John “Big John” Tate

John “Big John” Tate

Birth
Marion, Crittenden County, Arkansas, USA
Death 9 Apr 1998 (aged 43)
Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee, USA
Burial West Memphis, Crittenden County, Arkansas, USA
Memorial ID 70188624 · View Source
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Boxer. Born in Marion, Arkansas. John lost in the finals of the 1975 National Golden Gloves to Emory Chapman. He lost in the quarterfinals the next year in a split decision to Michael Dokes. He would return to win against Dokes in the Olympic Trials by decision, and beat 1976 National AAU Champion Marvin Stinson to advance to the Olympic team. He also beat future heavyweight champion Greg Page by 2 close decisions, one in the quarterfinals of the 1975 National Golden Gloves tournament. His boxing career started with a captured bronze medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, losing to Olympic boxing legend Teófilo Stevenson. Under the direction of Knoxville trainer Ace Miller, "Big John" Tate turned pro. He quickly dispatched the likes of Duane Bobick and Bernardo Mercado to earn a title shot against Gerrie Coetzee. Tate, a black man, took on the white South African for the World Boxing Association title on Oct. 20, 1979, in Pretoria, South Africa. He captured the vacant WBA title on October 20, 1979 by defeating Gerrie Coetzee by decision, succeeding Muhammad Ali, who had relinquished the title that summer. John lost the title to Mike Weaver in his first defence just five months later. John fought more bouts but soon became addicted to cocaine. He eventually was reduced to roaming the Old City in search of money and drugs. He was arrested repeatedly through the 1990s for various offenses, mostly involving drugs. He died in 1998 at the age of 43 when the pickup he was driving crashed into a utility pole. An autopsy revealed that he died of a stroke caused by a brain tumor. John had convulsions and blacked out, causing the wreck. John's professional career record was 34-3, with 23 wins by knockout. He had his final fight in 1988.

Bio by: Shock


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: harold garth
  • Added: 21 May 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 70188624
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John “Big John” Tate (29 Jan 1955–9 Apr 1998), Find a Grave Memorial no. 70188624, citing Edmondson Cemetery, West Memphis, Crittenden County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .