|Interview with Curtis Parker - Philly’s Blue Collar Fighter
Interview by Ken Hissner (March 20, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
Curtis Parker was one of those unheralded Philly fighters who happened to follow some of the legendary middleweights with names like Cyclone, Gypsy, The Worm, Kitten, Bad Bennie and Boogaloo. During that time period a California boxer named David Love was beating up Philly fighters which included decisions over Perry “Lil” Abney and Bad Bennie Briscoe. In between those fights he stopped Willie “The Worm” Monroe and Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts. When he returned for his fifth victim in 1980 he took on a young Philly fighter who had won all of his 15 fights including wins over Willie “The
Worm” Monroe (“great happy feeling” said Parker) and former WBC light middleweight champion Elisha Obed and was stepping “out” for the first time in Atlantic City. Love’s streak was suddenly ended in the 9th round by knockout. “It was on my 21st birthday. I felt I could have beaten anyone that night,” said Parker.
Parker was Pennsylvania 1976 Golden Glove champion and had hopes of reaching the Olympic trials. It didn’t happen. The following year he would win the National Golden Glove championship at 156 pounds. Willie Reddish, Sr. and Jr. were his trainers at the Frankford PAL. At different points of his career Georgie Benton at Joe Frazier’s gym and Slim Robinson at Ali’s Deer Lake camp would serve in that capacity. While at Deer Lake, Parker had the opportunity to spar with Ali.
After the Love win Parker’s streak had reached 17 in winning the USBA middleweight title with a 12 round decision over Mike Colbert (30-4-1). He then traveled to Las Vegas to meet Detroit’s unbeaten Dwight Davison (26-0), losing a decision. “He had too much reach on me though it was a good
experience,” said Parker. The loss would start a 3 fight losing streak. A split decision loss to Mustafa Hamsho (30-1-2) and another decision loss to Wilford Scypion (19-1) would follow. “Hamsho was the first southpaw I ever fought. I thought I got robbed in that fight. The business is filled with pimps and prostitutes,” said Parker. “In fighting Scypion next, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get an easy fight. I was feeling used fighting three contenders in a row without a break,” said Parker. He scored 2 wins by knockout and then a return bout with Hamsho, again losing a decision. “I just wanted to knock him out this time and should have fought him differently,” said Parker. He then started his own streak of stopping 4 of his next 5 opponents with only Tony Braxton (10-3-1) going the distance. The 5th opponent was at the Blue Horizon marking his only return to Philly.
Next he would take on an unbeaten fighter, named John “The Beast” Mugabi (18-0, 18 KOs), only to be stopped in the 1st round. “I agreed to come in at 156 which was the same weight I fought at 6 years ago in the amateurs. I’m not saying it would have made a big difference, but I was just too weak,” said Parker. He would bounce back and beat the previously unbeaten Donald Bowers (16-0-1) at the start of 1984. “I was back in my groove in that fight,” said Parker. This earned him a shot at his old USBA middleweight title against Alex Ramos (20-2-1), losing in 12 rounds. “I thought that fight was very close,” said Parker.
Parker traveled to the Forum in Inglewood for his next match with Billy Robertson (9-1) whom he decisioned. “I never saw anything like it after the fight. The fans were so excited that they threw coins in the ring. There must have been a couple hundred dollars worth,” said Parker. In his next fight he would meet fellow Philadelphian Frank “The Animal” Fletcher (18-5) in Atlantic City scoring a TKO3. A win over Ricky Stackhouse (15-1-1) by majority decision would follow. He would be off for 7 months in between each of the next 3 fights losing a split decision to unbeaten Michael Olajide (15-0) and a decision to Olympian and future champion Frank Tate (13-0). “At this point of my career it was just a business,” said Parker.
16 months passed with his only fight in 1987 a return to the ring against Philip Morefield (17-0-1) winning a technical decision in the 5th round well ahead on all of the cards. His career finished up in 1988 fighting for the NABF title against unbeaten future champion Michael Nunn (28-0), being stopped in the 2nd round.
Overall, Parker was unbeaten in 15 fights in Philly. His final record was (29-9, 21 KOs). He was your blue collar fighter who always came to fight and gave the fans their monies worth. His induction to the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame will be in May of this year.
In sitting down with fellow Ring One member Curtis Parker we discussed what he was doing now in his life.
KH: Curtis, I have to ask you something that I noticed on your record in your 4th fight.
CP: My fight with Jody White was a heartbreaker. To see him on the canvas like that. I went to his funeral and met his family. I felt so bad. It’s something it took a long time to get over. At least I think I have. (It didn’t look like it did in his eyes)
KH: Did you have any boxing heros?
CP: On a visit to Las Vegas I met Joe Louis. He looked like a bronze statue. I had sparred with Ali in Deer Lake and I really think Louis would have beaten him.
KH: I know you are working with kids when you have the time.
CP: I work with kids in South Philly. I have basketball tournaments for them. I even sometime let them box. When I see any anger in them I sit down with them and discuss it. You have to make it fun for them. I tell them to respect people and their property. The ages are about 6 to 15. I mostly work with boys but with four daughters, one grandson and one granddaughter I work with both boys and girls.
KH: You will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame this May. How great of a feeling is that?
CP: It is a great feeling to be recognized by your peers. My family including my sister who is a retired commander from the Navy will be there along with people from work. Life is a ride. The journey was great and I have no regrets. In the ups and downs I learned a lot.
e-mail Ken at: email@example.com
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