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Boxing at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games:

Men's Heavyweight

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Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Venue(s): Exhibition Hall I, Helsinki
Date Started: July 29, 1952
Date Finished: August 2, 1952
Format: Single elimination tournament.

Gold: USA Ed Sanders
Silver: SWE Ingemar Johansson
Bronze: FIN Ilkka Koski
RSA Dries Nieman


America's [Ed Sanders] created carnage in the heavyweight division as he battered his way to the final with three brutal knockout victories. His opponent in the final, Sweden's [Ingemar Johansson], appeared to be completely intimidated by the American's reputation and spent most of the fight backpedalling around the ring. When Sanders did get into range Johansson would simply grab hold of his opponent. Eventually an increasingly irate referee grew tired of warning the Swede and disqualified him for )not trying). This also had the effect of denying Johansson his silver medal and the second step on the podium remained vacant.

Sanders, a member of the US Navy, turned professional in 1954 with high expectations but these were derailed when he lost only his fourth pro fight. In December 1954 he was knocked out by Willie James in a fight at the Boston Garden. Sanders was rushed to hospital with a blood clot on the brain and succumbed to his injury, dying three days later.

Ironically it was Johansson who became a household name as a professional when he became the first European to win the World Heavyweight Championship for over 20 years after knocking out fellow Olympic champion [Floyd Patterson]. In 1982, 30 years after his Olympic embarrassment, Johansson was finally awarded his silver medal after the IOC were persuaded to reverse their decision.

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Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Ed Sanders 22 United States USA Gold
2 Ingemar Johansson 19 Sweden SWE Silver
3T Dries Nieman 24 South Africa RSA Bronze
3T Ilkka Koski 24 Finland FIN Bronze
5T Giacomo Di Segni 32 Italy ITA
5T Algirdas Å ocikas 24 Soviet Union URS
5T Eddie Hearn 23 Great Britain GBR
5T Tomislav Krizmanić 23 Yugoslavia YUG
9T Jim Saunders 20 Canada CAN
9T Carl Fitzgerald 24 Australia AUS
9T László Bene Hungary HUN
9T Ahmed El-Minabawi 23 Egypt EGY
9T Horymír Netuka 22 Czechoslovakia TCH
9T Max Marsille 21 Belgium BEL
9T Jean Lansiaux 23 France FRA
16T Geza Furetz 22 Romania ROU
16T Antoni Gościański 26 Poland POL
16T Edgar Gorgas 24 Germany GER
16T Hans Jost 30 Switzerland SUI
16T John Lyttle 21 Ireland IRL
16T José Sartor 24 Argentina ARG