By Olof Johansson / Editor BOXNING
Swedish Legend Ingemar Johansson died five minutes to Midnight January 30 2009 after a two week long struggle in the last phase of Alzheimers illness. The former Heavyweight Champion of The World was at his death 76 years and 4 month old. He was regarded as Scandinavia’s greatest fighter ever and held the undisputed World Heavyweight Championship 1959-1960; he also held The European Heavyweight Crown 1956-1959 and again 1962-1963.
He won the World title in a third round KO over reigning Champion Floyd Patterson in Yankee Stadium June 26 1959. “Ingo”, as he was affectionately called, entered that bout a clear cut underdog but one minute into the third round he landed a picture perfect right hand through the guard of Patterson and flattened the Champion. Referee Ruby Goldstein allowed Patterson to continue although barely beating the count and six more knockdowns followed before Goldstein stopped the bout. “The Hammer of Thor” – Johansson’s vaunted right hand – had spoken!
The Swede lost the title back to Patterson on June 20th 1960 and they met again in a rubber bout March 13 1961, with both men hitting the canvas in round one before finally Patterson managed to win on a KO 6.
Johansson was a Swedish National Hero already in his amateur days, Swedish Champion 1950-51-52, winner of the USA Golden Gloves vs Europe competition in Chicago 1951 knocking out Ernest Fann and winning four bouts up to the finals in The Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland 1952 losing to American Ed Sanders on a disqualification, having thus to settle for a silver medal.
He beat European Champion Franco Cavicchi in 1956 on a 13th round KO and defended that title against Henry Cooper (KO 5) and Joe Erskine (TKO 13) before qualifying for the World crown against nr 1 challenger Eddie Machen in front of 53.614 spectators in Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg winning in 2.16 minutes of round 1. He recovered the Euro crown by knocking out Dick Richardson in round 8.
All in all he fought 71 bouts as an Amateur, winning 61. He won 26 out of 28 as a professional, only losing twice to Patterson.
Johansson lived an amazing life saving his millions, later venturing into business. He had a restaurant and a fleet of fishing boats. For a while he owned a motel in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. He owned homes in Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and an island outside Gothenburg, which he later gave to his children. The last five years he lived in a private home for the elderly south of Gothenburg, which is where he died, surrounded by family members.