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Chuck Wepner

Sport: Boxing

Born: February 26, 1939

Town: Bayonne

Charles Wepner Jr. was born February 26, 1939 in New York City. He grew up in Bayonne, the son of former prizefighter Charlie Wepner. “Chuck” learned his craft from his dad and fought in the Bayonne Police Athletic League as a teenager. Chuck joined the Marines after high school and was unbeaten during his time in the service. After his discharge, he worked as a bounce and fought several amateur bouts—in the ring and in various bars and parking lots. Chuck’s official amateur record was 16–0 (he liked to claim 81–0 when you included the other stuff). In 1964, he became the first New Jersey heavyweight to win the New York Golden Gloves.

Chuck made his pro debut at the age of 25, knocking out George Cooper in front of friends and family at City Stadium in Bayonne. His first bout against a ranked opponent came in 1966, against Buster Mathis. Mathis knocked Chuck down in the first round and won the fight on a technical knockout, five rounds later. Chuck recovered to win 14 of his next 15 fights, including a victory over Don McAteer for the New Jersey State heavyweight crown.

In 1968, Chuck met young George Foreman in Madison Square Garden. Despite his 18–4–2 record at this point, Chuck had earned a reputation for cutting easily—but also soldiering on. Foreman ripped open a cut over Chuck’s eye in the first round, and kept working it until it was too gruesome to continue. The fight was called in the third round. Chuck had an opportunity to reclaim contender status in 1970 with fights against aging Sonny Liston and English star Joe Bugner. He lost both fights, with Liston tearing his face apart until the ring doctor stopped the fight in the ninth round. It took 120 stitches to close his wounds. The Bugner fight ended in a similar manner after three rounds, with Bugner’s eye gushing blood.


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