Jimmy Ellis, the onetime sparring partner for Muhammad Ali who captured the heavyweight boxing championship after it had been stripped from Mr. Ali for his refusing induction into the armed forces, died Tuesday in Louisville, Ky. He was 74.
He had been treated for Alzheimer's disease, his brother, Jerry, told The Associated Press.
Mr. Ellis and Mr. Ali began their boxing careers in Louisville as amateurs, and they split two bouts as teenagers.
Mr. Ellis grew into an undersize heavyweight, at 190 pounds or so, and then had an unexpected shot at boxing glamour when he was named the eighth and final entrant in a 1967-68 tournament to crown a successor to Mr. Ali for what had become the vacant World Boxing Association heavyweight championship.
The late Joe Frazier, who was recognized as the heavyweight champion only by New York and several other states but was considered the best of the heavyweights, declined to take part in the tournament.
But Mr. Ellis won a 15-round decision over Jerry Quarry in the championship tournament final in April 1968.
Mr. Ellis successfully defended his WBA title by outpointing the former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson in 1968. Mr. Ellis lost his title to Frazier in February 1970, when he did not come out for the fifth round after being knocked down twice. Frazier died in 2011.
Mr. Ellis lost to Mr. Ali in July 1971 on a technical knockout in the 12th round for a minor heavyweight title after Mr. Ali's conviction for draft evasion was overturned by the Supreme Court.