NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Mr. Earnie Dee Shavers, 78 of Roanoke, Virginia, an extraordinary boxer who competed between 1969 and 1995, transitioned to eternal rest and peace on Thursday, September 1, 2022.
Earnie Shavers, was born August 31, 1944 in Garland, Alabama, a son of Curtis and Willie Bell Herbert Shavers and grew up in the Newton Falls, Ohio area.
He was a 1963 graduate of Newton Falls High School.
In the late 1960s, he worked at General Motors in Lordstown, Ohio.
Earnie started boxing at the age of 22 and was a two-time world heavyweight championship challenger and was known as one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight boxing history.
Prior to turning professional, he won the 1969 National AAU Heavyweight title. His thunderous punches stopped 68 fighters and earned him heavyweight title fights with Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes. He finished with a record of 74 -14-1 with 68 knockouts.
Shavers fought Ali in September 1977 at Madison Square Garden in a fight for the WBC and WBA world heavyweight titles. Ali pulled out the victory with a strong rally in the 15th round.
Ali nicknamed Shavers “The Acorn” because of his shaved bald head. The fight was shown in prime time broadcast television. Ali later stated that “Earnie hit me so hard, it shook my kinfolk back in Africa”.
In March 1979, Earnie beat Ken Norton by knockout in the first round, in what was considered one of his finest victories. He later faced Larry Holmes for the WBC heavyweight title in September 1979 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He knocked Holmes to the canvas in the seventh round but Holmes went on to win by 11th round TKO. In a telephone interview, Holmes said Shavers was one of the hardest punchers in boxing.
In 1982, Earnie fought European Heavyweight Joe Bugner on the comeback trail. Bugner was knocked down in the first round and was stopped by cuts in the second round. Earnie continued to fight professionally for several years, but never fought for a title again. He was named among the top 10 punchers in boxing history by “The Ring” and others. Known as the “Black Destroyer” in early years, Earnie had a few setbacks. He began to rise to the upper ranks of the heavyweight division after he hired Cleveland-based promoter Don King to be his manager. His wins included one over novice Jimmy Young who later became a world championship contender.
Shavers retired in 1983 after retinal problems were discovered. He attempted two abbreviated comebacks – a fight in 1987 and two in 1995. Former New York State Athletic commissioner Randy Gordon said Shavers always had time for the fans, whether it was signing autographs or exchanging a word or two. “He was one of the nicest guys in the world, until he got into the ring and tried to take your head off.
During the early 1980s while preparing for the feature film “Rocky III”, Sylvester Stallone explored the possibility of using a real heavyweight boxer in a role by inviting Earnie Shavers to spar with him. Shavers initially refused to hit Stallone with anything other than a soft jab. This frustrated Stallone, who asked Earnie, “C’mon Earnie, show me something real.” Earnie responded by punching him once in the liver. Stallone later said, “that nearly killed me. I went straight to the men’s room and threw up”.
Earnie continued to fight professionally for several years, retiring officially in 1995.
After retirement he became an ordained Christian minister and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he preached for many years. In the early 2000s, he moved to England to pastor a church. In 2002, Earnie accepted the invitation of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International to preach at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England.
Mr. Shavers also worked in Liverpool in the UK (United Kingdom) as head security where he was very much respected. On occasion Earnie was a troubleshooting referee in professional wrestling after his retirement. He was also a patron of The Shannon Bradshaw Trust, a children’s charity based in Warrington, Cheshire, helping children with life-threatening conditions and their families.
Earnie Shavers life and legacy will be cherished by his children, Tamara Shavers of Martinsville, Virginia, Cynthia Shavers of Simi Valley, California, Catherine (Victor) Long of Roanoke, Virginia, Carla Shavers and Amy (William) Perkins, both of Charlotte, North Carolina, Catherine (David) Huguely, Natasha (Leslie) Carter and Lisa Shavers, all of Columbus, Ohio, Anthony Murphy of Lakeland, Florida, Latonya (Frankie) Harvey of Tampa, Florida and Earnie Shavers, Jr. of California; 24 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; siblings, John Shavers of Girard, Ohio, Leroy Shavers, Luther Shavers, Grace Dean, Gloria Shavers and Delores Shavers, all of Warren, Ohio and other family and numerous dear friends and acquaintances.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Curtis and Willie Bell Shavers; a sister, Ruby Murray and two brothers, Alvin and Theopolis Shavers.
Visitation will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2022 from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at the Newton Falls High School, 907 Milton Blvd., Newton Falls, OH 44444. Funeral services will follow at 11:00 a.m. Due to the pandemic, guests are asked to wear masks and observe social distancing.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to:
Ring 10, Att: Matt Farrago, 35 Ocean Avenue, Center Moridhes, NY (Ring10.org); World Boxing Council, https://www.nevadacf.org/donate-now/Jose’S, use the drop down menu and select the name of the fund – World Boxing Council Jose’ Sulaiman Boxers Fund or Nevada Community Foundation, 1980 Festival Plaza Drive, Suite 300, Las Vegas, NV 89135.
A television tribute will air Friday, September 16 at the following approximate times: 7:10 a.m. on FOX, 12:22 p.m. on WKBN, 5:08 p.m. on MyYTV and 7:27 p.m. on WYTV.