FORMER WBC super-lightweight titleholder Saoul Mamby, a fighter who defied the odds to compete until the age of 60, passed away on December 19. He was 72.
Born on June 4, 1947 in the Bronx, New York, Mamby’s mother, Victoria, was of Spanish descent, while his father, Robert, was from Jamaica.
Once he found boxing at the age of 16, Mamby went on to compete twice in the New York Golden Gloves, first in 1965 and then in 1966, and compiled a 25-5 record. He eventually turned professional in June 1969 not long after serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
During his pro career Mamby plied his trade not only in America but also Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, Curacao, Indonesia, Nigeria, Guyana, Spain, Zambia, the Cayman Islands, South Korea and Thailand.
Indeed, it was in Thailand where Mamby challenged for his first world title against WBC super-lightweight champion Saensak Muangsurin. That fight took place in 1977 at the Open-Air Stadium in Nakhon Ratchasima and resulted in Mamby going home with a disputed decision loss after 15 rounds.
His next title shot, having won six fights in a row, would arrive against Muangsurin’s successor, South Korea’s Sang Hyun Kim, in Seoul, and this time Mamby left nothing to chance. To conclude what was an otherwise close and hard-to-call fight Mamby finished Muangsurin in the 14th round.
In his role as world champion, Mamby defended his belt against the likes of Esteban De Jesus, whom he stopped inside 13 rounds, and Maurice Watkins and Jo Kimpuani, both of whom he outpointed over 15 rounds. In 1981, Mamby also took his title overseas, successfully defending it against Thomas Americo in Indonesia and Obisia Nwankpa in Nigeria.
His run came to an end the following year, however, when, back in America, Mamby lost a 15-round split-decision against Leroy Haley. He then lost a rematch against Haley in ’83, this time over 12 rounds, before a final title shot against Billy Costello, with his old belt up for grabs, saw him fall short over the same distance.
Although this defeat would signal the end of Mamby as a world title contender, he continued to fight on until May 2000 when, at the age of 52, he dropped an eight-round decision against Kent Hardee. But even that wouldn’t stop him returning.
Incredibly, some eight years after losing to Hardee, Mamby, then 60, made a comeback. Weighing 149 and a half pounds, a mere nine and a half pounds more than he weighed when becoming a world champion, Mamby lost an eight-round unanimous decision against journeyman Anthony Osborne in Georgetown, Guyana on March 8, 2008.
That loss marked the end, the proper end, of Saoul Mamby’s incredible boxing career, leaving him with a record of 45-34-6 (18) and a remarkable body of work stretching 39 years.