Troy Dorsey, IBF Feather and World Kick Boxing Champ!
Interview by Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 2, 2010)
One of the most exciting boxers this writer has seen in modern times is former IBF Featherweight champion Troy Dorsey. His fight with future WBC champion Kevin Kelley at the Paramount Theatre in New York in 1992 was as good as it gets. Though this writer had Dorsey ahead he lost the decision. He fought through cuts and injuries as a testimony to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

In the history of boxing Dorsey is the only boxer to hold world championships at the same time in both karate and boxing. He won his first recognition in kick boxing in 1980 being named Kick Boxer of the Year. In 1982 he started training with Casey Malone. Dorsey would have a 2-1 amateur record in boxing over a 3 year period before turning professional in 1985 while competing in numerous martial arts tournaments.

Dorsey began his fighting career in Tae Kwon Do – Karate in 1973 with his 2 brothers Brian and Rodney. After earning his Black Belt he won numerous regional and national competitions. After doing quite well as an amateur he turned professional. In 1982 Dorsey set a world record for the quickest knockout in kick boxing history winning a bout in just 9 seconds of the first round. In 1983 he became the US KICK Champ. In 1985 he won the WAKO World Championships in London, UK, becoming the only person ever to win 2 world titles at one event in both point fighting and full contact.

Dorsey’s only loss was a split decision to Felipe Garcia in his hometown of Denver, CO. “Some say it was controversial but I lost to Garcia,” said Dorsey. Just 6 months later Dorsey would avenge that loss in a one-sided rematch ending Garcia’s 8 year reign bringing about Garcia’s retirement in 1987. This was 2 years after turning professional as a part-time fighter in April of 1985 defeating Rafael Rodriguez in Gorman’s Gym, Fort Worth, TX. David Gorman would be his boxing manager. He had a good stable of fighters like Steve Cruz, Gene Hatcher and Robin Blake to name a few.

“Troy is like a brother. When he came to our gym in the 80’s he was as tough as anyone. He matured faster than any man I have watched in boxing,” said Gene Hatcher. “We would spar 5 or 6 rounds and you could have put us in a phone booth. He had a non-stop attack using his strength to wear out his opponents. The Mad Dog (Hatcher) and the Destroyer (Dorsey) were there to finish the fight. UI am glad he was always lighter in weight. Troy became the toughest man that I know because Jesus Christ came into his life. Today we both fight to the good of God’s children.” That was former WBA light welterweight champion Gene Hatcher

In 1986 Dorsey had his second fight losing on a bad cut at the end of the first round to Scott Phillips. “I had problems with cuts my entire career. Dr. Gardner who stopped the fight also delivered me. He is still working shows today,” said Dorsey. In 1987 he went 1-0-1 along with defeating Garcia over 12 rounds in El Paso, TX, in August for the ISKA World championship. He would compete in Martial Arts and boxing.

A month after defeating Garcia, Dorsey was put into an 8 rounder with Tom Johnson, 7-0, in Sterling Heights, MI., in Johnson’s home area. Johnson was a future IBF Featherweight champion taking the title from the boxer who defeated Dorsey for his title. This would be Dorsey’s first of two meetings with Johnson losing a split decision and fighting to a draw defending his NABF title.

Starting 1988 on a good note Dorsey defeated David Moreno, 8-1, in Fort Worth. He would win 5 straight before meeting Rogelio Lopez, 12-7 in Dallas. “I would get cut in the first round of a 10 round fight and was not aggressive enough fearing the fight might be stopped like previously,” said Dorsey. The bout would end in a draw.

Dorsey would fight in February of 1989 against Philly’s unbeaten Anthony Boyle, 16-0-1, who had a very good amateur background. “He was the toughest fighter I ever fought. We had each other down in the fight and Dorsey had me on the ropes when the referee stopped the fight with 5 or 6 seconds to go,” said Boyle.

In 1989 Dorsey would win the PKO World championship in Gothenburg, Sweden. In August of that year he would fight the No. 1 contender Harold Rhodes, 14-2, for the NABF title. It was August of 1989 and the fight would take place in Billings, MT. USA Network called it the “Fight of the Year” as Dorsey stopped Rhodes in the tenth of a scheduled 12.

These two wins earned Dorsey an IBF Featherweight title fight with Jorge Paez in February of 1990 at the Las Vegas Hilton. It would end up the 1990 “Fight of the Year” with Paez taking a disputed split decision. It was a fight Dorsey should have gotten the decision. A rematch would be in order 5 months later. In the meantime Paez won a split decision over Louis Espinosa and Dorsey stopped Bernardo Pinango, 23-4-3.

The rematch was in July at the same place but with different officials. The decision was different this time but still no title win for Dorsey as it ended in a draw. “I had 5 cuts in that fight. One above my right eye, two above my left eye and one under each eye“, said Dorsey. Paez went on to lose the title in his next fight to Tony Lopez. This was the same year that Dorsey would be voted Tae Kwon Do Times “Fighter of the Year”.

Dorsey kept busy in defending his NABF title in a rematch with Tom Johnson, 21-1, in Fort Worth that ended in a draw. “It was a let down not fighting for a world title and I may have gotten the draw being it was my hometown,” said Dorsey. Honest answer from an honest man.

“Paez vacated the title so the No. 2 contender Alfred Rangel, 22-6, and I fought for the vacant title being I was the No. 1 contender,” said Dorsey. After 2:37 Dorsey would finally get his championship belt as he stopped Rangel in the first round in June of 1991.

Just 2 months later Dorsey defended his title against Manuel Medina, 40-3. Medina had won 12 straight including a win over Steve Cruz, a stable mate of Dorsey’s. “I knocked him down 2 times but had trouble making weight as did he, with me running out of gas by the third round and getting out boxed the rest of the way” said Dorsey. Medina would get the decision and Dorsey’s title.

Dorsey would be inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 1991. That same year Dorsey received a proclamation key from his hometown of Mansfield, TX, and the city proclaimed August 27-31 as Troy Dorsey Week. Mansfield also awarded him the Chamber of Commerce president’s award.

It would be February of 1992 when Dorsey would fight Kevin Kelley, 26-0, of New York at the paramount Theatre. If you saw the fight like this writer did I am sure you never forgot it. It was non-stop punching for 12 rounds. Dorsey wasn’t getting the decision in Kelley’s hometown though this writer had him ahead by one point. “I recently reached out to Kelley. He now lives in Las Vegas,” said Dorsey.

In October of 1992 Dorsey would fight Jesse James Leija, 23-0-1, of San Antonio who was a future WBC super featherweight champion. “This was the toughest opponent I ever fought,” said Dorsey. Both fighters came out with non-stop punching until Dorsey was cut around the left eye. Leija seemed to be the harder puncher and even though Dorsey never stopped punching, Leija took the round.

In the second round it was all Dorsey through the first 2 minutes when Leija started to open up. Dorsey was right in there with him and took the second round. Dorsey’s cut looked worse. In the third round Dorsey was outpunching Leija but got caught with a big uppercut seconds before the bell but took the round. He also suffered cuts around his right eye.

The fourth round was more of the same with Dorsey ahead until the final minute with Leija coming on but not enough to take the round from Dorsey who had cuts under and over both eyes. In the fifth round Dorsey’s left eye was closing with blood coming from both eyes. He held his own until the final minute taking several good uppercut’s from Leija. Prior to the bell Dorsey went down to a knee by a right hand from Leija. “I took a knee due to the pain in my eye,” said Dorsey.

The referee David Avalos followed Dorsey back to his corner and halted the fight. Dorsey’s left eye was closed by this point. It was a brutal fight and a close fight with Dorsey holding an edge but considering he had a tough time making weight and with losing all the blood it was a matter of time before the fight would be stopped. “In talking with Leija while doing a story on him he said, “I hate that guy, paused (I thought why did Troy give me his number?), and he started laughing. He’s a great friend but were enemies when we fought. I later told him due to the pressure I only had about another 2 rounds in me. He asked me why I didn’t tell him that then.”

1993 was not a good year for Dorsey. He moved up to 132 and took on former IBF featherweight champion Calvin Grove, 42-5, who just lost to Azuma Nelson for the WBC super featherweight title. The fight was at the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. “He was a great boxer though I dropped him in the tenth,” said Dorsey. It wasn’t enough as Grove won the decision. “Dorsey was in great shape but he was slower and I was able to out box him,” said Grove.

Next up would be the “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya, 7-0, and the 1992 Olympic Gold medalist. Dorsey had just fought 6 weeks prior to this in France in a kick boxing match. After almost 2 minutes of chasing De La Hoya around the ring not able to get inside the long jab of his Dorsey was cut on the right eye brow. The ring physician was called in by the referee Mitch Halpern. From this pint on the rest of the round went into reversal after Dorsey pleaded to the doctor to “let it go.” Dorsey was able to pressure De La Hoya into the ropes and was landing to the body quite well.

Suddenly it looked like De La Hoya grabbed Dorsey behind the head with the left and landed a right hand. He landed about 5 punches before Dorsey again got inside driving De La Hoya along the ropes and roughing him up at the bell. While Dorsey’s corner was working on the cut they told him he’d have to take De La Hoya out in the next couple of rounds. The bleeding was stopped and they were waiting for the bell. The ring physician never came to the corner. Only the referee did.

As the bell sounded the referee Halpern waved the fight off. It was an odd and suspicious ending. Halpern was one of the finest referee’s in the business before he took his own life but he wasn’t a doctor. This writer never saw a referee stop a fight between rounds on his own. In spite of Dorsey’s complaining it went to no avail. As De La Hoya came over to Dorsey’s corner he wanted nothing to do with De La Hoya. He had to have felt short changed! It was a very disappointing end for Dorsey. “I went into the dressing room and had my bones shaved over each eye to continue being a fighter,” said Dorsey.

It would be 16 months before Dorsey would box again and it wasn’t with anyone easy. He challenged southpaw Eddie Hopson, 24-0, for the NABF super featherweight title in Washington, D.C., October of 1994. Dorsey would lose in 12 rounds and Hopson would win the vacant IBF super featherweight title in his next fight 6 months later.

It would be 18 months later in Dallas that Dorsey would be back in the ring winning a 10 rounder in April of 1996 over Hector Vicencio, 6-3. He would also be inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame.

Dorsey would travel to Denmark to fight for the IBO junior lightweight title against their Jimmi Bredahl, 26-2. Bredahl was on a 10 fight win streak. He had challenged De La Hoya in a losing effort for the WBO super featherweight title in 1994. Dorsey would take the IBO title stopping Bredahl who didn’t come out for the eighth round.

In 1997 Dorsey defeated title challenger Rudy Zavala, 25-6-2, who had stopped Ruben Castillo, 69-9-2, in his previous fight. Dorsey was inducted into the Texas martial Arts hall of Fame in 1997. Next Dorsey again challenged for the NABF super featherweight title losing to future WBC super featherweight champion Jesus Chavez, 21-1, being stopped by the referee due to swelling in 7. “Former world welterweight champion Curtis Cokes was my trainer for my last couple of fights. Changing my fight style wasn’t any help,” said Dorsey.

Dorsey’s final fight would be in July of 1998 for the IBA Intercontinental lightweight title in San Antonio. The champion was former WBC super featherweight champion Gabriel Ruelas, 44-4, whom stopped Dorsey on a cut in 6. “I hadn’t been cut since 1994. I wasn’t sure at the time whether or not to retire. My wife Leslie and I discussed it later and decided it would be the best for my family and I,” said Dorsey.

Dorsey’s final record was 15-11-4 with 11 knockouts. More than half his opponents were either title contenders or champions. His record in Martial Arts was 33-2 with 24 knockouts. In 2002 Dorsey was inducted in the Martial Arts Digest Hall of Fame. In 2003 he was named Martial Arts Digest Fighter of the Year.

Dorsey and his family now attend Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, TX. “I was born again at 10 (1972). At 16 I found myself following the crowd and getting involved in things I shouldn’t have. I rededicated my life in 1998 at the age of 35. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. John 3:16,” said Dorsey.

Dorsey never forgot his roots still living in Mansfield, TX, with his wife Leslie of 24 years and daughters Kendra 21 and Shelly 16. This 8x World Champion operates Troy Dorsey’s Karate & Fitness Kickboxing in Mansfield, TX. They can be found on facebook.

Dorsey participated in the building and is a former honorary board member of Jonathan’s Place which is a home for drug exposed children in Dallas. In 1997, Troy received the Outstanding Volunteer Award for Celebrity/Community Leader from Jonathan’s Place.

Each year Troy is involved with fund raisers for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Leukemia Society, Boy Scouts of America, Chuck Norris’s Kick Start Program and North Texas Food Bank. Troy is also available for public speaking on self-discipline, respect, self-control and drug and alcohol abuse.

Dorsey’s community work tells you something about this Martial Arts and World Boxing Champion and how he is doing God’s work today. In a world full of greed it’s so good to see a man of his convictions put them to work as a well respected athlete and how he help’s people especially in need!

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