Long-time boxing promoter J. Russel Peltz yesterday broke the sad news of the passing of 1970s light heavyweight contender, the always-tough Richie Kates. Kates, who literally fought a long list of great fighters who made up a 175 pound ‘Murderer’s Row’ in the 1970s, passed away just a short time before his 70th birthday.
“Breaks my heart to report that 1970s and early 80s light heavyweight contender Richie Kates passed away today two months short of his 70th birthday. What a class guy!” Peltz wrote on social media yesterday.
Kates really was a tough guy. Born in Savannah, Georgia, Kates moved to New Jersey with his family when he was a young boy and he went pro at the age of just 16, this when using a fake ID. Going pro in December of 1969 and fighting many of his fights in Philadelphia, where he became a genuine fan-favorite, Kates remained unbeaten until October of 1972, when he was stopped by Eddie Owens.
Kates won his next 14 fights, getting revenge over Owens, and then, in May of 1976, Kates got this first of two shots at the WBA title held by Victor Galindez. Galindez stopped Kates in the 15th round in the first fight, which was held in Johannesburg, and the defending champion won a 15 round decision in the return fight that was held in Rome.
Kates battled on, not retiring until October of 1983, this after a win over Jerry Martin. Richie’s final record reads 44-6(23). Among the fighters Kates faced are – Len Hutchins, Owens, Don Fullmer, Jimmy Dupree, Pierre Fourie, Galindez, Matthew Saad Muhammad, James Scott, Murray Sutherland, Jeff Lampkin, and finally, Martin.
Our condolences go out to Richie’s family and friends.
Peltz put things best when speaking about the ring warrior he promoted: “Richie fought during what was the best era of light heavyweights in history,” Peltz said in a 2017 interview. “The current light heavyweights are good fighters, but they wouldn’t have the records they have if they were facing the guys from the 1970s and early ’80s.”