By Thomas Hauser
Kenneth Bentley is a professional fighter. At least, he says he is. And it takes courage to get in a boxing ring, so give him credit for that. But the truth is, based on his record, it's fair to assume that, when Bentley comes to fight, he comes to lose.
Bentley is neither a boxer nor a puncher. He never had a prime. His career record is 8-92-1 with 2 knockouts. In his last 61 fights, he has won once. Still, he's licensed to box by the State of Tennessee, which has hosted 34 of his last 55 fights.
Heavyweight Roy Bedwell has lost 57 of his last 58 bouts. During that stretch, he has been knocked out 33 times. It's more than coincidence that 42 of these 58 fights have been in Tennessee.
Tim Dendy of Tennessee is 0-25-1 in his last 26 fights. Jeff Bowman, another Tennessee hero, has lost 29 of his last 32 bouts. Lester Yarbrough of Tennessee has been on the losing end in his most recent 21 contests.
Boxing in Tennessee is regulated by the Tennessee Board of Boxing and Racing, which is one of seven divisions within the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. The man responsible for overseeing the sweet science in the Volunteer State is "boxing administrator" Dan Kelly, who recently replaced Tommy Patrick.
Section 68-115-207(c) of the Tennessee Annotated Code provides that a fighter's license may be suspended for "professional incompetence." But Kelly is unmoved. "There's nothing that says a boxer has to win a certain number of fights to keep his license," he said recently. "Watching them in the ring, some of these guys are pretty good. They just get outfought. Who are we to tell a boxer that he can no longer pursue his goals?"
It's no coincidence that Tennessee is the only place in the United States to host a Mike Tyson fight in recent years. But Tennessee is hardly alone in its lack of standards. Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Massachusetts are among the states that allow fighters with egregious records to step into the ring.
Heavyweight Frankie Hines has lost 119 bouts, including one stretch of 55 in a row without a victory. Light-heavyweight Jerome Hill has a 1-49 record. Hines and Hill fight mostly in Tennessee and Virginia.
And speaking of the Old Dominion state, Virginian middleweight Calvin Moody has gone through his last 33 fights without a victory. Cruiserweight Eric Rhinehardt has also found a home in Virginia. Rhinehardt has fifty losses to his credit. In one 16-bout stretch, he was knocked out 15 times.
Indiana middleweight James Rice is winless in his last 28 bouts. Welterweight Nelson Hernandez is also a regular in the Hoosier State. In his last 45 fights, he has suffered 44 losses, 30 of them by knockout. Fighting mostly in Indiana and Kentucky, heavyweight John Jackson has compiled a 4-58-2 record.
Cruiserweight Angelo Simpson, who plies his trade in Georgia, is without a win in his last 28 contests.
Iowa cruiserweight Richie Galvin began his journey through the pros at 1-1-1. Since then, he has gone 1-27-1.
Florida junior-middleweight John Valentin is 1-23-1 in his last 25 fights. Florida cruiserweight Ralph Monday has lost 15 in a row, including 12 by knockout.
Cruiserweight Robert Terrell has lost his last 17 fights; all of them in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Fighting mostly in Massachusetts, cruiserweight Jose Torres has been victorious in two of his last 43 outings. Massachusetts super-middleweight Richard Zola started his career at 2-1-1. Since then, he has gone 1-22-1 and lost his last fourteen outings.
Then there are the vagabonds, who move from state to state.
Let's start with the heavyweights. Danny Wofford has 97 losses and been on the winning end in just 2 of his last 74 fights. Gerald Moore has a career mark of 0-18, with all of his losses coming by knockout in the first two rounds. Caseny Truesdale has won 2 of his last 44 encounters. Bradley Rone has lost his last 22 bouts in a row. Eric Davis has been on the losing end in 16 of his last 17 fights. Heavyweight Willie Driver has lost 18 of his last 19 contests.
Moving to cruiserweight, Don Ray Pendleton has lost 145 times. Tyrone Mack has lost sixteen in a row.
Light-heavyweight Reuben Ruiz has won 1 of his last 25 bouts. Super middleweight Larry Kenney has been defeated sixteen times in succession.
At middleweight, Jerry Smith has lost 54 fights, including his last 27 in a row. Anthony Ivory has lost 63 times and failed to win in 23 of his last 24 contests. Hector Ramirez has won once in his last 25 outings.
Welterweight Randy Reedy has won twice in his last 40 fights, while lightweight Rick Dinkins is 0-21-1 in his last 22 bouts.
And special notice should be taken of super-middleweight Reggie Strickland, who has 248 career losses.
Invariably, when these men enter the ring, they're billed as "Savvy veteran . . Experienced pro . . Been in with top opposition . ." But most of them have crossed over the line that separates credible opponents who give a good honest effort from pedestrians in a danger zone.
From time to time, the Association of Boxing Commissions talks about the problem, but it never does anything to remedy the situation. "We wish we had the power to suspend some of these fighters," says ABC president Tim Leuckenhoff. "But under federal law, we don't. Unfortunately, a fighter can only be suspended by a state in which he has a license. Sometimes that happens. But a month or two later when the suspension expires, they're back in the ring again. And most of these guys are smart enough to steer clear of states like Nevada, which would put them on a permanent suspension list."
Meanwhile, speaking of Nevada . . . On June 14, 2003, heavyweight Danell Nicholson (who had 41 wins against only four losses) was allowed to fight Ken Murphy, who had lost ten fights in a row. Nicholson won on a second-round knockout.
Add professional losers to the list of reasons why boxing needs a federal commission.
These fighters are different from perennial losers in other sports. We're not talking about a high school basketball team that loses forty games in a row. Athletes "play" sports like baseball, football, tennis, and golf. No one plays boxing. These men are getting punched in the head, hard. They're prime candidates for brain damage. And when they enter the ring, the spectators aren't paying to watch a competitive fight. They're paying to see someone get beaten up. There's a difference.
Award winning writer Thomas Hauser can be reached at thauserthauserrcn.com
Author's Note: On Friday, July 18th, three days after this article first appeared on Secondsout, Bradley Rone collapsed in the ring after the first round of a bout against Billy Zumbrun in Cedar City, Utah, and was pronounced dead at Valley View Medical Center.