On the Circuit: Part One

By Ted Sares on February 26, 2013
On the Circuit: Part One
The "legendary" Reggie Strickland reportedly fought as many as nine pro fights in a month.

Much has been written about Reggie. After all, it’s not every fighter who sported a record of 66-276-17 in 363 outings. That’s right, 363 fights…

“They called themselves the Knucklehead Boxing Club. When they could find a fight, they squished into Sean Gibbons’s white Honda hatchback and drove to shows in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.”—Geoffrey Gray (The New York Times)

“As long as I come out of the fight okay and I’m able to count my money when it’s over, I’m fine…I’m ahead of where I was before I got there.”—Reggie Strickland

“I’m the last of a dead breed.”—Bruce “The Mouse” Strauss (77-53-6)

“Fighting under different names is what we needed to do, to get paid…A journeyman, that’s all you can really be coming up from here.”—Verdell Smith (45-61-3)

“The only thing that you owe the public is a good performance.”—Humphrey Bogart

Boxing Encyclopedia defines barnstormers in part as follows: “A barnstormer (or ‘barnstorming‘) is a term used to describe a boxer who goes from small town to small town, taking fights, often against local heroes, for cheap, but frequent paydays.”

Reggie Strickland

“The difference between Strickland and all of the other journeymen in the world of boxing, however, is that he appeared to embrace the status. Once asked point-blank by a reporter about what he did to train for a fight, Strickland famously replied, ‘I don’t.’”—Matt Weeks

“The epidemic of fighters getting knocked out in different states under different names every other night just breaks my heart.”—Senator John McCain (2004)

Much has been written about Reggie. After all, it’s not every fighter who sported a record of 66 (KO 14) – 276 (KO 25) – 17 in 363 outings. That’s right, 363 fights! Reggie, like many others, played the role of both a barnstormer and designated loser simultaneously. He did his losing while barnstorming just as Buck Smith did his winning. Sometimes, they barnstormed together.

One wire service called Strickland, aka Reggie Buse, aka Reggie Raglin, a “legendary Midwest campaigner.” Reggie Strickland just loved boxing. Having last fought in 2005, he transitioned from boxer to 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.

Reggie’s amazing career included matches with Derrick Harmon, Hugo Pineda, Keith Holmes, Randall Bailey, James Butler, and Cory Spinks. He also duked it out with Anthony Bonsante, Raul Marquez, Joe Hutchinson, Alex Bunema, Rubin Williams, Charles Brewer, James Crawford, and Derrick Harmon. Other notable opponents included Tony Menefee, Lonnie Smith, Todd Foster, Tony Marshall, Syd Vanderpool, Manning Galloway, Harold Brazier, Gary Kirkland, Alex Ramos, Marty Jakubowski, Tocker Pudwill, Anthony Stephens and others too numerous to cite.

Strickland reportedly fought as many as nine pro fights in a month (October 1993 and April 1994), and sometimes three fights in four days. Perhaps his career highlight occurred in 2002 when he beat the immortal Conley Person (1-15 coming in), by sixth 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.

What is compelling about Reggie is the record behind the record. With a 76% losing percentage, he was a promoter’s dream. 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 Strickland’s final slate is something I call 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 this gypsy knew how to go the distance. It further suggests that the amount of rounds he fought was eye-popping.

Look, if it’s excitement you crave, two Julians, Jackson and Letterlough, fill the bill. Fighters like Strickland come in and give you the full number of rounds and in the process perform adequately enough so that people buy the tickets in the dusty fly speck towns of the heartland.

As Russ Greenspan wrote in a neat July 12, 2007 piece titled Reggie Strickland: Boxing’s All-Time Leading Also-Ran, “It was not uncommon for Strickland et al. to compete in bingo halls, state fairgrounds or auditoriums before double digit sized audiences, for paydays ranging from $500 to $2,000; any place with a boxing ring and some metal folding chairs would suffice, as long as there was up-front cash available.”

He was banned in many states, but found a sanctuary in Indiana where he became notorious, if not a notorious curiosity. Benchmarked against Milwaukee’s Donnie Pendelton, Benji Singleton from Charlotte, North Carolina (26-106-5), and Danny Wofford from Columbia, South Carolina (17-102-2), he arguably was the best of the worst. Donnie “the Black Battle Cat” Pendelton, by the way, was Gerald McClellan’s first cousin but that‘s where the similarities end.

Reggie and others 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. Frequently fighting in small towns under aliases and crossing state borders for multiple fights (often against each other) in a span of a few days, these barnstormers were able to beat a system in those days that was poorly regulated at best. Hell, this was all about “Have gloves, Will travel.”

Remarkably, Reggie shows few signs of wear and tear, speaks extremely well, and his face, adorned with a neat Mandrake the Magician mustache, belies the astounding 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 hint of an incoming volley.

Reggie played the role of a fighter who made certain his opponent would get another win on his résumé.

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  1. Rufus Defibaugh 01:57pm, 03/26/2015

    This article is somewhat misleading. Reggie was certainly no bum or loser in any regard. He often did ‘business’ with fighters and carried alot of people, and even lost purposely to get matches that he really wanted. After all, if he was so horrible—- how is it that he went the distance with many an undefeated fighter, and even beat some of them? Hell he holds a win over a man with a 49-9 record (Rob Bleakley). Don’t let it fool you, the record. At any given time, Reggie could have beaten alot of guys who were good. It was just more financially lucrative for him (and the promoters) to come across as some loser, and then out of nowhere pull off an upset.

  2. RUFFKNIGHT 02:41pm, 03/14/2013

    MAN! Check out some of those europeans of today. So many losses and yet so few koby’s.

  3. the thresher 07:04am, 03/04/2013

    Thank you very much Nicolas

  4. peter 05:58pm, 03/02/2013

    Thresher—thank you for the follow-up site!

  5. nicolas 03:43pm, 03/02/2013

    A great and wonderful original article. Ted Sares I think, and no disrespect to anyone else, is the greatest boxing writer today. I used to really love reading your points of view on Eastside Boxing, and I think your not writing for them anymore brought the quality on that site down. I looked up Strickland on BOXREC, and the story I think of his life is more interesting when you consider his family. While he may have mostly losses, there is something very American about his story and I think that of his family as well. Movie makers, and perhaps even book writers, I think would have a great source of material to be read or even seen as a non documentary film.

  6. the thresher 02:34pm, 03/02/2013

    Wait for Part Three. Be patient. :)

  7. pugknows 09:10am, 03/02/2013

    Why no mention of non-American fighters?

  8. Tex Hassler 01:26pm, 02/27/2013

    Pro boxing is made up of more than just champions. Thanks Mr. Sares for point out some fighters who may not be known to the general public. I highly respect any one who gets into the ring for 1 fight or a 1,000 win or lose.

  9. NYIrish 12:35pm, 02/27/2013

    “Kid, you wanna go to Rome?”
    “Italy?”
    “Yeah. 500 bucks. You won’t win the fight unless you knock the guy out. And that’s not the idea. They got a heavyweight they’re building up over there.”
    (Early 70s.)

  10. the thresher 06:57am, 02/27/2013

    lmfao. He was an internet legend known as the ‘Anti-Marciano” and was aptly named Eric Crumble.

  11. dollarbond 06:15am, 02/27/2013

    I read in one of your books that Eric Crumb’s profesional boxing record was 0-31-0-1 and that all his losses were by knockout in either the first or second round.  Why fight?

  12. the thresher 05:14am, 02/27/2013

    pug, from pure research, google, box rec, my memory, and a lot of cross referencing.

  13. the thresher 05:13am, 02/27/2013

    Peter, check out:


    http://www.boxing.com/the_tacit_agreement.html

  14. Clarence George 02:46am, 02/27/2013

    Wasn’t there a Kid Sampson back in the ‘20s whose record consists of one fight, which he lost?  I guess his mother intervened.

    By the way, Mr. Thresher Shark, I hope that Sugar Ray Robinson’s first opponent, Joe Echevarria, will at least receive honorable mention:  (3-38-5).

  15. pugknows 11:01pm, 02/26/2013

    Holy shit, where do you get this stuff from?

  16. cnorkusjr 08:13pm, 02/26/2013

    I thought the majority of these guys came from Philadelphia. LOL

    By the way, in New York a few decades ago- check out Kid Samson alias Bo Sessions out of Philly, 1970’s-80’s. He made a few bucks the same way; as I am sure most of you guys can name a few yourselves.

  17. THE THRESHER 06:34pm, 02/26/2013

    THANKS MEINHARD

  18. the thresher 05:50pm, 02/26/2013

    peter, I already covered the Professor in another piece but I do refer to him in Part Three

  19. Meinhard Schmidt 05:24pm, 02/26/2013

    Thanks Ted for this very colorful article! I enjoyed it very much… everybody just focuses on the “champions” only, but guys like reggie or peter buckley are champions in their own right. guys like owen beck, echols and countless others should learn from them how to collect a paycheck without too much abuse while still being “fan-friendly”.

  20. john coiley 04:51pm, 02/26/2013

    most definitely makes one wonder how it is possible a fighter can/does withstand such abuse and still be able to walk and talk never mind leave such a worthy impression….

  21. peter 03:42pm, 02/26/2013

    Interesting article and fascinating topic. I’m going to BoxRec right now to look at Reggie Strickland’s/Reggie Buse’s/Reggie Raglin’s record!...Your next article might be to research Strickland’s counterpart(s) in England. There are many!

  22. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo (aka) Gimpel 02:59pm, 02/26/2013

    Ted Sares-Love this article because I have much more in common with Reggie and Gabor than I do with Pretty Boy, Golden Boy or the likes…his fighting stance and facial expression in the photo above (like a naughty kid anticipating that umpteenth slap upside the head) speaks volumes…he’s beautiful….long may he reign….and you too I might add!

  23. Clarence George 02:45pm, 02/26/2013

    Aha!

  24. Dimitry 02:37pm, 02/26/2013

    This is Part One

  25. Clarence George 02:32pm, 02/26/2013

    Excellent, but nary a mention of Gabor Balogh?

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