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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Dave Russell
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FEATURE   Photo: Former World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Cruiserweight Champion Dave "The Destroyer" Russell. 

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.


Looking at his almost one-hundred tattoos, shaven head and black mustache, and the fact that large groups of his fans often acted rowdy at his fights, it would be easy to describe former World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Cruiserweight Champion Dave Russell as a bit of a thug. Too easy!

In fact, British-born Australian Russell was quite the opposite, a gentleman in and out of the ring, in his fighting-days, and most who knows him in retirement would likely agree that he still is. However, that didn't prevent him from gaining his menacing nickname: “The Destroyer”.

Russell was born on June 16, 1960 in Newcastle, England, but moved with his family to Australia as an infant. He picked up boxing in his teens, and represented his home-state, Victoria, in several national tournaments before turning professional at twenty-three.

He started out as a Heavyweight, beating Leo Moore (10-3-3) by disqualification in his debut, and then went on to stop Joe Mandingo (0-3-1) in seven, decision Daniel Saylor (6-4) over eight, and draw against Sam N'Gata (7-3-1).

In the fall of 1984, Russell decided to go on a tour of his birth-country to gain some international experience. While in England, he sparred future WBC World Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno, and had three bouts, out-scoring Frank Robinson (7-13) and Lee White (9-14-3), and drawing with John Westgarth (2-1).

Finishing 1984 with a routine fourth round TKO of former foe Joe Mandingo back in Australia, Russell took a major step up in class in his first fight of 1985, winning the Australian and OPBF (Orient Pacific Boxing Federation) Heavyweight titles against Steve Aczel (31-7-1), stopping the Hungarian-born veteran in six.

Two months later, in a clash of champions, Russell decisioned Australian Light Heavyweight titlist Wally Carr (53-35-9) over ten rounds, in a fight where no title was on the line. Three more wins in 1985 took his undefeated ledger to 11-0-2 (6).

On March 15, 1986 Russell lost his Australian and OPBF Heavyweight titles in an upset tenth round stoppage to novice Dean Waters (3-0). Perhaps persuaded by the fact that he was always a small heavyweight, he shortly after decided to move down to Cruiserweight.

But his first outing in his new weight class, two months later in Melbourne, also ended in tears, as Russell, comfortably ahead on the scorecards, was halted in eleven by Zambian Chisanda Mutti (23-6-2) in a fight for the Africans Commonwealth crown.

Russell consequently took some time off, but went right back in at the deep end on April 30, 1987, dethroning Australian and OPBF Cruiserweight Champion Kevin Wagstaff (20-9-2), another British-born Aussie, with a second round demolition at Festival Hall in Melbourne.

The Destroyer” won his next two bouts as well, but for a period it would be very much up and down for him. In July of 1988 he lost his titles to Apolo Sweet (6-1), stopped in the ninth round of a fight where he was also ahead on the cards.

Two nondescript victories followed, before a win-less 1990 with set-backs against Frenchman Jean-Maurice Chanet (18-9) and American trial-horse Jack Johnson (10-11-1), whom he had defeated a year earlier. At this point it seemed unlikely that Russell would go much further, and achieve more than he already had.

Between 1990 and 1991 he beat Kevin Berry (8-8) twice, had a first round technical draw due to injury with Apolo Sweet (13-3-2) in a rematch for the Australian and OPBF Cruiserweight titles, lost a decision to Russian Ruslan Taramov (5-0) in Tokyo, and was stopped by Derek Angol (24-0) in London.

His record at the start of 1992 was a mediocre 18-7-3 (12), and he had gone 7-7-1 in his previous fifteen fights. But, amazingly, at thirty-one years of age, he had a real “Indian Summer” ahead of him, and the best was yet to come.

First up was a rubber-match victory over Jack Jonson (now 14-16-1) in April. In June he beat undefeated prospect Ted Cofie (4-0-1) by unanimous verdict, lining up a fight against Vivian Schwalger (5-2-1) for the vacant Australian title on the last day of July.

In front of 4000 noisy fans at Knox Basketball Stadium in Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Russell dominated the fight from the start, and eventually broke down the tough Schwalger to score a sixth round stoppage and win the Australian Cruiserweight title for the second time.

Russell stayed busy with a routine victory in October, sharpening his skills before challenging American WBF World Cruiserweight Champion Dan Murphy (37-8-2) on December 11, back at a packed Knox Basketball Stadium.

Arguably the most popular Melbourne boxer of the late 1980´s and early 1990´s, Russell had plenty of support going into the biggest fight of his life. And he didn't waste the opportunity, out-boxing Murphy over twelve rounds for a clear unanimous decision (117-110, 117-110 and a strange score of 120-117).

Unfortunately for Russell, his reign as world champion would not be long. Just over four months after winning the title, he lost it in his first defense when British underdog Johnny Nelson (21-8-1) stopped him in eleven one-sided rounds.

Russell decided to retire after the loss to Nelson, with a 23-8-3 (14) record, and as a former Australian and OPBF Heavyweight Champion, OPBF and two-time Australian Cruiserweight Champion, and World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Cruiserweight Champion.

While active, Russell regularly visited Victoria prisons to give boxing exhibitions, sign autographs and speak with the inmates to inspire them in a positive way. In retirement he has kept in touch with the sport by volunteering at a local boxing gym.

  Part 62: Tony Dodson
  Part 61: Pete Taliaferro
  Part 60: Fredrik Alvarez
  Part 59: Ajose Olusegun
  Part 58: Chevelle Hallback
  Part 57: Evander Holyfield
  Part 56: Peter Culshaw
  Part 55: Rolando Toyogon
  Part 54: Joaquin Velasquez
  Part 53: Steve Molitor
  Part 52: Nadya Hokmi
  Part 51: Bert Cooper
  Part 50: Alfred Kotey
  Part 49: Yosuke Nishijima
  Part 48: Wayne Rigby
  Part 47: Jesus Chong
  Part 46: Renata Szebeledi
  Part 45: Lester Ellis
  Part 44: Patrick Vungbo
  Part 43: Patrick Washington
  Part 42: Ric Siodora
  Part 41: Guy Waters
  Part 40: Natascha Ragosina
  Part 39: Nicky Cook
  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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