Former world boxing champion Bob Foster dies at 76

World boxing champion Bob Foster, one of greatest light-heavyweights of all time, passes away at age 76

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Muhammad Ali stands in the corner as referee Mills Lane makes the count on Bob Foster after he was knocked down in the seventh round of their bout in Stateline, Nev., Nov. 22, 1972.

Bob Foster, the former light heavyweight champion who fought Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali and went on to become a sheriff's deputy, died Saturday. He was 76.

New Mexico state Rep. Antonio Maestas said in a statement that Foster died at Presbyterian hospital in Albuquerque with wife Rose and his family at his side.

"His wife Rose Foster, his children, and family thank you for your prayers and support in this time of healing," the statement said.

In Las Vegas before the Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez fight, a 10-count was tolled on the bell at Mandalay Bay in honor of Foster.

Standing 6-foot-3, the big-punching Foster was 56-8-1 with 46 knockouts. He won the light heavyweight title in 1968 when he stopped Dick Tiger in the fourth round of their fight at Madison Square Garden. It was the only time Tiger was knocked out in his career.

Two years later, Foster moved up to heavyweight to challenge Frazier for the title. The fight was a mismatch, with Frazier stopping Foster at 49 seconds of the second round.

Foster regained his 175-pound title in his next fight, but in 1972 fought again as a heavyweight, meeting Ali at a Lake Tahoe casino. Again, Foster was overmatched, with Ali knocking him down seven times before the fight was finally stopped in the eighth round.

Foster, who was named the third-greatest light heavyweight ever by Ring Magazine in 1994, made 14 successful title defenses before retiring as champion in 1974. He returned a year later, finally retiring for good in 1978 after being knocked out in his last two fights.

Foster was the Boxing Writers Association of America fighter of the year in 1968, edging Frazier in a close vote. He was inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame's first class in 1990.

While still boxing, Foster began his career with the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.

Born in Borger, Texas, Foster grew up in Albuquerque and played football at Albuquerque High. He served in the Air Force.

A public service and celebration of life will be held in Albuquerque.