There are records and there are DiMaggio’s 56 and Cy Young’s 511; the virtually untouchables. And then there is Pete Rademacher’s mark. It will never be beaten. The best anyone could ever do is match it. After winning the 1956 Olympic heavyweight boxing champion, Pete became the first, and still only, boxer in history to fight for the championship of his division in his first professional match. There is no fairytale ending to the story; although he was knocked down in the second round, defending champion Floyd Patterson bounced up to win on a 6th round TKO in their 1957 bout. But the fact that the match took place at all is still a topic of wonder among fight fans. So, for that matter, is Rademacher. A star varsity boxer and two-year football starter at Washington State in 1950-51, he was not without experience as an amateur, winning four Seattle Golden Gloves titles, the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1953 and the Chicago Golden Gloves and All-Army and All-Service championships in 1956 before qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. In Melbourne, he won all three of his Olympic bouts by knockout, earning the gold medal with a first round win over favored Russian opponent Lev Moukhine in a highly charged atmosphere. Soon after, he began negotiating for his improbable shot at the professional heavyweight crown. Amazingly, he was able to pull it off by enlisting backers to post a $250,000 guarantee. After the Patterson bout he would go on to fight 22 more times as a pro, winning 14 (8 by knockout) and losing 7 before retiring in 1962. Two of those bouts were at the Cleveland Arena and both ended in victory. Afterwards he went into business at Keifer-McNeil in Akron, retiring as its president in 1987, and frequently refereed boxing matches in Northeast Ohio. For over 40 years he has made his home in Medina.
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