Inducted on November 13, 2008
Name: Tim Witherspoon
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Height: 6′ 3½″ / 192cm
Reach: 78″ / 198cm
Boxing Record: click
Trainers: Aaron Snowell, Jim (Slim) Robinson
Managers: Carl King, Tom Moran
Tim Witherspoon turned professional in 1979 after just five amateur bouts. He worked as a sparring partner for Muhammad Ali when the former champion was training for his ill-fated comeback fight against Larry Holmes in 1980. Witherspoon also briefly worked as a sparring partner for Gerry Cooney. “I lasted three days,” Witherspoon said. “When I bloodied his nose, they told me to take a walk.”
On May 20, 1983, with a record of 15-0, Witherspoon fought Larry Holmes for the World Heavyweight Championship and lost by a twelve-round split decision. When Holmes relinquished the WBC belt, Witherpoon fought Greg Page for the vacant title n March 9, 1984, and won by a twelve-round majority decision. He lost it in his first defense, dropping a twelve-round majority decision to Pinklon Thomas on August 31, 1984.
Witherspoon defeated Tony Tubbs by a fifteen-round majority decision on January 17, 1986 to win the WBA Heavyweight Championship and successfully defended it with an eleventh-round TKO of Frank Bruno on July 17, 1986. Witherspoon was scheduled to have a rematch with Tubbs on December 12, 1986, but Tubbs pulled out of the fight due to an injury. James (Bonecrusher) Smith, who Witherspoon defeated by a lopsided twelve-round unanimous decision the previously year, took the fight on short notice and stopped Witherspoon in the first round to win the WBA title.
In 1987, Witherspoon filed a $25 million lawsuit against promoter Don King and his stepson, Carl King, who was Witherspoon’s manager, accusing them of fraud and conflict of interest. The suit was settled out of court for $1 million in 1992.
Witherspoon continued to box until 2003, but he never received another shot at a world title.
On November 30, 2002, Witherspoon took part in Cedric Kushner’s Thunderbox Heavyweight Tournament “Fistful of Dollars” at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He lost in the first round of the tournament, dropping a three-round decision to Israel Garcia.
Witherspoon fought a four-round exhibition with Tim Mitchell on May 29, 2005. Headgear and 12-ounce gloves were worn, and the rounds were two minutes each.
Witherspoon was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.