Three Times Boxers Clashed in Unusual Places

With any fighting sport, venues are carefully chosen for the safety and convenience of everybody involved. There are times when boxers clash in a place that you might not expect, for a variety of reasons. Here we have three of those times, from the eyebrow-raising to one of boxing’s most legendary venues.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tulsa

In 2023, Olympic gold winner Robeisy Ramirez met Isaac Dogboe for a WBO featherweight championship bout. Was it in Vegas, New York, or maybe Atlantic City? Not this year, as Ramirez beat Dogboe by a unanimous decision in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Granted, this place has a Tribal Destination of the Year award for tourism and was formerly called the Cherokee Casino Resort – so it isn’t a car park somewhere. It may sound odd to some but it’s not much different from a Vegas resort, complete with the casino, so why not put the fight in one instead? Both are very popular pastimes across the world and many casino sites have fighting-themed games available, like Gladiator.

Casino sites feature games based on trends in popular entertainment, which is clear from the available slots online at Paddy Power where they feature everything from contemporary to mythical game themes. It makes sense that fighting-themed games would be part of that selection, they've always gone together through their shared venues.

Sure, Tulsa may not be one of the big fighting cities that comes to mind, but it’s hosted some big events in 2023. This was also the setting of BKFC 45, where bare-knuckle fighters Luis Palomino and James Lilley clashed, so it attracts fighters of many stripes.

The Quinta do Lago Hotel, Portugal

The Quinta do Lago Hotel in Almancil, Portugal, on the sunny Algarve coast, sounds exactly like the larger-than-life venue that’s perfect for a boxing match. It wasn’t any old boxing match either, it was 1992, when Chris Eubank defended his WBO super-middleweight title against challenger Ron Essett. The fight didn’t take place in the hotel. It was in the car park, a 12-round slog next to a golf course and the Atlantic Ocean, which reflected the sun and heat back onto the fight. Eubank carried the fight with a unanimous decision, which is great if you’re a fan of his but maybe underwhelming if you stood in a baking car park to witness it. It’s far from Eubank’s greatest boxing moment but it’s definitely one of the weirdest.

The Stade du 20 Mai, Zaire

Last but certainly not least, we have a fight in a country that doesn’t technically exist anymore. In 1974, Muhammad Ali came for George Foreman’s world heavyweight title in Kinshasa, Zaire, now better known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That’s right – this was the Rumble in the Jungle.

It started when historic matchmaker Don King contacted Zaire dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, scheduling the fight for his regime’s capital – Kinshasa. If one dictator wasn’t enough, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was also involved in contributing towards fighters’ purse money, which was a lot, as you can imagine. The fight was an upset as Ali knocked Foreman out in Foreman’s first loss.

It was watched by many more than the 60,000 in attendance, becoming the most-watched televised event of the time and cementing itself as one of the greatest sports events of the 20th Century. Throw in the Zaire 74 festival, complete with James Brown, Bill Withers and B.B. King, and then fight commentary from Joe Frazier and the late Jim Brown, and you had a meeting of the biggest sporting and musical figures with the wackiest political figures of the 60s and 70s, in one of the oddest venues.

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