|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - November 12, 2015
Philly middleweight Curtis Parker enters the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame tonight at the annual induction banquet at the Venetian in Garfield, NJ. Along with Parker, two other locals will be honored. Deceased trainer Bouie Fisher and referee/judge George Hill are on the list of fourteen inductees that also includes Micky Ward, John Brown, Valentin Contreras, Bill Johnson, Andre Kut, Daryl Peoples, Mark Taffet, Dave Weinberg, Kevin Smith, Harry Wiley and Donald Trump.
Born March 9, 1959, Curtis Parker hails from the Frankford section of Philadelphia. He began his athletic life playing high school football, and earned the nickname of “Mr. Softee”, thanks to his good nature and lack of killer instinct on the gridiron field. However, that nickname was never considered for the aggressive battler during his fine boxing career.
Parker started boxing at the Frankford PAL under the guidance of legendary trainer Willie Reddish. In time, he became a celebrated amateur. In 1976, he won the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves at 156 pounds. He moved on to the National Golden Gloves tournament later that year, but lost in the semi-finals. The following year (1977), Parker repeated as PA Golden Gloves champ, and went on to win the 156-pound National Golden Gloves Championship.
At 18 years of age, Curtis turned professional on December 6, 1977, with a 1st round KO over Frank Williams at the Blue Horizon. It was the start of an excellent professional run.
Parker was described many times as a middleweight version of Joe Frazier, and the label fit him well. Fighting out of a crouch, bobbing and weaving his way in, Curtis was always moving forward and constantly throwing punches. With his hard-pressing style, Parker was exciting to watch and always entertained the demanding Philly and Atlantic City fight fans.
Parker reeled off 17 straight victories to start his career. His streak included wins over Willie “The Worm” Monroe (W10), Elisha Obed (TKO7), Willie Warren (KO5), Gary Guiden (TKO5), and Mike Colbert (W12).
In 1980, during that initial undefeated stretch, Parker faced California middleweight, and big-time Philly-killer, David Love, in a scheduled 12-round bout in Atlantic City. Up to that point, Love had defeated every single Philadelphia fighter he had faced, including Bennie Briscoe, Willie Monroe, Boogaloo Watts, and Perry Abney. However, Love’s impressive streak finally came to an end against Parker. Curtis celebrated his 21st birthday that day with a ninth round knockout of David Love. With the win, Parker also became the USBA middleweight champion.
Parker was a popular ring attraction at Philadelphia’s Spectrum and Blue Horizon. He easily transitioned over to Atlantic City, when the East Coast casino scene became the rage in boxing, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Parker fought in Atlantic City seventeen times (more than any other city) and once in McAfee, NJ. Curtis made numerous national television appearances to further build his fan base.
Parker’s busy, old-school style not only made him a fan favorite, it also brought him to the brink of a world championship fight with Marvelous Marvin Hagler. However, a three fight slide against Dwight Davidson, Mustafa Hamsho and Wilford Scypion in 1980-81, dashed his hopes of fighting for the world middleweight title.
Parker rebounded with several more wins against the likes of Jerry Holly and Tony Braxton. However, another points loss to old rival Hamsho slowed a second climb toward the title.
In the final chapter of his career, Parker beat Ricky Stackhouse (W10), unbeaten Phillip Morefield (TW5), and in an all-Philly slugfest, stopped Frank “The Animal” Fletcher (TKO3).
Between 1977 and 1988, Parker compiled an overall career record of 29-9, with 21 KOs.
Growing up, Parker’s ring idols were Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis. During his career, Curtis managed to cross paths with both of his heroes. He once met the legendary ‘The Brown Bomber’ while fighting in Las Vegas. Prior to that, Parker had an opportunity to spar with Muhammad Ali, at his Deer Lake training camp. Both memories are atop Parker’s own list of career highlights.
Curtis also found great success outside of the boxing ring. He is the father of four girls and has eight grandchildren. Today he lives in South Philly with his partner Barbara Martin and works for the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.
In 2008, Parker entered the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame, and is currently an active member of the Veteran Boxers Association (VBA) Ring One in Philadelphia.
Congratulations to Curtis, George, Bouie, and the rest of this year's inductees.