Rocky Lockridge’s Road to Recovery! By Ken Hissner (July 14, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
They say you can’t keep a good man down. Rocky Lockridge knows this very well. The two division champion was well known in the early 1980’s along with stablemates Johnny Bumphus, Alex Ramos and Tony Ayala, Jr. as “Tomorrow’s Champion’s” paving the way for the 1984 Olympians who would be their teammates.
Fighting for the Tacoma Boy’s Club in the state of Washington Lockridge was trained by Joe Clough. Some of the boxers before him were 1972 Gold Medalist “Sugar” Ray Seals, 1976 Gold Medalists, WBA Super bantamweight champion Leo Randolph, 1972 and 1976 Olympian Davey Armstrong along with Brett Summers to name a few. Clough would later coach the 1983 Pan Am Games team. He recently spent five years training boxers in Thailand and last year moved to the Philippines opening a gym.
Lockridge won the 1977 AAU and 1978 Golden Gloves Bantamweight championships. He turned professional in Seattle scoring a knockout in August of 1978 and followed up with a decision win in October. From there he would go to New Jersey signing with the Duva’s. In his eighth fight he won the New Jersey State featherweight title defeating Gerald Hayes, 17-12-3 over twelve rounds.
Two fights later Lockridge defeated former Olympian Sammy Goss in five rounds. This was followed up by a win over Filipino and world title challenger Fel Clemente, 13-11-1, for the USBA title in seven rounds. Next was Richard Rozelle, 21-3, who was coming off a loss to Salvatore Sanchez. Lockridge scored a second round knockout. His record was 16-0 when he got his first title bout with Panama’s Eusebio Pedroza, 27-3, for his WBA featherweight title in McAfee, NJ, October of 1980. “Pedroza was one of the dirtiest boxers I ever met,” said Lockridge. After fifteen rounds came the announcement of those two dreaded words when you think you were the winner, “split decision”. “Pedroza was far from what I anticipated. Maybe I had the edge,” said Lockridge. Only Harold Lederman of the US gave Lockridge the edge at 144-142. Lockridge only came in at 122 ½ which is the super bantamweight limit and his lowest weight since turning professional.
Lockridge would follow up with four more wins before being stopped for the only time in his fifty-three bout career by Juan LaPorte, 17-2, for Lockridge’s USBA title. This was to see who would fight Pedroza. LaPorte would lose to him but shortly thereafter take the WBC title. “He was the hardest hitter of all the fighters I met,” said Lockridge. This was August of 1981.
Lockridge would win nine straight, seven by knockout, before getting his rematch with Pedroza in San Remo, Italy, in April of 1983. The outcome was the same with two of the judges giving Pedroza the fight by one point. “He was tougher this time,” said Lockridge. In September he defeated the former WBC Super featherweight champion from Uganda Cornelius Boza Edwards, 38-4, in Las Vegas. Edwards had just lost to Bobby Chacon in his previous fight attempting to get his title back.
In February of 1984 Lockridge defeated WBA Super featherweight champion Roger “Black Mamba” Mayweather with a crushing right hand in the first round in Beaumont, TX. “I was surprised he went out that fast,” said Lockridge. He would defend his title in of all places Anchorage, Alaska, in June stopping OPBF champion Tac-Jin Moon, 23-1-1, of South Korea, in eleven rounds.
Lockridge’s next two fights were in Italy, with the first a non-title bout followed up by a title defense against Tunisian Kamel Bou-Ali, 17-1-1, of Italy. Lockridge won in the sixth round when Bou-Ali’s corner threw in the towel. Bou-Ali would go on to win the WBO Super featherweight title. Lockridge would go to Puerto Rico to meet one of their all time great’s Wilfredo Gomez, 41-2-1, who in his previous fight lost his WBC title to Azuma Nelson by stoppage in eleven rounds. “I don’t know why my management had me go there since I had the title,” said Lockridge. All four officials including the referee were Latino’s! It was a very bad decision with Gomez winning by a majority decision and taking the title. Gomez would defend his title and lose it without giving Lockridge a rematch.
In 1986 Lockridge would win his next two fights before getting an “opportunity” to fight Julio Cesar Chavez, 52-0, for his WBC super featherweight title in Monaco. Chavez would retain his title by a majority decision. “Chavez was a good counter puncher, hit hard and never let him know your hurt or he would jump on you,” said Lockridge. He added he was the best boxer he ever fought.
Lockridge was not done. He defeated Felipe Orozco, 21-3, Dennis Cruz, 23-2, and traveled to the UK to challenge Barry Michael, 48-8-3, for his IBF super featherweight title in August of 1987. Lockridge was well ahead when Michael did not come out for the ninth round giving up the title. Lockridge would defend in Tuscon, AZ, stopping Dominican Johnny DeLaRosa, 34-2, in the tenth round.
Lockridge next came back to New Jersey and fought Plainfields Harold “Shadow” Knight, 19-0, in an all NJ title bout. Lockridge would easily win a decision putting Knight into retirement. Once again management decided to go into the hometown of the challenger to Sacramento, CA, meeting Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, 29-1, in July of 1988. In what Ring Magazine called the “Fight of the Year” and Lopez hitting the canvas in the eighth round Lockridge would once again lose his title over 12 rounds.
Six months later in 1989 Lockridge got a rematch and the result was the same losing in 12 rounds. He followed this up stopping Mike Zena, 16-2, in Stateline, Nevada, in the eighth round. It was a wild bout with Lockridge down once and Zena down four times. This was in the lightweight division. What seemed like Lockridge’s last fight lasted almost three years. He would lose to future IBF champ Rafael Ruelas, 28-1, in his hometown in CA, over 10 rounds. Three months later in April of 1992 in what would be his final bout Lockridge lost to future WBA champ Sharmba Mitchell, 27-0, in East Rutherford, NJ, over ten rounds.
Lockridge’s final record was 44-9 with thirty-six knockouts. He was 33 years old. “I moved back to Tacoma for three years before coming back to New Jersey,” said Lockridge. After coming back for about five years Lockridge had gone through his money. The last ten years he has been through drug and alcohol re-hab’s until last year when he met Bobby Toney. He invited Lockridge to live with him for a period of time taking him to the gym in Camden, NJ, hoping he could rebound.
Through Toney I contacted Lockridge for this story and he related everything very well. He is out of his latest re-hab in Waynesboro, LA, and moved to Monroe. This writer asked him if he wanted to talk about things “outside the ring” and he said no thank you. He did say his twin sons were graduating from Howard University, in DC, and he hoped to move to Maryland and join one of them.
In talking with Toney and Alex Ramos whom I recently met at a show in Vineland, NJ, they are working on getting Lockridge to Maryland. If you go to www.keeppunching.com you will find Kerry Daigle’s website with an add for Retired Boxers Foundation which is located at: 3359 Bryan Ave, Simi Valley, CA, 93063-1403, phone 805-583-5890, and is an IRS 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation. Alex Ramos and Jacquie Richardson, the Executive Director, operate this for retired boxers from transition of their glorious days from the ring to a dignified retirement. Currently former WBA light welterweight champion Johnny Bumphus is making that transition hoping to get back to the state of Washington.
Boxing is a brutal business that has too many blood suckers in it making a buck at the fighter’s expenses. Like other athletes the boxers need guidance while boxing and have to prepare for when their fighting days are over. I’m asking everyone to join this writer in supporting the Retired Boxers Foundation and help former champions like Rocky Lockridge in his road to recovery.
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