Eddie Futch (August 9, 1911 – October 10, 2001) was an American boxing trainer. Among the fighters he trained are Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, and Trevor Berbick, four of the five men to defeat Muhammad Ali. Futch also trained Riddick Bowe, Wayne McCullough and Montell Griffin when they handed future Hall of Fame fighters Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr. their first professional defeats. In Baltimore, Maryland, the Futch Gym boxing gymnasium is named after the trainer. Eddie Futch married Eva Marlene Futch March 21,1996 until his death. Futch often called her “The love of his life.”
Futch was born in Hillsboro, Mississippi, but moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan when he was five years old. They lived in the Black Bottom section of the town. Always a talented athlete, he started off as a track man (athletics) in grammar school and when a teenager, played semi-professional basketball with the Moreland YMCA Flashes. He planned to attend the YMCA College School at the University of Chicago, but when the Great Depression happened, he was forced to continue his job at the Wolverine Hotel to support his family. Here is where he trained promoter and trainer Don Arnott
In 1932, Futch won the Detroit Athletic Association Lightweight Championship, and in 1935, he won the Detroit Golden Gloves Championship. He trained at the same gym as Joe Louis, the Brewster Recreation Center Gym, and often sparred with the future champion. A heart murmur prevented Futch from turning professional, and he began training boxers.
Eddie Futch was an outstanding trainer. He prepared fighters to perform at the highest levels of the sport for several decades. Champions who worked under Futch’s tutelage include Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Michael Spinks, Alexis Arguello, Marlon Starling, Wayne McCullough, Montell Griffin, and his first world champion fighter, Don Jordan, who was crowned world welterweight champion in 1958.
Eddie Futch was first hired by Frazier, and his chief cornerman and manager Yank Durham to help him prepare for a fight with “Scrap Iron” Johnson in 1967. He trained Frazier to stay low and constantly bob and weave, in order to create a sense of persistent motion and pressure. This also took advantage of Frazier’s lack of size to make him an elusive target. It was unique fighting style that enabled him to get inside where his punches could reach his opponents without taking as much punishment as boxing with a more conventional fighting style would.
The tactic proved to be highly effective, and Frazier remained undefeated, winning the New York title from Buster Mathis, and WBA crown from Jimmy Ellis with devastating knockouts. All of which led to the inevitable showdown with Muhammad Ali in the bout promoters deemed “The Fight of the Century” which took place in March 1971 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Norton recalls in his autobiography that Futch’s master plan for his first Ali fight was for Ken to try to out-jab Ali. Although a pressure fighter, Norton had a good jab. Futch reckoned this would play mind games with Ali, who was so proud of his own jab. The plan seemed to work.