By Robert Coster
Jamaican boxing icon George Leslie Grant a.k.a. “Bunny Grant” passed away at his home on November 1st. He was 78 years old. Bunny fought for over three decades from the 1950s to the late 70s. He became a symbol of Jamaican identity when on August 4, 1962, he won what was then called the British Empire lightweight title by decisevely outpointing Englishman Dave Charnley over 15 rounds. The bout took place just two days before the declaration of independence of the Caribbean nation and it was Jamaica’s first sporting title as a free country.
Grant was a boxing master, known his handspeed, footwork and defense. He fought only once for the world title – the WBA/WBC jr welterweight title, losing a decision to Eddie Perkins (on 4-18-1964). Bunny later avenged that defeat on 7-25-1970, beating Perkins over 10 rounds.
Bunny defeated some of the best boxers of his era: Lauro Salas (a former world champion), Alfredo Urbina, Doug Vaillant (then ranked #2), Tito Marshall, and Manuel Gonzalez. He lost to Carlos Hernandez (in controversial fashion) and Jose Napoles, both world champions.
Bunny was an idol who drew incredible crowds in Jamaica. 18,000 people vs Charnley and 30,000 fans against fellow countryman Percy Hayles. Bunny Grant’s final tally was 52-15-5. May he RIP.