Floyd Patterson Ring Belt
The journey of Floyd Patterson was not an easy one. Born into a poor family in Waco, North Carolina, Patterson was the youngest of eleven children and experienced an insular and troubled childhood. His family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Floyd was a truant and petty thief. At age ten, he was sent to the Wiltwyck School for Boys, a reform school in upstate New York, which he credited with turning his life around. He stayed there for almost 2 years. He attended high school in New Paltz, NY where he succeeded in all sports (today, the New Paltz football field is named in his honor). At age fourteen, he started to box, trained by Cus D'Amato at his Gramercy Gym. Aged just 17, Patterson won the Gold medal in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics as a middleweight. 1952 turned out to be a good year for the young Patterson; in addition to Olympic gold Patterson won the National Amateur Middleweight Championship and New York Golden Gloves Middleweight Championship. Patterson turned professional in 1952 and quickly began to advance in his career as he gained experience under the tutelage of legendary trainer Cus D'Amato. Over his first four years as a professional Patterson lost only once, to the experienced light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim. By 1956 Patterson was prepared to challenge for the heavyweight title. He defeated Tommy "Hurricane" Jackson in a title eliminator which set the stage for his November, 1956 matchup with Archie Moore for the vacant world heavyweight title. Moore had given recently retired former champion Rocky Marciano all he could handle in their title fight in 1955 dropping Marciano before he himself was stopped. Coming into the title fight many observers felt Moore would be too much for Patterson. They were wrong. The younger, quicker Patterson prevailed and stopped Moore to win the title. After winning the title Patterson defended it against carefully selected opponents. He defeated Jackson in a rematch, Olympian Pete Rademacher who was making his professional debut, "Cut N Shoot" Roy Harris and Brian London. He avoided dangerous contenders like Sonny Liston, Cleveland Williams, Eddie Machen, Henry Cooper and Zora Folley. The public demanded better competition and they got it June 26, 1959 at Yankee Stadium when Patterson defended the crown against undefeated Swede Ingemar Johansson. Experts knew Johansson could punch, but did not think he could handle a fighter with Patterson's skills. They were wrong. Johansson landed big rights, and put Patterson down seven times in the 3rd round before referee Ruby Goldstein stepped in to end the fight. Johansson became Sweden's first World Heavyweight Champion, thus becoming a national hero as the first European to defeat an American for the title since 1933. This set up the rematch, a fight Patterson was not only determined to win, but to gain a measure of revenge and respect at the same time. The rematch was held at the Polo Grounds in New York on June 20, 1960. Patterson knocked out Johansson in the fifth round of their rematch on June 20, 1960, to become the then first man to in history to ever regain the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship. Johansson hit the canvas hard, seemingly out before he landed flat on his back. With glazed eyes, blood trickling from his mouth and his left foot quivering, he was counted out by referee Arthur Mercante. Johansson lay unconscious for five minutes before he was helped onto a stool. Floyd Patterson had accomplished something no heavyweight champion from the time of John L. Sullivan. He was the first to lose and regain the world heavyweight title. Patterson had always been a trail blazer. He was the youngest man to win the title when he defeated Moore and the first Olympic gold medalist to win the coveted title. Now he had done again what no man before him had. Nat Fleischer, legendary editor of The Ring (Magazine), immediately recognized the importance of Patterson's victory. He commissioned a championship belt which was presented to Floyd Patterson in recognition of his victory over Johansson and the historic importance of the accomplishment. We at Leland’s are proud to present this championship belt here, the first time it has been offered to the public. The championship Ring belt consists of three metal plates attached to each other by small chains and attached to a red, white, and blue heavy cloth sash. It is 38" long. All three metal plates are adorned with an American eagle atop. The center plate is engraved, "THE RING MAGAZINE AWARD WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP WON BY FLOYD PATTERSON OF NEW YORK." The left plate is engraved, "KNOCKED OUT INGEMAR JOHANSSON OF SWEDEN IN 5TH ROUND." The right plate is engraved, "FIRST TO REGAIN TITLE FOUGHT AT POLO GROUNDS OF NEW YORK JUNE 20, 1960." The center plate has enamel flags on either side for the United States and Sweden. One of the three chains attaching the left plate to the center is broken. The sash is complete with buckle. Sash has faded, has some staining and edge fraying. One of the most significant boxing artifacts to ever reach public sale. From the collection of Floyd Patterson and comes with a letter of authenticity from his family. Further letter of authenticity from Craig Hamilton of JO Sports, Inc.