Reggie Strickland and the Barnstormers

Itís in my blood, Iím just a competitive person --Strickland

05.02.08 - By Ted Sares: Many writers have done pieces on Reggie. After all, itís not every fighter who sported a record of won 66 (KO 14) - 276 (KO 25)-17 in 363 outings. Thatís right, 363 fights!

One wire service called Strickland a "legendary Midwest campaigner.Ē Reggie Strickland just loves boxing.. Having last fought in 2005, Strickland has made a transition from boxer to a busy matchmaker in the Midwest. Reportedly, he has also joined the North American Boxing Council sanctioning body as Commissioner and Chairman of the NABC Ratings Committee

His amazing career included matches with Derrick Harmon, Hugo Pineda, Chris Rosenbalm, Keith Holmes Randall Bailey, James Butler and Corey Spinks. He also duked it out with Anthony Bonsante, Raul Marquez, Troy Weida, Joe Hutchinson, Grover Wiley, Alex Bunema Tracy Sneed, Rubin Williams, Charles Brewer, James Crawford, Derrick Harmon, Tony Menefee, Lonnie Smith, Todd Foster, Tony Marshall, Buck Smith, Syd Vanderpool, Manning Galloway, Harold Brazier, Gary Kirkland, Alex Ramos, Marty Jakubowski, Tocker Pudwill, Anthony Stephens and other too numerous to mention.

In 2002, he beat Conley Person, 1-15 coming in, by 6 round TKO. The fight was held at Farm Bureau Building, Indianapolis, Indiana and something called the vacant Global Boxing Federation super middleweight title was at stake.

But what is compelling about Reggie is the record behind the record. With a 76% losing percentage, he was a promoterís dream, for the likelihood of his losing was predictable and reliable, and if there is anything a promoter likes, its predictability. In this regard, he was a designated loser. That was his role pure and simple.

However, the real oddity about Stricklandís final slate is the excitement factor which is derived by dividing the total number of fights into the total number of knockouts. In his case, the factor works out to an extremely low 11% which suggests Reggie Strickland knows how to go the distance. It further suggests that the amount of rounds he has fought is simply astounding.

Look, if itís excitement you crave, try Herbie Hide (98%), Alejandro Berrio (97%)
or Tommy Morrison (86%), all members of the chill-or-be-chilled brigade. Reggie will give you the full number of rounds. Guys like Strickland come in and make fights entertaining enough so people buy the tickets.

He was banned in many states, but found a sanctuary in Indiana where he became notorious, if not a notorious curiousity. Benchmarked against Milwaukee's Donnie Pendelton, Benji Singleton from Charlotte, N.C. and Danny Wofford from Columbia, S.C., he was the best of the worst. He traveled the back streets in vans and cars; it was the circuit that ran from Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. By frequently fighting under aliases and crossing state borders for multiple fights in a span of a few days, these barnstormer typesy were able to beat a system that was poorly regulated at best. This was all about "Have gloves, Will travel."

Remarkably, Reggie shows few signs of wear and tear, speaks articulately, and his face, accented by a pencil-thin mustache, belies the number of fights in which he has participated. He avoided serious medical risk because he fought defensively and knew how to hang on. He also had a knack of dropping to the canvas at the slightest incoming flurry. In short, he played the role of a fighter who ensured that his opponent, the house fighter, would get another win on his resume.

Buck Smith

Interestingly, Reggieís point counterpart, Buck Smith, 179 (KO 120)-19 (KO 8)-2 in 224 bouts, has now retired having lost his last nine in a row, seven by way of stoppage. His sanctuary was Oklahoma but later he became a road warrior and fought just about everywhere. When he fought one George Jackson in 1993, his record was 147-5-2 coming in! He is in Guinness for having the longest streak of bouts without a loss (105). He knocked out the then rated Kirkland Laing in England and fought a draw with perennial contender Harold Brazier.

In one month, Smith fought 12 times in Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma. He once fought twice in one night, in different states. Buck and Reggie met five times and Smith won all five.

Others like Marty Jakubowski, Craig Houk,Verdell Smith, Dwayne Swift, Walter Cowans, Ray Menefee, Jim Kaczmarek, Jerry Smith, Wayne Grant, Bruce ďThe MouseĒ Strauss, Vernon Garrett, and Jerry Strickland (who suffered 30 first round KOs) were in or on the periphery of this middle American troupe of boxers.

Verdell Smith and Buck Smith were once part of a loose-knit group of fighters who referred to themselves as the Knucklehead Boxing Club and their claim to fame was having who logged hundreds of thousands of miles on the road. Eight times Verdell Smith faced Buck Smith and eight times he lost. Jakubowski defeated Verdell thirteen times--count Ďem, thirteen!

These barnstormers made a decent living with predictable and ultra frequent activity. Many did it by being a designated loser. We may never see their like again, and I Ďm not sure whether thatís a good or bad thing.

Article posted on 05.02.2008

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