We finally said goodbye to former boxing great Jimmy Bivins this past Saturday. There were less than 100 people in Liberty Hill Baptist Church at E. 82nd and Euclid Ave. because of the confusion caused by Jimmy’s nutty daughter, Josetta Banks, who cancelled his wake and earlier funeral. Many people missed the notice when it was rescheduled.
“But his true friends were there,” said Jerry Fitch, Bivins’ biographer. Fitch’s updated edition of the Bivins biography will be out this fall.
James L. Bivins was 92. He was never a champion, but he defeated five light heavyweight champions who held the crown from the 1930s to the ’50s. In its boxing heyday, Cleveland turned out some great fighters, including featherweight champion Johnny Kilbane and light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim. Many others from Cleveland fought on the world stage. Jimmy Bivins stood right up there on the podium with them.
When his boxing career was over, Jimmy coached kids in the sweet science and he went to work. He drove a bread truck for Laub’s Bakery and a pretzel truck for Dan Dee until well past retirement age.
By the way, I thought it was interesting that three of the greatest athletes who grew up in Cleveland came from the same neighborhood on Cleveland’s near East Side — Jesse Owens, Harrison Dillard and Jimmy Bivins.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned.