The popularity of boxing has certainly waned since its heyday, giving way to team sports and M.M.A.. While the tradition of nicknames has carried over to some degree in M.M.A. and of course in the W.W.E. – which I hesitate to include here among actual sports – it was far more prevalent in the bygone era of boxing greats. Nicknames often describe a certain style or skill and are often meant to intimidate the opponent or boast about oneself. I’ve chosen five of the absolute worst nicknames in boxing history here based on unfortunate choices of words that could result in double-interpretations, lack of an intimidation factor and/or just plain silliness. While I’m sure some of these names may have deeper, more meaningful cultural explanations I may be missing that would make them more sensible, from a superficial surface inspection they’re often illogical or just plain weird.
#5. Dr. Iron Fist – Vitaly Klitschko
First of all, doctors aren’t exactly renowned for their fighting skills. A P.H.D. does little good when large fists are pounding one’s face. I suppose there is an “Iron Curtain” element Vitaly is conjuring up here, but cold war references are so 1984. His nickname does have a degree of intimidation factor to it, but ultimately a Dr. with an iron fist simply makes me hope he doesn’t ask me to turn and cough. Cold hands, cold hands!
#4 The Living Death – Lew Jenkins
Maybe I’m just confused here, but is he a zombie? Having never seen him fight, he may very well be. Most of the zombies that I know are terrible boxers though. So what is a living death? Is he alluding to the idea that he may put his opponent into a vegetative state, a sort of living death? Intimidating yes, but hardly politically correct. I suppose he means that he is “The Living Death” in that he is living and will bring his opponents death. Fair enough, so he’s a Grim Reaper of sorts.
#3 The Count of Monte Fisto – Apollo Creed
O.k., hardy har har, points for the literary reference, but come on, really? Fisto? I know Apollo Creed wasn’t a real-life boxer, but he played one on t.v. Either way, Fisto? While Alexandre Dumas would be excited about the free publicity were he alive, again I find myself chuckling more than cringing. I suppose some boxers feel they don’t need to intimidate with their nickname and/or would rather cause underestimation by their opponents than intimidation in them but still, Monte Fisto?!
#2 Prince or Naz – Naseem Hamed
Well someone just needs to tell this guy that both those nicknames are taken, by musicians no less! O.k., so he’s probably a big music fan paying tribute to his idols, but Prince? I’m pretty sure the 5′ 2″ Prince would have trouble climbing into a boxing ring in his heels and one good punch from Butterbean would send him out into the third row. I’m more willing to forgive the Naz nickname, especially since it’s obviously based on his own name and not Adolph Hitler’s party or the modern rapper, entirely anyway. He should probably just distance himself from the Prince reference and go with Naz at this point.
#1 Hands of Stone – Roberto Duran
Yeah, of course I get it. Stone is hard and would hurt to get hit in the face with. However, Stone is also very heavy and should be quite easy to dodge in hand form. Not to mention that after several rounds he would likely be unable to raise his hands. Which brings me to the next point, hands? Is he slapping his opponents with his rocky appendages? Why not fists? It’s so much tougher sounding. I suppose hands can be fists too, but if his hands are made of stone how can he bend his fingers properly to make a fist? Shouldn’t they be “fists of flame,” “nickel knuckles” or “ferrous fists” or something similar?
Dishonorable mention – The Ding-a-ling man – Darnell Wilson, Touch of Sleep – Davaryll Williamson, Nonpareil – Jack Dempsey, The Boston Tar Baby – Sam Langford, The Boxing Banker – Calvin Brock and, my personal favorite, The Flushing Flash – Kevin Kelley.
*For an extensive list of 101 of the greatest boxing nicknames check out this article at about.com.