A heavy-hitter has his final bell…
Jimmy Peau, known to boxing fans as Jimmy Thunder and holder of the fastest recorded knockout in history at two seconds, died in his sleep Thursday morning in Auckland, New Zealand. He was 54.
At the time of his passing, Thunder was recovering from brain tumor surgery at Auckland Hospital .
Thunder was raised in Auckland and won a gold medal at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games as a superheavyweight. He quickly turned pro in 1989 after not making the 1988 Seoul Olympic team.
Although he never challenged for a major heavyweight title, Thunder amassed decision victories over former title-holders Tony Tubbs, Trevor Berbick and Tim Witherspoon during the mid to late 90s and was a staple of USA network’s Tuesday Night Fights.
His most memorable in-ring moment was his 1997 knockout of Crawford Grimsley. Grimsley was stopped by Thunder’s first punch two seconds into the fight, making it the fastest in-ring knockout in boxing history.
After retiring with a 35-14 (28 KOs) record in 2002, Thunder fell on hard times and was homeless on the streets of Las Vegas. He ran into deportation issues in 2008 for failing to have a valid green card, but eventually married and relocated back to his native Auckland.
Former champion and fellow Samoan Joseph Parker paid tribute to Thunder on Instagram.
“Thank you for your service to our countries, both Samoa and New Zealand,” Parker wrote. “You, along with many other greats, some passed and some who are still with us today, paved the way for us up and coming fighters to be seen and heard on a international scale, so for that THANK YOU.”