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Thomas Tate: Ice-T of Boxing


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The "Black Sheep" of the Tate family, or of the Tate brothers, Thomas was less successful than his older brother Frank both as amateur and a pro, but still he scored some good victories and fought some of the best fighters of his time. Thomas was a good mover, had a good punch and was tough, going 12 rounds against Julian Jackson even!  

The younger Tate brother, Thomas, called "Ice T", was born December 19 1965 in Detroit. Like his brother, he also trained out of the Kronk gym, of course. Tate stands 5'10 or 178 cm and has a reach of 72 inches or 183 cm. The amateur success of his brother eluded him, as he failed to reach both the Golden Gloves finals and the Olympic trials of 1988, losing to Roy Jones jr and Tim Littles-which is no shame. He did however beat Gerald McClellan at the 1986 US Olympic Festival, at 156 pounds, on points. Thomas or ICE-T turned pro in February 1989, fighting as a middleweight. He went 22-0 with 18 ko's, arguably proving to be harder hitter than his brother. On December 4 1991, he fought against Percy Harris for the IBF-Intercontinental title, but surprisingly dropped a 12-round decision to the 14-2 Harris. On August 1 next year, he suddenly got a title shot against the WBC-champion Julian Jackson, who was 44-1 with 42 ko's. Nobody had yet gone the distance against him at 160 and in a long time, but Thomas managed to do that, despite having to take the knee in round 4 following a three-punch combination from Jackson. Tate came back to give Jackson a good fight, but lost in the end on all scorecards.

He then scored 5 wins, beating Tyrone Trice by UD, before trying to get revenge for the Olympic trials loss against Roy Jones jr, who was then the IBF-middleweight champion. Tate looked overconfident coming in the ring that night on May 27 1994 at MGM Grand, and paid for it; after making it out ok from the first round, he was hit by a big left hook to the chin at the start of the second. He made the count but was wobbly and so the fight was stopped after 30 seconds of the round. He earned 200 K for this fight. Tate was trained by Eddie Mustafa Muhammad by then. He stepped up to 168 after that and won the WBU title in his first fight there, by UD against Joseph Kiwanuka, November 21 1995. He then unwisely chose to vacate it to step up to 175 and in his first fight there he dropped a 10-round decision to Rocky Gannon, January 30 1996. He then went all the way back down to 160 to challenge for the WBU title against Silvio Branco, fighting Branco in Italy on September 12 same year, but again lost by decision.

He finally hit his stride at 168 when he won the NABF title once again beating Joseph Kiwanuka, but this time by a KO 11, October 28 1997 at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. He then stopped the 20-0 Syrian Anwar Oshana by TKO 3 in his first defense, before scoring a UD against Demetrius Davis. January 15 1999 came his probably greatest victory, when he fought Merqui Sosa, "El Corombo". Sosa, at 6'2 and with a strong build and a respectable resume, looked like the favorite on paper, but Tate put him down in rounds 6 and 7 and finally in the 10th before the fight was waved off. It was a rather even fight before that, despite the knockdowns, but Tate ended Sosa's chances of resurrecting his career. He then got a fight for the IBF title against Sven Ottke, Germany's unpopular but tricky and crafty champion. Tate went to Magdeburg to fight Ottke on September 4 and the fight ended as a technical decision after 11 rounds-in the champion's favor. Many have however also counted this decision among the ones Ottke got away with and regarded it as controversial. 

In 2000, Tate rebounded with a UD 10 against the ill-fated Beethaeven Scottland, who would die a year later after getting stopped late in a brutal fight. After beating the hard-boiled Ecuadorian contender Fernando Zuniga by SD 12 in May 2001, he stopped Omar Sheika in a wild fight in Philadelphia, October 5 same year. Tate was down twice in the second round, but came back to swell Sheika's eyes seriously and the fight had to be stopped after round 4 due to the swelling and the cuts. This meant Tate had become the IBF USBA champion and had again won the right to challenge for the IBF title. That meant having to fight Ottke again, this time in Nuremberg, June 1 2002. This time, Tate was down in round 2 and in the end lost by the scores of 116-111, 118-109 and 119-108. That turned out to be his final fight, now aged 36 and a half.  

His record is 41 wins, 28 by ko, and 7 losses, only 1 by ko however. That he got taken out as fast and as easily by Roy Jones says a lot about RJJ's abilities and power, because nobody else, not even Julian Jackson, was able to do that to Tate. Thomas Tate was an exciting fighter who liked a good fight, a brawl, and had serious abilities, but his ego might have been the problem. His problem, like most others' fighters in the middle divisions of that time, was that he either had to fight a guy like Jones jr or a guy like Ottke to win a world title and be successful. He couldn't choose, obviously. However, in contrast with his more accomplished brother, his career actually went up with time and he was able to fight on world level well into his 30's.


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