Howard Davis Jr., one of the standout members of the 1976 U.S. Olympic boxing team who later became a South Florida-based boxing and mixed martial arts trainer, died Wednesday after complications from lung cancer. He was 59.
Davis was one of five gold medalists in the renowned Olympic team that also included Sugar Ray Leonard, brothers Leon and Michael Spinks and Leo Randolph. Davis won 125 of 130 amateur bouts and was named winner of the Val Barker Award, symbolic of the most outstanding boxer in the 1976 Games.
Six months after the Olympics, Davis made his professional debut in January of 1977. Although he became a contender in the lightweight and junior-welterweight divisions, Davis’ three world title bouts ended in decision losses against Jim Watt, Edwin Rosario and James “Buddy” McGirt.
In 1994, Davis resumed his career, six years after his loss to McGirt. Fighting as a middleweight, Davis won four consecutive bouts before losing his final one against Dana Rosenblatt for a fringe middleweight belt in 1996. Davis finished his professional career with a 36-6-1 record and 14 knockouts.
A native of Glen Cove, New York, Davis moved to South Florida in 2003. Initially, Davis trained boxers but eventually transitioned his teaching and guiding skills to mixed martial arts. Five years ago, Davis and his wife, Karla Guadamuz-Davis, formed Fight Time Promotions, a company that presents MMA cards throughout the Southeast. In 2013, Davis was inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame.
Although he never smoked, Davis was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer last year. Services are pending.