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Ray Rodgers, of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in West Little Rock, is a former Conway High football and University of Central Arkansas football player who is internationally known as one of the best cut men in the business as well as a longtime coach and national official with the Golden Gloves and Silver Gloves, the first person ever to run both organizations at the same time. Rodgers was inducted into the Silver Gloves Hall of Fame in 2001, the Golden Gloves Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
He has boxed, coached boxing, officiated boxing and served as an boxing administrator for almost half a century, most recently as the cut man for Little Rock’s Jermain Taylor during his run toward a light heavyweight championship.
Rodgers told an interviewer in 2008: “In boxing, as in life and everything else, desire is half the deal. … I’m a great believer in amateur boxing. I think it’s one of the greatest sports ever devised. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. In boxing, you don’t have anybody to hand off to or to lateral or pass it off to. You’re on your own, brother.”
“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline. You can stand a kid in a corner and whip his butt with a paddle. But once he learns self-discipline and the desire to do better in the ring, that sticks with him all his life.”
[00:00:08] JM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show offers listeners firsthand insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of success people. Connect with Kerry through her candid, often funny and informative weekly blog where you’ll read and comment on life as wife, mother, daughter and entrepreneur.
Now, it’s time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[00:00:41] KM: Thank you, Jayson. Like Jayson said, I’m Kerry McCoy and it’s time for me to get up in your business. Before we start, I want to introduce my cohost who you just heard from, Jayson Malik from Arise Studio in Conway, Arkansas.
Say hello, Jayson.
[00:00:54] JM: Hi, Kerry.
[00:00:55] KM: If right now you’re sitting at your computer, you might want to watch us live on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. We’ve already talking to him right before the show, and it’s kind of fun to see what goes on behind the scenes and at the breaks as it happens in real-time. If for some reason you miss any part of today’s show, want to hear it again, or you want to share it, there’s a way and Jayson will tell you how.
[00:01:18] JM: Listen to all UIYB past and present interviews by going to flagandbanner.com and clicking on Radio Show. There you may join our email list or like us on Facebook, thus getting a reminder notification of the day of the show and a sneak peek of that day’s guest, and if you’d like to be an underwriter of any UIYB shows, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s email@example.com. Back to you, Kerry.
[00:01:50] KM: If you’re tuning in to this broadcast for the first time, welcome, and if you’re a returning fan, you probably know this next part by heart. But at the risk of being boring, we must repeat ourselves for our new comers, and besides that, it gives my guest a chance to settle in to their sit. Not that he needs to. He looks pretty relaxed about being on the radio.
This show, Up in Your Business, with Kerry McCoy, began as a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. Originally, my team and I thought it would speak to entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs, but it seems they have a wider audience appeal because, after all, who isn’t inspired by everyday people’s American made stories? To see people in their totality is humanizing. We all thirst to connect and make sense of an overcomplicated world, and on this show we have the luxury of time to go deeper than a mere sound bite or headline. My favorite part, we always learn something. It’s no secret that successful people work hard, but other common traits found in many of my guests are the heart of a teacher, belief in a higher power, and creativity, because business in of itself is creative.
My guest today, the legendary, Mr. Ray Rodgers, is an entrepreneur, boxer, coach, world’s best cutman, three-time hall of fame recipient, and tireless community leader having been an administrator and official for both National Golden Gloves and Silver Gloves competition.
You may be asking yourself what is a cutman, like I was asking myself that? A bad cut above the eye or on the scalp of a boxer can split open like a ripe tomato creating a stream of blood and making it almost impossible to see. This calamity can cause the boxer his fight. A cutman is the magic man in the corner administering trade secrets for healing his athlete.
The position is so important to the boxer’s success that Mr. Rodgers has been flown all over the world to aid and assist during competitions. You may remember him as the cutman for Little Rock’s boxer, Jermain Taylor, during his run toward a light heavyweight championship.
Today, Mr. Rodgers is continuing his passion for both boxing and helping young man. He’s not interested in creating professional boxers. He’s more interested in creating men of character and doing that through the discipline of boxing. Oh! Did I mention he’s funny? Mr. Ray Rodgers if fun to be around as he pummels you with humorous one-liners and jabs to your funny bone. How about that? I couldn’t resist that.
It is a pleasure to welcome to the table the legendary, hardworking, man of faith, simply known as Mr. Boxing, Mr. Ray Rodgers of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in West Little Rock, Arkansas.
[00:04:37] RR: Thank you, and I appreciate that.
[00:04:40] KM: You’re welcome. So I have a question for you. Why did the Vatican move the urinals up?
[00:04:50] RR: To keep the priests on their toes.
[00:04:58] KM: You can tell I’ve been researching you, because I saw that on AET in Special. If anybody wants to learn about you, which is how I found out about you, I was watching AET, and one of my favorite networks. They had your documentary on about you, and you tell that joke and I thought, “Oh! That’s so funny.
[00:05:18] RR: You see, I’m happier being happy than I am being sour. So what else can I say?
[00:05:27] KM: That’s it. That’s enough. Where did you grow up?
[00:05:30] RR: I never grew up. I just got older.
[00:05:35] KM: No, you did grow up somewhere. Conway?
[00:05:37] RR: Conway, yes.
[00:05:38] KM: Faulkner County?
[00:05:39] RR: Faulkner County, yup.
[00:05:42] KM: What did your parents do?
[00:05:45] RR: My dad was a pipe liner and my mother was a housewife, and a good mother of 5 children. We had kids at home eating
[00:05:57] KM: Is that why he bought a grocery store?
[00:05:58] RR: Yup, that’s exactly why he bought a grocery store, to feed my family feed his family, yup.
[00:06:05] KM: And you ate it.
[00:06:06] RR: Yes, I absolutely. Absolutely. I got so big one time I could walk down the middle of a classroom and erase the blackboard on both sides.
[00:06:18] KM: What did they call you back then?
[00:06:19] RR: Butterball.
[00:06:21] KM: Do they still call you?
[00:06:23] RR: They what?
[00:06:23] KM: Do they still call you that?
[00:06:25] RR: Every time I see someone that I grew up with, absolutely. Yeah, I wear it with a good deal of pride matter of fact.
[00:06:33] KM: You’re not a butterball anymore though.
[00:06:35] RR: No, not yet. At one time I had to let all my jockey shorts I have.
[00:06:41] KM: Jockey shorts. So your dad was a pipeline man.
[00:06:47] RR: Magnolia Petroleum Company.
[00:06:50] KM: That’s a hard job, right?
[00:06:51] RR: Yes, it was.
[00:06:52] KM: And he bought a grocery store.
[00:06:54] RR: Yup.
[00:06:55] KM: And I guess all you kids worked there?
[00:06:57] RR: Yes, we did, and my mother run it and I was kind of – Every once in a while I’d get around a Butterfinger or a Baby Ruth that I couldn’t resist. I’d help myself to it. That’s why I become a butterball.
[00:07:16] KM: Where did you get that nickname?
[00:07:20] RR: Coach Raymond Bright, that was later at State Teachers College was my junior high school football – I played football six years, three years in junior high and three years at Conway High School. When I was in the 7th grade, mom and dad had just bought that grocery store and I thought I died and gone to heaven. I had a Butterfinger and a Baby Ruth in my hand all the time. So I blew up a little bit and Coach Bright – I was running laps one day and Coach Bright said, “Here comes old butterball,” and I was in the 7th grade and it’s still with me. All my friends still call me that. I see them – That’s been 70 years and they still say, “Here comes old butterball.”
[00:08:10] KM: So you started boxing though. You played football, but how did you end up in boxing?
[00:08:16] RR: Well, I started boxing when I was in the 5th grade at Tecumseh, Oklahoma. I lettered in high school boxing when I was in the 5th grade and I just got addicted to it. I don’t like that word, addicted, but I got hooked on it and started boxing in 1947 and I’ve been at it ever since.
[00:08:38] KM: You said in Oklahoma, but you lived in Conway, Arkansas.
[00:08:40] RR: No. We lived in Tecumseh, Oklahoma before – See, dad worked for the pipeline and it moved from Texas all the way to Illinois, and there’s a pump station – If you know where Enola, Arkansas is. There’s a pump station out by Enola that that’s what got us in Arkansas. Daddy worked for Mobil Oil 49 years and they transferred us to Arkansas.
[00:09:12] KM: You stayed there.
[00:09:13] RR: Everything – Yeah, I’m an Arki.
[00:09:16] KM: So you started boxing in Oklahoma when you lived there and you were really good at it in the 5th grade. Then you moved to –
[00:09:22] RR: I lettered – I lettered in high school boxing.
[00:09:24] KM: So you played football and boxing, and you boxed.
[00:09:26] RR: All the way through high school, and I kept on boxing, and I went to college. I was too little to play football. There were some guys there, their neck looked like just too big, this big. So I was just smart enough to pass the grades in college, but smart enough not to play football. Brutes – They’re brutes.
[00:09:53] KM: But you boxed in college?
[00:09:54] RR: Yeah! Oh yeah.
[00:09:55] KM: I don’t know. That doesn’t seem – You mean you’re boxing, it seems pretty serious.
[00:10:00] RR: My left jab was good that the judges in boxing thought that the other guy was sucking my thumb.
[00:10:09] KM: So in 1959 you joined – When did you graduate from college?
[00:10:14] RR: 1960.
[00:10:15] KM: But in 1959 you joined the army.
[00:10:18] RR: That’s true.
[00:10:19] KM: How did that work out?
[00:10:20] RR: Well –
[00:10:21] KM: So you’re in college.
[00:10:21] RR: I went in for six months. I had a 6-year obligation. I went in for 6 months. I left in June. Got home in December, went back to college in January and finished in July or August. Yup.
[00:10:36] KM: Then you went into the army –
[00:10:39] RR: 1959 – At that time –
[00:10:41] KM: Was that Vietnam? That wasn’t Vietnam yet, was it?
[00:10:43] RR: No. No. No, that was –
[00:10:45] KM: That was way before.
[00:10:46] RR: Early, early. But you had to have 6 months active duty. I was at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and after basic training I went to Fort Dix, New Jersey. Then after that, I had a 6-year obligation. Actually, I had a 6-year obligation, but I ended up spending 25 years between the Army and the National Guard, yup.
[00:11:15] KM: So you’re a veteran.
[00:11:16] RR: I am.
[00:11:16] KM: Your position, tank commander, platoon sergeant.
[00:11:19] RR: I was a platoon sergeant and a tank commander, yup.
[00:11:23] KM: And then you went into the National Guard when you got home.
[00:11:25] RR: Yup.
[00:11:26] KM: This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with boxing coach and the world’s best cutman, the legendary, Mr. Ray Rodgers of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in West Little Rock, Arkansas. We will get a firsthand description of what it’s like to be in the ring during a fight, hear why cutman keep their healing techniques a secret, the benefits of boxing, and why Ray says he won’t train a professional boxer. We’ll be back after the break.
[00:11:55] KM: Flagandbanner.com is so much more than a flag store. Dress up your dress, plan a perfect party, or throw some pillows on your porch, bring in your old U.S. flag and get $5 off a new one. Hurry down to the flagandbanner.com downtown Little Rock, open Monday through Saturday.
[00:12:14] JM: You’re listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed, starting with door-to-door sales, then telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales, and now a third of their sales come through the internet. This past year, Flag and Banner added another internet feature, live chatting.
Over time, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew. As early as 2004, she began sharing this knowledge in her weekly blog. In 2009, she founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, and in 2014, Brave Magazine. Today, she has branched out unto the radio with this very production, podcast and live stream on Facebook.
Each week on this show, you'll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting and inspiring. If you like to ask Kerry a question, or share your story, send her an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. That's email@example.com, or send her a message on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page.
Back to you, Kerry.
[00:13:35] KM: You’re listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with the nationally known cutman, which he prefers to be called laceration management specialist, Mr. Ray Rodgers of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Before the break we talked about what his family did and how he got fat when his daddy bought a grocery store and he ate Butterfingers and Baby Ruths all the time and they called him butterball, and how he played football, and in the 5th grade lettered in boxing and then he’s a natural, and then he has a jab so good that the – What did you say? The judges thought that –
[00:14:13] RR: The other guy was sucking my thumb, my left jab. That’s it, sucking the thumb.
[00:14:19] KM: Okay, good. So here’s kind of the sequence of your life as I can kind of put it together. You coached football. You went into the military. You got out of the military and became a National Guard for – I don’t know. What did you say? 30 years? I forgot.
[00:14:36] RR: 25 years.
[00:14:37] KM: 25 years. Somewhere in there you coached you football. Is that right?
[00:14:40] RR: No. No. I played football in junior high and high school.
[00:14:43] KM: So you didn’t coach football. So now you’re in the National Guard. Are you boxing still? Did you box when you were in the service?
[00:14:50] RR: No.
[00:14:52] KM: So you haven’t been boxing since college.
[00:14:56] RR: Personally, as a boxer, I boxed for about a year. I won my last Golden Gloves title after I’ve been married about 6 months and I figured out that marriage and boxing don’t go together.
[00:15:10] KM: Why not?
[00:15:11] RR: Especially when you’re newlywed.
[00:15:12] KM: Why not?
[00:15:13] JM: Especially when she’s tougher than you.
[00:15:16] RR: True. Very true.
[00:15:18] KM: Why not?
[00:15:19] RR: You don’t train as hard. You got your mind on something else.
[00:15:23] KM: Oh! I see. So the Golden Glove, you won a championship there and decided you’re done with that, because you were going to focus on your marriage. You’re in a National Guard now?
[00:15:40] RR: No. I spent 25 years and retired as a platoon sergeant.
[00:15:44] KM: Oh! You were actually in for 25 years. I thought that included your National Guard service duty.
[00:15:48] RR: So I retired as a platoon leader and an E7, which is pretty good retirement pay. So I’m enjoying it.
[00:16:02] KM: Yeah. So when did you decide and when did you get back into boxing then? When did you get this title of being the best cutman? A legendary cutman? How did that come about?
[00:16:16] RR: When you’ve been in boxing as long as I have, you see – I’ve been all around the world. I’ve been from Holland, Dusseldorf, to Hong Kong, and you learn to pay attention and you see a guy that’s smarter than you are, you try to pick up on what he is doing, and I’ve got some stuff that hold two drops of water together.
[00:16:45] KM: But how did you go from the National Guard to working in the boxing ring?
[00:16:55] RR: I started boxing, ma’am, in 1947 when I was in the 5th grade, and I just boxed all the way through college and at that time was coaching kids when I was still in college. Then it’s just a natural for me to be a boxing coach.
[00:17:17] KM: Didn’t the first time you coached a kid you were how old, 15?
[00:17:21] RR: 16. I was 16 when I took my first kids, three of them, and they weren’t going to let me – I’ve got a letter to bring – Could show you. They weren’t going to let me enter those three kids, and I said, “Why not?” and they said, “Well, you’re too young to be a coach.” I said, “Well, show me in the rule book where there’s an age limit on being a coach.” They couldn’t obviously. So they had let me in. Two of them made it to the finals and the other one made it almost to the finals. So from then on, at 16, I was a coach.
[00:17:58] KM: So now you’ve gone from a coach to a cutman. How did you end up getting in the ring with –
[00:18:08] RR: Being a cutman or a laceration management specialist, you learn that through – I had Jonny Duke, Ace Miller – Gosh! A lot of the old timers, and they liked me as a youngster, and they kind of took me under their wing. So want of a better term, apprentice, under some great, old cutman and I know how to handle it.
[00:18:41] KM: So you were already there because you had maybe a boxer in the ring and they’re teaching you kind of how to work the corner –
[00:18:51] RR: Yup.
[00:18:51] KM: I see. Why are the techniques kept a secret?
[00:18:56] RR: Well –
[00:18:58] KM: Because I know you all don’t liked it.
[00:18:59] RR: If I told everybody what I did, then everybody want to be a cutman.
[00:19:04] KM: Well, what’s going to happen? There’s kind of a dying art, isn’t it? Don’t you need to share –
[00:19:07] RR: It is very much so, but –
[00:19:08] KM: So ain’t it time to start sharing?
[00:19:10] RR: Well, I’ll take that under advisement.
[00:19:15] KM: So isn’t that kind of true? If you can’t stop the bleeding when you’re in the ring, your athlete is not going to make it.
[00:19:23] RR: I’ve never ever had a boxer lose on anything I’m supposed to control,control, knots, contusions, laceration, makes no difference. I’ve never ever – You can check it out, ever had a boxer lose on something.
When Jermain got cut in 28 seconds of the 1st – The 1st part of the 5th round in our World Championship fight with Iran Barkley, he got cut and they got him back to the ring and I said, “Just get out of my way guys and I’ll take care of this.” From the 5th round through the 12th round my guy didn’t bleed anymore. Go back and find it on –
[00:20:08] KM: Well, I actually did. I looked at it and the announcers were saying, “Oh! Oh! That’s a bad cut. Oh!”
[00:20:17] RR: And they never mentioned it again after that.
[00:20:20] KM: And it shows you coming in there with your swabs and all these stuff and they said, “That could take him out of the game, or out of the fight,” and he didn’t.
[00:20:28] RR: And it did not.
[00:20:30] KM: It didn’t. Really good. So because you’re so goat at it, you’ve tried it all over.
[00:20:35] RR: I’ve been to Hong Kong, Dusseldorf, London, Belfast, you name it, I’ve been there.
[00:20:43] KM: Tokyo.
[00:20:44] RR: Yes.
[00:20:45] KM: Amsterdam.
[00:20:46] RR: Yup.
[00:20:46] KM: Is it hard to travel as much as you traveled?
[00:20:50] RR: No, not really. It would be hard if I had to pay for it, but they paid for it from womb to tomb.
[00:20:58] KM: Womb to tomb. So when did you decide that you wanted to start the Ray Rodgers Boxing Club?
[00:21:10] RR: 1960.
[00:21:12] KM: How did that come about?
[00:21:14] RR: Well, it’s kind of a second nature to me. This is my 70th year in amateur boxing, or in boxing, and I guess I’m a little spoiled.
[00:21:28] KM: You were training in other gyms. Maybe you were training athletes in other gyms and decided –
[00:21:32] RR: I have
[inaudible 00:21:33] Little Rock Boys Club many years ago when brother Paul
[inaudible 00:21:38] was over there.
[00:21:40] KM: But you believe in education over boxing.
[00:21:43] RR: Absolutely.
[00:21:44] KM: Why is that?
[00:21:45] RR: Absolutely. Education is the most important – I drive it home. Any youngster that comes to my gym, he’s going to hear about education. I actually have an education center next door to my boxing gym. If a kid needs tutoring, I give
[inaudible 00:22:05] tutoring, everything from sec education on up.
[00:22:13] KM: Good! You really do believe that – I heard you say that you – Listen, what was – You said boxing doesn’t make character, it exposes it.
[00:22:26] RR: That’s exactly right.
[00:22:27] KM: Why is that?
[00:22:29] RR: Well, when you see a guy that falls like a $2
[inaudible 00:22:38] when they get under pressure and they fold, then you know that they’re not the real deal.
[00:22:49] KM: So you teach them how to – Someone else has said that you teach them how to not how to lose, but how to take a loss.
[00:23:01] RR: Yup, that’s true. A loss is just another step on the chain of being better.
[00:23:09] KM: Of success.
[00:23:10] RR: Sure it is.
[00:23:11] KM: If you can’t take a loss, you can’t be successful.
[00:23:13] RR: You will not. You will not be successful, and you don’t teach them to lose, but you teach them to accept a loss.
[00:23:22] KM: And why do you think boxing does that? What it is about boxing that you like better than football? Because football is more of a team sport, but boxing is you’re all alone.
[00:23:31] RR: You’re by yourself. You are absolutely by yourself. You look around, but there’s nobody to help you. If you’re well-trained and well-coached, you’ll do all right.
[00:23:46] KM: You are a national Golden Gloves and Silver Gloves competition. You have been the administrator.
[00:23:54] RR: I was president – At one time I was president of both the National Golden Glove and the National Silver Glove. I’m still president of the National Silver Glove, but not the National Golden Glove. I’m a vice president.
[00:24:07] KM: What’s the difference in those two?
[00:24:09] RR: Age. Silver Gloves is from age 8 to 15, and Golden Gloves is from 17 on up to infinity. That’s a good word, isn’t it?
[00:24:28] KM: Infinity?
[00:24:29] RR: Yeah.
[00:24:32] KM: So why are those organization important? They were small when you started.
[00:24:35] RR: Well, they were very small.
[00:24:37] KM: Now they’re big, aren’t they?
[00:24:40] RR: The thing, you’ve got Babe Ruth baseball for youngsters that hits a certain segment of the youngsters. You have little league and so on. So boxing is no different, it’s just a different sport, but it’s still a sport that needs to offer opportunities to every age group.
[00:25:05] KM: You also think that – I heard someone say about you that sometimes someone will come in and try to change the rules of those clubs, and you are a stickler.
[00:25:14] RR: I am that. I am that.
[00:25:17] KM: You’re not going to change the rules.
[00:25:18] RR: Nope. Nonetheless it will help my boxer.
[00:25:24] KM: And that you want to keep the kids safe.
[00:25:26] RR: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[00:25:28] KM: So if I’m out there listening and I’m thinking, “Why do I want to put my kid in a ring and get his head banged around with gloves?” What do you tell those mothers?
[00:25:39] RR: Well, first, they have an interest or the youngster does or they wouldn’t be talking to me to start with. But I try to assure them and do assure them that probably amateur boxing is the safest sport in the world. They get a physical prior to the bout and they get a physical immediately after the completion of the bout. I don’t know if any other sport that does that.
[00:26:07] KM: I’ve never thought about that. They get a physical before and after.
[00:26:10] RR: Yes.
[00:26:10] KM: That is good.
[00:26:11] RR: Yes.
[00:26:13] KM: What is it like to be in the ring?
[00:26:16] RR: You better now what you’re doing. Somebody will hand you your head.
[00:26:21] KM: What do you say to those boys that are getting ready to go in?
[00:26:25] RR: Don’t worry about a thing, that I’ll be here for you. I always tell them to get back to that corner as quickly as they can. I try to put them on their seat and let them think for a second or two and get composed. Don’t just start jabbing at him, say do this, do this, do – I give them a drink of water. I let them get themselves back together and then I give them – I don’t say, “Well, do this, do this, and do this.” I pick something specific that they need to do, either blocking with their right hand, jabbing with their left, but don’t tell them a storybook full of things they need to do. They got their hands full because the guy across from them is going to hit him. So they need to know what exactly to do.
[00:27:16] KM: That is so good. Sometimes when I watch football and I see the football coaches on the side just yelling all these stuff, I think these are 18, 20-year-old kids just – Or even the basketball coach. I say, “Just give them one thing to do.” Sometimes I feel like they give them too many things, “Blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah, blah-blah-blah.” I’m like, “No. No. Just –”
[00:27:39] RR: He’s got to understand which one is important. So you give them – If you see that they’re not blocking the jab, you show them again, “Start bringing your hands up, son. Block that jab,” or whatever. Give them some specific thing, but don’t say, “Well, do this, and do that, and do that.” He’ll leave that corner and don’t have a clue what you said to him.
[00:28:02] KM: Too many things to focus on.
[00:28:03] RR: Yup.
[00:28:04] KM: All right. This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with boxing coach and world famous cutman, Mr. Ray Rodgers of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in Little Rock, Arkansas. We will get a firsthand description of what it’s like to be in the ring during the fight with Jermain Taylor, the benefits of boxing, which we’ve already been talking about, and how it’s changed. Ray says he won’t train a professional boxer. Let’s find out why he says that. We’ll be back after the break.
[00:28:31] KM: Flagandbanner.com is so much more than a flag store. Dress up your dress, plan a perfect party, or throw some pillows on your porch, bring in your old U.S. flag and get $5 off a new one. Hurry down to the flagandbanner.com downtown Little Rock, open Monday through Saturday.
[00:28:49] JM: Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. This weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners firsthand insight in starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk taking and the commonalities of successful people shared in a conversational interview with Kerry.
Along with this radio show, flagandbanner.com, publishes a free biannual magazine called Brave. First published in October 2014, this magazine celebrates and inspires readers through its human interest in storytelling. The Department of Arkansas Heritage recognize Brave Magazine’s documentation of American life and microfiches all additions for the Arkansas State archives.
Free subscription and advertising opportunities for the upcoming spring 2019 edition are available at flagandbanner.com by selecting magazine, where you can read previous stories and learn about advertising opportunities.
Back to you, Kerry.
[00:29:48] KM: You’re listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with the legendary cutman, laceration specialist, community leader, veteran and coach, Mr. Ray Rodgers, known as Mr. Boxing. Ray Rodgers of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before the break we’ve talked about him growing up in Conway. Ray started being a coach when he was 16-years-old. He’s a veteran. He was in the service in the Army for 25 years, and about the training of young kids and what it’s like.
Now let’s talk about the Jermain Taylor fight. That’s what I’ve been waiting to get to. So do you know Jermain well? Did you work with him a lot?
[00:30:33] RR: No. I know him very, very well. I’ve first met him, his coach, Ozell Nelson, did a good job with him and he brought him by my gym when he was 14-years-old, and I let him spar with a couple of my kids. Jermain and I have been friends for many, many years, and I thank the world of him.
[00:31:02] KM: How many times you’ve been in the ring with him?
[00:31:04] RR: Every time. I’m the only person. All 39 bouts I’ve been in his corner. I’m the only person that has been in his corner every one of his bouts professionally.
[00:31:17] KM: So what’s Jermain doing right now? I don’t even ever hear about him. Is he punchy? He is, isn’t he? Is it not?
[00:31:22] RR: No.
[00:31:22] KM: He is?
[00:31:22] RR: No.
[00:31:23] KM: No? You wouldn’t say, would you?
[00:31:27] RR: Yes, I would.
[00:31:27] KM: You would?
[00:31:28] RR: Yes, I would.
[00:31:29] KM: He got that bad cut. In case anybody wasn’t listening, he was fighting – Who was he fighting?
[00:31:35] RR: Iran Barkley, wasn’t it? Bernard Hopkins.
[00:31:37] KM: Oh, that’s why he brought his wife. Bernard Hopkins, she says. If anybody wasn’t listening, you can go and pull it up on YouTube and see where – He got a bad laceration in his head, in his scalp.
[00:31:55] RR: I believe it was over his left eye. I’m almost sure of that.
[00:31:58] KM: I believe it was too, and the announcers were going, “Oh! That’s it. That’s it. That’s a bad cut. You won’t be able to get that – That’d maybe do him in.
[00:32:07] RR: Roy Jones Jr. said when I played it again, when I got home, he said, “Well, I can tell you one thing, that cut will be a big factor in the outcome of this fight.” He never mentioned it again.
[00:32:19] KM: I didn’t even bother to see. Did Jermain win or lose that fight?
[00:32:24] RR: We won it.
[00:32:25] KM: Four belts. Look, his wife is over there telling us. Good for you.
[00:32:28] RR: We won four world championships that night.
[00:32:31] KM: That night?
[00:32:32] RR: Yeah, they were all – Iran – What’s the other one? Bernard Hopkins, on all of the world middleweight belts, and when we beat him that night, we won every one of them.
[00:32:50] KM: Oh, I see. So you don’t fight four different times? You fought one time and won four belts.
[00:32:55] RR: For all the belts, right.
[00:32:57] KM: I don’t understand boxing. So what it’s like to be in the ring with him? Is it adrenalin rush? Is it worrisome? Are you nervous?
[00:33:07] RR: No. No, you can’t be like that guy – You said nervous. Nope. Remember him?
[00:33:17] KM: No. Who is that?
[00:33:18] RR: What was his name, mother? Don Knotts. Don Knotts. Just jumpy, jumpy as a Mexican shortstop.
[00:33:37] KM: So you’re not nervous.
[00:33:38] RR: No. I don’t get excited. I ask the people in my corner with me, “You take care of the drinks and stuff like that. I’ll take care of everything else.”
[00:33:54] KM: What’s the difference between working in a professional ring with a professional boxer and working with the kids?
[00:34:00] RR: Oh! Well, the kids are a lot – There’s a lot of money on the line when it’s professionals, and the kids is just a trophy on the line and you just – It’s just a different atmosphere. Professional boxing, like any other profession, is all about money. It’s all about money.
[00:34:22] KM: So you said that you won’t teach a kid. If a kid comes –
[00:34:26] RR: If a kid comes in and says, “I want to turn pro,” I send them down the road. I’ve never ever – I’ve coached thousands probably of kids and I’ve never ever – I’ve had a number, maybe half a dozen turn pro, but the minute they tell me want to turn pro, I send them out.
[00:34:46] KM: Why?
[00:34:47] RR: Because I don’t turn kids pro. I don’t train them to be a professional boxer.
[00:34:52] KM: Why?
[00:34:54] RR: Because it’s a brutal sport. There’s lack of scruples in professional boxing. I just tell it like it is.
[00:35:06] KM: You don’t want to be a part of that?
[00:35:07] RR: Nope. No, I won’t be a part of it.
[00:35:11] KM: But yet you don’t think it’s a brutal sport when it’s youth golden and silver gloves.
[00:35:17] RR: Nope.
[00:35:18] KM: You think it’s a discipline.
[00:35:18] RR: Because the youngsters are all given a physical prior to the bout, and immediately the minute they walk down the steps at the conclusion of a bout, the doctor reexamines them. We take no changes at all. They’re precious commodities. Those youngsters are just precious.
[00:35:39] KM: Whereas the professionals are just a piece of meat.
[00:35:42] RR: It’s a piece of meat and it’s all for money.
[00:35:45] KM: And they just use them up.
[00:35:46] RR: Yup, they use them up and discard them mostly.
[00:35:51] KM: How has the sport changed – You’ve been doing this for 70 years.
[00:35:54] RR: Yup.
[00:35:55] KM: How has the sport changed?
[00:35:59] RR: Equipment is better than it used to be. The gloves, I’ve seen them in the dressing room what they call break gloves, and they will push the horse hair back here and down so that the knuckles show. Now, that’s in the old days. But you got to remember, I’ve been around a long, long time. I’ve seen every trick in the book. Some of them legal, some of them smart, some of them ignorant and some of them totally repugnant. I’ve been wanting to use that word for a long time.
[00:36:33] KM: Well, you’re going to have to tell me what it means. No? So they give them a knuckle sandwich? You’re saying that the old gloves, they used to peel back the horse hair.
[00:36:41] RR: They call them break them. They would push the horse hair back this way and this way so the knuckles would be exposed. If there’re any old boxing coaches listening, they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
[00:36:54] KM: Well, that seems to be hard on both of you. One of them is going to end up with bloody knuckles and the other one is going to end up with a bloody face.
[00:37:01] RR: The other guy probably won’t know about your bloody knuckles when you get through with it.
[00:37:06] KM: So in the old days they used to wear a mouthpiece.
[00:37:09] RR: Which still do. It’s mandatory.
[00:37:12] KM: But in the old days they’d come out and they wouldn’t let you put them back in.
[00:37:14] RR: They would kick it out of the ring and your second could get it and wash it all and put it back at the end of the road.
[00:37:24] KM: So you had to box without a mouthpiece in the old days?
[00:37:26] RR: Yup.
[00:37:27] KM: So that’s equipment improvement.
[00:37:28] RR: If you dropped it or spit it out, they just kicked it out of the ring and you got it back at the end of the – Not at the end of the bout, at the end of that round.
[00:37:39] KM: Well, that’s an improvement.
[00:37:40] RR: Very much so.
[00:37:41] KM: Because otherwise you’d lose a lot of teeth.
[00:37:43] RR: Yup.
[00:37:44] KM: What else has changed besides the equipment? Are girls boxing?
[00:37:49] RR: Girls are now allowed to box, and there’s a sizeable number of young ladies in Arkansas that boxed.
[00:38:00] KM: Are you training any of them?
[00:38:01] RR: No. I’ve not had one come to my gym.
[00:38:08] KM: Do they box with the man or they box in their own leg?
[00:38:10] RR: No.No. No. You can’t do that. There’s a weight, age and gender requirement. They’ve got to be either a man against a man, or a boy against a boy, a girl against a girl, and they have to have a mouthpiece. You have to have a head guard. That’s something – They only use a head guard in training in the old days. Now, both opponents have got to have heard guard on.
[00:38:46] KM: What do you think about cage fighting?
[00:38:49] RR: Repulsive. Repulsive.
[00:38:52] KM: Do you watch it?
[00:38:52] RR: No. Nope.
[00:38:55] KM: I cannot watch it.
[00:38:58] RR: It’s not really a sport. It’s a couple of animals, a couple of animals. It’s all about money. All about money.
[00:39:10] KM: So you lost – You think it’s important to teach the kids because you’re building their character. You’re trying to keep them off the street. You talk about that over and over and over. If anybody watches or listens to anything you say online or watches your documentary, you talk about your mission is to save kids. You’re very religious.
[00:39:27] RR: Well, that’s one of my objectives in life. That and outrunning the devil.
[00:39:36] KM: I think you’ve done that.
[00:39:38] RR: Well, pretty much. But yeah, if I can help a youngster, I’m going to do it.
[00:39:44] KM: You’ve only lost one or how many?
[00:39:46] RR: It makes no difference whether they’re black, white, somewhere in between, they’re short, they’re heavyset, they’re all. If they want to rain and learn boxing, I can teach them.
[00:40:02] KM: Have you ever lost any to the street?
[00:40:07] RR: Yes.
[00:40:07] KM: One? Two?
[00:40:07] RR: No. I have one. I won’t mention his name. I have his picture up. You walk in the door of my gym and you will see it. A little 14-year-old boy and another kid tried to rob a liquor store on 12th street, and a matter of fact it’s right down there. The kid has a pistol that wouldn’t even work, but he got to drop on the guy behind the counter, but he didn’t know there was a guy at the end of the counter with a shot guy, blew his head off. Literally, blew his head off. He was 14-years-old.
[00:40:51] KM: His mother?
[00:40:52] RR: In jail, 27-years-old and in jail when he got killed.
[00:40:58] KM: So she had him at –
[00:40:58] RR: 13.
[00:41:01] KM: That’s tough. That’s the stuff that you’re doing that makes a difference.
[00:41:05] RR: That makes a lot of difference. It does to me.
[00:41:09] KM: Yeah. There’s a special place for people like you who are doing that. Think how many you saved though.
[00:41:17] RR: Well, I think a goodly number. A goodly number.
[00:41:22] KM: You said in 2008, “In boxing as in life and everything else, desire is half the deal. I’m a great believer in amateur boxing. I think it’s one of the greatest sports ever devised. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. In boxing, you don’t have anybody to handoff too or to lateral or pass it off to. You’re on your own, brother.”
[00:41:47] RR: And that’s factual. You’re definitely on your own.
[00:41:51] KM: That’s something everybody needs to learn about life in general to me, is it’s great to have support and everybody needs support. But really, the buck does always stop with you.
[00:42:03] RR: Well, hopefully, hopefully. But I also want to mention today that we’re having the Mid-South Golden Gloves. I’ve been running the Golden Gloves in Arkansas – How long was it? 42 years. We got a Golden Glove tournament, which is April the 5th and 6th and we’ll have boxers from – Champions from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Tennessee, and that will be at the North Little Rock Community Center on April 5th and 6th.
[00:42:47] KM: I may have to come see that.
[00:42:49] RR: You should.
[00:42:50] KM: That sounds really interesting.
[00:42:50] RR: I think you will be enlightened by –
[00:42:52] KM: I think I would be. I think I have a wrong idea about what boxing is.
[00:42:56] RR: I think you’ll be enlightened to see how smooth we have. At least one doctor at ring side. He’s already examined them and the minute they come out of that ring, he reexamines them. We run a very, very safe program.
[00:43:11] KM: How many kids will be there?
[00:43:13] RR: Well, I’ve got – The tournament will have youngster from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Tennessee.
[00:43:23] KM: I think we’ve got a call coming in. Hold on. All right, flip it on.
Hey, you’re calling Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Do you have a question for our boxing coach, Ray Rodgers?
[00:43:33] Q: I actually do.
[00:43:35] KM: Go ahead.
[00:43:37] Q: Actually, I want to let you know that this is a very good interview. It’s very knowledgeable and entertaining. It’s a very good interview. You’re doing a good job, great job.
[00:43:46] KM: Thank you.
[00:43:48] Q: I’m sitting here with my daughter and I am a father of several girls and I’m training two of them for boxing and one is all mouth and basically needs more courage – Actually, well, courage. I was wondering as a professional with several wounds under your belt, I was wondering how could I help encourage her to have more courage?
[00:44:15] RR: Well, that’s something that comes out of the heart and head. There’s not really – All you can do is continue to encourage them at every step that they might congratulate them on if they perfect the left jab or the right hand block or whatever. Never be critical of a youngster that’s learning to box, or learning any other sport. The criticism seems to tear their heart out. I know it affects our minds. So always continue to be encouraging to youngsters that you’re coaching.
[00:45:00] KM: That’s a great advice.
[00:45:01] Q: Thank you very much. One of them, she takes to it like a fish out of water. She just takes it naturally. The other one, when she gets on – She knows all the jabs, she’s good at the hooks and uppercuts, she has a really good footwork, but when it comes to a little pressure, she would just fold up and turn into a bag of litter.
[00:45:20] RR: She folds up like a $2 suitcase.
[00:45:23] Q: Just like a $2 suitcase, yes. That’s what she’s doing. I don’t know what to do about it.
[00:45:28] RR: Well, just keep encouraging her and never ridicule her. Never drag her. Just be patient coach. That’s all you can do. Be patient, and eventually she may get it and maybe she doesn’t have the heart of a warrior. She may have a good heart, but not have a heart of a warrior. So you’re spending a lot of good time.
[00:45:58] Q: She’s very, very nice. She’s super-duper nice and she won’t like hurt a fly.
[00:46:06] KM: Oh! I hear her in the background. Well, I think that’s good advice. She may have a good heart, but it may not be the heart of a warrior.
[00:46:14] Q: I just want to say thank you. That’s a very entertaining interview and I like this one.
[00:46:18] KM: Thank you very much. Thanks for calling.
[00:46:19] Q: Thank you.
[00:46:21] KM: You’re welcome. The one last quote that I have that you said is the last quote is you said the only discipline that last is self-discipline. You can stand a kid in the corner and whip his butt – These are your words, with a paddle, but once he learns self-discipline and the desire to do better in the ring, that will stick with him all of his life.
[00:46:45] RR: That’s correct.
[00:46:46] KM: That’s lovely. I want to tell everybody that you’re listening to Up in Your Business with me. I’m Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with Mr. Boxing, the legendary cutman and coach, Mr. Ray Rodgers of Ray Rodgers Boxing Club in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you missed the first part of this show, we talked about Jermain Taylor when he was in the ring with him. We talked about how important the cutman, that you call the laceration specialist. How important that position is to a boxer for keeping them in the fight. We talked about just the discipline and the importance of boxing to a lot of young people out there and how important it is, and that Ray doesn’t believe in professional boxing, which is really weird for a boxing coach, but that’s what he says.
[00:47:29] RR: Well, I want to remind everybody that if they want to see some real good boxing, April the 5th and 6th at the North Little Rock Community Center. We’ve got the Mid-South Golden Gloves. It’s Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
[00:47:44] KM: And Golden Gloves is 15 and up?
[00:47:47] RR: Yes.
[00:47:48] KM: 15 and up I think – 18 and up?
[00:47:52] RR: It’s 18 to 40.
[00:47:53] KM: 18 to 40.
[00:47:54] RR: Yeah.
[00:47:54] KM: So 18 to 40-year-olds. You said lasted for how many days?
[00:47:59] RR: Two days.
[00:48:01] KM: Okay.
[00:48:01] RR: Friday and Saturday.
[00:48:02] KM: Friday and Saturday.
[00:48:02] RR: It’s got Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and West Tennessee.
[00:48:07] KM: We’ll put that on our website at flagandbanner.com. We’ll put a link to it so that people can find out more about that.
[00:48:12] RR: Thank you.
[00:48:12] KM: You’re welcome, and we’ll put a link to Mr. Boxing here to your – How to get in touch with you. Just tell us, how do people get in touch with you?
[00:48:21] RR: All they’ve got to do is go to rayrodgers@att.
[00:48:28] Wife: Yeah, ATT.
[00:48:29] RR: What?
[00:48:29] Wife: ATT.
[00:48:30] KM: ATT.
[00:48:31] RR: ATT.net.
[00:48:34] KM: There you go, rayrodgers@att.
[00:48:35] RR: And it’s R-O-D-G-E-R-S.
[00:48:37] KM: Yeah. It is R-O-D-G-E-R. Okay, one more call. We got time for one more call. Hello, listeners. You’re on the air with boxing coach, Ray Rodgers. Have you got a question for him?
[00:48:46] Q2: Well, more a comment. I’m really enjoying this interview. I second what the gentleman said a few moments ago, the caller. He said this is a great interview. Both sides are speaking really well. I’m a volunteer tutor for adult learners, and some of them are native English speakers, some are non-native English speakers, but I keep encouraging them to listen to talk shows on KBS
[inaudible 00:49:20]. I feel like the lessons – Or what I’m hearing about boxing can be applied to adult learning or any learning, and I hope there is a podcast or something or a way that you put this on KBS so I can share it with other learners.
[00:49:39] KM: Thank you very much. Yes, there’s a podcast on all listening devices. You can go to anywhere you like to listen to podcast and type in Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy and all 130 podcasts are there.
[00:49:51] Q2: Wonderful. I joke with my learners that I’m so old I don’t know how to use technology, but they’re going to help me and I’m going to help them with English. So rock on! I’m digging today’s show.
[00:50:04] KM: Thank you. Thank you. You can also go to flagandbanner.com and click on radio show and there you’ll also find a link to all the podcasts and it’s on YouTube also if you want to watch the actual video of us in the room.
[00:50:15] Q2: Oh, that’s perfect. Thank you so much.
[00:50:17] KM: You’re welcome. Thanks for calling. Ray, we’re about out of time. I really enjoyed you and so has everyone else, it sounds like. Tell everybody what your business card says. Can you remember?
[00:50:27] RR: Oh, yeah.
[00:50:28] KM: Your wife may have to help you over here.
[00:50:29] Wife: No. Not with that one.
[00:50:32] KM: What does it say?
[00:50:33] RR: It says a lot of things.
[00:50:34] KM: It does.
[00:50:35] RR: It says a lot of things.
[00:50:37] KM: It says negotiator, boxer –
[00:50:41] RR: Laceration management specialist. It’s a got a whole deal on there.
[00:50:46] KM: It’s good. You’ve been inducted to the hall of fame for the Silver Gloves Hall of Fame in 2001, the Golden Gloves Hall of Fame in 2002, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
[00:50:57] RR: And the sportswriters and sportscaster. I just was about a year ago put in to that. Another hall of fame.
[00:51:06] KM: Thank you so much for coming on today. I have a present for you.
[00:51:13] RR: Well, you sure do.
[00:51:13] KM: A desk set for all the people that are on the radio. It’s a desk set. Ray is very – Yeah, he’s pointing at the Christian flag. Ray is very religious. He believes in a higher power like many of my guests.
[00:51:25] RR: Yes, I do.
[00:51:27] KM: He’s in church every Sunday. So the desk set is the U.S. flag, the Christian flag and the Arkansas flag. If I had known you’re from Oklahoma, I’d have put the Oklahoma flag in there too.
[00:51:39] RR: Well, let me tell you, life is good, and anybody that’s listening to me today, if you’re not sure, I would appreciate it if you would go to church. You’d be surprised how much uplifting it helps. You don’t have to be a bible thumper to believe in Jesus Christ as your savior. I’m not going to preach you sermon, but I will say that.
[00:52:08] KM: Well, that’s just fine. It’s America. You can say whatever you want just about. Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom. You have really blessed us with a lot of great wisdom today.
Jayson, who is our guest next week?
[00:52:20] JM: Dr. Henri Roca? Is that right?
[00:52:24] KM: That’s right.
[00:52:25] JM: OneMedicine Wellness Services.
[00:52:27] KM: So Henri Roca I met a few weeks ago. He is a Louisiana transplant. He is now working at the VA Hospital here in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s got a very interesting story. He’s got about 5 degrees. He was a successful geologist, engineer and worked on oil pipelines for Exon or somebody. I can’t remember. I’ll know by next week. Then in his 30s he decided to make a career change and went back to school and became a medical doctor, an M.D. While he was getting his degree, he learned to be a masseuse, and get this, a shaman.
So along with being a doctor at the VA, he is in private practice in North Little Rock, where he treats patients with holistic, integrative and functional medicine. He’s school on everything. He says – I love this quote that I found on his website. He says, “Everything that has ever happened to you, every choice you have ever made brings you to the health that you have today.” I think that’s pretty profound. He’s a really total type of doctor. He looks at every part of you. So that will be interesting.
If any of you would like to become a part of the show or think you have a good entrepreneurial story that you would like to share, Jayson is going to tell you, our listeners, how you could become a part of the show.
[00:53:59] JM: If you have a great entrepreneurial story and you like to share with Kerry, you could send a brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org, message on Facebook, .com’s Facebook, or a make comment on her blog.
[00:54:13] KM: Lastly, to our listeners, I want to thank you for spending time with us. If you think this program has been about you, you’re right, but it’s also been for us. Thank you for letting us fulfill our destiny. Our hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening, and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life.
I’m Kerry McCoy and I’ll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:54:39] JM: You've been listening to up in your business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you missed any part of this show or want to learn more about UIYB, go to flagandbanner.com and click on Radio Show, like us on Facebook, or subscribe to her weekly podcast wherever you like to listen. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week with links to resources you heard discussed on today's show. Underwriting opportunity is available upon request.
Kerry's goal is to help you live the American dream.