CLEVELAND — Jimmy Bivins, a heavyweight boxer in the 1940s and 1950s who defeated some of the greatest fighters of his time, has died. He was 92.
Bivins died of complications from pneumonia early Wednesday at an East Cleveland nursing home, according to his family.
The Georgia-born Bivins retired from boxing in 1955 after more than 100 professional fights. He never was able to compete for a world title, but he was once ranked as the No. 1 contender in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.
Bivins had winning bouts with world champions Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles, Gus Lesnevich, Melio Bettina, Anton Christoforidis and Teddy Yarosz. He also went the distance with Joe Louis and fought Jersey Joe Walcott to a split-decision.
Bivins met seven Hall of Famers, beating four, and 11 world champions, defeating eight, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Bivins, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, had 86 wins, 25 losses and one draw in his career. He had 31 knockouts.
Bivins, who was born in Dry Branch in 1919, taught kids about boxing in his later years, said Jerry Nelson, who is married to Bivins' nephew.
Gene Glen, secretary of the Ohio State Former Boxers & Associates Inc., said Bivins was an outstanding fighter, who made "outstanding contributions, not only as a boxer, but also as a human being."
The year before Bivins was inducted into the Hall of Fame, police found him in the attic of his daughter's Cleveland house. He was covered with bedsores and weighed only 110 pounds, 70 pounds below his fighting weight. Bivins' son-in-law later pleaded guilty to criminal neglect.
Bivins recovered and lived with a sister for years before moving to the nursing home in 2009, Nelson said.
"He was a kind and gentle man who always had a smile on his face," Nelson said.
She said Bivins is survived by a daughter, five grandchildren and several great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements were pending.