I’m sad to report the passing of former heavyweight contender David Bey. According to WPVI, an ABC affiliate in Philadelphia, Bey was working as a Pyle driver with Local Carpenters’ 179 in Camden, New Jersey. He was killed on Wednesday, September 13th, in an industrial accident at the Camden Towers when he was reportedly hit by a steel sheet Pyle.
Bey is perhaps best remembered by boxing fans for his 1985 IBF world title fight against Larry Holmes. Holmes defeated the then undefeated Bey by way of tenth round TKO. But many boxing fans nonetheless remembered the gritty performance from Bey, who rocked Holmes in the second round. Holmes was later quoted by Sports Illustrated as saying Bey “got my attention” in the second round of the fight.
But Bey’s legacy in boxing went beyond the fight with Holmes. Bey’s career would ultimately mimic another famous, albeit fictional, Philadelphia boxer. Having been brought in as the sacrificial lamb in his professional debut in 1981 Bey stunned the boxing world when he knocked out an undefeated prospect with a 5-0 record from Columbus, Ohio in the second round. That fighter’s name was James “Buster” Douglas. After stopping Douglas, Bey would go on to string together another twelve wins before he was again brought in as an “opponent”, this time against another future world champion named Greg Page in August of 1984. Bey would score a stunning upset over Page, winning the USBA heavyweight title by way of twelve round decision. Bey also earned the admiration of boxing fans the world over when he declined a $750,000 offer to fight then WBA champion Gerrie Coetzee in 1985. The offer came with an important caveat: Bey would have to fight Coetzee in the champion’s home country of South Africa. At the time South Africa was ruled by a pro-apartheid regime and Bey, worried that fighting Coetzee in South Africa would give the apartheid regime legitimacy, refused the offer.
Bey would ultimately fight six heavyweight champions in his career as well as an undefeated Olympic gold medalist named Tyrell Biggs. His final fight was a TKO over Dave Jaco in 1994, which brought his professional career to a close with a record of 18-11-1, 14 KOs. He was 60-years old.