Heavyweight Contender Tom McNeeley Dies

Lee Cleveland Updated
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FightSaga sends its condolences to the McNeeley family after learning about the passing of former 1960's heavyweight contender, Tom McNeeley, on Tuesday.

Thomas "Tom" McNeeley, Jr., born on February 27, 1937, was a college football standout from Arlington, Massachusetts who launched his pro boxing career July 17, 1958.  Despite never becoming a star, the hard-nosed, gritty 6'2" heavyweight had a respectable career that spanned eight years, from 1958 to 1966. His pro record was 37-14, 21 KOs.

On December 4, 1961, McNeeley challenged then heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson and had previous been featured on a 1961 Sports Illustrated cover. In an exciting, knockdown, drag-out battle, McNeeley had Patterson down but was floored himself eleven times en route to losing via a fourth round knockout.

In addition to Patterson, McNeeley fought Willie Pastrano, Doug Jones, Oscar Bonavena and Jose Torres.

McNeeley's son, Peter, and father, Tom McNeeley, Sr., were professional boxers as well. Peter is perhaps best known as Mike Tyson's first opponent following Tyson's release from prison and, as a youngster, was inspired by the Sports Illustrated story and the magazines and newspaper clippings on his father and grandfather in his father's attic. He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather by entering the sport at the age of 18 and finished with a record of 47-7, 36 KOs.

After leaving boxing, Tom McNeeley worked a few years for the Massachusetts State Boxing Commission. He was also affiliated with the Massachusetts Correctional System and counseled inmates in the Boston area en route to eventually becoming a true asset and positive contributor to the Boston community.

Tom McNeeley was 74 years old.


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