The legendary promoter and matchmaker Mogens Palle from Copenhagen, Denmark died Saturday morning (27th of August) after battling cancer for the last few years, confirms his daughter Bettina Palle.
»The toughest man I know has passed away! Despite his fragile health in the end, he fought on – strong-willed, sharp-headed and stubborn – to the final bell. He was inventive, creative and brave like few! He was unique. My father! Love you for ever,« says Bettina Palle in a message.
Mogens Palle held his final boxing event on April 21, 2022 in Copenhagen. It ended in success for his fighters, when Sarah Mahfoud defeated Nina Meinke for the IBF featherweight title and Enock Poulsen won the European super lightweight championship by defeating Franck Petitjean of France.
»After almost 65 years as a promoter, I’m calling it quits. I am very proud of what I have accomplished. I really hope this event will be a great one too. It started with a success in 1957, and I would very much like it to end there as well. At least from a sporting point of view,« said Mogens Palle before the show and added:
»I am not afraid to die. I have had a great life, and I have worked with the sport I love. I look at it this way. Dying is like falling asleep, you just don’t wake up again.«
For more than half a century Mogens Palle kept boxing alive in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The former amateur boxer started his career as a boxing promoter at the age of 23 with an event in Copenhagen back in 1957 together with his dad Thorkild, a master carpenter, and former European lightweight champion Jorgen Johansen.
Based in a very small market and a country with less than 6 million people he produced an impressive number of European champions (27) plus 8 world champions in the four major organizations (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO) including the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Ayub Kalule and Johnny Bredahl.
The already experienced Christian (Gentleman Chris) Christensen and Bo Högberg of Sweden became his first European champions in 1964 and 1966. He built up Borge Krogh and Tom Bogs from scratch and both guys became very popular fixtures and started the golden age of Danish boxing by winning the European laurels in the lightweight, middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. During the mid-1960s Palle was the European manager of former heavyweight world champion Sonny Liston and co-promoted four of his bouts in Sweden. Liston was supposed to fight out of Denmark, but the Danish authorities refused to give him a working permit due to his criminal past therefore forcing the events to be moved to the neighboring country.
Palles first world champion was Ugandan-born Ayub Kalule, who easily defeated reigning champion Masashi Kudo in 1979. For Kalule and Palle the difficult part of winning the championship was not Kalules fight against Japan’s Kudo. Representing a small country the roughest fight was with the WBA, which blocked Kalule from a shot at the championship for 23 months after he became the leading contender.
Kalule held on to the light middleweight title until losing it in a 1981 classic battle against Sugar Ray Leonard in Houston, Texas.
Over the years Palle has promoted events with boxing stars like Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Sonny Liston, Carlos Monzon, Emile Griffith, Victor Galindez, Sandro Mazzinghi, Bruno Arcari, Eddie Perkins, John Conteh, Ken Buchanan, Joe Calzaghe, and he has developed champions and stars in Scandinavia like Tom Bogs, Borge Krogh, Bo Hogberg, Chris Christensen, Hans Henrik Palm, Jorgen Hansen, Gert Bo Jacobsen, Svein-Erik Paulsen, Mustafa Wassajja, John Odhiambo, Anders Eklund, Steffen Tangstad, Brian Nielsen, Ole Klemetsen, Mads Larsen, Soren Sondergaard, Thomas Damgaard, Mikkel Kessler and many more.
The 1972 world title match between Carlos Monzon and Tom Bogs at the national soccer stadium in Copenhagen was one of the biggest sporting events in Denmark up to that date. In 2001 Palle brought Mike Tyson to the same outdoor arena, where he stopped Brian Nielsen in the biggest boxing event in Denmark with a stacked 14-bout fight card. He was also co-promoting the Joe Calzaghe vs. Mikkel Kessler super middleweight unification bout in Cardiff, Wales that drew 50,000 fans and had a worldwide audience in 70 countries.
During the 1990’s Denmark was a huge force in European boxing and two times during that decade, Danish fighters from the Palle stable simultaneously held the European title belts in three different weight classes. In 1992 Johnny and Jimmi Bredahl became the first pair of brothers to win world championships on the very same evening, on a Mogens Palle card, by capturing the WBO junior bantamweight and junior lightweight titles at Parken national soccer stadium. Johnny Bredahl went on to capture the WBA bantamweight championship among other titles later in his career, while Jimmi Bredahl eventually lost his belt against Oscar De La Hoya in 1994.
Palles own favorite boxing moment as a promoter was the Dave Boy Green vs. Jorgen Hansen bout in 1979. It was the days of Mogens Palle vs. Mickey Duff, when there were a lot of classic Danish vs. British clashes. Dave Green, who was lined up for a world title fight, had to defend his European welterweight title and was the heavy favorite against the experienced 36-year-old Dane on the 28th of June 1979 in Randers, Denmark. Hansen was down in the 2nd round. But looking for a quick finish Green left himself open being stopped in the 3rd round by a vicious right.
British TV commentator Reg Gutteridge, covering the fight ringside for ITV, enthusiastically shouted into the microphone, as Green was stopped: »It’s all over, Dave Green has lost the European Championship to thirty-six year-old Jorgen Hansen in one of the greatest turn-ups that I’ve known in boxing in 40 years. Unbelievable!«
Mogens Palle was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in Canastota, New York in 2008, but went into semi-retirement shortly after. After some years of inactivity, he made a surprising comeback in December 2015 together with popular Danish heavyweight Brian Nielsen and his daughter Bettina Palle, who now runs the Danish Fight Night promotion.
Sarah Mahfoud, born in Faroe Islands, was built up to capture IBF’s featherweight title in 2020 thus becoming the first Danish boxer to win that version of the world championship. Mogens Palle thereby succeeded in creating world champions in all four major organizations.
And with the victory for fast-handed Enock Mwandila Poulsen on April 21 of 2022 the 27th European champion produced by Mogens Palle was a reality too.
Mogens Palles’ wife, Lis Palle, died in 2020. He is survived by his daughter Bettina Palle and his grandson Christian Palle.