WHERE IS HE NOW? Brett Summers had over 400 Fights!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 2, 2009)    
From 1975 to 1985 the golden hair kid from the state of Washington was on the tube. After all when you fight over 400 fights sooner or later you will be seen, right? Brett Summers was a United States National Amateur champion at 16 in 1976. He was sandwiched in between two other top amateurs from the great North West state of Washington at 106 pounds. In 1972 it was Olympians Davey Armstrong (125 in 1976) and in 1980 Robert Shannon.

“I lost to Armstrong around 1979 and was at the Muhammad Ali camp with Robert Shannon in 1979-80. My dad brought our team the Everett Firefighters Club to fight Ali’s team and I stayed for two months”, said Summers. “We’re having our second reunion in September which will include Shannon. He was quite a puncher,” added Summers. “I fought for Brett’s dad. Brett was a great amateur. I think he was bad timing when he became a professional since there were so many good fighters out there,” said Shannon. From age 8 to 22, Summers had a 340-40 record as an amateur. His dad, Troy, was always in his corner. He has fought quite a few of the better amateurs during that period of time. “I beat Claudell Atkins (74-75 National Amateur champ), Byron Lindsey (died in 1980 Olympic team airline crash in Poland), Kenny Bogner (twice), Greg Haugen I split with in 11 bouts (6-5) from age 8 until beating him in 1982 in the districts and Mike Hess (1972 Nat’l US champ). In losing to Armstrong and Bernard Taylor I’d say they were the two best in the amateurs that I met. Taylor had over 500 fights and just a good boxer and puncher,” he added.

There were so many good fighters in the amateurs. “Joe Clough, trained Armstrong, Leo Randolph, “Sugar” Ray Seales, Rocky Lockridge, Johnny Bumphus and was one of the best coaches ever,” said Summers. “Randolph was one of the most humble people I have met,” he added. Randolph had won the Gold Medal in 1976 and became WBA Super bantamweight champion. “I sparred with Brett and he hit hard. He is a soft spoken guy. I like him,” said Randolph. “I remember fighting in Miami for the National Golden Gloves in 1976 when this big black heavyweight walked over to the blackboard and wrote ‘Michael Dokes, future world heavyweight champion’”, said Summers. He added, “I thought, how confident is this guy?” Of course Dokes would achieve that in 1982 winning the WBA title. “I lost to Frankie Randall in the 1982 nationals for slapping. I never slapped anyone in a fight,” said Summers.

“They sent me up to what they called pre-Olympics in Montreal while Col. (Don) Hull and (Bob) Surkon promised me they would get around it me being too young (16) to fight international and go to the Olympics in 1976,” said Summers. “I defeated Freddie Roach in the finals since there were not many in our weight class,” he added. As it turned out, he did not get special permission. “Louis Curtis was our Olympian that year at 106. He lost to Henryk Srednicki of Poland in the first round. I had fought the Pole over there and it was the only time I was ever knocked out. He hit me with a body shot and I should have been in better condition,” said Summers.

“One of my best friends, Chuck Robinson, died on the Olympic team plane crash in Poland in 1980,” said Summers. “He could have been a model, besides being a fighter. I told him I had been there and it isn’t worth going, but he said he was going,” added Summers. “We fought four times in a day sometimes in tournaments. Today, the boxers are not allowed to fight twice in the same day,” he added. He recalled some of the fighters from his amateur days. I helped Joe Belinc out who won his first meeting with Pernell Whitaker who was going to leave,” said Summers. The winner of the rematch would go to the Olympics and he thought Belinc got robbed. “Guy Villegas and Andy Minsker from Oregon were both good fighters. Minsker beat Meldrick Taylor in their first fight in the trials, but lost the rematch. It seemed Lou Duva had a lot of influence over the officials and wanted Whitaker and Taylor to go to the Olympics,” said Summers.

Summers, Hess and Belinc were walking through the casino in Las Vegas when Hess says to Belinc “there’s (Mike) Tyson over there”. “Tyson was about 18 and sitting at the gambling table looking like a man old enough to be playing,” said Summers. “While in Vegas I met Joe Louis who was a greeter. I also met Willie Pep and “Sugar” Ray Robinson. I got all their autographs,” added Summers.

Summers turned professional in May of 1982 under the Kronk banner. “I made $350.00 in my first fight. I threw the check down and said I quit. My dad said I would get $750.00 in my next fight. I didn’t get a signing bonus although Emmanuel (Steward) didn’t take anything out,” said Summers. In his third fight he stopped Carlos Bryant whom he lost to in the amateur’s in1980. “I was fighting (sixth fight) in Plainfield, New Jersey, against Robert Spencer, 5-5 (1), and the mostly black crowd were yelling ‘kill the blue eye devil’,” said Summers. “Next thing you know I was beating him and they were yelling ‘get him out, he’s killing the brother’,” he added. Up until then Summers had won his first 19 fights. Along the way he beat Mike Anderson, 24-7-1 (11) and James Martinez, 49-27-3 (22). In his twentieth fight he defeated Eduardo Valdez, 9-5 (3), in Atlantic City. “On four different occasions he hit me with low blows,” said Summers. “I couldn’t understand why the referee (Zach Clayton) didn’t take any points away from him,” he added. Next up the end of 1984 was Derrick McGuire, 10-0 (5), out of Michigan whom he stopped in 9. “He was tough,” said Summers. Next he defeated Joey Olivera, 11-4-1 (3), who would later defeat future IBF champion Fred Pendleton. “He was real cocky before the fight,” added Summers.

Summers had won all of his first 22 fights fighting in Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Michigan, California and Washington. It was April of 1985 and he was scheduled against hard hitting Chris Calvin, 15-3-2 (14), who was 8-0-2 (8) in his last ten fights. “I was out boxing him until near the end of the 3rd round when he scored the first of 8 knockdowns,” said Summers. “He was the hardest puncher I met,” he added. The fight was stopped in the 10th and final round. “The following month Calvin stopped Shawn Thomas (died of injuries sustained in that bout) and was never the same,” he added.

After a knockout win, Summers met Walter Sims, 13-2-2 (10), in late 1985 in Everett, Washington. “It was a bloodbath. He broke my nose in the first round,” said Summers. Despite the broken nose and getting knocked down three times, Summers went the full ten rounds. In early 1986 he would score two knockouts before meeting Jeff Bumpus, 19-4 (13) who had a sixteen bout win streak stopped by Greg Haugen by decision. This was followed by a decision loss to Vinnie Pazienza and a LTD5 to then 48-0, Julio Cesar Chavez. Though coming off three straight losses he was in with top contenders. “This was a close fight. He was frustrated and hip tossed me. The only thing the referee (Pat McMurtry) did was wipe off my gloves,” said Summers. The bout ended in a ten round majority draw with one judge voting for Summers 96-94. “If I would have gotten a point on the throw down I would have won the fight,” he added. Like a lot of his past opponents Summers either keeps in touch or runs into them. “I still talk to Jeff and we still laugh about that. He said he hopes my mom isn’t still mad at me,” he added.

After winning three straight by stoppage Summers was pitted against Joe Frazier, Jr., 17-5-3 (14), in April of 1987 in Eugene, Oregon. “I won the first three rounds and got dropped in the fourth and again in the eighth when the referee stopped it,” said Summers. That was an opponent I never should have lost to,” he added. He knew it was the end of the line. “Smokin” Joe (Frazier) said I was one tough boogey bear,” he added.

“Up until my last couple of fights Steward was my manager and watched out for me. We had a couple of $25,000 fight offers that he didn’t think were right like Gert Bo Jacobsen in Denmark. Now I wished I would have spoken up for those paydays,” said Summers. “People ask me why I quit and I tell them I had bad hands. People kept stepping on them. They think I’m serious,” added Summers

Summers started at age 8 and would retire at 27. His final record was 28-3-1 (18). “I train some amateurs and pro’s today and live in Arlington, Washington,” said Summers. “I had a car accident in 1999 and don’t get around as well as I used to,” he added. I don’t know about that but he sounded good for a boxer who averaged 20 fights a year for 20 years and may be the last of the 400+ fights boxer!

Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com

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