Henry Milligan

Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Milligan (born September 16, 1958 in Camden, NJ) is a retired professional boxer from the United States. His highest achievement came in amateur boxing, when he was ranked #9 heavyweight in the world by the AIBA in February 1984 (being the only American to get into the dozen,)[1] prior to his knockout loss in the hands of young Michael Tyson, then a relatively unknown to the world boxer from Catskill, New York.[2]

School sports

Milligan was a 1981 graduate of Princeton University. He was a defensive back in football, a third baseman in baseball and a wrestler who often wrestled in the highest weight class, despite being only about 5-11, 185 (he would frequently wrestle and defeat 250-pounders, and once wrestled and defeated a 325-pounder in the NCAAs). Milligan earned ten varsity letters, an all-time University record. He was an All American in wrestling and was Princeton's 1981 Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year, which is the University's highest undergraduate honor. He later earned an M.B.A. degree from New York University.

The New York Mets offered him a minor league contract after his college graduation from Princeton.

Prior to his college graduation, he never boxed competitively, nor did he even train as a boxer. He claims that the only boxing he did before graduating from college was with his brother Mike in their parents' basement when growing up, in which they used rags to cover their hands.

He went to A.I. du Pont High School in Greenville, Delaware. Milligan is now the head coach of the Varsity wrestling team at Wilmington Christian School in Hockessin, Delaware.

Amateur career

After college, Milligan worked as an engineer at the Edgemoor Power Plant of Delmarva Power and Light Company in Wilmington, Delaware, not far from where he grew up. At that time, he decided to try his hand at boxing. For that reason he came to Wilmington's West Center City Warriors, where he was trained by John Thornton.

Despite having no prior background in boxing, Milligan had an outstanding amateur career, and in 1983 he won the National AAU Heavyweight Championship. Being a white, Ivy League educated boxer attracted a lot of attention to him, and he was featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles nationwide, including People Magazine and Sports Illustrated.[3] He also defeated Henry Tillman, the 1984 Olympic Heavyweight Gold Medalist, in the 1983 National finals in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

He entered the 1984 U.S. Olympic trials seeded first in the 201 pound class, despite weighing only 184 pounds, but lost in the semi-finals to 17-year-old Mike Tyson on June 9, 1984. Milligan was leading on points when Tyson stopped him in the second round.

His manager was Charlie Messina.[4]

Wesley Watson, who lived on Washington Street before joining the Army, came to the West Center City Community Center one night and sparred against Milligan," Messina said.[2]


He ended his amateur career with a record of 41 wins (31 knockouts,) 6 losses.[2]

Professional career

Milligan turned pro in 1985 and began his career with a promising string of 11 victories, but then lost a couple of bouts, retiring in 1986. He launched two comebacks in which he fought in local bouts, and fought for the WBO Cruiserweight Championship of the World in December, 1993 in Aspen, Colorado, losing on a cut in the eighth round, and retired permanently in 1998.

Professional boxing record

Professional record summary
21 fights 17 wins 3 losses
By knockout 15 3
By decision 2 0
Draws 1

Outside the Ring

Milligan has appeared in ten national television commercials and a feature film with Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange, titled Night and the City (1992 film). He is the president of the Elsmere, Delaware Boxing Club, a civic member of the Mary Campbell Center for Disabled Adults and the Delaware Foundation for Retarded Children. In 1993, Milligan was inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame.Milligan is now the head coach of the Varsity wrestling team at Wilmington Christian School in Hockessin, Delaware.

He is a member of Mensa International, which requires that all members have IQ's that place them in the top 2% of the population,[5] and the Triple Nine Society (99.9% IQ).


  1. AIBA rankings 1984, CLIPPED FROM Detroit Free Press, 14 Feb 1984, Tue, page 42
  2. Fighting for the U.S. Army, The Morning News from Wilmington, Delaware, November 7, 1984, C8.
  3. Lidz, Franz (1984-03-19). "The Ivy's Irish Pug". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2011-06-03. Retrieved 2008-12-27.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. Milligan facing tough foe in Federation semifinals, The Nawa-Journal Papers, Dec. 16, 1982, p. 44.
  5. "Prominent Mensans". Mensa International. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
Preceded by
Ricky Womack
United States Amateur Heavyweight Champion
Succeeded by
Michael Bentt
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