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Why I stand by Rocky blast.

LARRY HOLMES has been haunted by one quote more than any other.

"Rocky Marciano couldn't carry my jockstrap," he had spat out after losing a controversial points decision to Michael Spinks that denied him equalling Marciano's record of 49 straight victories without a blemish.

Today, Holmes, built like the side of a house, still stands by that statement and believes there was a conspiracy to prevent him defeating Spinks and going on to take the record.

"What I meant when I compared Marciano to me was that I was 35 beating younger guys and he was 25 beating older ones," he said.

"However, a lot of folk were mad at me for saying it.

"The establishment didn't want me taking Rocky's record. I was robbed against Spinks and robbed even more in the return.

"It sickened me so much I told the judges to kiss my ass and immediately announced my retirement.

"They played games with me, didn't want me and took away my title."

It was a sour end to his long reign as world champion.

He successfully defended his title 20 times, second only to Joe Louis with 25 defences, beating the likes of Ken Norton, Mike Weaver, Earnie Shavers, Muhammad Ali, Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks, Tex Cobb, Tim Witherspoon and Bonecrusher Smith.

He gained some measure of notoriety when he fought Gerry Cooney in 1982.

Cooney was considered the great white hope and a lot of racial tension was drummed up before the fight.

President Ronald Reagan had a phone line directly into Cooney's dressing-room and the world champion was introduced first in the ring instead of second as is tradition.

That privilege went to Cooney.

Fans openly taunted one another in a race battle.

However, Holmes won on a technical knock-out in the thirteenth and later a Hollywood film, The Great White Hype, was based on the Holmes-Cooney fight.

Incredibly, the two men were to become firm friends.

"He's a nice guy and we work together on charity events," said Larry who actually uses Cooney on his promotional tape. "If he had fought anyone else he would have been world champion, but I was one of the best ever!"
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 20, 2008
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