Oldest Professional Boxers in the World

10 Oldest Professional Boxers in the World

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Not only is boxing one of the world’s oldest sports, it is also one of the most watched sports around the world. Although boxing has been a part of human history for millennia, professional boxing or prizefighting only arose in the 19th century.

These early fights gave rise to some of boxing’s first stars and a few of the boxers on this list dominated the sport during that time. Nearly boxer on this list was a champion with a long lasting career and some of their records are still standing to this day.

10. Antonio Tarver (November 21, 1968 – Present)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 47 years old
Years Active:  1997 – 2015
Country of Origin:  Orlando, Florida, USA
Weight Category:  Light Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, and Heavyweight

photo source: Flickr via Eva Rinaldi

Antonio Tarver competed as a professional boxer from 1997 – 2015 and was 47 years old when he retired. While Tarver’s career was not quite as long as some of the other boxers on this list, he was also a champion fighter. Tarver held multiple light heavyweight world championships, including the WBA (Super), WBC, IBF and Ring magazine titles, as well the IBO light heavyweight and cruiserweight titles.

As an amateur boxer, Tarver participated in the 1996 Olympics and won a bronze medal in the light heavyweight division. Outside of the ring, Tarver starred as heavyweight champion Mason “The Line” Dixon in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa.

Did You Know?

Antonio Tarver is the only boxer in history to have won gold at the Pan Am Games, World Championships, and U.S. Nationals all in the same year (1995).


9. Archie Moore (December 13, 1916 – December 9, 1998)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 47 years old
Years Active:  1935 – 1963
Country of Origin:  Benoit, Mississippi, USA
Weight Category:  Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, Heavyweight

Archie Moorephoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Like many of the boxers on this list, Archie Moore is considered one of the greatest boxers in history. Moore’s career began in 1935 and did not end until 1963 when he was 47 years old. After getting into trouble as a teenager, Moore decided to turn his life around and become a boxer. Unfortunately, Moore faced many roadblocks as a victim of racism early on in his career.

Eventually, Moore did go professional, but briefly decided to retire in late 1941 due to several stomach ulcers and operations. However, Moore quickly jumped back into the ring the following year. Moore went on to become the longest reigning World Light Heavyweight Champion of all time (December 1952 – May 1962).

Did You Know?

Archie Moore is the only boxer who faced both hall of famers Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali (who was still Cassius Clay at the time); Moore lost both fights.


8. George Foreman (January 10, 1949 – Present)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 48 years old
Years Active:  1969 – 1977; 1987 – 1997
Country of Origin:  Marshall, Texas, USA
Weight Category:  Heavyweight

George Foremanphoto source: Public Domain

Long before George Foreman’s name became synonymous with an indoor electric barbecue, Foreman made a name for himself as a professional boxer. Foreman is a two-time heavyweight champion as well as an Olympic gold medalist.

While most of the old boxers on this list had continuous careers, Foreman took a 10-year break after losing to Jimmy Young in 1977. Foreman spent the next 10 years working as a Christian minister before making a comeback in 1987. His boxing career lasted another 10 years and Foreman was able to regain his heavyweight championship title in 1994, at the age of 45, by knocking out 26-year old Michael Moorer. Foreman finally retired in 1997 when he was 48.

Did You Know?

George Foreman is still the oldest heavyweight champion and the second oldest in any weight class after Bernard Hopkins (at light heavyweight).


7. Roberto Durán (June 16, 1951 – Present)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 50 years old
Years Active:  1968 – 2001
Country of Origin:  El Chorrillo, Panama
Weight Category:  Lightweight, Welterweight, Light Middleweight, Middleweight, Super Middleweight

Roberto Duranphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via Jim Accordino

Roberto Durán, who hails from Panama, had a boxing career that spanned five decades – he was the second boxer to achieve this feat, the first being Jack Johnson. Durán competed from 1968 until he decided to retire in January 2002 after he turned 50. He finished his professional career with a record of 119 fights, 103 wins, and 70 knockouts.

Not only did Durán have a long career, he was a world champion in four weight classes: lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight, and middleweight. Durán also reigns as the undisputed and lineal lightweight champion, and the lineal welterweight champion. Most people consider Durán to be the greatest lightweight of all time.

Did You Know?

Up until his fight with Wilfred Benítez in 1982, Roberto Durán was trained by legendary boxing trainer Ray Arcel, who trained 20 world champions.


6. Bob Fitzsimmons (May 26, 1863 – October 22, 1917)

Oldest Age While Still Active: c.51 years old
Years Active:  1883 – 1914
Country of Origin:  Helston, Cornwall, England
Weight Category:  Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight

Bob Fitzsimmonsphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via United States Library of Congress


Bob Fitzsimmons was a British boxer who competed in the late 19th century until the early 20th century. As one of the earliest boxing greats, Fitzsimmons set many firsts, including being the first three-division world champion. Fitzsimmons was also famous for beating Gentleman Jim Corbett (the man who beat John L. Sullivan). Additionally, Fitzsimmons is considered one of the hardest punchers in boxing history.

Fitzsimmons continued to box until 1914 when he would have been about 51 years old. He had a final professional record of 66 wins with 59 by knockout, 8 losses, 4 draws, 19 no contests and 2 no decisions, but Fitzsimmons’ exact records are unknown because this information was poorly kept.

Did You Know?

Bob Fitzsimmons is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the lightest heavyweight champion, weighing only 165 pounds (74.85 kilograms) when he won the title by knocking out James J. Corbett.


5. Bernard Hopkins (January 15, 1965 – Present)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 51 years old
Years Active:  1988 – 2016
Country of Origin:  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Weight Category:  Middleweight and Light Heavyweight

Bernard Hopkinsphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via Muriel Leclerc

Bernard Hopkins is one of the most successful boxers in history and held multiple world championships in two weight classes: middleweight and light heavyweight. In addition to being a champion boxer, Hopkins had a long career, spanning from 1988 – 2016. During his time as a professional boxer, Hopkins became known for being highly strategic, carrying good speed and power, and having good defense. Hopkins had his farewell fight on December 17, 2016 against Joe Smith. Jr. Unfortunately, Hopkins did not win this final match.

Did You Know?

Bernard Hopkins set the record for being the oldest boxer to win a world championship three different times – the first was at the age of 46; then Hopkins beat his own record 2013 when he was 48; and finally Hopkins still holds the record after winning against Beibut Shumenov in 2014 at 49 years of age.


4. Dewey Bozella (c.1959 – Present)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 52 years old
Years Active:  just one fight in 2011
Country of Origin:  Fishkill, New York, USA
Weight Category:  Cruiserweight

photo source: CNN

The story of Dewey Bozella is a unique one. Bozella only competed in one professional fight on October 15, 2011 after being wrongfully imprisoned for 26 years! Boxing had always been a part of Bozella’s life and as a teenager he trained with former world champion boxer Floyd Patterson. Bozella continued his boxing training even while he was locked up.

Bozella competed at the age of 52 on the undercard of the Bernard Hopkins vs Chad Dawson fight. Hopkins had helped Bozella prepare for the fight and all their hard work paid off when Bozella won against Larry Hopkins.

Did You Know?

Dewey Bozella’s amazing story garnered so much attention that President Barack Obama personally called Bozella to wish him luck before his big fight.


3. Larry Holmes (November 3, 1949 – Present)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 52 years old (last match on July 27, 2002)
Years Active:  1973 – 2002
Country of Origin:  Cuthbert, Gerogia, USA
Weight Category:  Heavyweight

Larry Holmesphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Larry Holmes is considered one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time and had a long career to prove it. Holmes technically retired in the late 1980s, but made repeated comebacks until fighting his final final match on July 27, 2002 when he was 52 years old. That final match in 2002 showed that Holmes hadn’t lost his touch because he won against the 334lb Eric “Butterbean” Esch, who was 36 years old at the time. Holmes ended his boxing career with a record of 69 wins and 6 losses.

Did You Know?

Larry Holmes was such a legendary boxer, that he won his first 48 professional fights – including victories over Ken Norton, Muhammad Ali, Earnie Shavers, Mike Weaver, Gerry Cooney, Tim Witherspoon, Carl Williams, and Marvis Frazier. Holmes fell one fight short of matching Rocky Marciano’s career record of 49–0 when he lost to Michael Spinks in 1985.


2. Jack Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946)

Oldest Age While Still Active: 60 years old
Years Active:  1898 – 1938
Country of Origin:  Galveston, Texas, USA
Weight Category:  Heavyweight

Jack Johnsonphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via United States Library of Congress

 

Jack Johnson was a legendary American boxer who paved the way for all of the great African American boxers who came after. During a time when racial segregation was still being legally enforced (the Jim Crow era), Johnson fought his way to become the first African American world heavyweight champion.

Although Johnson fought many of the best boxers of the era, his most legendary fight was against former world heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. In 1907, Jeffries had retired because he refused to fight Johnson. Then in 1910, Jeffries decided to fight Johnson, saying “I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro.” Johnson ended up winning the fight and Jeffries conceded that he had bested him. Johnson continued to box professionally – sporadically – until he was 60 years old in 1938.

Did You Know?

Despite having a large impact on African American history and the history of racism in America, Jack Johnson initially was buried in an unmarked grave and a proper headstone was not erected until after a documentary about Johnson’s life was released in 2005.


1. Steve Ward (c.1956 – Present)

Oldest Age While Still Active: c.61 years old
Years Active:  1977 – 1987; 2010 – 2017
Country of Origin:  Nottinghamshire, England, UK
Weight Category:  Cruiserweight

Steve Wardphoto source: BBC News

He may not be a household name like some of the other boxers on this list, but Steve Ward was recognized for being the world’s oldest professional boxer by the Guinness Book of World Records on two separate occasions. Ward was first named the world’s oldest boxer in 2011 at the age of 54, but briefly lost it in 2015. Later that year, Ward (who was 59 at the time) regained the title in a fight against Jody Meilke, a boxer 24 years his junior. Ward finally retired in 2017 when he was about 61 years old.

Did You Know?

Steve Ward’s initial boxing career lasted only 10 years from 1977 to 1987, but he made a comeback in 2010 and went on for another seven years!


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