Issue | News | Premium | Feb 11 2020

Johnny Bumphus, 1960-2020

Paul Wheeler on the passing of an ex-WBA super-lightweight titlist, Johnny Bumphus
Johnny Bumphus

FORMER WBA super-lightweight champion Johnny Bumphus passed away on February 3 after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 59 years old.

A native of Tacoma, Washington, “Bump City” Bumphus also spent time living in Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked for the Nashville Sheriff’s Department. The skilled 6ft southpaw enjoyed an extensive and successful amateur career prior to turning pro in November 1980. He had qualified to compete for the USA at that year’s Moscow Olympics, but never got the chance to take part due to his country’s boycotting of the Games. America was one of over 60 nations that chose to withdraw in protest against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the previous year.

Guided by the Hall of Fame duo of trainer George Benton and manager Lou Duva, Bumphus entered into his challenge for the vacant WBA 140lb belt in January 1984 boasting 21 victories and zero losses. Tough, seasoned Argentine Lorenzo Garcia sent him to the canvas in the fourth, but Bumphus did enough over 15 rounds to claim a unanimous verdict and the title. In securing the strap, he became the first world champion out of Duva’s Main Events promotional stable.