Community Sports

Wednesday, Dec 18 2013 10:14 PM

Ex-heavyweight boxer, local promoter dies

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    Thad Spencer was once the No. 1 contender in the heavyweight division. Ths AP photo is from 1967.

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By CALIFORNIAN NEWS, WIRE SERVICES

Thad Spencer, a former top-ranked heavyweight boxer who promoted fights in Bakersfield in the 1980s, died Saturday. He was 70.

A native of Portland, Ore., Spencer amassed a record of 30-5 by 1967 when Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title for refusal to join the U.S. Military after being drafted.

The World Boxing Association staged an eight-man elimination tournament to determine the new champ and Spencer quickly became the favorite when he defeated former champ Ernie Terrell in the first bout at the Houston Astrodome.

He was favored in the next round on March 2, 1968 against Jerry Quarry in Oakland, but Quarry dominated, winning by TKO in the 12th round.

That set up a downward spiral to Spencer's career as failed to win another fight, losing eight more and getting one draw.

Spencer fell into the pitfalls of alcohol and drugs after his career ended, but started the road to recovery in the early 1980s when he started promoting boxing.

That landed him in Bakersfield for a while where he promoted bouts involving Bakersfield's Ruben Castillo, Bobby Quarry, George Foreman (at the Casa Royal Hotel on Dec. 28, 1985) and Big John Tate (Civic Auditorium on April 17, 1986) and others.

In all, Spencer put on 21 fights in Bakersfield.

Services are Saturday at Word Assembly Church in Oakland.

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