BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Special Events: 2000: Wembley  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

  Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Sir Henry Cooper
Sir Henry Cooper
Sir Henry Cooper recalls one of his greatest moments
Sir Henry Cooper looks back at his big Wembley bash with BBC Sport Online's Mike Burnett.

It was on 18 June 1963 that Henry Cooper's left hand sent a young and up-and-coming boxer called Cassius Clay flat on his back in front of a packed Wembley Stadium.

It looked like Our 'Enry's 'Ammer had totalled the soon-to-become 'greatest heavyweight of all time' Muhammed Ali and the bout was as good as over.

But Cooper's punch had come in the dying seconds of the fourth round and Clay was literally 'saved by the bell.'

There is still a vivid picture in Cooper's mind of that tense moment.

"I remember the punch. I knew when I hit him he was in trouble, but unfortunately it was too late in the round," he recalls.

If that was all there was to the story, Cooper could have few complaints about his subsequent defeat in the next round, but what followed was one of the most glaring controversies ever seen in boxing.

They did the business on the glove. I've had dinner with him (Dundee) a couple of times since then and he's openly admitted it

Sir Henry Cooper

With Clay safely in the corner, trainer Angelo Dundee informed the referee of a mysterious split that had appeared in Clay's glove.

Dundee was ordered to get another pair from the dressing room, leaving his fighter a precious few extra minutes to recover before the fifth round started.

For Cooper it was a confusing turn of events.

He admits: "My eye was badly gashed and I knew I was sitting in the corner for more than a minute, but we really didn't know what was going on."

Of course, years later, the truth came out that Dundee had slashed the glove to give Clay more time.

Sir Henry Cooper
Sir Henry Cooper received his knighthood this year

"They did the business on the glove. I've had dinner with him (Dundee) a couple of times since then and he's openly admitted it," remembers the 66-year-old.

As Clay regained his senses and came out to fight in the fifth round, it was clear that Cooper's chance had passed.

Clay saw the gash on Cooper's eye and set to work on it, cutting it until Cooper could fight no longer and was awarded a TKO.

Not bitter

Some boxers would be scarred for years if this had happened to them, but not Cooper.

He admits that at the time he was naturally angry, but he soon came to see it as "part of the game."

"I try to put the boot on the other foot," remarks the boxer from Kent.

"If something like that had happened (to me), Jim Wicks would have tried to do something like that for me, to give me every opportunity."

One effect of the match was that from that day on boxers always have a spare pair of gloves in case of such splits happening again.

Of course it wasn't the last time Cooper would fight 'the all-time greatest.'

Three years later, Cassius Clay was Muhammad Ali and was heavyweight champion of the world when Cooper challenged him to fight at Arsenal's stadium Highbury.

If something like that had happened (to me), Jim Wicks would have tried to do something like that for me, to give me every opportunity

Sir Henry Cooper

This time the match went to six rounds before Cooper was again forced to surrender with cuts.

The 1966 fight may have had a title on the line, but for Cooper, and fans alike, the real special occasion was the Wembley clash.

For it was at Wembley that we saw Our 'Enry floor the great Muhammed Ali.

As the former British heavyweight champion fondly but firmly insists: "We nearly had him, he was in trouble."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Sir Henry Cooper talks to BBC Sport Online
"I used to consider Wembley as my own town arena"
Sir Henry Cooper talks to BBC Sport Online
"I knew when I hit him he was in trouble"
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Wembley stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Wembley stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales