About three weeks ago I called my friend Buck Smith to see if he had any stories on fighters for me to write about; he said no, but he hooked me up with his friend Frank Rootin’ Tootin’ Newton and said it would be a good story. So I talked with Frank three or four times. His wife Melissa sent me a bunch of photos of Newton in various bouts. Then I managed to get hold of a Ring Magazine from the early eighties when Frank was one of the new faces in boxing. That story was about a page long, and it said Frank had over 100 amateur bouts and had won the Texas State Golden Gloves Featherweight title. Then I found a film that J. Russell Peltz (a local Philly promoter) had of Frank Newton fighting a draw with Anthony Fletcher of Philadelphia.
After viewing the film two or three times, you could see that Newton was the clear winner. But what really intrigued me about the fight was how the announcers were talking about Newton’s life—how years earlier he got hit by a car while on his motorcycle and damaged his leg; this led to an operation and long rehabilitation period, during which it was thought that Frank would never walk or box again. Frank, however, proved the doctors wrong. Frank had to change his style to become more aggressive, since after the accident he wore a leg brace when boxing. I was so impressed with the way Randy Gordon and Al Albert were talking about Frank and his life in general, and how he had to take several of his fights on short notice. Frank seemed to be a guy who always was in shape. He had a disputed fight with Charlie White Lightning Brown on the Hagler-Duran undercard.
Frank beat Brown so bad that everyone thought he should have had the decision. He also fought Terrence Alli, and three weeks after the Charlie White Lightning Brown fight he fought Ezra Charles Adams. Frank told me he should not have taken the Adams fight, because he took it too soon after the Brown fight. He also was the main sparring partner for the former WBA lightweight champ Sean O’Grady. Frank and his wife Melissa are still friends with Sean today.
Frank now has another fight in life to contend with. He’s on dialysis at home seven days a week, and his wife Melissa helps him. He told me Melissa is his right arm. This is why I would have to say that this man is a great inspiration in life for the knocks he’s had; he believes in God and goes to church. Frank Newton’s record was 35 wins, 26 knockouts, 4 losses, and 2 draws. Although Frank may not have a world title, I do think Frank is a champion in life that people should look up to. Here are some questions I asked Frank, with his answers.
1. When did you first get started in boxing?
Started boxing when I was nine years old at the Boys Club in Lawton Oklahoma. I would go there every day after school train and learn the sport and art of boxing.
2. I heard you were a Texas Golden Gloves champ. Please tell me about that.
When I was 18 I was a featherweight and fought in Texas and won the State championship title.
3. What's you favorite book or movie about boxing?
4. Who is your favorite boxer?
Muhammad Ali because is the greatest fighter.
5. What was it like being on the Duran-Hagler underguard?
It was different because I was approached by Don King to sign a contract and I would have made more money but I was advised not to do so, I fought Charlie white lightning brown and actually beat him up but since I did not sign that contract they gave the decision to Charlie White lightening brown,. If I would have to know it would have benefited me I would have signed that contract.
6. Who are some of the people you've sparred with?
Sean O’Grady, Buck Smith, Wimpy Hallstad.
7. What was your toughest bout?
Ken Saale was probably the most difficult fighter I have ever fought I won the fight but he was tough. Terrace Ali was a tough fighter and Freddie Harris.
8. Did you feel you beat some of the guys you lost to?
Yes Charlie White Lightening Brown.
9. Could you give me some thoughts about your boxing career, positive and/or negative?
I was really busy stayed out of trouble for a boy from Lawton Oklahoma, but I did not get the opportunity’s I should have gotten in the boxing, I was a spur of the moment fighter I never had enough training between fights. I won a lot of fights but I could have been more successful if the opportunities were given to me.
10. Do you have any dealings with boxing today?
I keep in touch with Sean O’Grady, Buck Smith but I don’t actually train or get in the ring, since 2011 I was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure and have to keep myself from getting hurt.
Please send all questions and comments to Ken Hissner at: Kenhissner@gmail.com
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