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Herbie Hide-Dancing Destroyer


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One of the most overlooked British heavyweights of the 90's and early 00's was Herbie Hide. He managed to capture the WBO title twice, both times holding it briefly. However, he was avoided by the other top heavyweights in UK, for some reason, including Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno. His most notable victory was against the faded Tony Tucker, whom he knocked out in 2 rounds in 1997. He also won his first belt in a fight that nearly claimed the life of his opponent. Herbie Hide had lethal punching power, but was a small heavyweight for that era, often having to weigh in in his tracksuit and with things stuffed in his pockets in order to be heavy enough to qualify. Despite standing 6'2, which back then was still a normal heavyweight height, Hide had lithe build which prevented him from being heavy enough and he never weighed above 220 during his prime years, even though that too was "fake weight", added weight. To his credit, he would take on anyone, regardless of their size and has fought men as big as Vitali Klitschko (6'7 and 245), Riddick Bowe and aforementioned Tony Tucker (both 6'5 and weighing above 240).


Hide was originally born as Herbert Okechukwu Maduagwu in Amuazari, Nigeria, on 27 August 1971. He moved to England as a youngster and settled in Norwich, becoming Herbie Hide. He was educated at the Cawston College. He started his pro career very young, at 18, in October 1989. At first he fought as a cruiserweight and knocked out 10 cruisers before having his first heavyweight fight against John Westgarth, who outweighed him by 35 pounds. Hide however dispatched Westgarth in 4 rounds by TKO, after knocking him down in the third. He won the vacant WBC International heavyweight title in January '92 against Conroy Nelson, easily stopping the overmatched Nelson in 2 rounds by TKO. Herbie decided to campaign at heavyweight because of the money and the greater challenge. He defended his title against the solid Kiwi Craig Petersen, who had just decisioned Jimmy Thunder, 6 October '92 in Belgium. Hide was down in round 1 after the referee had ordered a break. He then dished out a brutal punishment that swelled Petersen's right eye shut, after which he had to retire in round 6. He also won the Pentacontinental title by TKO 3 against Juan Antonio Diaz and the British title against Michael Murray by TKO 5. Hide's speed gave him a significant advantage against his heavier and slower opponents. He also stopped the noted fringe contender Jerry "Wimpy" Halstead by TKO 4 in a defence of his Pentacontinental title. The teak-tough Everett Martin became the first man to go the distance against Hide, after 22 straight knockout victories, in September '93.


After Michael Bentt had shocked everyone by dethroning the reigning WBO champion Tommy Morrison in 1 round, Hide was chosen as his first defence. The fight was at the Millwall Stadium in East London, 19 March '94. The two had come to blows before the fight and there was bad blood between them. Hide was clearly the faster and better man and first put Bentt, who came in at 230 pounds, 14 more than Hide, down in the third round. He was well ahead on the scorecards going into round 7, when he knocked Bentt out with a left-right. The great celebration for the 22-yearold nearly turned into tragedy as Bentt collapsed after the fight and went into a coma, but he pulled out after four days. For unknown reasons, Hide had to wait for a year before defending his title. His opponent was noone else than Riddick Bowe, who was looking for redemption after losing the WBA and IBF titles to Holyfield and being disqualified in a fight after that. The size difference was very obvious: Bowe, always a big heavyweight, came in weighing at 241 while Hide the much smaller man in terms of physique and 3 inches shorter, came in at 214. This time, Hide had to come to America to fight Bowe, at the MGM Grand. The date was 11 March '95 and Hide got off to a good start, winning the first two rounds with his speed, boxing and dancing. However, the big difference in weight started to show in round 3, as Hide first hit the canvas after a sloppy but hard left hand punch from Bowe. He went down twice more in the next round, but he also managed to hurt Bowe more than once. Still, that wasn't enough and eventually, after seven knockdowns in all (legal ones), the fight ended in defeat for Hide in round 6. Bowe praised Hide and called him courageous, saying this was not his best performance. Hide for his part said:"I tried to fight, I didn't want to run. I hurt him and I tried to finish him off. That was my downfall."


He then took a year off from boxing before returning in July '96, again beating Michael Murray by RTD6. After knocking out journeyman Frankie Swindell in 59 seconds, 28 June '97 he got a chance to reclaim his old belt against Tony Tucker. This time the fight was in his hometown of Norwich and Hide made short work of the 38-yearold Tucker, knocking him down three times in round 2 to end the fight there. He thus became the first man to score a real knockout against Tucker. In his first defence he took on the American Damon Reed and scored the fastest knockout in a heavyweight world title fight, in only 52 seconds. Reed was one of the few guys Hide faced that were actually smaller than him. His second defence also ended fast, as he stopped the German Willi Fischer in 2 rounds, after the three knockdown rule. Hide was now confident and felt he was ready to face a better opponent. But his people chose the wrong guy-Vitali Klitschko, then 24-0 and a man simply too big and too much for Hide, it turned out. Hide's overconfidence resulted in a crushing defeat at the London Arena in Millwall, 26 June '99. Hide started out fast and landed a few punches, but Klitschko's iron chin just shook them off and in the second round he started chasing Hide. He first put him down with two long rights. Hide got up but then retreated to the ropes, obviously hurt. Klitschko then landed one big right which put him down and unable to beat the count. Another second-round destruction, but this time his own. This fight pretty much spelled the end of Herbie Hide as a serious contender.


This time he took a 2-year layoff before returning in 2001, but already in his second comeback fight, he was stopped by Joseph Chingangu of Zambia, himself a former cruiserweight, by TKO 2. He avenged the loss in 2003 by knocking Chingangu out in 1 round. On 12 March 2004 he fought against clubfighter Mindaugas Kulikauskas when he got badly cut by an accidental headbutt after 3 rounds. After British rules, the result was a retirement loss for Hide, despite Hide pleading with the referee not to stop the fight. That would be his last heavyweight fight and he returned to cruiserweight, where he fought for the remainder of his career, however on low-level cards mostly. His best achievement there was defeating the German champion Rudiger May by TKO 2 in 2008, to defend his WBC International cruiser title which he had won in the previous fight. Hide finally retired in 2010, with a record of 49 wins, 43 by ko, and 4 losses.


Known for his bad temper and thuggish tendencies, Hide has been involved in a string of controversies and brushes with the law. Aside from the already mentioned brawl with Bentt back in 1994, at the 2003 fight between Audley Harrison and Matthew Ellis, Hide was ringside when he got involved in a brawl with members of Harrison's entourage and some fans, after getting into a brief war of words with Harrison. Hide wasn't popular in London and it showed, as the mention of his name by Harrison was responded with boos. In December that same year, Hide got into a fight after being attacked in a night club in Norwich. As the police approached him in the parking lot following the fight, he started to run, discarding a knife with a ten-inch blade. Even more seriously, in 2013, he was charged with conspiracy to supply Cocaine and was sentenced to 22 months in prison. It seems his bad reputation as a private person led promoters of major fighters to steer away from him, fearing bad publicity and clashes outside the ring. As a fighter, Hide was one of the hardest hitters in the sport and because of his weight and build was very fast and mobile, as mentioned. He could have had an even better career, perhaps, had his management been better at choosing opponents for him. This way, he was thrown to the lions a few times too many. He is still a popular person in Norwich and has guested as a commentator in football matches of Norwich FC. In 2009, his autobiography came out, aptly titled "Nothing But Trouble".

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