Bernard “Big Duke” Docusen one of boxing’s’ uncrowned champions of the 1940’s-1950’s died on January 11. 2009. Docusen suffered several heart attacks and lapsed into a coma. The 81 year old Docusen was best known for his terrific fight with Sugar Ray Robinson for the welterweight championship of the world on June 28, 1948. Docusen , who had just turned 21 years old 9 days before the fight, lost a very close 15 round decision to the man most consider to be the best pound for pound boxer of all time. In the days of only 8 weight classes and one champion per division, Bernie never got another crack at a title.
As an amateur he won the National AAU bantamweight championship at 14 years old. Turning pro at 15 he attracted big crowds in his native New Orleans due to his exciting, smooth boxing style. He defeated former champions and contenders Phil Terranova, Johnny Bratton, Tippy Larkin, John L. Davis and Gene Burton on his way to a 73-10-6 pro log. He retired from boxing after suffering a TKO defeat to Joey Giambra in 1953.
After retiring from the ring, Docusen relocated to the Detroit, MI area where he worked as a welder and later as a custodian for a local high school. An active family man he also hand wrote his memoirs which were later published in book form.
Bernard was inducted into the New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1976 and the California Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.
Docusen is survived by his wife of 64 years Ernestine, 6 children, 15 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren, and 1 great, great grandchild.