|Birth Date:||12 February 1941|
|Birth Place:||Dayton, Ohio, U.S.|
Lyle was born to William and Nellie Lyle. He was one of 19 children, and the only one to get in trouble with the law. When he was in his teens, Lyle was arrested and charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of 21-year-old Douglas Byrd in a gang fight. Lyle was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 15-25 years at Canon City State Penitentiary. While in prison, Lyle was knifed and underwent a 7 hour operation; twice pronounced dead on the operating table, he needed 35 pints of blood to keep him alive. Lyle credited Lt. Cliff Mattax the athletic director at the prison with getting him interested in boxing and changing his life. While in prison, Lyle had excelled in baseball, basketball, and football. Lyle fought on his prison's boxing team. In his first match, Lyle was defeated by Texas Johnson. However, Lyle never lost a prison boxing match again. After serving seven-and-a-half years in prison, Lyle was paroled on Sunday, November 22, 1969.
After prison, Lyle joined the Denver Elks Gym and started boxing for Bill Daniels. Lyle's first amateur victory was a third round knockout over Fred Houpe. His amateur career lasted 14 months, and he compiled a record of 25-4 with 17 knockouts. He was the 1970 National AAU Heavyweight Champion, the 1970 North American Amateur Heavyweight Champion, and the 1970 International Boxing League Heavyweight Champion. Lyle also fought on the United States Boxing Team. He lost to Russian Ivan Alexi, but knocked out Russian heavyweight Kamo Saroyan on ABC television's Wide World of Sports program.
Lyle was a late starter in professional boxing. He turned professional under Bill Daniels, with trainer Bobby Lewis. His first fight was at the age of 29 in Denver, Colorado, against A.J Staples, earning a knockout in the second round. Lyle went on to post a 19-0 record with 17 knockouts, and became the 5th rated heavyweight contender. He scored impressive knockouts over highly regarded Vicente Rondon, Buster Mathis, and Larry Middleton. Lyle's undefeated streak ended when he lost an upset one-sided decision to Jerry Quarry. He then lost to Jimmy Young in 1975, but was given an opportunity to face Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali later that year, Ali's second title defense in his second reign as champion. Lyle was very cautious throughout the fight. Lyle did not try to go after Ali and knock him out, but instead tried to out-box Ali. The fight was close going into the 11th round, with Lyle winning by a slight margin, but Ali then caught Lyle with a strong right hand, hurting Lyle badly, and then hitting Lyle with almost 20 unanswered punches before the referee stopped the fight. However, Lyle's team was not happy with the referee’s decision to stop the fight.
Lyle is perhaps most famous for his fight against George Foreman. Foreman had not fought an official match since his loss to Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle, and Lyle took advantage of this long lay-off, swarming Foreman and dropping Foreman twice in the fight. Foreman knocked Lyle down several times as well, knocking Lyle out in the 5th round after a barrage of punches while Lyle was pinned in the ring corner. This fight earned the fight of the year award, and is considered one of the most exciting fights in Heavyweight history.
Following a 1st round knockout loss to undefeated Gerry Cooney, Lyle retired.
Lyle was working as a security guard in Las Vegas when he became involved in another murder, when a man was shot and killed in his apartment. However, Lyle was found not guilty.
In 1995, and in his early 50s, Lyle decided on a comeback. After scoring a number of quick knockouts over 2nd rate opponents, Lyle tried to get a rematch with George Foreman. However, the match was never made, and Lyle retired from boxing. He currently trains other boxers.