JEAN PIERRE COOPMAN/MUHAMMAD ALI
Clemente Coliseum, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico
February 20, 1976
Ali won a 5th round KO
About Jean Pierre Coopman
Born July 11, 1946 in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Currently resides in Ingelmunster, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Career record: 36 wins (20 KO), 16 defeats (16 KO), 2 draws
"The Lion of Flanders"
Coopman was a stonecutter before he became a professional boxer at 25, and even then it was unplanned. His close friend, Belgian amateur champion Gilbert Monteyne, wanted to fight in a charity event, but his opponent never showed. Coopman replaced him so the event would not have to be called off.
Coopman was so happy to be fighting his hero that he kept trying to kiss Ali before their fight, and even a fifth round knockout didn't dampen his spirits. As manager George Kantner looked back at the fight, he remarked, "He was the happiest loser I ever saw".
After his fight with Ali, Coopman defeated Jose Urtain to become the European champion. He retired in 1980. He is an accomplished artist, both painting and sculpting many famous boxers. His biggest wish is that he have the opportunity to meet Ali once again, outside the ring, of course!