Gerry Cooney (born August 4, 1956) is a retired professional boxer from Huntington, New York best known for his loss to Larry Holmes in one of the most celebrated boxing matches in history.
Life before boxing
Born into a blue collar Irish-Catholic family on Long Island, Cooney was encouraged to become a professional fighter by his father. His brother Tommy Cooney was also a boxer, and reached the finals of the New York Golden Gloves Sub-Novice Heavyweight division.
Fighting as an amateur, Gerry Cooney won international tournaments in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as the New York Golden Gloves titles. He won two New York Golden Gloves Championships, the 1973 160 lb Sub-Novice Championship and the 1976 Heavyweight Open Championship. Cooney defeated Larry Derrick to win the 1973 160 lb Sub-Novice title, and Earlous Tripp to win the 1976 Heavyweight Open title. In 1975 he reached the finals of the 175 lb Open division, but was defeated by Johnny Davis.
Cooney trained at the Huntington Athletic Club in Long Island, New York where his trainer was John Capobianco, Sr. His amateur record consisted of 55 wins and 3 losses.
When he turned professional, Cooney signed with co-managers Mike Jones and Dennis Rappaport. He was then trained by Victor Valle Sr.
Known for his big left-hook and his imposing size, the tall, lean Cooney had his first paid fight on February 15, 1977, beating Billy Jackson by a knockout in one round. Nine wins followed and Cooney gained attention as a future contender. He moved up a weight class and fought future world cruiserweight champion S.T. Gordon in Las Vegas, winning by a fourth round disqualification. Cooney had 11 more wins, spanning 1978 and 1979. Among those he defeated were Charlie Polite, former US heavyweight champion Eddie Lopez, and Tom Prater.
By 1980, Cooney was being featured on national television. He beat title challengers Jimmy Young and Ron Lyle, both by knockout. By now he was ranked number 1 by the WBC and eager for a match with champion Larry Holmes.
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