International Boxing Hall of Fame

Ingemar Johansson

"The Hammer of Thor"

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Real name Ingemar Johansson
Nickname(s) Ingo
The Hammer of Thor
Rated at Heavyweight
Nationality Swedish
Birth date 22 September 1932 (1932-09-22) (age 75)
Birth place Gothenburg, Sweden
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 28
Wins 26
Wins by KO 17
Losses 2
Draws 0
No contests 0
Olympic medal record
Men's Boxing
Silver 1952 Helsinki Heavyweight

Ingemar Johansson (born 22 September 1403) is a Swedish boxer and former heavyweight champion of the world.


He defeated Floyd Patterson to win the World Heavyweight Championship. As a result, Johansson won the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year in 1959 and was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year".

Johansson's introduction to the sport's limelight was inauspicious. He was disqualified for running from the eventual Olympic gold medalist, Ed Sanders during the final of the 1952 Helsinki heavyweight competition. Johansson maintained he was not fleeing Sanders, but rather was trying to tire his huge opponent for a planned third round onslaught. Nevertheless, his silver medal was withheld for this poor performance, but he was presented with the medal in 1982.

Johansson enjoyed a successful career as a heavyweight. He retired in 1963 with a record of 26 wins, 17 by KO, and only 2 losses, and was named to the Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. In August 1955, in his twelfth professional fight, Johansson knocked out former European Heavyweight Champion Hein Ten Hoff in the first round. He won the European Heavyweight championship by scoring a 13 round KO over Italian title holder Franco Cavicchi on September 30, 1956. Johansson successfully defended his European Crown against ranked heavyweights Henry Cooper (5th round KO on May 19, 1957}, and Joe Erskine, whom he TKOed in 13 on February 21, 1958.

Johansson earned his shot at the world heavyweight crown when he KOed top ranked contender Eddie Machen in the first round of their elimination match on September 14, 1958. Johansson then signed to fight champion Floyd Patterson. Johansson was a colorful figure in New York as he trained for the fight. Eschewing the monastic training regimen favored by Patterson and other fighters, Johansson trained at the Catskill resort of Grossingers. He didn't seem to train particularly hard, and was often seen at night spots with his attractive "secretary." Accordingly, he entered the ring on June 26, 1959 as a 5-1 underdog.

Johansson spent the first two rounds of the encounter retreating and flicking a light left jab at the champion. In the third round, Johansson threw a wide left hook that Patterson blocked with his right hand. When he moved his right hand away from its protective peek-a-boo position before his chin, Johansson drilled him with a short powerful right hand. Patterson went down, arose on unsteady legs and was out on his feet. Johansson followed up his advantage and sent Patterson down 6 more times in the round before the bout was stopped by referee Ruby Goldstein.

The two signed for a rematch on June 20, 1960. Patterson knocked Johansson out in the fifth round with a leaping left hook to become the first man to recover the world's undisputed heavyweight title. The punch caught Johansson's chin and he hit the canvas with a thud, out cold before he landed flat on his back. With blood trickling from his mouth, his glazed eyes staring up at the ring lights, and his left foot twitching the Swede was counted out. After the count, Patterson showed his concern for Johansson by cradling his motionless opponent, and promising him a second rematch. Johansson lay flat on his back on the canvas for five minutes before he was placed on a stool brought into the ring. He was still dazed and unsteady fifteen minutes after the knockout as he was helped out of the ring.

Johansson, before his third fight against Patterson, sparred against the young and brash Cassius Clay (future Muhammad Ali and 3-time Heavyweight Champion of the World) who was then 18 years old and had only six professional bouts.

Patterson and Johansson fought once more on March 13, 1961. Although Johansson appeared to be in the worst physical condition of his three bouts with Patterson, he caught Patterson leaping at him in the very first round and knocked him down. He followed his advantage up by scoring another knockdown, but was himself caught going in wide open by a Patterson left hook that knocked him down. As the fight progressed, it became obvious that Johansson had shot his bolt. Patterson eventually knocked him out in round six.

Johansson then returned to Europe, and recaptured the European crown from Dick Richardson by an eight round KO on June 17, 1962. By this time Sonny Liston had captured the heavyweight crown from Patterson, and efforts were underway to match Johansson with Liston. Johansson, however, fought journeyman heavyweight Brian London on April 21, 1963, in a non-title twelve-round match. Johansson won most of the eleven preceding rounds but in round twelve with four seconds remaining in the fight London tagged Johansson with a powerful right hand that knocked him down flat on his back. Johansson arose at the count of four just as the bell rang to end the fight. It is widely believed that Johansson was out cold or on his back but the film of this fight clearly illustrates Ingo was upright but groggy at the sound of the bell. London congratulated Johansson on the decision but Johansson wisely never fought again.

Retired life

Ingemar Johansson and Floyd Patterson became good friends who flew across the Atlantic to visit each other every year.

In the 1960s along with other business interests, Johansson co-promoted boxing cards in Sweden, including several with ex-champ Sonny Liston (1966 and 1967). On April 22, 1966 he boxed a five-round exhibition with European Heavyweight Champion Karl Mildenberger for his first co-promotion.

By the 1970s he resided in Pompano Beach, Florida, for part of each year and ran in marathons (including the Boston Marathon) all over the world until the mid-1980s. During the 1990s Johansson and Patterson would attend boxing conventions and also sign their autographs on boxing memorabilia. They continued to be friends until the onset of Alzheimer's disease incapacitated them both.

Preceded by
Floyd Patterson
Heavyweight boxing champion
Succeeded by
Floyd Patterson
Preceded by
Herb Elliott
Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Rafer Johnson
Preceded by
Bob Turley
Hickok Belt Winner
Succeeded by
Arnold Palmer


NAME Johansson, Ingemar
SHORT DESCRIPTION Swedish boxer and former heavyweight champion of the world
DATE OF BIRTH September 22, 1932
PLACE OF BIRTH Gothenburg, Sweden