West Texas Middleweight by Frank Sikes

West Texas Middleweight by Frank Sikes

by Frank Sikes
The Story of LaVern Roach
(Sport in the American West Series)
Frank Sikes
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 288
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LaVern Roach, a skinny kid from the small town of Plainview, Texas, rose from obscurity to become one of boxing’s most popular figures during the 1940s. Roach’s rise to prominence occurred during an era when boxing shared the spotlight with baseball as the nation’s top two professional sports. As a result of Roach’s death—which marked the first nationally televised fight during which a boxer died from injuries received in the ring—the sport of boxing came under closer scrutiny by the general public than ever before.
West Texas Middleweight is the story of Roach’s all too brief journey from a West Texas amateur, to enlistment in the US Marines, where he captained the nation’s most successful military boxing team, to becoming a Madison Square Garden main eventer. He received the distinction of being named The Ring Magazine’s “Rookie of the Year” for 1947 and was considered a top ten contender for the middleweight championship of the world. This book chronicles Roach’s road to his final fight—and it explains why, as noted by legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, “boxing changed because of LaVern Roach.”
I love boxing, I always have. As a kid, I loved Rocky movies, and that was the extent of boxing for me, the over sensationalized boxer and the theatrics of it all.  When I was in high school, I remember watching the Olympics when a Mexican kid from California named Oscar de la Hoya won the gold for the US.  I cried when he was on that stand as the Star-Spangled Banner played. The sport of boxing always was intriguing to this Texas girl.
When I read West Texas Middle Weight I was taken back to a time before the glitz and glamour of boxing today, a time and a place when the spot light was real and the titles were earned and I loved every moment of this book. From the first time he stepped into the ring to when he took time out to serve his country, and finally when the bell rang on his final fight, Le Vern Roach was a hero to the boxing world and his life was the heavy price it paid. .
West Texas Middleweight was filled with wonderful facts, extraordinary pictures and one-of-a-kind artifacts that I am thinking not many people have seen, I know I wasn’t aware of the impact this Texas Man had on the sport of boxing but I am so happy to have learned about this Texas Legend and so proud that he is one of ours.
  “boxing changed because of LaVern Roach.” ~boxing trainer Angelo Dundee,
email: ttup@ttu.edu
phone: 800.742.2982

Frank Sikes, a third-generation West Texan, grew up in Plainview, where LaVern Roach, along with Jimmy Dean, were hometown heroes.  Sikes graduated from Texas Tech in 1967, then was a US Navy Officer proudly serving aboard the USS Little Rock stationed in Gaeta, Italy from 1968-1970.  He attended the University of Houston School of Business, from 1973 to 1975, and got his master’s degree in religion from Wayland Baptist University in 2011.

Frank and his wife Nancy have been married for 50 years and have two grown children out of the house, and two Boston Terriers, Molly and Maggie (or as some suggest Boston terrorists) who rule the house. Lubbock has been home for the past 30 years with stops in Newport, RI; San Francisco, CA; Gaeta, Italy; Houston, TX; and Albuquerque, NM.  West Texas Middleweight is his first book.
Connect with the author on FACEBOOK.

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