I remember watching Joe “the Boss” Hipp fight and thought how many times have fighters been called “warriors” but Joe being Native American was a true “Warrior”! His amateur record was 119-9 and was a 5 time Washington Golden Gloves Champion.
Joe “The Boss” Hipp lost his second fight then reversed it in his sixth fight. He then won 20 straight including stopping former WBC cruiserweight champion Marvin Camel 45-11-4, winning the World Boxing Foundation Intercontinental title and also defeated title challenger David Bey, 17-7. Then he ran into “Smokin” Bert Cooper, 25-7, and due to excessive swelling around his eyes the fight was stopped in 5. Hipp was America’s answer to George Chuvalo.
Four fights later the southpaw Hipp went to “war” with Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, 32-1, breaking the Duke’s jaw and gave him 40 stitches over his right eye. Morrison broke both hands and had his jaw broke. Hipp had his cheekbone shattered while hitting the canvas in the 5th and 9th rounds forcing referee Vic Drakulich to halt the “war” in the 9th!
Ten months and 6 wins later Hipp earned a title fight with Bruce “the Atlantic City Express” Seldon, 32-3, for his WBA title in Las Vegas, NV. He had won the NABF title beating Mexican American Alex Garcia, 34-3-1, stopped Cuban Jose Ribalta, 33-11-2, defeated Puerto Rican Rodolfo Marin, 20-2 and ended the career of Phillipp Brown, 30-11-2.
In the Seldon championship fight Hipp was stopped in the 10th round due to cuts and swelling around his eyes which seemed to be his nemesis. He would come back just 4 months later winning 7 straight including defeating Red Foxx protégé Young Sanford (Fred Houpe), 14-4, and Will Hinton, 16-9-1, both by stoppage.
In 1997 Hipp was stopped by Ross Puritty, 22-10-1, in the 10th and final round. The following year Puritty would give future and current world champion Wladimir Klitschko his first loss. After defeating Everett “Big Foot” Martin, 20-30-1, for the World Boxing Federation title over 12 rounds Hipp blew his knee out in the 5th round to Jeff Pegues, 16-6. Hipp would come back 4 years later winning 2 out of 3 before ending his career in August of 2005. His final record was 43-7 with 29 knockouts. Not too shabby!
Hipp created the All Nations Foundation helping to teach the kids about life. He became the first trainer of heavyweight Chauncy “Hillyard Hammer” Welliver in his 51st fight. The name Joe “The Boss” Hipp stood for courage and a real gamer! He gave 100% in the ring and is doing the same for his fellow Native American youth!
KEN HISSNER: Joe, you gave many of us some exciting fights during your career but the fight with Tommy Morrison was a classic “War”. How’d you two get through 9 rounds?
JOE HIPP: Fighting Morrison was a big thing. After getting knocked down (in the 5th round) by a good body shot I thought “I wasn’t going out this way”. I didn’t know my cheekbone was crushed until 2 days later when the swelling went down. I didn’t think the fight should have been stopped. Years later I ran into the referee (Vic Drakulich) and he said he probably shouldn’t have stopped it. I would have been better off if I didn’t know that.
KEN HISSNER: You won 20 straight fights before meeting Philly’s “Smokin” Bert Cooper. Swelling around your eyes would cause your defeat. Did they have “end swell” back then?
JOE HIPP: Yes they had end swell but I had problems my whole career having swelling around my eyes. I was throwing a punch when the referee (Joe Cortez) stopped it. I wasn’t even knocked down or given a count.
KEN HISSNER: You earned a WBA title fight with Bruce Seldon in 1995 being stopped in the 10th round due to cuts and swelling around your eyes. How important was it being the first Native American to fight for the heavyweight championship?
JOE HIPP: It was very important to me. Our plan was to work into the later rounds but my cut was right to the bone. He had a good jab.
KEN HISSNER: Just 2 days after celebrating your 37th birthday you blow your knee out against Jeff Pegues in 1999. What made you come back almost 4 years later?
JOE HIPP: I had a problem with my knee going out and had it repaired after this fight but it still bothers me to this day. It’s hard to get out of boxing. I still go to the gym and hit the heavy bag and work with the kids.
KEN HISSNER: How was it becoming a trainer for Chancy Welliver who didn’t have a trainer his first 50 fights he recently told me?
JOE HIPP: First, he could take a punch. He would switch from southpaw to orthodox and he didn’t have to do that. He hadn’t taken advantage of being a southpaw. He recently told me when he has his last fight it will be in Spokane and he wants me to train him for that. I loved going to New Zealand and China when he fought there. He is a real smart guy and knows fighters and who trains them. He should be a manager when he retires.
KEN HISSNER: Since you started the All Nations Foundation for Native American youth do you get support from the government?
JOE HIPP: No. Mostly when I was fighting I helped the kids. On November 14th we will have a show in downtown Seattle. I was an alcoholic until 12 years ago. I talk to the kids about alcohol and drug abuse. Not just the Native American kids but all kids.
KEN HISSNER: I have sponsored 2 Native American youth through Compassion International. I visited one of the sites in AZ back in 1989 and was quite disturbed about the Southwest School he attended being built on ground that looked like you couldn’t grow anything but a cactus on it. Don’t you think the Native American people could manufacture a lot of what China does for this country?
JOE HIPP: Native Americans are good with their hands. The Chinese are good with machinery.
KEN HISSNER: Muhammad Ali once said “we need a hand up and not a hand out! Do you think the Native American people in this country could use the same?
JOE HIPP: Too many Native Americans never leave the reservation. The casino’s help out giving to the youth, building schools and hospitals.
KEN HISSNER: What do you think about the fuss about the NFL Washington Redskins keeping their name?
JOE HIPP: I don’t like to get into the politics of it but I don’t like it and most Indians don’t.
KEN HISSNER: I had an idea they could take the Indian patch off and put a redskin potato in its place.
JOE HIPP: (laughed) That would be ok.
KEN HISSNER: Joe, do you have family?
JOE HIPP: Yes, my wife Barbara and twin daughters Venessa and Sophia who are 29.
KEN HISSNER: Joe, it’s been an honor to interview you. I wish you all the success in the world in helping the youth of this country.
JOE HIPP: Thanks. I look forward to seeing the story when it goes up.