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Former heavyweight boxer Ron Lyle has died of a sudden illness. He was 70.
Lyle learned how to box while he was serving time in Colorado State Prison for a gang related murder. Paroled in 1969, he made his pro boxing debut two years later at the age of 30. Lyle went undefeated in his first 19 fights before losing a unaminous decision to Jerry Quarry in Madison Square Garden in 1973. After losing to Quarry, Lyle won eleven fights and had a draw before losing a unaminous decision to Jimmy Young in February 1975.
Despite losing to Young, Lyle would get a title shot at Muhammad Ali three months later. Lyle took Ali to the limit and was ahead in the fight at the end of ten rounds. But the referee would controversially stop the fight in the 11th round after Ali threw a flurry of punches.
After defeating Earnie Shavers in September 1975 in front of his hometown fans in Denver, Lyle would be matched up against George Foreman in Las Vegas in January 1976. It was Foreman’s first fight since losing to Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire in 1974. It would prove to be Lyle’s most memorable fight. In the fourth round, Lyle knocked down Foreman twice while Foreman knocked him down once. Foreman would then knockout Lyle in the fifth round.
In 1978, Lyle stood trial for murdering his former road manager. However, Lyle claimed self-defense and a jury acquitted him. Lyle resumed his boxing career and would continue to fight until October 1980 when he was knocked out in the first round by Gerry Cooney. He came out of retirement nearly fifteen years later at the age of 54 in the hope of getting a rematch against George Foreman who had embarked on a successful comeback and by this time had become the heavyweight champion of the world. However, this fight would never come to fruition and Lyle hung up the gloves a few months later.
In recent years, Lyle ran a gym in Denver where he mentored up and coming boxers. Earlier this month, shortly after the death of Joe Frazier, Lyle conducted his last interview. Lyle never fought Frazier but greatly respected him. Ironically, the interviewer noted how good Lyle looked. Well, you know what they say about appearances.
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