Homeless Boxer Who Fought Muhammad Ali Gets Help After Documentary Showcasing His Life Goes Viral

REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

Nick Sherman Contributor
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Ruddi Lubbers, a 73-year-old Dutch boxing champion, received help after a documentary went viral showing him living in poverty in Bulgaria with his wife for the past two months.

The film shows Lubbers and his wife surviving winter in Bulgaria while living in a rundown van with no heat, electricity or running water, along with as many as 25 stray dogs.

But on Friday, Lubber’s wife, Ria, fell ill and needed to be rushed to a nearby hospital. Lubbers told Reuters that while Ria’s condition has improved, she will remain in the hospital for a few more days.

The boxer represented the Netherlands in the 1964 and 1968 Olympic games. In 1970, he went professional, and in 1973, he fought Muhamad Ali. Lubbers fought Ali for 12 rounds before losing in Jakarta, Indonesia. He retired from boxing in 1981. (RELATED: Happy birthday Muhamed Ali! He truly was ‘The Greatest’)

Lubber recalled, “Ali told me: ‘Rudi, you’re the only white man from whom I’ve ever learned something.'”

Since the documentary went viral, people have been pouring in money to support the ex-heavyweight. According to RTV Drenthe, a Dutch news site, supporters have raised £20,000 for Lubber. Cyclist Rini Wagtmans even heads the campaign. Jack Bos, the founder of the Asser Boxing Ring, raised more than £500 for Lubber.

Lubbers hopes to get an emergency passport so that he and his wife can return to the Netherlands.

“I would be happy to stay in Bulgaria, but the help I will receive in the Netherlands, but the help I will hopefully receive in the Netherlands would be much better, and I hope they will help me,” Lubber said.