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Boxer Jerry Quarry dead at 53

Sportsticker

TEMPLETON, California (Ticker) -- Former heavyweight boxer Jerry Quarry, who twice fought Muhammad Ali and lost two title shots, died today. He was 53.

Quarry died at 6:50 p.m. EST, a Twin Cities Hospital spokeswoman said. He was admitted Monday with pneumonia but had been suffering for years from a condition known as dementia pugilisitica, which is brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head.

The progressive malady, similar to Alzheimer's disease, left the once-affable Quarry virtually helpless and in the care of his family.

The Los Angeles native compiled a 53-9-4 professional record with 33 knockouts. He won his first 20 bouts before losing a 10-round decision to respected heavyweight Eddie Machen in 1966. Quarry bounced back to win his next 10 fights, twice defeating former champion Floyd Patterson in 1967.

After Ali was stripped of the World Boxing Association crown, Quarry lost a disputed 15-round title bout to Jimmy Ellis on April 27th, 1968. Fourteen months later, he got another shot at the belt, but was knocked out by Joe Frazier in the seventh round in New York.

On October 26th, 1970, Quarry was Ali's first opponent after his 3 1/2-year exile and proved easy pickings. Ali knocked him out in the third round on his road back to the championship and sent him to the canvas again in the seventh round on June 27th, 1972.

Quarry, whose younger brother, Mike, was a light heavyweight contender, fought a virtual who's who of 1970s heavyweights. He stopped Ron Lyle in 12 rounds in February 1973 and scored a first-round knockout of Earnie Shavers 10 months later.

Frazier knocked Quarry out again in June 1974 and Ken Norton also beat him by knockout in March 1975. He fought again in 1977, then was inactive until 1983, when he posted victories over a pair of no-name opponents.

Out of money and already showing signs of blunt force trauma, Quarry returned to the ring on October 30th, 1992 and lost in six rounds to Ron Cramner.

Two years earlier, he launched the non-profit Jerry Quarry Foundation to prevent other athletes from following his footsteps.

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