I saw heavyweight boxer Joe Hipp break Mike Cohen’s jaw in 1991. I remember Cohen bent over the canvas spitting out a tooth. I was sitting at ringside at the Executive Inn in Fife Washington as the guest of boxing promoter Brian Halquist. Hipp was 29 for that fight. Later that evening I got to meet him and shake his hand.
(That’s Halquist on the left of the black-and-white photo below. Halquist had been working on a couple of projects involving convicted triple-killer Charles Rodman Campbell and “Seattle Arsonist” Paul Keller, people I’d represented at one time).
Joe Hipp was a professional boxer between 1987 and 2005 (an 18-year career)-- although he is scheduled to come out of retirement to fight on March 7, 2009 in Billings Montana (at the age of 47). In his professional career Hipp has won 43 (29 by KO) and lost 7 (6 by KO) with no draws.
Hipp was born in Montana in 1962 and fought out of Yakima Washington. He is a member of the Blackfoot Tribe. Joe's mother was a Blackfoot and Joe was born on a reservation. Hipp began his professional career in 1987 at the age of 25. He was the first man of Native-American ancestry to box for a version of the heavyweight championship when he fought Bruce Seldon in Las Vegas in 1995.
In 1992 Joe Hipp fought Tommy Morrison (called “The Duke" because he was a grandnephew of Hollywood star John Wayne) in one of the most remembered fights of Morrison's career. Suffering from what was later discovered to be a broken hand and broken jaw, Morrison had to rally late in the fight to score a technical knockout in the ninth round. Hipp described the fight as “A great war! I lost the first 3 rounds when he was trying his best to take me out. But then I thought-- if I'm gonna lose, I'm not gonna lose backing up-- so I stood and traded with him. But the ref stopped it. It was hard fight-- I broke his jaw, he broke my cheek bone.”
Morrison was in the 1990 Movie Rocky V with Sylvester Stallone. In 1993 he fought for the WBO (World Boxing Organization) heavyweight title against legend George Foreman (who was making a comeback) and won that 12-round decision.
Hipp became a favorite and was referred to as "The Boss" by his loyal fans. In 1994 he captured the NABF (North American Boxing Federation) heavyweight title with a points win over Alex Garcia. That gave Hipp a shot at WBA (World Boxing Association) heavyweight champ Bruce Seldon.
Hipp relinquished his own NABF title (held 1994-1995) in order to challenge Bruce Seldon for the WBA title. The 1995 title bout was on the under card of the Mike Tyson v. Peter McNeeley fight, which was Tyson’s first fight after being released from prison for rape. The fight was stopped in the 10th round by the referee after Hipp had massive swelling and bleeding on his face. Hipp and others felt the Seldon fight was another bad stoppage.
Basically, if Hipp was standing upright he wanted to keep fighting. He didn’t want to be pulled out of a fight simply because his sight was being affected by swelling around his eyes. His bravery and willingness to grit his teeth and take the pain were pure Hipp.
Joe Hipp has also spent a lot of time throughout his career going around working and talking to troubled kids. He’s helped raise money for the non-profit All Nations Foundation out of Puyallup Washington. (In 2000 an anonymous arsonist burned Hipp’s Yakima house to the ground. He has no idea who deliberately torched his home. Not even his cat survived the blaze). It’s reported that in December 2005 Hipp was a FEMA worker at the Hurricane Katrina disaster. He joined other Blackfeet who were called upon due to their experience in wildfires and search and rescue missions. In 2007 Hipp was working for his former manager Ray Frye at a Seattle area sweeping company. He’s also co-owned a small construction company.
Joe Hipp is scheduled to come out of retirement to fight March 7, 2009 in Billings Montana with something called the CBA heavyweight title on the line (Carolina Boxing Association?). He’s billed as “Indian Joe.”
"Seattle Arsonist" Paul Keller (in glasses) and triple-murderer Charles Rodman Campbell (in custody)--