Gerhardus Christian Coetzee (born April 8, 1955 in Boksburg), better known as Gerrie Coetzee, is a South African former boxer. He made history two times: He was the first African ever to fight for the world's Heavyweight title, and the first to win the world Heavyweight title. His nickname was The Bionic Man, because he always had trouble with his right hand, and had a few corrective items put in it during three surgeries.
WINS BY KO:
Gerhardus Christian Coetzee
April 8, 1955
Boksburg, South Africa
RISE TO CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENTION
Coetzee started boxing professionally on the night of September 14, 1974,when he beat 19 fight veteran Christian Roos by a decision in four. He followed that win with 21 more consecutive wins to reach a record of 22-0 before fighting for the World Heavyweight Championship (WBA version) for the first time. Among those wins, there was one over Roos in a rematch, which Coetzee won by a knock-out in three; wins over former world title challengers Ron Stander, Randy Stephens and Pierre Fourie; a South African Heavyweight championship winning effort against Kallie Knoetze (unanimous decision in 10) as well as a first round knockout of former world Heavyweight champion Leon Spinks. With exception of the Spinks bout, held at Monte Carlo, the rest of Coetzee's fights during his early run were held in his native South Africa. Coetzee had displayed impressive right-hand power, speed and composure in the Spinks win, legitimizing his reputation as a title-threat.
FIRST ATTEMPT AT A WORLD TITLE
He was able to challenge John Tate for the WBA's world Heavyweight title that had been left vacant by Muhammad Ali.The fight, according to many South African historians, did cause some social impact because it reunited 135,000 people to watch an event between a Black (Tate) and a White (Coetzee) in a South Africa that was split by Apartheid. It was one of the first major public events where Blacks and Whites could join together in public since that ideology had taken over in South Africa.Gerrie Coetzee became the first African Heavyweight ever to challenge for a world title,but his dream of becoming the first African world Heavyweight champion had to wait, because he was beaten by Tate by a decision in 15 rounds. Coetzee fought lethargically and his stamina and pace were lacking. Such would be the story of much of his career. Aggressive and willing, Coetzee nonetheless seemed to have no Plan B if he didn't KO his opponent. In future matches, his self-awareness of his stamina-issues seemed to play on his performances.
SECOND ATTEMPT AT A WORLD TITLE
Tate, however, lasted shortly as world champion, as he was dethroned by Mike Weaver in his first title defence. Coetzee, by his part, knocked out Mike Koraniki in the first round to keep his lofty status. Then, Weaver travelled to South Africa to defend against Coetzee, once again, fighting in front of a very large crowd. Coetzee's dream was almost reached in this fight,as his pressure and aggression saw him leading through 8 rounds, but Coetzee's stamina failed him and he began to throw less, lean and maul more and get hit more often coming in with his unprotected head high. He was KO'd by a counter right-hand in the 13th round.
ROAD TO A THIRD TITLE SHOT
Undaunted, Coetzee went back to boxing soon and beat fringe contender George Chaplinbefore facing with Renaldo Snipes, a man who later would be seconds away from becoming world champion when he dropped Larry Holmes in a title challenge. Coetzee dropped Snipes multiple times and seemed to dominate, but the fight was scored by rounds and not on points,and he lost a ten round decision that was deemed one of the worst in the decade.Coetzee racked up four victories between 1981 and 1983, including a defeat of former world title challenger Scott Le Doux. He faced future world champion Pinklon Thomas, who held him to a draw in a bout where Gerrie Coetzee again had an early lead.
THE THIRD TITLE SHOT
Despite the outcome of the Thomas fight, (or perhaps because of it) Coetzee received his third world title try against WBA title-holder Michael Dokes.By now known as someone who couldn't win "The Big One" the third time turned out to be the charm for Coetzee. In front of a road crowd in Akron, Ohio and a HBO Boxing audience, Coetzee dominated Dokes, counter punching and utilizing his rarely used left hand in knocking out Dokes in the tenth round to become South Africa's first World Heavyweight Champion ever. He also became the first Caucasian world Heavyweight champion in 23 years (Gerrie Coetzee vs. Michael Dokes). The fight was KO Magazine's Upset of The Year for 1983. It turned out that the punch that knocked out Dokes hurt Coetzee even more: his right hand was broken and required his second surgery (at least), a metal implanting surgery, five days after the fight, in New York.
SHORT CHAMPIONSHIP REIGN
There was much talk about a unification bout with the other world Heavyweight champion, Holmes, in 1984, and a contract was signed for that bout. There were massive financial issues when the backer of the bout couldn't raise the original purse necessary, not to mention Coetzee re-injured his hand during training camp, requiring another surgery. Thus cancelling the fight. When he was able to get back in the ring, Coetzee was paired with Greg Page (the real #1 contender David Bey, refused to go to South Africa as described in "Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King" by Jack Newfield, Bey became the #1 by outpointing Greg Page over 12 rounds).In a give and take match highlighted by Coetzee's total lack of form and apparent overconfidence as well as Page's strong chin, the two exchanged momentum. It was clear however that Coetzee was a sitting duck for Page's counter-punching and his once dependable chin seemed to fail him. Coetzee lost his world title when he was knocked out by a left in round eight. This proved to be another controversial bout. Coetzee's camp protested that while Coetzee was on the canvas, the bell had sounded and the referee's count should have been waved off, which would have allowed Coetzee to continue for at least one more round. The round in question actually went for almost a minute too long. Despite this, the WBA decided to leave Page as the winner by a knock-out in eight.
POST CHAMPIONSHIP CAREER
After this fight, Coetzee made token attempts at a comeback. He beat Mike Tyson rival James "Quick" Tillis by a decision in ten, and went to England to fight future world Heavyweight champion Frank Bruno, losing by a knock-out in one. After that fight, he announced his retirement, but came back twice during the 1990s, winning by knock-out in three against both Dave Fiddler and Wes Turner in 1993, and then winning against Dan Komiscki in three.Gerrie Coetzee has stayed retired ever since.His overall record stands at 33 wins, 6 losses and 1 draw, with 20 wins by knockout.