Boxing isn’t only one of the best sports in the world, but it contains some of the best personalities. And a great, fun, catchy nickname can be a very underappreciated part of that package.
When it comes to boxing nicknames, if they rhyme, it’s great, alliteration is great, and creativity is great. Also, if they match the individual — their style or the way they look — that makes it a home run.
Here are my favorite boxing nicknames through the years.
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez
It’s one of the best nicknames. It’s in Spanish, but even only-English speakers kind of get it. Little Chocolate and he is the Little Chocolate warrior. It’s so cool. It’s so original. If anyone is ever again called “Chocolatito,” it probably won’t be in our lifetimes. Unless he has a son. Super Little Chocolate. I bet most people don’t even know (Gonzalez’s) real name. They just know him by “Chocolatito.” It’s kind of like “Sugar” Ray Leonard. It becomes part of your real name even though it’s not.
Eric “Butterbean” Esch
I think it’s my favorite nickname of all time. He’s the first nicknamed person whose nickname is more popular than whatever it is. I mean, what is a “Butterbean?” If you stopped me on the street and said ‘Hey, Todd, what’s a butterbean?’ I’d say, ‘That’s Eric Esch.’ He’s become what a “Butterbean” looks like. You look at him and you say ‘That man is a Butterbean!’ It’s perfect! Nobody knows what his real name is either. You know him by that, he’s “Butterbean” and there will never be another. He fits the description.
DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson
It jumps out on the originality. It’s just so different and you kind of get it. You look at him at heavyweight and he had that big overhand right. He wasn’t the best fighter but that nickname was legendary in my opinion. It’s not just a nickname — it’s happening if he catches you. Sort of like James “Lights Out” Toney but the creativity of the nickname is higher.
Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield
He’s my favorite fighter ever. It sounds so cool and it rhymes. Evander “The Reeaaal Deaaal” Holyfield. Jimmy Lennon Jr. comes to mind, the way he announced it and the way it rolled off the tongue perfectly. You look at Holyfield and there were questions about him moving up to heavyweight. I’m from the South, the Atlanta area and that’s where he’s from. Like ‘Is he the Real Deal? Can he be the Real Deal at heavyweight?’ And oh boy was he — one of the all-time greats. It just sounded so cool coming out of the announcer’s mouth.
Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza
Another one that just describes the guy perfectly. Knowing the Tazmanian Devil from Bugs Bunny cartoons, Paz’s oxygen levels were through the roof. You know he came back from near death and everything else. The guy was literally the nickname and it just stuck so well with him and his style. It was perfect. He would outwill you and just go to a level that I don’t know if any other fighter could match what “The Pazmanian Devil” had. You just couldn’t keep up with him.