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RSR Says Goodbye to Gary Mason: 1962 – 2011

By Mike “Rubber Warrior” Plunkett

Like the rest of the boxing world I was shocked and saddened to learn of the untimely demise of England’s Gary Mason. Despite knowing that life is a gift often in the form mixed bag it never ceases to shock me when somebody leaves us suddenly in the prime of life. I remember wondering about Mason not all that long ago and making a mental note to follow up on him for a feature. Unfortunately that feature has changed in scope and I am here representing RSR to look back at a fine career and to say goodbye.

Gary Mason was born in Jamaica on December 15th 1962. Having moved to England in his youth, he turned professional in what now seems a lifetime ago with 1st round knockout over Al Malcolm. Standing a shade just over 6’1 he was in fact a very large and heavily muscled heavyweight that typically weighed in or around 240lbs, solid, strong and known for having undeniable knockout power. A member of the Terry Lawless stable of fighters, he quietly spent years making a name for himself on the British scene, paying his dues as an up and coming heavyweight, albeit in the shadow of Frank Bruno.

Known for disposing of his opposition in the early rounds and after having turned back the challenges of known trial horses such as Lorenzo Boyd, Donnie Long, and Eddie Richardson, Mason began making waves as a compelling knockout artist with notable stoppages of former WBC cruiserweight titlist Alfonzo Ratliff and IBF counterpart Rickey Parkey. A November 1988 stoppage of the still useful James “Quick” Tillis sent all of the right signals, underlining his ability and the threat he seemingly posed to the more well known and celebrated heavyweights of that period across the ocean.

Having amassed an impressive 28-0 record, Mason won the BBBofC British heavyweight title with a 4th round knockout of Hughroy Currie in January 1990. He continued his winning ways and enhanced his world ranking with a knockout over 1984 Olympic Gold medalist and former world heavyweight title challenger Tyrell Biggs, a close decision win over the ever-dependable journeyman Everett “Bigfoot” Martin, a bout in which he initially incurred damage to his eye, and a stoppage over James Pritchard, a once highly regarded heavyweight prospect.

It was his knockout of Tyrell Biggs that caught my eye and the first that I had seen of Mason after having predominantly been made aware of his presence and progress through the various boxing publications of the day. My first impression of him was that his greatest attribute wasn’t his much advertised ability to separate a foe from his senses, but rather his determination to chug forward and win. He was neither light of foot or supremely blessed with eye-catching athletic prowess, rather, he was well conditioned and heavy handed, willing to wade through the threat and return fire of his foes. Such were the strengths Mason possessed and made the most of.

In April 1991 his career reached a tipping point. At 35-0, 32 KO’s Mason stepped-up to challenge for the European heavyweight title while defending his British heavyweight title against then undefeated Lennox Lewis, a seemingly gifted up and coming heavyweight that stood and imposing 6’5 with an 84” reach. A 1988 Olympic gold medalist at heavyweight and with just fourteen bouts to his credit, many believed that Lewis lacked the experience to challenge the much more seasoned veteran, thus the event was considered by many to be a gamble for the former Olympian and a terrific opportunity for Mason to be showcased around the world.

But history shows us that boxing has its own strange agenda, by pulling the various elements together in such a way whereby the past can suddenly catch up and eclipse the future. Lewis utilized his superior athletic ability and pedigree to outbox Mason, spearing him with his sharp left jab and catching him with crisp right hands. The damage received to his optic nerve in the Martin bout, and due to his repeated demonstration of courage and determination to fight through such punishment over the years, attributes that had brought him to this very point, ironically served to haunt Mason at the most crucial moment of his career. The bout was stopped in the 7th round due to a grotesquely swollen and battered eye. Mason lost his title and the mystique that surround him as an undefeated heavyweight knockout artist vanished.

Three years after the momentum was lost and long after the roar had died, a much slower and heavier Mason returned to cap his campaign with two signature stoppage wins over modest opposition. His final career tally: 37-1, 34 KO’s.

In the years after boxing the intelligent Mason enjoyed notoriety as a gentle giant in England, having successfully carved out a career as a respected television personality and analyst for Sky Sports. Sadly, in the early hours of January 6th 2011 Gary Mason was killed after being struck by an automobile as he cycled. He was just 48 years-old. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and loved ones. May God rest his soul.

Gary Mason
Division: Heavyweight
Professional Record: 37-1, 34 KO’s

Date Opponent Location Result

1984-10-16 Al Malcolm Kensington, UK W KO 1
1984-12-14 Al Malcolm Wembley, UK W TKO 2

1985-01-18 Frank Robinson Bethnal Green, UK W KO 1
1985-03-06 Luc Goossens Kensington, UK W KO 1
1985-11-05 Steve Gee Wembley, UK W TKO 5
1985-12-04 Steve Gee Kensington, UK W TKO 5

1986-02-19 Denroy Bryan Kensington, UK W KO 1
1986-03-04 Charles Hostetter Wembley, UK W TKO 1
1986-04-09 Louis Pergaud Kensington, UK W TKO 4
1986-04-24 Maurice Gomis Bethnal Green, UK W TKO 3
1986-05-20 Ivy Brown Wembley, UK W KO 2
1986-07-19 Mark Young Wembley, UK W TKO 5
1986-09-17 Lorenzo Boyd Kensington, UK W KO 2
1986-11-04 Donnie Long Wembley, UK W KO 1
1986-11-26 Oscar Holman Wolverhampton, UK W PTS 8

1987-02-22 Rodney Smith Wembley, UK W TKO 1
1987-03-24 Richard Scott Wembley, UK W TKO 1
1987-04-18 Woody Clark Kensington, UK W TKO 2
1987-05-26 Billy Joe Thomas Wembley, UK W KO 1
1987-08-30 Eddie Richardson Marbella, ES W TKO 7
1987-09-25 Andre van den Oetelaar Southend, UK W TKO 2
1987-10-24 Andrew Gerrard Tottenham, UK W TKO 6
1987-12-03 Sammy Scaff Southend, UK W TKO 2

1988-02-03 Alfonzo Ratliff Wembley, UK W TKO 6
1988-03-09 Ricky Parkey Wembley, UK W TKO 1
1988-04-13 Manoel De Almeida Bethnal Green, UK W TKO 7
1988-10-24 David Jaco Windsor, UK W TKO 4
1988-11-30 James Tillis Southwark, UK W TKO 5

1989-01-18 Hughroy Currie Kensington, UK W KO 4
vacant BBBofC British Heavyweight Title
1989-03-29 Terry Armstrong Wembley, UK W TKO 3
1989-06-28 Jess Harding Brentwood, UK W TKO 2
BBBofC British Heavyweight Title
1989-10-04 Tyrell Biggs Kensington, UK W KO 7
1989-12-06 Mark Wills Wembley, UK W PTS 10

1990-03-14 Everett Martin Kensington, UK W PTS 10
1990-12-12 James Pritchard Kensington, UK W TKO 9

1991-03-06 Lennox Lewis Wembley, UK L TKO 7
BBBofC British Heavyweight Title
EBU (European) Heavyweight Title

1994-01-29 Kevin P Porter Grand Forks, US W TKO 2
1994-09-10 Martin Foster Laughlin, US W TKO 3

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