IT TAKES years to produce a world heavyweight champion. Even the greats like Ali, Marciano, Tyson and Dempsey had to learn their trade fighting six-rounders in the small halls prior to them crashing the world rankings and going on to greatness.

So, whose idea was it to allow Pete Rademacher to fight for the world heavyweight title in his pro debut? Well, it was Pete Rademacher’s idea. In a BN article from 1957, Rademacher, who had recently won Olympic gold at the 1956 Melbourne Games whilst a serving US Army officer, stated that “I thought my Olympic win would make things easier when it came to obtaining a good civilian post. But no sir! Nobody attached any importance to my Gold Medal. Then I got a brainwave. I would fight for the world’s title”. Pete organized a syndicate to raise the money and the match with Floyd Patterson was made relatively easily.

Pete had no chance against Patterson. Floyd’s reputation will always suffer because of his two one-round losses to Sonny Liston, but he was a class performer in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Despite being knocked down himself, he managed to deck Rademacher seven times on the way to a conclusive six round victory. Undeterred, Pete then fought against another leading heavyweight in Zora Folley, and once again Pete was knocked out.

He needed to set his sights a little lower and build a proper career, and so he took a year out and then resumed his career in America’s boxing backwaters, racking up wins in Columbus, Ohio and Greenville, South Carolina. Unfortunately, Peter was something of a busted flush in the States and so he came across to Europe in 1960 to make something from his fame. After two contests in Germany, in one of which he could only manage a draw, he was matched against the ex-British heavyweight champion, Blackpool’s Brian London, in a 10-rounder at the Empire Pool, Wembley.

Brian needed a victory himself as he was coming off three straight losses. After losing his British title to Henry Cooper, he then failed in a brave attempt against Patterson for the world heavyweight title before losing in seven rounds to the Cuban hard man, Nino Valdes. The match with Rademacher was the perfect match for him. He was boxing against a name fighter alright, but one who did not represent too much of a threat.

Rademacher proved popular with fans and reporters alike whilst over here and he can be seen punching the speed ball in Toby’s gymnasium in Southwark. BN, no doubt swayed by Brian’s loss of form, fancied Pete’s chances against London, tipping him to win the fight. London was in an ugly mood, upsetting promoter Jack Solomons by staying in the capital for only one day during the pre-fight build-up, before returning North, where he preferred his training quarters and his mother’s cooking, to finish his preparation.

The Blackpool Blockbuster made no mistake on the night. After what had been a poor contest, during which Rademacher had dominated proceedings with his jab, Brian stepped up to impose his authority, and his class. In the sixth round he hit the American with five unanswered punches and this knocked the stuffing out his opponent. After flooring his man for an eight count, Brian “tore into his rival, hit him with every punch in the book – and in his excitement a couple that weren’t, including a mighty chop on the back of the neck as Rademacher tried to duck out of danger, and down went Pete again”.  In the next round London wasted no time.  He charged across the ring and took his man out with left hook.

Rademacher fought on for two more years, and despite beating George Chuvalo and Bob Olson, he was never the same again after losing to London and he quit the game to become a success in business. He died in 2020, aged 91.