Boxing Lineage Runs Deep in Many Families

November 15, 2023
3 months

Muhammad Ali was one of the most influential heavyweight boxing champions in history. Not just for his success in the ring, though it is long and well-documented, but for his battle for racial justice in the United States. But Ali’s daughter, Laila, would also follow him into the sport against his wishes.

Ali didn’t believe women should be boxing, as it was against his Muslim beliefs. But Laila wanted to help break down barriers for female boxers. During her career, Laila would compile a 24-0 record and become a champion at light heavyweight and super middleweight. She even fought the daughter of Joe Frazier, one of her dad’s rivals in the ring. While boxing is a dangerous sport, even the children of legendary fighters who have made a lot of money will step into the ring.

Boxing is a complicated sport for families to be involved with. While there is always a passion for the sport, many top boxers prefer to see their children and relatives get involved in something that isn’t so dangerous. However, despite the dangers, many families have put their well-being at risk to provide for their families.

Here’s a look at some of the top boxing families according to online boxing news.

Klitschkos Rule the World

There hasn’t been an undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis accomplished the feat in the late 1990s. Part of the reason for that is the Klitschko brothers wouldn’t fight each other. The less heralded of the brothers, Vitali, won the WBC championship from Corrie Sanders in April 2004 and held the championship for eight years.

Vitali and his brother, Wladimir, made their mother a promise that they would never fight each other in the boxing ring. In 2008, Wladimir won the WBO heavyweight title from Sultan Ibragimov. That meant Wladimir held the IBF, IBO, and WBO heavyweight championships. He would later win the WBA championship in 2011 from David Haye. 

Wladimir would hold all of those championships until he was upset by Tyson Fury in November 2015. The loss to Fury was the first time Wladimir lost since an upset defeat to Corrie Sanders in 2003. Wladimir would make an attempt at a comeback in 2017 but was knocked out by Anthony Joshua.

Wladimir finished his career with a 64-4 record, while Vitali was 45-2. Both men have also continued to fight since their boxing careers ended. The brothers have been seen on the front lines fighting for Ukraine during the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.

Fighting Zivics Battle Way out of Tough Pittsburgh Neighborhood

There was no denying that the Zivic brothers were one of the most colorful families in early boxing history. While Fritzie Zivic was the most successful, he is one of the world boxing champions who took the most losses in his career. Fritzie fought an incredible 233 times in his career.

During that stretch, Fritzie, who was known as a dirty fighter for throwing elbows and headbutts, won 158 bouts, including 81 by knockout. Fritzie would hold the world welterweight championship in 1940 after beating Henry Armstrong. He would defend the belt against Armstrong in 1941 before losing it to Freddie Cochrane in 1941. But Zivic, who grew up in the dangerous Ninth Ward of Lawrenceville, had the challenge of sparring with his four older brothers.

Pete and Jack Zivic both fought in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. Neither man medaled, but both were known for their toughness. Jack Zivic would go on to have 40 professional fights and won 12 by knockout. He fought in several world lightweight title eliminators, but never reached the top of the mountain.

Eddie Zivc was the other brother who fought professionally. He would be a welterweight contender but also was never able to win a championship on a world level.

Mayweathers Highlighted a Dysfunctional Family

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has become a bit of a cartoon character in retirement. The 5-foot-8 former multi-division world champion and Olympic silver medalist has competed in a number of exhibition fights since retiring following his win over Conor McGregor in August 2017. But there is no doubt that Mayweather’s 50-0 career record can be attributed in some part to his dad, Floyd Sr.

Floyd Sr. has always taught his fighters the more defensive shoulder roll technique, which his son mastered as few other fighters have during their career. But the relationship between father and son fractured in the early 2000s. After the falling out, Floyd Jr.’s uncle, Roger, took over his training.

Roger was a WBC super featherweight and super lightweight champion during his fighting days. Floyd Sr.’s youngest brother, Jeff, was also the IBO super featherweight champion.

Spinks Family Takes on All Comers

When it comes to American boxing families, few others have had as much success from different generations as the Spinks family. Leon Spinks pulled a surprising win just eight fights into his career. Spinks won the WBA and WBC heavyweight championships by beating Muhammad Ali by split decision.

While he lost the title back to Ali in the rematch, Leon was enough of a draw to earn another shot at the championship against Larry Holmes in June 1981. Leon’s brother, Michael, would also be the IBF and The Ring heavyweight champion. He was the first fighter to beat Holmes, according to boxing heavyweight news, and won two fights against the powerful puncher Holmes. Leon would win 31 straight fights to start his career.

Leon had his run ended by the rising Mike Tyson. Tyson knocked Leon down twice in the first round en route to winning the fight in 91 seconds. Three of Leon’s sons – Leon Jr., Darrel, and Cory – would go on to fight professionally.

Cory would be the most accomplished of the trio. He won the WBA, WBC, and IBF welterweight championships and also won the IBF light middleweight championships. Leon’s grandson, Leon Spinks III, also had 17 professional fights.

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