Published on January 13, 2012 by Casey
Joe “The Boss” Hipp is a retired professional Native American Heavyweight boxer. Hipp, a member of Blackfoot Tribe became the first Native American to challenge for the world heavyweight championship of boxing on August 19, 1995 when he fought WBA champion Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. On May 2009, Hipp was inducted into American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.
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Hipp began his professional career with a 4-round decision victory over Steve Cortez at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene, Oregon on August 29, 1987. For his second fight 2 months later, Hipp travelled to Carson City, Nevada to face Utah native Veti Katoa. The fight was stopped by the ringside doctor after Hipp suffered a broken jaw in the third round.
Hipp rebounded successfully from the defeat by notching up 3 consecutive first round knockout victories before facing Katoa in a rematch at Gardnerville Park in Gardnerville, Nevada on July 2, 1988. Hipp dominated the action on the inside with his hard hitting, banging style to take a 5 round unanimous decision.
Hipp then took a year long hiatus from boxing before returning to face Andrew Matthews on the 4th of July of the following year. Outweighing his opponent by over 30 pounds, Hipp punched his way to secure a first round stoppage of his foe. Exactly two weeks later, Hipp scored a unanimous four round decision over up-and-coming contender Cleveland Woods in what Ring Magazine referred to as “…the upset of the night” on the card for that evening.
Hipp began another winning streak (including a brutal third round knockout of Katoa in their third and final meeting) before facing Bert Cooper in the bout Cooper fought in before facing Evander Holyfield for the world title one month later. Cooper matched Hipp’s penchant for slugging with a flurry of punches of his own en route to a fifth round stoppage by referee Joe Cortez and a victory before his fight with Holyfield.
Hipp again rebounded by winning 3 consecutive contests before facing Tommy Morrison on June 27, 1992 in Reno, Nevada. In a slugfest that saw Morrison break his jaw and both of his hands, Hipp lost via 9th round stoppage after he, in turn, suffered a complete shattering of his cheekbones. Afterwards, Hipp fought once in 1993 scoring a ten round decision victory over Kevin Ford, in a rematch with the fringe contender he’d scored a decision over just two fights prior to the Morrison fight.
Hipp came back in 1994 with a set of victories that saw him earn and defend the NABF Heavyweight title. He began the following year by continuing his winning ways over Phillip Brown, a journeyman fighter who quickly retired after Hipp easily punched his way to a third round stoppage victory over him. This would lead to Hipp’s most important fight, the fight that would land him in the history books as the first Native American to challenge for the Heavyweight Championship of the World.