Jens Ingemar “Ingo” Johansson[a] (Swedish: [ˈɪ̌ŋː(ɛ)mar ˈjûːanˌsɔn]; 22 September 1932 – 30 January 2009) was a Swedish professional boxer who competed from 1952 to 1963. He held the world heavyweight title from 1959 to 1960, and was the fifth heavyweight champion born outside the United States. Johansson won the title by defeating Floyd Patterson via third-round stoppage, after flooring him seven times in that round. For this achievement, Johansson was awarded the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year—the only non-American to do so in the belt’s entire 27-year existence—and was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
Johansson also held the European heavyweight title twice, from 1956 to 1958 and from 1962 to 1963. As an amateur he won a silver medal in the heavyweight division at the 1952 Summer Olympics. He affectionately named his right fist “toonder and lightning” for its concussive power (it was also called “Ingo’s bingo” and the “Hammer of Thor”), and in 2003 he was ranked at No. 99 on The Ring magazine‘s list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time. BoxRec currently ranks him as the 9th greatest fighter to have only faced heavyweights during his professional career.[note 1]
Johansson’s introduction to the top rank of the sport was inauspicious. At age nineteen he was disqualified for passivity at the Helsinki 1952 Summer Olympics in the heavyweight competition in a fight against eventual Olympic gold medalist Ed Sanders. Johansson maintained he was not evading Sanders (who also got a warning for passivity), but rather was trying to tire his opponent. Johansson said he had been limited to a 10-day training camp, had only trained with newcomers, and had been told by his coach to let Sanders be the aggressor. Nevertheless, his silver medal was withheld for poor performance and only presented to him in 1982.
Johansson had earned his spot in the Olympics by winning the Swedish National Championship earlier the same year, 1952, after he knocked out his opponent in the first round of the final.
After the Olympics Johansson went into seclusion for six months and considered quitting boxing. However, he returned to the ring and turned professional under the guidance of the Swedish publisher and boxing promoter Edwin Ahlquist, subsequently winning his first 21 professional fights. He won the Scandinavian pro title by knocking down and outscoring the Dane Erik Jensen (breaking his right hand in the process). A broken hand and a one-year military service kept him out of the ring until late 1954. In August 1955, in his twelfth professional fight, Johansson knocked out former European Heavyweight Champion Hein ten Hoff in the first round. He took the Scandinavian heavyweight title in 1953 and, on 30 September 1956, he won the European Heavyweight Championship by scoring a 13th-round KO over Italy’s Franco Cavicchi in Milan.
Johansson knocks out Floyd Patterson to become world heavyweight champion, 1959
Johansson earned his shot at the world heavyweight crown when he knocked out top ranked contender Eddie Machen in the first round of their elimination match on 14 September 1958. In front of 53,615 fans in Ullevi football stadium, Johansson downed Machen three times, finally finishing him with a barrage of punches at 2:16 of the first round. Johansson then signed to fight champion Floyd Patterson.
Johansson was a colourful figure in New York City as he trained for the fight. Eschewing the monastic training regimen favored by Patterson and other fighters, Johansson trained at the Catskill resort of Grossingers. He did not seem to train particularly hard, and was often seen at night spots with his attractive girlfriend, Elaine Sloane, whom he asked out while she was working for Sports Illustrated.
He entered the ring in Yankee Stadium on 26 June 1959, as a 5–1 underdog. Johansson spent the first two rounds of the encounter retreating and flicking a light left jab at the champion. In the third round, Johansson threw a wide left hook that Patterson blocked with his right hand. When he moved his right hand away from its protective peek-a-boo position before his chin, Johansson drilled him with a short powerful right hand. Patterson went down, arose on unsteady legs and was out on his feet. Johansson followed up his advantage and sent Patterson down six more times in the round before the bout was stopped by referee Ruby Goldstein. Johansson celebrated with his girlfriend and future wife Birgit Lundgren and the next day a headline in a New York newspaper expressed the city’s amazement. It read: “Ingo – It’s Bingo.”  When Johansson returned to Sweden, he flew in on a helicopter, landing in the main football stadium in Gothenburg, his home town, and was cheered by 20,000 people. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as well as the cover of Life Magazine on 20 July 1959, alongside Birgit.
Johansson was a flamboyant champion – a precursor to the “Swinging Sixties“. One publication dubbed Johansson “boxing’s Cary Grant” and in 1960 he appeared in the movie All the Young Men as a marine, alongside stars Alan Ladd and Sidney Poitier. Wherever he went, in the U.S. or in Sweden, he had a beautiful woman on his arm, with paparazzi snapping pictures.
At that point, retired heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, who sat ringside and witnessed as Johansson knocked out Patterson, considered a possible comeback for a championship bout versus Johansson. He entered a training camp, keeping it low profile, but dropped the idea because he could not get into the condition he previously had, feeling he was too old for a title fight.