 Win 14–1 United Kingdom Frank Bruno KO 10 (10) May 13, 1984 United Kingdom Wembley Arena, London, England
14 Win 13–1 United States Rahim Muhammad TKO 5 Feb 19, 1984 United States Hyatt Regency, Tampa, Florida, U.S.
13 Win 12–1 United States Leroy Boone TKO 4 (10) Nov 4, 1983 United States Egypt Shrine Temple, Tampa, Florida, U.S.
12 Win 11–1 United States Walter Santemore TKO 4 (10) Aug 23, 1983 United States Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
11 Win 10–1 United States Eugene Cato KO 4 (10) Jun 14, 1983 United States Ramada Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
10 Win 9–1 United States Lynwood Jones TKO 2 May 10, 1983 United States Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
9 Win 8–1 United States Lee Cohen KO 1 Apr 23, 1983 United States New York City, New York, U.S.
8 Win 7–1 United States Nate Robinson TKO 2 (8), 1:35 Apr 2, 1983 United States Host Resort, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
7 Win 6–1 United States Larry Givens TKO 3 Dec 14, 1982 United States Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
6 Win 5–1 United States Lonnie Chapman KO 2 Oct 16, 1982 United States Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
5 Win 4–1 United States Chris McDonald MD 8 Sep 11, 1982 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
4 Win 3–1 United States Louis Alexander KO 2, 2:37 Jul 31, 1982 United States Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
3 Win 2–1 United States Mike Cohen KO 2 Apr 22, 1982 United States Sheraton Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
2 Win 1–1 United States Ricky Parkey PTS 6 Jan 30, 1982 United States Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
1 Loss 0–1 United States James Broad KO 4 (6), 1:07 Nov 5, 1981 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Professional debut


  1. ^ a b c d e Biography of James Smith Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine at his charity, ChampionForKids.org
  2. ^ James Smith Amateur Record at the BoxingRecords. Last updated : March 1, 2006.
  3. ^ "Tim Witherspoon Vs. James "Bonecrusher" Smith: VHS Classic Rewind". Boxing 101.
  4. ^ "Living Legends Unite to Make a Difference at Ring 10 2nd Annual Fundraiser". Boxing 101. Archived from the original on 2016-04-02.
  5. ^ "Upcoming Events". championforkids. Retrieved 2018-12-03.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
World boxing titles
Preceded by
Tim Witherspoon
WBA heavyweight champion
December 12, 1986 – March 7, 1987
Succeeded by
Mike Tyson