Former boxing champion Jimmy Ellis passes away

Jimmy Ellis, who was the WBA heavyweight champion when Muhammad Ali had been banned from the sport ad stripped of his title, passed away yesterday in Louisville at the age of 74.

Ellis had not been seen in public in years since suffering from dementia for more than a decade.  Ellis was a sparring partner of Ali, who then won an eight-man tournament for the vacant heavyweight title after Ali was stripped of the belt for refusing to serve in the Viet Nam war, claiiming being a conscientious objector.

Ellis was a small heavyweight, who won a majority decision over Jerry Quarry in Oakland to win the title in 1968.  He lost the title in 1970 in Madison Square Garden, which set up the Ali vs. Frazier fight in 1971 that was the biggest boxing match of its time.

Ellis, who finished his career with a 40-12 record, lost a number of fights after dropping the title, including a 12 round TKO loss to Ali.  The two remained close friends, speaking every week for years.

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