It's In The Name



The Best Nicknames In Boxing

Some fighters are immediately identified by one name, like Ali, Tyson or Foreman. For others, they’re best known by their nickname. Whether catchy, clever or common, a fighter’s ring name can easily set the tone of what he or she is about. It makes up part of their ring persona and boxing “character.” 

 pictured left to right: Marvin “Marvelous" Hagler, “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns

Through the ages, there have been countless Sugar Rays - including Robinson, Leonard and Seales - and most seem to wear it well and make it their own. Other nicknames are completely unique to the particular fighter and usually say a lot about their personality. There is only one Hector “Macho” Camacho. Marvin Hagler’s nickname, “Marvelous,” fit him so well, he had it legally changed to be his full name. Although he started out as the “Motor City Cobra”, Thomas Hearns later took on the “Hitman” moniker and lived up to the entire, intimidating meaning behind it. Roberto Duran embodied his infamous “Manos de Piedra” (Hands of Stone) name (many of his opponents would verify that), while Muhammad Ali spoke his “Greatest” title into existence and became just that.

In some cases, their nickname has become so much a part of their story, that you have to wonder if James “Lights Out” Toney, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker or Mike “The Bodysnatcher” McCallum wouldn’t be quite as memorable without their well-known pseudonyms. Maybe they would be, but you have to think it also plays into their legacy and adds to their prominence in boxing history.

What’s best is when a fighter’s nickname defines who they are. For instance, Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas and Oscar “The Golden Boy” De La Hoya are among just a few fighters who became known for and lived up to their how they were labeled.

At the end of the day, that’s what it really comes down to: a label. It’s marketing 101 and part of successful packaging. Obviously, a mediocre fighter isn’t going to be celebrated simply because of their nickname, but if they have the goods and give fans something to cheer for, then they (and their memorable nickname) just might solidify a permanent place in boxing history.

pictured left to right:Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, Mike “The Bodysnatcher” McCallum, Sugar Ray Leonard