Return to Hall of Fame

Joplin’s “Irish” Johnny Copeland was a successful local amateur and professional boxer. A native of Joplin and a 1965 graduate of Joplin High School, he won multiple Golden Gloves championships in Joplin, Miami, and Springfield and was a four-time Golden Gloves champion in Kansas City. Copeland won the novice title at Kansas City in 1963 and took three prestigious open titles in 1964, 1965, and 1967. He reached the championship round in 1966, but suffered a broken hand in a semifinal victory and was forced to withdraw. Copeland reached the championship of the 1964 National Golden Gloves before losing a bid to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. As a professional he won 33 fights, including 26 by knockout. Copeland fought on the undercards of such talents as Sugar Ray Leonard and Danny “Little Red” Lopez. His pro career included losses to world champions Antonio Cervantes and Aaron Pryor. Copeland was inducted into the 2002 class of Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.