Written by Jill Nossa Saturday, 05 April 2014 00:00
It’s boxing season in Glen Cove, with the annual Golden Gloves tournament that took place on Thursday, March 27, and this city has a rich history with boxing, having produced several notable boxing greats, with more aspiring fighters training at the Glen Cove
Boxing Club. Boxing historian Christopher Shelton recently dug deep into the story of one of the one of our local boxing heroes, Allen “Junebug” Hudson, Jr., whose credits include fighting Muhammad Ali.
“I’m proud to tell this story...nobody’s ever really written about this guy,” says Shelton.
Shelton’s lengthy, 10,000-word piece,“The Army Boxer Who Knocked-Down Muhammad Ali (1960),” can be viewed on www.ringsideboxingshow.com/SheltonBLOGJunebugHudson.html; the article tells the story of Hudson, from his early life to his time spent in the
Army, from his fighting credits to his career with the Long Island Rail Road. Shelton spoke with a number of folks in the community to get his facts straight, including Junebug’s son, Allen Hudson III, assistant principal at Glen Cove High School, 1976 Olympic lightweight gold medal winner Howard Davis Jr., trainer Tommy Gallagher and Frank Pena of the Glen Cove Boxing Club.
“It’s more than a boxing story,” says Shelton. “It is also a military story: one chose to serve, one chose not to.”
The two boxers were both compelled to military service, and while Hudson served, Ali declined.
Shelton says that Hudson probably hit Ali harder than anybody else; but when searching Junebug Hudson, the story “ultimately becomes about Ali.” Another problem with researching Junebug is that his first name is often misspelled as “Alan.”
Junebug, who died in 1996, was a member of the 3rd Army who won the heavyweight gold medal at the 1959 Pan-American games.
“Junebug’s most famous Army bout was his last as an amateur losing to Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali at the 1960 Olympic trials. During the bout, Junebug became one of only five boxers to knock Clay/Ali to the canvas,” says Shelton.
Shelton says that when Hudson participated in an Olympic-qualifying fight, he switched divisions to help out a friend, a decision that Shelton speculates may have cost him his career. If he hadn’t switched, Shelton says, “he probably would’ve qualified and won.”
Though it is unfortunate that Hudson died before having a chance to tell his own story, Shelton is happy to be able to document the information he obtained.
“While Ali is the major supporting character, it is meant to be Junebug’s story,” he says.