In 93 professional fights, often going toe-to-toe with the best heavyweight boxers in history, George Chuvalo was never once knocked down. But that doesn’t mean he never took a solid punch to the head. Here are the ones he remembers most, in his own words, counting down.
5. Joe Frazier: “My eye was already so swollen that my right eyeball was sticking out like one-eyed Marty Feldman—these bulging eyes. So when I got hit with a left hook, it messed up my right eye. That hurt like hell. It didn’t rock me. I just felt the pain of the punch, as it drove my eyeball through the optic floor. So when they operated on me, they took my eyeball out and put in a piece of plastic silicon. I have a piece of silicon in my head holding up my right eyeball.”
4. Mel Turnbow: ”I remember just getting rocked, like, ‘Whoa man!’ BOOM!’ I didn’t wobble, but it was a good right hand to the temple.”
3. Mike DeJohn: ”I really didn’t know until I saw the video of it some 25 years later. My legs dipped about an inch when I got hit with a blazing uppercut—like, ‘WHOAW!’”
2. George Foreman: “It’s like a big log hitting you. Like, ‘BOOM.’ He’s not a quick puncher, but he’s heavy-handed guy. I remember getting hit with a good left hook. It shook me up a little bit. Frazier was like DeJohn, in a sense that both are like getting hit by Pontiac at 100 mph. Getting hit by Foreman is like getting hit by a big Mack truck at 50 mph. There’s a different feel to it. One’s like, ‘WHACK!’ There other one’s like, ‘BOOM.’ ”
1. Lynn Chuvalo (his first wife, now deceased): “When you see a punch coming in the midst of a fight, you brace yourself. The worst thing is to get hit with a sucker punch when you don’t see where it’s coming from. BOOM. Got whomped from behind with a heavy glass water pitcher. That was the worst pain I ever felt getting hit with anything. I never really asked her afterwards, ‘Why did you do that?’ ”