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A tribute: Mogens Palle, 1934-2022

Promotor Mogens Palle (Lars Rønbøg / Sportsagency.dk)
Paying tribute to a promoter who ended up in the Hall of Fame

PROMOTER and matchmaker Mogens Palle from Copenhagen, Denmark passed away on Saturday morning (August 27) after battling cancer for several years.

Palle – inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008 – hosted his final boxing event on April 21, 2022 in Copenhagen. “After almost 65 years as a promoter, I’m calling it quits,” he said back then. “I am very proud of what I have accomplished. I really hope this event will be a great one too. It started with a success in 1957, and I would very much like it to end there as well. At least from a sporting point of view.

“I am not afraid to die. I have had a great life, and I have worked with the sport I love. I look at it this way. Dying is like falling asleep, you just don’t wake up again.” 

For more than 50 years, Palle has been credited with keeping boxing alive in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The former amateur boxer started his career as a boxing promoter at the age of 23, back in 1957, with his father Thorkild, a master carpenter, and former European lightweight champion, Jorgen Johansen. 

Based in a very small market and a country with less than 6m people he produced an impressive number of European champions (27) plus eight sanctioning body belt-holders, including the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Ayub Kalule and Johnny Bredahl. 

Christian Christensen and Bo Högberg of Sweden became his first European champions in 1964 and 1966. He built up Borge Krogh and Tom Bogs from scratch and both guys became very popular fixtures and started the golden age of Danish boxing by winning the European laurels in the lightweight, middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions. During the mid-Sixties Palle was the European manager of former world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston and co-promoted four of his bouts in Sweden. Liston was supposed to fight out of Denmark, but the Danish authorities refused to give him a working permit due to his criminal past therefore forcing the events to be moved to the neighbouring country. 

Ayub Kalule was Palle’s first major belt-holder when he easily defeated reigning WBA 154lbs titlist, Masashi Kudo in 1979.

The 1972 world title match between Carlos Monzon and Tom Bogs at the national soccer stadium in Copenhagen was one of the biggest sporting events in Denmark. In 2001 Palle brought Mike Tyson to the same outdoor arena, where he stopped Brian Nielsen in the biggest boxing event in Denmark with a 14-bout fight card. He was also the co-promoter for the Joe Calzaghe vs. Mikkel Kessler bout in Cardiff that drew 50,000 fans and had a worldwide audience in 70 countries. 

Palle’s favorite memory as a promoter was the 1979 Dave Boy Green vs. Jorgen Hansen bout in 1979. Green, who was lined up for a world title fight, had to defend his European welterweight title and was the heavy favorite against the experienced 36-year-old Dane in Randers, Denmark.

Hansen was floored in round three but, looking for a quick finish, Green was hurt and stopped himself in the third.

Reg Gutteridge, covering the fight ringside for ITV, shouted: “It’s all over, Dave Green has lost the European championship to 36-year-old Jorgen Hansen in one of the greatest turn-ups that I’ve known in boxing in 40 years. Unbelievable!” 

Palle was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota in 2008. Mogens Palles’ wife, Lis Palle, died in 2020. He is survived by his daughter Bettina Palle and his grandson Christian Palle. Bettina said when hearing of her father’s death: “The toughest man I know has passed away! Despite his fragile health in the end, he fought on – strong-willed, sharp-headed and stubborn – to the final bell. He was inventive, creative and brave like few! He was unique. My father! Love you forever.”  

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