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
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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