Ernest Terrell was an American professional boxer who competed from 1957 to 1973. He held the World Boxing Association’s heavyweight title from 1965 to 1967 and was one of the tallest heavyweights of his era, at 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall.
|Full Name/Stage Name
|Ernest Terrel/Ernie Terrel
|Date of Birth/Date of Death
|April 4, 1939/December 16, 2014
|American professional Boxer
Who Is Ernie Terrel?
Ernie is a boxer who unsuccessfully fought the other world heavyweight champion of the era, Muhammad Ali, in a heavyweight title unification contest in 1967, losing by a unanimous decision. Terrell was the elder brother of the Supremes’ early 1970s lead singer Jean Terrell. In the 1960s, Jean sang with Ernie’s group Ernie Terrell & the Heavyweights.
Ernie Terrel Background
Ernest Terrell as his birthname implies, was born on 4 April 1939 in Inverness, Mississippi, and spent his early childhood in Belzoni. He was born into a family of ten children, whose father was a Mississippi sharecropper who during Terrell’s childhood moved the family north to Chicago when he found employment in the factories there. Terrell received his formal education at Farragut School in Chicago. Before turning professional, he won the Chicago Golden Gloves in his youth as a light heavyweight, and he also formed a pop music singing act called “The Heavyweights” with three of his siblings.
Professional Life of Ernie Terrel
In his early career, Terrell defeated some good contenders, including Cleveland Williams (Terrell won a rematch with Williams by decision after losing their first fight by knockout), Zora Folley, and future light heavyweight champion Bob Foster.
When the World Boxing Association stripped Muhammad Ali of his title after his agreement to fight a rematch with Sonny Liston, the WBA matched Terrell and Eddie Machen for the vacant crown. Terrell defeated Machen to win the belt on March 5, 1965. During his reign as WBA champion, he defended the title twice, beating Doug Jones and George Chuvalo. Most in the boxing world continued to recognize Ali as the legitimate champion, for he had not lost his championship in a boxing match. The WBA’s rival, the World Boxing Council, also continued to recognize Ali as champion. On March 29, 1966, Ali and Terrell were scheduled to fight, but Terrell backed out (Ali won a 15-round decision against substitute opponent George Chuvalo).
On February 6, 1967, Ali and Terrell finally met to end the debate about who was the legitimate heavyweight champion. Before the bout, Terrell repeatedly called Ali by his birth name. He said later that he had known “Clay” for years in the amateurs and hadn’t gotten used to calling him another name. Ali took offense to this, and vowed he would punish Terrell. For his part, Ali further stoked the prefight ill-will by labeling Terrell “an Uncle Tom nigger who is going to get his ass whupped”. Ali won by unanimous decision, reclaiming the undisputed championship. The Daily Telegraph wrote that the resulting fight was “the nastiest display of Ali’s celebrated ring career”, describing how he seized Terrell in a headlock and dragged Terrell’s eye along the top rope, and declared, “The fight will be remembered for Ali’s constant taunts of ‘what’s my name?’ to an opponent he was apparently content not merely to defeat, but also to belittle and humiliate.” The match is recounted in the film Ali.
How Did Ernie Terrel Die?
Ernie Terrell died at the age of 75 on December 16, 2014, in a hospital at Evergreen Park, Illinois, he had been afflicted in his final years with dementia. He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Chicago.
Ernie Terrel Net Worth
Ernie Terrell net worth is estimated to be around $5 Million. Ernie Terrell at once was considered the Heavyweight Boxing Champ of the globe.
Terrell lost an upset 12-round decision to Thad Spencer later in 1967 in the WBA heavyweight tournament that was organized after Ali was stripped of his title in April 1967. He left the sport for three years following the loss, but returned in 1970, winning seven consecutive fights before losing to Chuck Wepner by decision. The Wepner decision was highly controversial; most who saw the fight thought Terrell had won. After losing to Jeff Merritt in his next fight by a 1st round technical knockout, Terrell retired. In 55 professional fights, Terrell earned a record of 46 wins (21 by knockout), nine losses and no draws.
After retiring from boxing, he began a career as a record producer in Chicago. He ran unsuccessfully for alderman of Chicago’s 34th ward in 1987. He finished second in the primary but lost to Lemuel Austin in a runoff. Terrell married Maxine Sibley in 1974; the couple raised two children.