“We Haven’t Finished Yet” - Gerald “The Jedi” Nobles!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Nov 2, 2014)
Philadelphia’s Gerald “The Jedi” Nobles
After 10 years “Big” George Foreman came back and re-won the heavyweight title at age 44. Recently this year the 2000 National Amateur champion Steve “The Gentle Giant” Vukosa came back after 12 years to defeat 2004 Olympian Jason Estrada. Now after 7 years of inactivity Philadelphia’s Gerald “The Jedi” Nobles is 43 and talking about fighting again!
Nobles could be called Philadelphia’s answer to Earnie Shavers when it comes to the raw power Nobles possesses in stopping 21 of his 26 opponents with only a disqualification loss to 7’0” Nikolay Valuev then 38-0 in 2004 in Germany for the WBA Inter-Continental title.
After watching this on youtube.com, (embedded video to the left of this test) I have no idea why the referee stopped the fight. Was it due to low body shots? “Valuev is over 7’0” and wore his trunks too high,” said Nobles. Working his corner was Rev. Thompson who entered the ring along with Carl King to protest the stoppage. “Gerald would have knocked Valuev out. I don’t know why King didn’t put in a protest,” said Thompson.
At 6:03 Nobles weight went from as low as 209 to as high as 293! “In order to keep my weight down I needed to fight on a regular basis,” said Nobles. The highlight of his career was the only time he hit the canvas and that was against former WBA champion Bruce “Atlantic City Express” Seldon, in Las Vegas in May of 2004 when he stopped Seldon in the 9th round. “I dislocated my shoulder in training going into the Seldon fight. He could punch,” said Nobles. At ringside Manny Steward thought the left hook that Seldon hit Nobles with “caught him off balance.” Either way he went down but came right back at Seldon causing a cut over the right eye lid that referee Tony Weeks ruled an accidental head butt.
“When he first came to the gym and started training Jimmy Arthur, “Slim” Jim Robinson and I were there,” said Sloan Anderson. Nobles turned professional after less than half a dozen amateur fights under trainer Jimmy Arthur in October of 1995 at the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia winning in the 1st round. He scored 9 knockouts with 8 of them at the Blue Horizon. “I had Ron “Stingray” McCarthy” down so many times I couldn’t believe it,” said Nobles. He defeated McCarthy by a 6 round decision at the Convention Center in Atlantic City in February of 1997 for his only non-knockout in his first 9 fights.
Under Philadelphia manager Ivan Cohen Noble won his first 14 fights from his debut in October of 1995 through December of 1997 covering 26 months. In his sixth fight he stopped Maurice “Mo Betta” Harris in 3 rounds. “World class puncher but undisciplined,” said Peltz. (the promoter) Just 4 months prior to that Harris dealt David Izon his first defeat in 18 fights. Then after the loss to Nobles he would go onto win 9 of his next 10 fights only losing a controversial split decision to former champion Larry Holmes. “I couldn’t get my overhand left past his defense so after he blocked my overhead right I turned southpaw and hit him with an overhand left and knocked him out,” said Nobles.
Manager Ivan Cohen is known for not holding back on saying what is on his mind! “Gerald Nobles was the best of the heavyweight punchers. He would have knocked out Holmes, Foreman or Tyson. I had to buy 22 ounce gloves from Ringside and he would bust them up. I had to go get him out of Don King’s gym because he was beating up everyone in his gym. I once saw him lift up the back end of a car. He was a monster. My son Brian and I (2011) got him every test Greg Sirb asked for which he passed. We had him lined up to fight at Harrah’s (Chester) Sirb said he had to lose weight. Did anyone ever tell Butterbean he had to lose weight?”
Nobles was off a year after ending his contract with Cohen and took on another trainer in Percy Custus (owner of Shuler’s Gym in W. Philly) due to problems Arthur was having outside the ring. “He was a hell of a fighter and puncher,” said Custus. Nobles signed his first promotional contract which was with Cedric Kushner. Nobles would fight in Atlantic City for the first time in December of 1998 and then in January of 1999 scoring a pair of wins, one by knockout. The other was a decision over durable John “Killer” Kiser over 8 rounds. “I knocked down every opponent I beat at least once,” said Nobles.
In visiting what I consider the best gym in Philadelphia, James Shuler Memorial Gym in W. Philly owned and run by Buster Custus I asked several people if they saw Nobles sparring there. Former IBF light middleweight champion Rob “Bam Bam” Hines, now a trainer said “hell of a fighter and if he stayed in the gym he could beat anyone.” Even one of the younger current boxers at 30, Kahlib “Big Foot” Whitmore, 6-0 (5), remembers Nobles. “He was in the ring here one day and sparring with some big guy about 6:06 and Gerald hit him and down he went with a thud. My trainer Naziim Richardson called Gerald a lazy Mike Tyson due to his punching power,” said Whitmore. The brother whom the gym is named after, Marty Shuler, said “He was some puncher, whether one punch or a combination.”
Nobles, first opponent under new management was Mitchell rose whom he stopped in 3 rounds at the Trump Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City. “Gerald was the hardest fight I ever had. After him I came to the realization it was time to retire. He punched so hard he was grazing my head and I was falling to the canvas. Legendary trainer Don Turner told me not to take the fight because he hits like Earnie Shavers,” said Mitchell Rose.
It would be 9 months before Nobles fought again winning another 8 round decision this time over Mexican Agustin Corpus winning all but one round. “Craig Hamilton who was with Michael Grant became my advisor,” said Nobles. In January of 2001 Nobles defeated Sedreck Fields over 10 rounds in Las Vegas. “I broke both my hands by the 4th round hitting that head of his,” said Nobles. Fields had defeated future WBO champion Shannon Briggs the previous year.
Nobles was off 20 months after breaking both hands against Fields returning to stop Dennis McKinney in 2 rounds in Charleston, SC. It was the only loss for McKinney over an 8 fight period. It would be 9 more months before Nobles would fight again defeating Ron Guerrero, 16-6-3 and off another 10 months before a 1st round knockout over Willie Williams, 16-6, at Madison Square Garden. It was on the undercard of John Ruiz defending his WBA title against Fres Oquendo. His old trainer Jimmy Arthur was back for the Guerrero fight.
Nobles signed with Don King for the Seldon fight in May of 2004 with the promise if he won he would meet either IBF champion Chris Byrd or WBA champion John Ruiz. It didn’t happen. HBO’s judge Harold Lederman’s had it 77-75 Nobles going into the 9th round. He ended it with a left on the already nearly closed right eye of Seldon’s causing him to turn away and drop to a knee taking the full count at 0:41 of the round. “He was a very good banger but I don’t think he gave boxing 100%. If he was “all in” he might have had a shot. He was a nice guy though and I hope he’s doing okay,” said Bobby Goodman. Goodman was Don King’s right hand man not once but twice. He also ran MSG boxing and represented Ken Norton and Bob Foster.
After 4 months with his shoulder healing Nobles weight went from 233 to 275 when he knocked out Curtis Taylor in September of 2004. The Valuev fight would take place 2 months and 30 pounds less, later in Bayern, Germany, a year before Valuev won the WBA title from Ruiz.
“He was at least 7:02 and I didn’t know why the referee stopped the fight,” said Nobles. In viewing this fight on www.youtube.com the referee took a point from Nobles in the previous round for what seemed to be a low blow. In the 4th round there was no foul that I could see but referee Mikael Hook of Sweden waved it off and the German fans let the referee know they weren’t happy with the stoppage. Assistant trainer Rev Thompson and Carl King entered the ring trying to get an explanation of the stoppage by the referee. It was a shame and is the only blemish on the otherwise perfect record of Nobles in 27 fights.
It would be almost 2 years without King getting Nobles another fight before Nobles finally got out of the contract. He did a lot of sparring with the likes of Lennox Lewis, Oleg Maskaev, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield (“fought you tooth and nails,” said Nobles), Friday Ahunanya, Derrick Jefferson, Larry Donald, Cliff “The Black Rhino” Etienne, Owen Beck, Amir “Hard Core” Mansour, Michael Grant and Oliver McCall. “I knocked out Grant and McCall in camp. Mansour only had half a dozen fights back in the 90’s when he sparred with Nobles but Mansour’s manager Keith Stoffer remembers it well. “As I remember Gerald broke Amir’s nose for the bloody details. As you know he could really punch. He should be able to fight and protect himself on his power alone. He was always cordial when I would run in to him,” said Stoffer. Amir “Harcore” Mansour is 20-1 (15), and said “the hardest I ever been hit was by Gerald. But what I remember most about him was that he was very respectful outside the ring.”
Nobles signed with promotional group Silverhawk in 2006 with VP Jeff Grmoja announcing “Gerald Nobles is one of the hardest punchers in boxing.” He returned to the ring in October of 2006 stopping Wallace McDaniel and 3 months later in January of 2007 stopping Andy Sample, both in the 1st round. “I fought with myself having no money and being out of shape. I was loyal to the wrong people who were not loyal to me,” said Nobles. He was promised monthly fights to get back in shape but after 2 fights the promoter didn’t fulfill his promise.
Over the recent years you would see Nobles name appear on www.boxrec.com with a scheduled fight but they never materialized. “I passed all the tests Greg Sirb (PA Boxing Director) said I required but I still didn’t get to fight,” said Nobles. In October of 2011 and January 2012 there were articles about his return. “I had him a fight at Harrah’s but Greg Sirb wouldn’t let him fight,” said Joey Eye.
I reached out to Philadelphia writer-lawyer George Hanson who works out and trains several amateurs at the Marion Anderson Gym in South Philly in order to contact Nobles. “It is inexplicable that Gerald “The Jedi” didn’t join “Smoking” Joe Frazier and “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon as the triumvirate of Philly’s world heavyweight champions,” said Hanson. Noble’s punching power is legendary and rarely could get any of the Philly heavyweights to spar with him. “I’m still considering boxing again,” said Nobles. When all-time great judge and personality Harold Lederman was told that he said “saw Gerald Nobles years ago. If he wants to make a comeback I would look forward to seeing him.”
It should take more than a Boxing Director in PA to stop the “return of the Jedi”! “Make the last run your strongest run,” said Nobles.
Please send all questions and comments to Ken Hissner at: Kenhissner@gmail.com
Ken Hissner responds to all his emails at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing Inc. 1998-2014