Olympian Anthony Hembrick Leaves “Hollywood” for Fayetteville, NC
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 7, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Anthony Hembrick

Olympian Anthony Hembrick once known as “Hollywood” Hembrick today says he is no longer “Hollywood”. This Detroit native returned to Fayetteville, NC, having served in the US Army 1984-1992 and after completing his boxing career in 1996 for another hitch from 1997 to 2007. This US Amateur middleweight champion in 1986 and 1987 missed the “bus” in 1988 in South Korea and missed any chance of winning a Gold Medal in the second round.

Turning professional in 1989 under the management of Arnie “Tokyo” Rosenthal and being trained by Jay Wilson and Alfonso Smith, Hembrick looked like a sure fire winner in the pro ranks. He had his first fight at the Palace, in Auburn Hills, MI, stopping Ron West in 2 rounds. He returned to NC, in Concord, winning a 6 rounder over Danny Wofford, 7-1-1. He would continue his winning ways in Atlantic City, NJ, Fayetteville, NC, and NY before fighting for the USA MI State light heavyweight title stopping veteran Darryl Spain in 4 rounds.

In his ninth fight Hembrick defeated Matthew Brooks, 8-1, in Santa Monica, CA, in November of 1989, while scoring a knockout a week later going 10-0 in his first year of boxing. In February of 1990 he defeated a former amateur foe in Donald Stephens, 7-2-2, in Las Vegas. Wins over Keith McMurray, 11-5-1, Martin Amarillas, 6-2, (in Indonesia), and Lenzie Morgan, 9-1-1, improved his record to 14-0 with 8 knockouts.

In June back to Ft. Bragg, NC, where he served in the 82nd Airborne, he was shocked in losing to Booker T. Word, 16-1-1, for the vacant USBA light heavyweight title in the first round. “I guess I was reading my newspaper clippings”, said Hembrick. His dance antics before each match didn’t exactly go over well with his opponent. Word landed a right hand dropping him. Upon getting up a left hook did the same. He was out on his feet when the referee let it go on as Word came forward with a right hand ending it.

One would normally get an easy one next but he was put in with former WBA champion Leslie Stewart, 27-5, in Hollywood, FL, whom he easily defeated over 10 rounds. In April of 1991 Hembrick defeated Rusty Rosenberger, 20-6, at the Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI, sharing top billing with Tommy “Hitman” Hearns and Milt “Ice” McCrory.

A return to NC produced a first round knockout win for Hembrick before traveling to Houston to meet veteran Mike Sedillo, 22-9, and fighting to a 10 round draw. “I thought I won that fight,” said Hembrick. Sedillo was a former USBA champion and had lost a majority decision to Hembrick’s Olympic teammate, Andrew Maynard. He also lost in a title bid.

Hembrick would score 4 straight knockouts after the Sedillo fight and earn a title shot at the WBO title with Leeonzer Barber, 14-1, of Detroit, out of the Kronk Gym making his first title defense. The bout was held at the Palace, in Auburn Hills. In what looked like there would be a new champion, Barber would keep his title by split decision. “I thought it was a bad decision,” said Hembrick.

Again Hembrick would come back against a tough opponent after losing. This time it was former NABF heavyweight and current NABF cruiser champ Orlin Norris, 31-3. He had won 9 of his last 10 only losing by split decision to Tony Tucker (40-1) for the NBAF title. It didn’t seem like a wise move on Rosenthal’s part. It was just two months since Hembrick weighed in at 174 and to come back at 190 while Norris was in at 189 didn’t seem right. Though Norris was 213 for Tucker he came in at 190 his last 2 fights. “We thought he would not be as strong coming in at 190,” said Hembrick. Angelo Dundee was working his corner and admitted Norris was too strong. Hembrick took the sixth and seventh after losing the first 5 rounds and was dropped in the eighth with a strong right hand and dropped 2 more times ending it.

After stopping his next 4 opponents Hembrick was put in with IBF light heavyweight champion Henry Maske, 20-0, of Germany, in Germany. “He was tall (6:04) and very crafty,” said Hembrick. Maske had won the Olympic Gold in 1988 in Hembrick’s division representing East Germany. Hembrick would lose a lopsided decision though going the distance.

Here we go again! Next opponent was James “Lights Out” Toney, 40-0-2 whom he would lose to in 7. One really has to wonder about the selection of opponents. “I knew by this time I wasn’t the boxer I was,” said Hembrick. He would win 2 of his next 3 fights including stopping Rudy Nix, 16-1-1, for the vacant USBA title in Atlantic City. Then for some reason it was a rematch with Toney in a USBA defense. Hembrick didn’t come out for round 6.

In Hembrick’s last 3 fights he fights Sedillo whom he had drawn with, Richard Frazier who beat him in December of 1994 and unbeaten Terry McGroom. This time he defeats Sedillo, 26-12-2, by majority decision in The Palace. Draw’s with McGroom, 13-0-1, at the Palace. In what would be his last fight he would lose to Frazier, 11-2-1, getting stopped in 8. “I knew I was done at that point”, said Hembrick.

“I was with a good bunch of guys in the Army at Ft Bragg,” said Hembrick. He’s talking about Ray Mercer, Wesley Watson, Andrew Maynard, along with coaches Kenny Adams and Hank Johnson. Kennedy McKinnley would come up from Ft. Hood and Romallis Ellis a non-military boxer from GA. “I moved back to Fayetteville when I was done boxing. “They don’t call me Hollywood anymore,” said Hembrick.

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