Thirty Years Ago Today: Tex Cobb Meets Larry Holmes
Although the fight looked like a train wreck and Cosell was calling for it to be stopped, Tex told me wasn’t hurt at all…
I don’t recall any fight in history quite as one-sided as Larry Holmes vs. Randall “Tex” Cobb. In one corner you had Holmes, aka The Easton Assassin, longtime heavyweight champion with a perfect 40-0 record. In the other corner you had a cowboy from Texas with no amateur background, who had fought only 80 rounds (not 80 fights), but had rounds of life experience by the time he found his way in the ring, fighting for the heavyweight title.
To say it was premature is an understatement. The late Paul Clinite was hungry for a Great White Hope, but Tex was less Great White Hope than great white entertainer, particularly in boxing with its stereotype of gangsters who pimped out their fighters. Still, before he fought Holmes, Tex had stopped Earnie Shavers and lost a split decision to Ken Norton in 1980, and never had an ounce of leather laid on him prior to turning pro.
Unfortunately, for the most part the “pimps” didn’t care about the fighters; just about how many rounds their whores could go at the expense of how much blood they left on the canvas. In Tex’s case, it was a lot. That’s the bad news. The good news is it looked worse than it was. It’s true that Tex’s words after the fight were “Let’s party.” I know. He said them to me. He said them to two other women as well, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Let me digress and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what happened leading up to this fight. You won’t hear a story quite like this again.
It was Thanksgiving time, and a lot of the crew were cranky about being away from home for the holidays. No one was more vocal about his displeasure than Howard Cosell, who was the most annoying sportscaster I ever met.
As we were getting in the elevator at the Houston Astrodome where the fight was being held, Howard turned to Tex and said, “My wife called, and is upset that I am away for Thanksgiving.”
Without missing a beat, Tex turned to Howard and said, “That’s funny, she called me and thanked me.”
Yep. Meet Tex Cobb. My ex-husband.
Tex wasn’t going to let getting in the ring stop him from getting everything he could on the dinner table, including a bird, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, greens, and pecan pie, not to mention the table itself, along with the straws.
Tex liked his drugs. I won’t mention what they were here, because Tex doesn’t work and makes a living the best he can from being litigious. But let me say most people would have been in cardiac arrest from what he did, let alone fight 15 rounds against Larry Holmes.
Not known to me at the time, he had two other fiancés there. Tex and I were engaged; Priscilla, his long suffering girlfriend of eight years was there; and Kathy, his pregnant soon-to-be first wife was there too. None one of us knew about the other, so Tex was going back and forth from room to room, having dinner with all of us and doing things with all of us that fighters aren’t supposed to do the night before a big fight. Indeed, it was easy to forget we weren’t on vacation, and that we were in Houston for a reason.
Yep. That was my husband, Tex Cobb.
I’m not sure how he juggled who was going to sit next to his mother at the fight, but Priscilla was the closest, or so I hear. I couldn’t watch the fight past the fourth round, so it doesn’t matter. Kathy was braver than I, so she deserves bragging rights.
The day of the fight, it was the usual blend of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and several hours before the opening bell his trainers, managers, and mostly hangers-on came and got him. I suspect to take him to Kathy or Priscilla’s room, but don’t know for sure.
At the fight, it wasn’t long before my heart was beating irregularly, and we could all hear Cosell like a knife being turned in our backs each time he opened his mouth. I left for a round or two, just to get back in time to see Tex walking to the wrong corner. Tex swore he wasn’t hurt and was just confused as to which corner was his. I’ll take his word for it.
Although the fight looked like a train wreck and Cosell was calling for it to be stopped, Tex told me he wasn’t hurt at all. I assume most of you reading this know boxing and understand weight shift, and for some reason Larry didn’t have any power behind his punches. When you watch the fight again, look at Holmes’ legs. Look at him when he throws a right hand. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “Here, hold this.” At times, it’s almost like he is leaning backwards when throwing a punch. So as bad as it looked, it was, according to Tex, more like getting slapped than getting punched. I count my blessings for that, because had Holmes been on his game, it could have turned out very differently.
Tex unceremoniously dumped Priscilla and eventually married Kathy, Kathy dumped Tex after she quit drugs and had two beautiful boys (sadly, one of them was killed in a car accident), and Tex tracked me down in Nashville. I thought he should be in the movies and became his manager, and it wasn’t long before we were married, and stayed married for ten years. Then he went and ran off with a punk rocker with purple hair. How could I compete with that?
So that is the story of Tex and Sharon Cobb, Tex and boxing, Tex and women, Tex and drugs, the story of the most unique man I’ve ever known.
For all the insanity and lies and whatnot, he remains my husband in my heart, and I hope he is happy and well.
Sharon Cobb is the former Southeast Correspondent for MSNBC Online, documentary filmmaker and press writer for Al Gore in his bid for President in 1999, a disc jockey and sportswriter, a book editor and, her most insane job, manager of Tex Cobb.
She can be reached at: email@example.com