Ibar “The Sailor” Arrington

By Ted Sares on February 4, 2014
Ibar “The Sailor” Arrington
“I should be dead,” said Arrington. “Or if not dead, maybe I should at least be brain-dead.”

The 1970s were the Golden Age of Heavyweights, and “The Sailor” did his part to fill many a memory bank…

“I used to have people come up to me after fights and say, ‘Ibar, don’t those punches hurt?’ And maybe with the punches I took, I should be dead. Or if not dead, maybe I should at least be brain-dead.”—Ibar Arrington

“Opposing boxers couldn’t knock me out…It just couldn’t be done.”—Arrington

Dale Ibar Arrington (from Everett, Washington but now living in Minot, ND) is a born-again Christian and speaks fondly of his experiences all those years ago in the ring, but my memories of him were of a small yet Kryptonite-chinned ex-Navy champion who was strong as a bull heavyweight in the 1970s trained by Angelo Dundee. He was a free-swinging kind of fighter; a raw stand-up puncher with fast and heavy hands who gave Larry Holmes a decent fight. He wasn’t ready for Holmes but he astounded everyone with his ability to take a punch and to withstand a battering. The fight was stopped in the final round (on cuts) and it was the only fight that Arrington lost inside the distance. “It was a good fight, a close fight, a real tough fight,” Arrington said. “[Holmes] was in his prime. He was hitting me as hard as he could, and I was just smiling at him. He didn’t like that. But I was like, ‘C’mon, man, hit me. I know you can hit harder than that.’ I was egging him on. I was arrogant.” http://www.inthedays.com/lovers-of-the-truth/crazy-as-i-ever-was-a-testimony-of-a-beloved-brother-in-christ/

In some of his fights, Ibar would stick out his jaw and absorb two or three free shots and then come back with his own. That was scary to watch as his head would often snap back. Some, like Ali, called it courage; I called it Russian roulette with five bullets.

One of Ibar’s early wins was a 1977 televised TKO over the very capable Randy Neumann (31-6 going in). The bout was stopped in the fourth round due to a huge cut over Randy’s eye, but up to then Neumann appeared to be winning easily. Neumann was landing punishing jabs and moving quickly on his feet. Arrington simply couldn’t score with his punches because Neumann seemed too elusive, but then, all of a sudden, Neumann was cut and that was it. It would be a discouraged Neumann’s last fight.

Perhaps Ibar’s most startling win came against the highly touted (at the time) John L. Gardner. Gardner was 24-0 and being moved along nicely when they met in Wembley, London, England, in September 1977. In the very first round, the referee warned Arrington for slapping and told him to close his glove. He promptly complied and then proceeds to knock Gardner, a slow starter, out in leg twitching fashion. Gardner went on to have a fine career (35-4), but that one-round KO loss to Arrington is something the Hackney native would rather forget.

The Sailor ended his career with an admirable 28-7-2 mark against tough opposition and won his last two bouts. How he and Boone Kirkman (36-6), another Washington state native, avoided one another is anyone’s guess but it would have had the blockbuster sellout appeal of Bobick vs. LeDoux. Both men wanted the fight. Instead, it was just another “what if” in boxing.

The 1970s were the Golden Age of Heavyweights, and “The Sailor” did his part to fill many a memory bank. Reportedly, he is doing well today, has no signs of brain impairment, and is retired from a good government job with a pension. I hope that report is true, because he was a truly decent kind of guy.

“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”—Malachi 3:16

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  1. Frankie Duran 09:23am, 06/15/2018

    I trained at the eagles gym in the late 70’s. Fighters would warm up in the ring before starting to train, many times I would be in the ring with Ibar. How time flies! He was always very nice, and acknowledged me whenever we ran into each other. I was a middleweight.then, watched him spar quite a bit…so tough!!  Its good to hear he is doing well, I’d love to talk with him again.

  2. Mike Mackey 05:31am, 04/20/2018

    I grew up with Ibar In and out of our home and lives. Him and my uncle were best friends, Dennis Mackey. And most all of my life I’ve heard about his fight with Larry Holmes. At some point in the early 90’s I believe I was able to watch a horrible recording of the fight. There was no audio and the picture was so grainy it was all but impossible to see. But I got to sit next to Ibar and watch it best we could. Anyway I would really like to get a hold of a video of that fight. Anyone have any idea?

  3. bill emerson 05:13am, 10/26/2017

    “Ibar” and I were in the same bootcamp company to begin our Naval career back in 1971.  We had fights once a week but they could not find anyone to fight him after the 1st week.  Very nice guy.

  4. terry sayles 10:53pm, 05/06/2014

    I remember Ibar and his taunting style.  He would take your best punch and smile.

  5. Ted 03:35pm, 02/06/2014

    Dino was a very tough cat in and especially out of the ring

  6. Eric 03:27pm, 02/06/2014

    Dino Denis really must have known how to get under other fighter’s skins. He seemed to irritate Foreman, Cooney, and Joe Bugner before and during the fight with each opponent.

  7. Ted 07:42am, 02/06/2014

    Guys like Kirkman, Young Sandford, Dino, Ibar, Stander, Jeff Shelburg, Marion Connor, were all tough back then. Second or maybe third level but the talent was very deep.

  8. Pete The Sneak 05:57am, 02/06/2014

    Wow, Ibar ‘The Sailor’ Arrington, a blast from the past. Nice write up Toro, on a guy who was as tough as they came. Glad to see he is doing well, both financially and physically…And yes, as the other posters mentioned, Dino Dennis was another tough SOB…Peace.

  9. Eric 02:03pm, 02/05/2014

    Dino Denis, another tough cookie from the seventies. Remember watching Joe Bugner score a pretty convincing knockout over Denis in ‘83.  Bugner wasn’t known as a big puncher and certainly wasn’t even close to being in the same league in regards to punching power as a Foreman or Cooney. Denis was probably a bit past his shelf date by ‘83 but it still was suprising that he was kayoed by Bugner in 3 rounds. Denis wasn’t the least bit intimidated by Foreman or Cooney for that matter. Very tough individual.

  10. Ted 10:21am, 02/05/2014

    delighted you enjoyed it Prov.

  11. Don from Prov 07:01am, 02/05/2014

    As soon as I saw the name, I recognized it, but still can’t picture any of his fights.  I remember he was on the scene and known as a tough guy.

    Funny how some people “grow into” who they are.
    A poster mentioned John Denis.  The Dino Denis I knew just looked like a big, all-American kid, and then you showed me a picture from the luncheon, and damn! you are right: Wouldn’t want to run into him in a dark alley.  Anyway, these are the kind of pieces I enjoy, wish there were some Arrington clips.

  12. Ted 09:10pm, 02/04/2014

    I agree with you, Tex, and also with Mike. Ibar was a decent God fearing type and you just had to like him. He was a great all-around athlete as well.

  13. Tex Hassler 08:06pm, 02/04/2014

    I agree with Mike Casey and I am one who remembers Arrington. He always gave an honest effort and earned his money.

  14. Ted 07:49pm, 02/04/2014

    Ha. I saw Dino not too long ago at a party for Tony Petronelli in Brockton. He is very big but not fat. His lady is a wonderful gal. Very nice guy but I would not want to meet him in a dark alley.


  15. Bob 07:37pm, 02/04/2014

    Thanks for keeping these guys out there, Ted. Arrington was a tough SOB and he was mentioned in a either an Ann Rule or Jack Olson book as a local vigilante helping the cops track down a serial killer in the Pacific Northwest. Sounds like an interesting fellow. Nice surprise to see a story on him. How about a Where are They Now on Dino Dennis. I couldn’t believe what he took from George Foreman and the build-up to his fight with Gerry Cooney was exciting.;

  16. Ted 06:28pm, 02/04/2014

    That’s very true.

  17. Big Walter 05:14pm, 02/04/2014

    Any guy with the nickname “Sailor,” you gotta be careful with.

  18. Eric 03:10pm, 02/04/2014

    Looks like Arrington was at least good enough to beat a couple of title challengers from that era. He beat Terry Daniels and bested Jose “King” Roman in 2 out of 3 fights. Wonder how he would have done against the “Council Bluffs Butcher?” Seattle finally does have a world championship, only their second world title in major sports ever. One lousy Super Bowl and the commercials weren’t much better.

  19. Clarence George 02:50pm, 02/04/2014

    Always like learning about “new” boxers.  Well, I knew of Arrington…but I didn’t know much.

  20. Mike Casey 02:18pm, 02/04/2014

    Good that these guys are remembered - and I certainly remember ‘The Sailor’ very well.

  21. Eric 02:04pm, 02/04/2014

    I had read a biography on Larry Holmes and Arrington was mentioned briefly in the book. Looks like he was a decent fighter, especially considering the era he competed in. I see he also went the distance with two future world champs, hard punching Gerrie Coetzee, and cruiserweight champ Marvin Camel.

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