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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Nicky Cook
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FEATURE   Photo: Former World Boxing Federation (WBF) Intercontinental Super Featherweight Champion Nicky Cook.

Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In the Champions Of The Past Series we take a closer look at some of the boxers who held WBF titles in years gone by, from lesser known champions to world renowned fighters, legends of the sport and current or future Hall of Famers.


After concluding a very successful amateur career, former world Super Featherweight champion Nicky Cook from England is one of many top-class boxers over the years who won a WBF Intercontinental title on the way to even bigger things.

Son of a former professional boxer (Paul Cook), Nicky was born in Stepney in London’s East End on September 13, 1979, but despite growing up around boxing he initially didn’t have any plans of pursuing the sport himself. Football was his passion, but when his older brother, Paul Jr., started boxing, he eventually persuaded Nicky to join him.

He had around seventy unpaid bouts, losing only a handful, and won several junior titles. While he fell short of winning a senior ABA title, the English national amateur championship, he was selected to represent his country in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

But instead of going to Malaysia, Cook decided to accept an offer to turn professional at just 19, and made his bare-chested debut December 11, 1998 on a show promoted by former pro Heavyweight Jess Harding at the Grundy Park Leisure Centre in London-suburb Cheshunt.

He had an easy night, scoring a knockout of Sean Grant (2-3) in the first round, and in the next two and a half years, while serving his boxing-apprentice, he consistently showed that he carried considerable power, stopping eight of his first fifteen victims.

In building his 15-0 record, he had been served the usual mix of tough British journeymen and rugged Eastern Europeans, but a June 2000 victory (W6) over future French and European Union titlist Salem Bouaiti (9-5) from France, was perhaps the first clear sign that he was soon ready for championship fights.

But first he followed the Bouaiti-victory up by seeing off usually tough Bulgarian Wladimir Borov (12-8-1) in round one, before winning a unanimous decision over eight rounds against experienced Rakhim Mingaleyev (24-18) from Ukraine, and stopping Algeria´s Foudil Madani (4-6) in the opener.

On November 28, 2001, teak-tough trial-horse Woody Greenway (8-31) was the final hurdle before a crack at the WBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight title the following month, and Cook impressively paved the way by forcing referee Dave Parris to wave it off in round three.

In the opposite corner, that December 19 at the Skydome in Coventry, stood Argentinean Marcelo Gabriel Ackermann (18-8). Cook was a favorite to claim the vacant WBF belt, but the fashion in which he did so was very impressive as he dominated and got rid of the South American in three one-sided stanzas.

With Robin Reid defending his WBF World Super Middleweight crown against Julio Cesar Vasquez in the main event, a star was born on the undercard. Cook had arrived as a championship caliber fighter, and, amazingly, fourteen of his remaining eighteen fights would be for some sort of title.

In April of 2002 he stepped up in class to make his first title-defense against former South African champion, and IBF world title-challenger, Jackie Gunguluza (39-7) in London. Gunguluza, a veteran of thirteen previous title fights, was by far the biggest challenge so far for the 22-year-old.

But he handled it well, and went on to retain his title when Gunguluza retired after three completed rounds. The victory further cemented Cook´s position as one of Britain’s brightest young hopes, and a second title-defense was already in the pine-line for the following October.

In the meantime he stayed busy over the summer with a close decision over Russian Andrey Devyataykin (7-2-1), before it was announced that he would defend his WBF championship against former British champion Gary Thornhill (22-3-1) from Liverpool. And it would take place in Liverpool!

Not much more than a year removed from losing his British crown to world champion-to-be Scott Harrison, Thornhill had only additionally lost to very good fighters in Justin Juuku and Michael Gomez. He was by no means considered a spent force, and, fighting in his home-town, some considered him a favorite to beat the defending WBF champion.

With Jess Harding promoting, as he had done with most of “Cookie´s” bouts up to that point, the fight headlined a show at the famous Liverpool Olympia. A large part of the noisy crowd obviously cheered for the home-man, but Cook was very focused, and just too good, emerging victorious by seventh round stoppage.

Now 19-0 (11), and with three successful championship fights under his belt, Cook set out to add to his strap-collection, moving down to Featherweight for a chance to pick up the vacant Commonwealth title against Zimbabwean co-challenger Meshack Kondwani (19-6) on February 8, 2003 in London.

The African fought his chance, even inflicting a cut to Cook´s right cheek in round ten, but the Londoner was too strong and didn’t appear to have lost a step at the lighter weight. Game as they come, and never off his feet, Kondwani was eventually saved by referee Mickey Vann in the twelfth and final round.

Cook closed out 2003 by retaining the Commonwealth title twice, stopping Kenyan David Kiilu (13-3-1) and decisioning Anyetei Laryea (11-1) from Ghana. His first fight of 2004 would be for the European title, against undefeated defending champion Cyril Thomas (22-0-3) from France.

I’ll never forget that night (March 20, 2004) at the Wembley Arena against Cyril Thomas”, Cook told Boxing Scene in 2012. “We took the fight and it was a bit of a gamble as he was undefeated and a fantastic fighter.”

I remember my dad coming up to me agyer seeing on of his defenses, telling me he´s good, but we have seen flawas in him and we think you can beat him. He was about to face me on his fourth or fifth defense (actually, it was Thomas´third defense).”

It was a fantastic fight, and I knocked him out in the ninth round. This really catapulted me onto the world scene.”

With some well-deserved time off to bask in his glory, it would be almost seven months before Cook returned to the ring, scoring a unanimous decision over French champion Johny Begue (13-13-1), who tried hard to reclaim the European title for his country but lost almost every round.

In June of 2005 Cook defended his European and Commonwealth crowns against British champion Dazzo Williams (12-2), stopping him in two rounds to take his title and become a rare European, Commonwealth and British champion at the same time.

With another successful defense of the European title in early 2006, a unanimous decision over Ukrainian contender Yuriy Voronin (23-4-1), it was time to set sights on world honors for the undefeated Brit. At 27-0 (15), and victorious in ten fights for four various championships, he was highly ranked and deemed more than ready.

But it would still be a while before his big opportunity came. He ticked-over with an eight-rounder ten months after the Voronin fight, beating UK-based South African Harry Ramagoadi (18-5-2) on points, and was out of action for another seven months before “the big one” finally arrived.

Cook was matched with American Steve Luevano (32-1) for the vacant WBO World Featherweight title on July 14, 2007 at the O2 Arena, then called the Millennium Dome, in London. Unfortunately it was a heart-breaking night for the local boxer, who fought bravely but was stopped in eleven rounds.

Frank Warren (who promoted the fight) spoke to me and said that boiling down to featherweight had done me, and that if I move up a weight he’d get me another title shot, which happened the following year and I won”, said Cook in the Boxing Scene interview.

The mentioned world title-victory at Super Featherweight came against highly touted defending WBO World Super Featherweight champion Alex Arthur (26-1) in September of 2007. At the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, Cook and Arthur went to war for twelve rounds, and this time Cook came out on top with a unanimous decision.

It was a magnificent achievement, and a big night for Nicky Cook. It would turn out to be his biggest night, as he lost (TKO 4) the world title in his first defense to Roman “Rocky” Martinez (21-0-1) from Puerto Rico six months later, also at the M.E.N. Arena.

More than two years passed before he fought again, easing back with a decision over journeyman Youssef Al Hamidi (8-33-2) in May of 2011. He was given a shot at his old world title two months later, against Ricky Burns (31-2), who had unseated Martinez the previous year, but it ended in heart-break again for Cook.

Reoccurring back-problems had troubled him for years, and when a vertebra was knockout out in the first round it was all over before it really got started. Cook was unable to move properly, and went down three times before his corner wisely threw in the towel. Cook was carried out on a stretcher, and this would be his last fight.

It didn’t end on a high-note, but former WBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight Champion Nicky “Cookie” Cook achieved so much in the ring. He finished with a fine 30-3 (16) record, and turned to training young boxers who will undoubtedly benefit greatly from his experiences and achievements.

  Part 38: Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym
  Part 37: Felix Camacho
  Part 36: Homer Gibbins
  Part 35: Joe Bugner
  Part 34: Myriam Lamare
  Part 33: Darrin Morris
  Part 32: Suwito Lagola
  Part 31: Aaron Zarate
  Part 30: Tommy Small
  Part 29: Matthew Charleston
  Part 28: Jane Couch
  Part 27: Fahlan Sakkreerin
  Part 26: Kenny Keene
  Part 25: Yvan Mendy
  Part 24: Ronnie Magramo
  Part 23: Randall Yonker
  Part 22: Holly Holm
  Part 21: Vinnie Curto
  Part 20: Robin Reid
  Part 19: Lionel Butler
  Part 18: Mads Larsen
  Part 17: Ken Sigurani
  Part 16: Orlando Fernandez
  Part 15: Roger Turner
  Part 14: Roy Jones Jr.
  Part 13: Fitz Vanderpool
  Part 12: Steve Roberts
  Part 11: Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga
  Part 10: Junior Witter
  Part 9: Jimmy Thunder
  Part 8: Juan Lazcano
  Part 7: Jeff Malcolm
  Part 6: Ricky Parkey
  Part 5: Carl Daniels
  Part 4: Angel Manfredy
  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson

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