On January 3rd, 1999 boxing said goodbye to a true warrior and arguably one of the most popular fighters of his era, and today in this edition of This Day In Boxing History I’d like to talk to you all about the man that was Jerry Quarry.
‘The Bellflower Bomber’ Jerry Quarry was born in Bakersfield, California on May 15, 1945. Quarry was the standout of this Irish-American boxing family, with his father and two brothers also pro boxers. Jerry, first put on a pair of gloves at the age of 5 and won a series of junior amateur competitions by 8 years old.
However, his boxing career came very close to never being. At an early age he contracted Nephritis, which is a serious kidney problem and the ninth biggest killer In America! However, Quarry’s recovery was just as remarkable as his chin. Defying the odds. Quarry fought back from his illness and first came to national attention by winning the 1965 National Golden Gloves championship in Kansas City aged 19.
Quarry spent a lot of his early year as a professional boxing out of the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, working as a tire changer at a Greyhound Bus terminal to supplement his small boxing earnings.
By 1967 Quarry had amassed a record of 24-1-4. During that year Muhammad Ali had been stripped of his world title for refusing induction into the military. The WBA introduced an eight man tournament to determine the winner of the vacated championship. Quarry reeled off wins against Floyd Patterson (who Quarry has fought previously to a draw). Highly ranked Thad Spencer, who Quarry knocked out in the 12th before setting up a fight for the title against Jimmy Ellis. Quarry came up short, losing a close majority decision. Quarry reeled of a further 5 wins, one of those wins coming against Buster Mathis before setting up a second title opportunity against Smoking Joe Fraizer.
The first round of that fight was named ‘Round Of The Decade’ and later named ‘Fight of The Year’ by ring magazine. Quarry went head to head with Fraizer fighting the champions kind of fight. Winning the first two rounds Quarry began to fade. Badly cut in the 3rd round, Quarry began to take a lot of punishment. The referee stopping the fight in the 7th.
Quarry’s career really is an example for all modern day fighters. Following a loss to George Chuvalo in 1969. He went on to beat names like Eduardo Corletti, Ron Lyle and Earnie Shavers. Also fighting in losing efforts to Muhammad Ali twice, a rematch with Fraizer and Ken Norton. His career finishing with 52 wins, 9 losses and 4 draws, 32 wins coming by way of knockout.
Jerry Quarry was as durable as all hell. Although he was stopped 6 times he was never knocked out. A smart counter puncher with a great left hook. His biggest flaw was that he cut very easily. Smoking Joe himself said in his autobiography that Quarry was “A very tough man. He could have been a world champion, but he cut too easily.” Quarry was Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995.
Sadly in the years following his final fight Quarry’s mental health declined and he began to suffer from dementia. Jerry Quarry was hospitalized with pneumonia in December, 1998 and then suffered a heart attack. He never regained consciousness and died on this day in 1999.
By: Aaron Cooper
Aaron is the UK Correspondent and author of multiple columns for 3KingsBoxing.com. He can be reached at Aaron@3KingsBoxing.com