Updated date:

15 Boxing Champions With Incredible Ape Indices

Charles is a longtime sportswriter with a deep appreciation for mixed martial arts and boxing.

Legend has it that Ireland’s undefeated bare-knuckle boxing champion, Dan Donnelly, had the longest arms in boxing history.

Legend has it that Ireland’s undefeated bare-knuckle boxing champion, Dan Donnelly, had the longest arms in boxing history.

The significance of reach in boxing goes way back to the early beginnings of the sport. Legend has it that Dan Donnelly, one of the pioneers in professional boxing and the first Irish-born heavyweight champion, had the longest arms in boxing history. He was allegedly able to touch his knees without bending down. This would be impressive considering that he stood at 6'0". It was believed that this contributed greatly to this undefeated record in the ring.

What Is an Ape Index?

Ape index measures your arm span relative to your height. A common method of calculation is having the height subtracted from the arm span. Normally, the average reach of a person usually correlates with his or her height, which gives a neutral size ratio. However, most boxers have an arm span that is significantly longer than their height. The average reach of a boxer is usually 2.5” longer than the average man around his height. As such, this gives most boxers a positive ape index of 2.5". This is not to say boxing increases one’s reach. Longer armed individuals just have an advantage in boxing and tend to become boxers as a result.

Benefits of a Long Reach in Boxing

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate the importance of reach or arm span in boxing. A longer reach allows you to stay on the outside and pepper your opponent with jabs. It is an advantage both offensively and defensively because a long jab, when used properly, can set up attacks and keep an aggressive opponent at bay.

It comes as no surprise that a good percentage of the best fighters in history have enjoyed a significant reach advantage over most of their opponents. Of course, there are exceptions like Mike Tyson and Rocky Marciano. They were so good at fighting on the inside that their reach disadvantage didn’t affect them that much.

It's one thing having a long reach and another thing being able to make full use of it. At 6'3", Bryant Jennings has an unbelievable reach of 84". His ape index is a whopping nine inches. He has a reach advantage over heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder despite being significantly shorter. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to take full advantage of his reach when it mattered the most against Wladimir Klitschko.

Height and Reach

Being tall usually comes with a long reach. It was believed that one of the tallest men in the history of boxing, Ewart Potgieter, who stood at 7’2”, had a whopping 94” reach. However, this is not always the case. A good example is Canadian super heavyweight boxer Jean-François Bergeron. Despite standing at 6’5”, he has the average reach of a 6’1” man. Bergeron has a negative ape index of four inches.

There are also cases of short boxers who possess an extraordinary reach. Jimmy Bivins was rumoured to have a 79” reach despite being only 5’9”. Below are 15 champions with the most impressive reach to ever step in the ring.

Heights, Reaches, and Ape Indices of the Boxing Champions on This List

FightersHeightReachApe Index

1) Sony Liston

6'1"

84"

+11.0"

2) Hasim Rahman

6'2.5"

82"

+7.5"

3) James Douglas

6'3.5"

83"

+7.5"

4) Sam Langford

5'6.5"

74"

+7.5"

5) Steve Cunningham

6'3"

82"

+7.0"

6) Lennox Lewis

6'5"

84"

+7.0"

7) Primo Carnera

6'6"

85"

+7.0"

8) Adonis Stevenson

5'11"

77"

+6.0"

9) William Landon Jones

5'9"

75"

+6.0"

10) Larry Holmes

6'3"

81"

+6.0"

11) Paul Williams

6'1"

79"

+6.0"

12) Tommy Burns

5'7"

73"

+6.0"

13) Marvin Hagler

5'9"

75"

+6.0"

14) Charley Burley

5'9"

75"

+6.0"

15) Thomas Hearns

6'1"

78"

+5.0"

15-boxing-champions-with-the-most-impressive-reacharm-span-in-history

15. Thomas Hearns (Ape Index: +5.0")

  • Country: USA
  • Record: 61-5-1
  • Height: 6'1"
  • Reach: 78"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'3.5"

Hearns was regarded as one of the most devastating punchers in boxing history. He is the first boxer to win titles in five weight divisions: welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight.

Hearns was never at a reach disadvantage despite moving all the way up to light heavyweight. This was due to his mind-blowing reach which was close to 80”. At 6’1”, his reach was almost six inches greater than his height.

Pipino Cuevas, Jeff McCracken, and Dan Ward are examples of boxers who had problems with the tremendous reach of Hearns. They all went into their fight with Hearns giving up at least six inches in reach and were eventually knocked out.

Pipino Cuevas Had a Problem With the Reach of Thomas Hearns

14. Charley Burley (Ape Index: +6.0")

  • Country: USA
  • Record: 83-12-2-1
  • Height: 5'9"
  • Reach: 75"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'0.5"

Burley only held two titles in his career: the World Colored Welterweight Championship and the World Colored Middleweight Championship. He was the penultimate holder of both titles. Burley likely could have won multiple world titles. Unfortunately, he was never granted a world title shot by any of the world welterweight and world middleweight champions of his era. He was also avoided by many of the top white contenders. He was truly a formidable fighter and was ducked by many hall of famers, most notably Sugar Ray Robinson (regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter of all time).

He stood at 5’9” but he had a remarkable reach of 75”. He utilized his jab to perfection and was able to keep opponents at bay using his reach advantage.

Burley went into his fights with Archie Moore and Billy Soose without giving up any reach despite the two being significantly taller than he was. Soose and Moore were defeated and Moore went on to describe Burley as the greatest fighter ever.

13. Marvin Hagler (Ape Index: +6.0")

  • Country: USA
  • Record: 63-3-2
  • Height: 5'9"
  • Reach: 75"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'0.5"

It’s not a fluke that Hagler holds the highest knockout percentage of all undisputed middleweight champions. Standing at 5’9”, he possessed a mind-boggling reach of 75”. He made 12 defenses of the undisputed middleweight title and his reign is the second longest of the last century.

Roberto Duran went into their fight with an eight-inch reach disadvantage when he went up in weight to challenge Hagler for his middleweight title. Hagler was very effective with his jabs in the early rounds and Duran couldn’t overcome the reach disadvantage.

Epic Fight Between Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran

12. Tommy Burns (Ape Index: +6.0")

  • Country: Canada
  • Record: 47-5-9
  • Height: 5'7"
  • Reach: 73"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 5'10.5"

Tommy Burns, the only Canadian-born world heavyweight boxing champion, was the shortest heavyweight champion in history as well as the second lightest. He stood at only 5’7” and weighed around 79 kg in his prime. He was able to compensate for his size with his incredible reach of 73”.

When he met Marvin Hart for the heavyweight championship of the world on February 23, 1906, he was a 2-1 underdog; this was mainly due to his size. Although Marvin was almost five inches taller than Burns, there was very little difference in their reach. Burns won and went on to defend his title 11 times within a period of less than two years.

He was the first heavyweight champion to fight with a Jewish challenger and the first to give an African American, Jack Johnson, a crack at his title at a time when white boxers refused to fight black boxers.

11. Paul Williams (Ape Index: +6.0")

  • Country: American
  • Record: 41-2
  • Height: 6'1"
  • Reach: 79"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'4.5"

At 6’1”, Paul Williams, a former WBO welterweight champion and former WBO interim junior middleweight title holder, was unusually tall for the three divisions he competed in. However, what really set Paul apart was his incredible reach of 79”. Paul’s reach was a huge nightmare for most of his opponents in the ring.

Sharmba Mitchell was at a huge seven-inch reach disadvantage when he fought Williams for the WBC–USNBC and WBO–NABO welterweight titles. Mitchell struggled with the reach of Williams and was forced to fight in a style that he wasn’t comfortable with. He ended up being KO’d in the fourth round.

Sharmba Mitchell at a Huge Reach Disadvantage Against Paul Williams

10. Larry Holmes (Ape Index: +6.0")

  • Country: USA
  • Record: 69-6
  • Height: 6'3"
  • Reach: 81"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'6.5"

Larry’s left jab is rated as the best in the history of boxing and his incredible reach of 81” greatly contributed to this. He was one of the few boxers who was able to defeat Muhammed Ali.

Holmes made 20 successful heavyweight title defenses. In his fight with Jamie Howe, Holmes had an astounding eight-inch reach advantage in his favor. Holmes put his tremendous reach to work and the fight was stopped in the very first round.

Larry Holmes - Legendary Jab

9. William Landon Jones (Ape Index: +6.0")

  • Country: American
  • Record: 104-25-13-3
  • Height: 5'9"
  • Reach: 75"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'0.5"

Landon Jones held the NBA world middleweight championship. He was nicknamed "Gorilla" because of his exceptional reach. He stood at 5’9” but possessed a mind-blowing reach of 75”.

Jones was never knocked out in his career. On the flip side, he won by 55 knockouts out of 104 wins over 144 total fights. During a bout for the vacant National Boxing Association world middleweight title, Jones had a reasonable reach advantage over Oddone Piazza despite his height disadvantage. Jones won the title but lost it later that year. He also enjoyed an outrageous eight-inch reach advantage over Al Mello in his two wins over him.

8. Adonis Stevenson (Ape Index: +6.0")

  • Country: Canada
  • Record: 29-2-1
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Reach: 77"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'2.5"

This explosive, hard-hitting southpaw gained a reputation as being one of the best knockout artists in the sport. He won the WBC, Ring magazine, and lineal light-heavyweight titles in 2013.

Stevenson effectively used his 77” reach to fight exclusively from the outside. He had been able to control almost everyone he had been in the ring with. He was very good at using his long right jab to set up his left hand, which was his power punch. He employed this strategy perfectly in his fight with Derek Edwards.

Stevenson Used His Long Right Jab to Set Up His Left Hand Against Edwards

7. Primo Carnera (Ape Index: +7.0")

  • Country: Italy
  • Record: 89-14
  • Height: 6'6"
  • Reach: 85"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'10.5"

This 6’6" Italian professional boxer, who was nicknamed the Ambling Alp, had an outstanding reach of 85”. That is the same reach as Nikolai Valuev, the tallest and heaviest world champion in boxing history, who stood at 7’0”.

At a time when the average height in Italy was approximately 5' 5" (and 5'7" in the United States), Carnera was a towering giant compared to other heavyweights. He enjoyed a sizable reach advantage over most of his rivals.

When he faced Jack Sharkey for the world heavyweight championship on June 29, 1933, his 13-inch reach advantage proved too much for Sharkey to handle; he was knocked out in the sixth round.

15-boxing-champions-with-the-most-impressive-reacharm-span-in-history

6. Lennox Lewis (Ape Index: +7.0")

  • Country: England
  • Record: 41-2-2
  • Height: 6'5"
  • Reach: 84"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'9.5"

The man who referred to himself as "The Pugilist Specialist" is regarded by many to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. In his prime, Lewis stood at 6’5” and had a whopping 84” reach.

He made use of his reach during his first fight with Evander Holyfield as he kept Holyfield off balance with a long jab. Lewis out-jabbed Holyfield 137 to 52. David Tua was another boxer who couldn’t get in range during his fight with Lewis. Tua had a 15-inch reach disadvantage and Lewis dominated behind his jab. Tyson encountered a similar situation in his fight with Lewis. By 2002, Tyson no longer had the footwork and speed that allowed him to get inside bigger guys. Lewis was able to easily keep Tyson out of range with his 13-inch reach advantage.

David Tua Couldn't Get in Range in His Fight With Lennox Lewis

5. Steve Cunningham (Ape Index: +7.0")

  • Country: American
  • Record: 29-9-1
  • Height: 6'3"
  • Reach: 82"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'7.5"

Steve Cunningham, a two-time former IBF cruiserweight champion, stands at 6’3” and has an astonishing reach of 82”. Cunningham, who was a National Golden Gloves Champion at 178 lbs, has been able to take full advantage of his reach in most of his fights.

Cunningham was able to stay on the outside and use his jab effectively during his fight with Natu Visinia.

Steve Cunningham Picks Apart the Bigger Natu Visinia

4. Sam Langford (Ape Index: +7.5")

  • Country: Canada
  • Record: 211-43-52-7
  • Height: 5’6.5”
  • Reach: 74"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 5'11.5"

Sam Langford is widely regarded by many boxing historians as the greatest fighter of all time. Langford only stood at 5’6.5”, but he was able to fight from lightweight to heavyweight while defeating many world champions and legends in each weight class. He was able to compensate for his height with his 74” reach.

He was the World Colored Heavyweight Champion and was considered as one of the greatest punchers of all time. He was denied a shot at many world championships due to the color barrier. Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight champion, actually refused to fight him. Interestingly, Langford had the same reach as Johnson, although Johnson stood at 6’0.5”.

During his fight with Barbados Joe Walcott for the world welterweight championship, Langford was able to keep Walcott at a distance with his longer reach.

15-boxing-champions-with-the-most-impressive-reacharm-span-in-history

3. James "Buster" Douglas (Ape Index: +7.5")

  • Country: USA
  • Record: 38-6-1-1
  • Height: 6’3.5”
  • Reach: 83"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'8.5"

Douglas pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of sports when he knocked out Mike Tyson to win the undisputed heavyweight title. The undefeated Tyson had dominated the division for three years as he was able to pick apart any opponent that was put in front of him.

Nobody gave Douglas a chance when he was heading into that fight. The only casino to make odds for the fight had Douglas as a 42-to-1 underdog. Every other casino declined to take bets as they considered the fight a foregone conclusion.

At 6’3.5”, Douglas had an astonishing reach of 83". This was impressive for a man his size.

Douglas dominated his fight with Tyson from the beginning by using his 12-inch reach advantage to perfection. He seemingly hit Tyson at will with jabs and right hands as he danced out of range of Tyson's own punches. By the fifth round, Tyson's left eye was swelling shut from the many right jabs he was receiving. In the 10th round, the severe punishment Douglas had inflicted finally began to take its toll on the champion. Tyson was knocked out for the first time in his career.

Douglas Picked Tyson Apart With His Reach

2. Hasim Sharif Rahman (Ape Index: +7.5")

  • Country: American
  • Record: 50-9-2-1
  • Height: 6’2.5”
  • Reach: 82"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'7.5"

Rahman was one of the most devastating knockout artists to step in the ring. He had a power jab like Sonny Liston and his incredible reach of 82” greatly contributed to this.

He made use of all his natural advantages in most of his fights. He enjoyed a huge reach advantage in his fights with Tui Toia and Herman Delgado. Both Toia and Delgado couldn’t overcome the incredible reach difference; they were knocked out in the first and second round respectively.

Tui Toia at a Huge Reach Disadvantage Against Hasim Rahman

1. Sonny Liston (Ape Index: +11")

  • Country: USA
  • Record: 50-4
  • Height: 6'1"
  • Reach: 84"
  • Predicted height with this reach in boxing: 6'9.5"

Liston has been consistently ranked among the top 10 greatest heavyweights of all time. He became world heavyweight champion in 1962 and also became the inaugural WBC heavyweight champion.

Though not particularly tall for a heavyweight at 6'1", he had an exceptionally powerful physique and disproportionate reach at 84". This outrageous reach played a huge factor in him having the greatest jab in the history of the heavyweight division. He had a left jab like the pistons in a locomotive; his sparring partners said his left jab felt as if you had been hit with a telephone pole. Liston's left jab allowed him to get 39 knockouts.

Another fascinating thing about Liston was his sledgehammer-sized fists, which contributed to his 84” reach. Liston’s fists measured 15 inches around, the largest of any heavyweight champion.

His title fight with Floyd Patterson for the world heavyweight championship was a total mismatch. Liston, with a 25-pound weight advantage (214 lbs to 189 lbs) and a 13-inch reach advantage, knocked out Patterson in the first round, putting him down for the count.

Sonny Liston - Dynamic Left Jab

Honorable Mentions

FightersHeightReachApe Index

Charles Kid McCoy

5’11”

76”

+5.0”

Julius Long

7'1"

90"

+5.0”

Maurice Hooker

5’11”

76.5”

+5.5”

Nicholas Walters

5’7”

73”

+6.0”

Erislandy Lara

5’9”

75”

+6.0”

Tiger Flowers

5′10″

76”

+6.0”

Efe Ajagba

6′6″

85″

+7.0”

Michael Grant

6′7″

86″

+7.0”

Henry Akinwande

6′7″

86″

+7.0”

Izuagbe Ugonoh

6’5”

84”

+7.0”

Jimmy Bivins

5’9”

76”

+7.0”

Edison Miranda

5′10″

77.5″

+7.5"

Joseph Kiwanuka

6’2”

82”

+8.0”

Audley Harrison

6′5.5″

86″

+8.5”

Carl Williams

6’4”

85”

+9.0”

Bryant Jennings

6’3”

84”

+9.0”

Julius Long's reach vs David Tua's reach.

Julius Long's reach vs David Tua's reach.

Boxers With Negative Ape Indices

Here are some rare boxers with T-Rex arms. They have their arm spans shorter than their heights.

BoxersHeightReachApe Index

Gennady Golovkin

5’10.5”

70”

-0.5”

Gary Russell Jr.

5’4.5”

64”

-0.5”

Roberto Duran

5’7”

66”

-1.0”

Jake LaMotta

5’8”

5’7”

-1.0”

Billy Conn

6’1.5”

72.5”

-1.0”

Kid Chocolate

5′6″

65″

-1.0”

Vasyl Lomachenko

5'7”

65.5"

-1.5”

Johnny Dundee

5’4.5”

63”

-1.5”

Enzo Maccarinelli

6’4”

74.5”

-1.5”

Rocky Marciano

5’10.5”

68”

-2.5”

Ricky Hatton

5’7.5”

65”

-2.5”

Carl Frampton

5’5”

62”

-3.0”

One of history's greatest boxers, Rocky Marciano, stood at almost 5'11" with only a 68" reach.

One of history's greatest boxers, Rocky Marciano, stood at almost 5'11" with only a 68" reach.

Reaches of Other Famous Boxers

While they may not be particularly impressive, here are some reaches on some of the top stars who have come through boxing.

Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua has a reach of 82". At 6'6", one would expect his reach to be around 80.5".

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson only had a 71" reach. He went into most of his fights with a disadvantage in height and reach. However, he was able to compensate for this with his incredible speed and power.

Floyd Mayweather Jr

Floyd Mayweather Jr has a reach of 72". At 5'8", the average reach for a boxer his height is around 70.5". Mayweather Jr has a reach that is normally seen in a 5'10" boxer.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali possessed a reach of 78". At 6'3", his reach was pretty close to the average for a boxer of his height.

Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder possesses a reach of 83" and stands at 6'7". The average reach for a boxer his height is around 81".

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao has a reach of 67" and stands at ‎5′ 5.5″. His reach is pretty close to the average for a boxer of his height.

Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury is 6'9" and has a reach of 85". The average 6'9" boxer has a reach of around 83".

Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez stands at 5'8" with a 70.5" reach. He possesses the average reach for a boxer of his height.

Amir Khan

Amir Khan's reach of 71" is 2.5 inches longer than the average for his height, which is 5′ 8.5″.

Gennady Golovkin

Gennady Golovkin is one of the rare boxers whose reach is actually shorter than his height; this gives him a negative ape index. Golovkin stands at 5'10.5" while he has a 70" reach.

Floyd Mayweather Jr has pretty long arms for his height.

Floyd Mayweather Jr has pretty long arms for his height.

Longest Reaches in Boxing History

FightersHeightReach

Ewart Frederick Potgieter

7′2″

94″

Julius Long

7'1"

90"

Audley Harrison

6′5½″

86″

Michael Grant

6′7″

86″

Henry Akinwande

6′7″

86″

Efe Ajagba

6′6″

85″

Primo Carnera

6′6″

85″

Mike White

6′10″

85″

Nikolai Valuev

7′0″

85″

Tyson Fury

6′9″

85″

Carl Williams

6′4″

85″

Lennox Lewis

6'5"

84″

Sonny Liston

6'1"

84″

Bryant Jennings

6'3"

84″

Hein ten Hoff

6'3"

84″

John Castle

6'3"

84″

Izuagbe Ugonoh

6'5"

84″

Questions & Answers

Question: How long is Anthony Joshua's reach?

Answer: Anthony Joshua has a reach of 82 inches which is around 4 inches longer than the average man his height. At 6'6", one would expect his reach to be around 78 inches.

Question: How long was Mike Tyson's reach?

Answer: Mike Tyson only had a 71-inch reach. He went into most of his fights with both a height and a reach disadvantage. However, he was able to compensate for this with his incredible speed and power.

Question: How long is Floyd Mayweather Jr's reach?

Answer: Floyd Mayweather Jr has a reach of 72 inches. At 5'8", the average reach for someone his height should be around 68". Remarkably, Mayweather Jr has a reach which is equivalent to that of a 6'0" tall man.

Question: How long was Muhammad Ali's reach?

Answer: Muhammad Ali possessed a reach of 78 inches. At 6'3", the average reach for someone his height is around 75". Surprisingly, Ali's reach was equivalent to that of a 6'6" man.

Question: How long is the reach of Manny Pacquiao?

Answer: Manny Pacquiao has a reach of 67 inches which is slightly longer than the average reach for his height. He stands at ‎5 ft 5 1⁄2 in and the average reach for someone this height is around 65.5 inches.

Question: How long is the reach of Deontay Wilder?

Answer: Deontay Wilder possesses a reach of 83 inches despite standing at 6'7". The average reach for someone his height is usually 79 inches.

Question: How long is the reach of Tyson Fury?

Answer: Tyson Fury has a reach of 85 inches. At 6'9", his reach is 4 inches longer than someone his height.

© 2017 Charles Nuamah

Related Stories

the-21-most-incredible-ape-indices-in-nba-history

The 24 Most Incredible Ape Indices in NBA History

NBA teams place a great emphasis on the wingspan of their players, and some believe a long wingspan can even offset any disadvantage in height. Most of the best players in the NBA like Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo have long wingspans relative to their heights.

15-nfl-players-with-the-longest-arms

15 NFL Players With the Longest Arms

Arms are the first point of contact in an NFL game. If you can't get your hands on an opponent as a lineman because he has a much better reach than you, you're going to have a bad time. There are surely players who can succeed despite having short arms, but they're more the exception than the rule.

14-nba-players-with-the-most-impressive-hand-sizes

The 15 Largest Hand Sizes in NBA History

We look at some players with the biggest hands in NBA history. Being tall like Shaq does not guarantee huge hands. Players like Wilt Chamberlain do not have impressive hand sizes considering their height. Players like Rondo, Jordan, Dr. J, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis have pretty impressive hand sizes.

quarterbacks-with-the-most-impressive-hand-sizes-in-nfl-history

17 NFL Quarterbacks With the Largest Hand Sizes

Hand size is important for a quarterback. Nearly every play has the quarterback handling the ball, and small hands mean less ball control. Quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have shown it's possible to have success at a height of 6'0" or shorter if you have huge hands.