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Carl 'Bobo' Olson, 73; 1950s Boxer

January 20, 2002|From Times Wire Services

Carl "Bobo" Olson, middleweight champion of the world in the mid-1950s, has died. He was 73.

Olson, in his prime a relentless barrage puncher with a masterful left, died Wednesday night in a Honolulu hospital after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

The only Hawaiian boxer elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Olson compiled a 99-16-2 record, with 49 knockouts, before retiring in 1966.

Olson, who got his nickname from his sister when he was a boy, was born in 1928 and grew up on the tough streets of downtown Honolulu, sharpening his boxing skills at an early age. He began fighting professionally at 16, and won 19 fights before he turned 18 and could legally box on the mainland. He won the vacant world middleweight championship by outpointing Randy Turpin of England in October 1953 in a 15-round fight at New York's Madison Square Garden. That same year he won the American middleweight title. The Ring magazine named him Fighter of the Year. Olson successfully defended the title against Kid Gavilan, Rocky Castellani and Pierre Langlois before losing it in 1955 on a second-round knockout to Sugar Ray Robinson.

In beating Olson, Robinson became the first fighter to twice win back the world middleweight championship.

Olson fought Robinson four times but never won. In their final bout, in 1956 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, Robinson knocked him out in the fourth round.

While he was middleweight champion, Olson challenged for the light heavyweight title and was knocked out in the third round by Archie Moore.

After he left boxing, Olson worked as recreational director for the Operating Engineers Local Union in San Francisco and in public relations for the Teamsters before retiring.

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