Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Ingemar Johansson

For a brief moment in 1959, Swedish heavyweight boxer Ingemar Johansson was the most popular athlete in the world. With a devastating right hand that he called "toonder and lightning," he knocked out Floyd Patterson — the middleweight hero of the 1952 Olympics — to claim the title of heavyweight champion. It was more than a fight; it was a massive event. Johansson's arrival changed the image of athletes. His style of living — he partied, he brought his fiancée to training camp — was unheard of. And that cleft chin! The looks, the lifestyle and the overwhelming win — all of it came together in this one man. For a year, he was sports' lightning in a bottle.

—Bert Sugar

Sugar, a boxing Hall of Famer, is a boxing historian