Gene Fullmer: Mormon Boxer
Gene Fullmer is a former American middleweight boxer and two-time world middleweight champion. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Born on July 21, 1931, in West Jordan, Utah, into a boxing family, he and his two brothers (Don and Jay) were mentored by their fighting father, “Tuff.” Gene was named after the heavyweight champion Gene Tunney. He trained with Marv Jenson, even while he worked full time at the Kennecott Copper mine.
After turning professional in 1951, he won his first twenty-nine fights; nine of them were knockouts. His first bout was over quickly with a knockout in the first round. He defeated Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957 for the world middleweight title. One year later he lost to Robinson in a rematch, but regained the title in 1959 and held on to it until he lost to Dick Tiger in 1962. He was not able to regain the title and retired in 1963 with a final professional record of fifty-five wins (twenty-four by knockout), six losses, and three draws.
He continued to work with the Golden Gloves Organization. He and his brothers restored a firehouse and turned it into Fullmer’s Brothers Boxing Gym, a Golden Gloves franchise, in West Jordan, where they taught free boxing lessons and worked with at-risk youth. In 2011, the Gene Fullmer Boxing Program moved to the Salt Lake County Equestrian Center in South Jordan. Fullmer has organized the boxing match at the Salt Lake County Fair since 1985.
In 1961 he received the Edward J. Neil Award for Fighter of the Year. He was honored at the 2007 Days of ’47 with the Sportsmanship and Athletics Award. In 1991, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2000, he received The Patriot Award for Boxing from the Medal of Honor Society, in cooperation with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. He has served as president of the Rocky Mountain Golden Glove Organization since 1970.
Fullmer served in the Army during the Korean War. His first wife, Dolores, passed away in 1983. They had four children. He and his second wife, Karen, live in West Jordan. He raises and keeps quarterhorses.