Johnny Tate

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJohn "Johnny"•Tate
Used nameJohnny•Tate
Nick/petnamesBig John
Born29 January 1955 in Marion, Arkansas (USA)
Died9 April 1998 in Knoxville, Tennessee (USA)
Measurements193 cm / 104 kg
NOC United States


As an amateur, John Tate never quite seemed able to win the big title, although he was always close. He was runner-up in the 1975 Golden Gloves and the 1975 Pan-American Games. At the Olympics in 1976, he fought Teófilo Stevenson in the semi-finals and the great Cuban heavyweight knocked him out. Tate had a solid but perhaps unfulfilled career as a professional. In 1979, by defeating Gerrie Coetzee, he laid claim to the WBA heavyweight title after Muhammad Ali retired. But Tate held the title for less than one year before losing to Mike Weaver in a 15th-round knockout. In addition, Larry Holmes was the WBC champion at the time and considered by everybody as the real heavyweight champion. Tate never again had a title fight after losing his championship. He fought professionally thru 1988, finishing his career with a record of 34 wins and 3 losses.

An addiction to cocaine contributed to serious financial problems and, after convictions for assault and theft, Tate resorted to begging on the streets of Knoxville. In 1998 he suffered a massive stroke, caused by a brain tumour, whilst driving his pickup truck. The truck crashed into a utility pole, killing Tate and seriously injuring two passengers. The Knox County medical examiner stated that Tate “had been using cocaine regularly in the last 24 hours of his life.”


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1976 Summer Olympics Boxing USA Johnny Tate
Heavyweight, Men (Olympic) =3 Bronze

Special Notes