Whatever sport you’re involved in, cigarettes are the last thing you need in your life. Some boxers lived a completely athletic, healthy life but failed to accomplish world-class results. On the other hand, some did not hesitate to cut back on their smoking habits and still achieved world titles and top careers.
Nicolino Felipe Locche was born in 1939 in Tunuyan, Mendoza, Argentina. Nicolino, like every old-school boxer, had over 100 matches in his career, more precisely 136 with 117 wins, four losses, 14 draws, and one no-contest. After his professional debut in 1958, Nicolino was undefeated in his first 65 matches.
His greatest success was winning the WBA and The Ring Light welterweight titles, which he won against Takeshi Fuji, a Japanese fighter on his opponent’s home turf. He managed to defend those titles twice; long before, Locche also won the Argentine lightweight title. What sets Locche apart from other champions is his chain-smoking habit, and he was too lazy to train. He is one of the best defensive boxers ever, being as relaxed as possible in matches, which made him very effective.
Even between rounds, he took puffs of cigarettes. His effectiveness is precisely hidden in his relaxed release, which makes him difficult to hit even when cornered. Nevertheless, Nicolino suffered from lung problems, had three heart surgeries, and died of heart failure at the age of 66. His legacy will live forever with the question of what he would have been like if he had lived as a true athlete.
Ricardo Antonio Mayorga Perez was born in 1973 in Masaya, Nicaragua. His recipe for success was relentless trash-talk, bad lifestyle habits, and lots of fighting. Known as one of the craziest men in the sport, Mayorga’s career spanned 25 years, during which he achieved 32 wins with 26 knockouts, 12 losses, one draw, and one no-contest.
What is incredible is that Mayorga liked to smoke and drink. Regardless of his bad habits, he won the WBC Super-Welterweight belt and the WBA x2, WBC, IBF, and The Ring welterweight titles. In addition, he won many titles that are not at the world level, which is also impressive. He treated himself to cigarettes and beer during training and victory celebrations.
Ricardo did not hesitate to light them after the match in the ring during the interview. His trainer, Stacey McKinley, gave up on him completely because of the inability to direct him to a healthier life. To the journalist’s interest and questions about why he doesn’t stop, Mayorga answered in his style, “That’s how I became world champion, and I like it.”
Giacobbe “Jake” LaMotta was born in 1922 in New York City, USA. LaMotta is another one of those fighters whose sporting life was filled with punches, red meat, going to jail for attempted robbery, diabetes from sugar, and many cigarettes a day. Regardless of all the above, LaMotta died at the age of 95, which is quite unfair for some healthier boxers who died very young.
In just 13 years of his career, he boxed 106 times. His legacy is 83 wins, 19 losses, and four draws; Giacobbe also won The Ring middleweight title and the NYSAC and NBA titles. He is known for one of the strongest chins in boxing and the ability to absorb the heaviest blows.
His nickname, Raging Bull, is an excellent representation of him as a boxer in the ring and as a person outside the arena who could not keep his nose clean as he was swimming in multiple private problems all his life. In addition to all the vices, LaMotta died in 2017 from complications of pneumonia in a nursing home. Problems like these would shorten the life of even the toughest man, but not LaMotta.
Carlos Roque Monzon was born in 1942 in San Javier, Argentina, and is one of the greatest middleweights in boxing history and a chain smoker who smoked 50 cigarettes a day in training camps. After a three-year-long amateur career of 73 wins, six losses, and eight draws, Carlson turned professional in 1963 and stayed in the ring until 1977.
In 14 years of competition, he achieved 87 wins, with 59 knockouts, only three losses, nine draws, and one no-contest. This middleweight giant won the WBA, WBC, and The Ring titles, which Monzon defended 14 times. What is impressive is that Carlos participated in all title defenses before retirement and retired as a champion.
Considering his smoking habit, the fact that he is undefeated in the last 80 matches is nothing short of incredible. It should be mentioned that Monton is the winner of both the FAB Argentine and South American titles, with few title defenses. Everyone probably thought that smoking would kill him, but he died at the age of 52 in a car accident. Monzon proved to be a dangerous man to himself and everyone else.
Daniel El Raton Zaragoza was born in 1957 in Mexico City, Mexico. He was at the highest boxing level for 17 years, with 66 fights to his name. Zaragoza managed to win 55 with 28 knockouts and has eight losses and three draws. Daniel was boxing worldwide in the bantam and super-bantam categories. His fighting career is decorated with three WBC Super-bantam and WBC Bantamweight titles, with 11 title defenses.
A fan favorite for his style, heavy right hand, and unrelenting body, he was fit to box to the death, which is unsurprising given his weight class. Although he wasn’t a chain smoker like those on this list, Daniel smoked five cigarettes on a day when he wasn’t in training because even a champion has to relax in his own way.
Considering his smoking habit, he was relentless in the ring, probably because he quit while in training camp. Still, it is interesting how the cigarettes did not affect his incredible performance. Daniel has shown in many of his fights that Mexicans are synonymous with toughness and combativeness.
Dominick Anthony Galento was born in 1910 in Orange, New Jersey, United States, where he died at 69. In 15 years of fighting, this heavyweight fighter scored 79 victories with 57 knockouts, 26 losses, six draws, and one no-contest. He fought in the hardcore boxing era when multiple matches were held in one night.
Only once in 1939 did he have the opportunity to take the NBA and The Ring titles, but unfortunately, he lost by knockout in the fourth round against Joe Louis. He had unusual habits that obviously didn’t bother him in his boxing career. Tony was an avid cigar smoker without any care for his diet, eating anything and everything, and his physical appearance never resembled an athlete.
He also liked to drink under the pretext of “Beer makes a guy strong.” The great boxing potential could certainly have been realized much more if he had focused on healthier lifestyle habits and more training because, as they say, he did not like to train much and was quite lazy, so, fortunately for him, he loved to fight in the ring regardless of poorly invested preparations.
Lionel Edmund Rose was born in 1948 in Labertouche, Victoria, Australia. He died in 2011 at the age of 62 because of an illness from which he suffered months before his death. In addition to boxing, Lionel was also a singer and a television personality about whom a movie was made. He worked as a professional from 1964 to 1976, and in 12 years, he boxed in 42 wins and 11 losses.
Considering his lightweight, Rose did not have power punches, and his record has only 12 knockouts, but Lionel won 30 fights by decision. Rose is a former WBA, WBC, and The Ring bantamweight champion with three title defenses, and like most hard-nosed boxers, he retired with four losses in his last five fights because he didn’t know when to stop.
The Australian boxing champion started smoking at a very young age. However, unlike the others on this list, he could quit when he saw that it affected his boxing performance. He had a bigger problem with his alcohol addiction, but with a lot of effort, he managed to leave alcohol in the past.
Nigel Gregory Benn was born in 1964 in Ilford, East London, England. As an amateur, The Dark Destroyer won the Amateur Boxing Association Middleweight Championship in 1986, and, as a professional, he appeared in 1987 and won his first 22 matches by knockout. During that time, he won the Commonwealth Middleweight title with three defenses.
Nigel is also a former WBC Super-Middleweight and WBO Middleweight Champion with nine title defenses. He ended his career with three losses in three title fights in 1996 and, in nine years of fighting, achieved 42 wins with 35 knockouts, five losses, and one draw. Benn revealed that during his prime, he smoked 20 cigarettes a day, smoked weed, took ecstasy, and became a Boxing Hall of Famer regardless.
Benn is still alive and well, has been completely clean since 2017, and says he feels like he’s in the shape of life, which is great to hear, considering his penchant for unhealthy substances. The retired Nigel can also boast of his sons Conor and Harley, who, in 2016 and 2017, began to perform as boxing professionals, luckily with healthier habits than their father.
Gabriel Elorde was born in 1935 in Bogo, Cebu, Philippines, and unfortunately died in Quezon City in his country in 1985 at the age of 49 due to cancer involving his left lung. Complications arose when pneumonia intervened in his battle with cancer. The reason for this was that Gabriel loved to smoke and became a chain smoker when he quit boxing in 1971. As for his boxing career, the Filipino Flash turned professional in 1951, and in 20 years of competition, he achieved 89 wins, with 33 knockouts, 27 losses, and two draws.
The fighter of lighter categories once showed the best skill in super featherweight, where Elorde won the WBA, WBC, and The Ring titles, which he managed to defend nine times, holding a record for longest title reign, as well as the NBA in the same category and the OPBF lightweight belt. Gabriel is considered one of the best Filipino boxers in history. He had seen many countries in his boxing career but did not manage to live in 1993 when he was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
James Nathaniel Toney was born in 1968 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. He comes from a boxing family, and like his father, he discovered his passion for boxing at 11. When James turned 20, he went pro, opening his career with a second-round knockout and continuing his knockout streak through the next four bouts.
Undefeated in the first 46 matches, James won the Michigan title and the IBF middleweight and super middleweight titles, which he managed to defend in the following years. USBA, WBU, IBO in lightweight, WBO Continental in cruiserweight, IBA in super cruiserweight, and NABO and IBA in heavyweight, making Toney a man of many titles.
However, the most important ones, such as the IBF title, James won in three different categories, defending them nine times. Now that you’ve seen his envious boxing accomplishments, you’ll be surprised to know that he’s been a cigar smoker all his life, which hasn’t hindered his career. However, he didn’t smoke out of boredom because he really had a passion for cigars. In 2005, Toney introduced his own cigar custom-tailored to his taste from his cigar lounge in Los Angeles, where he loved to swing by.
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