“That’s Rocky. He’s the champ. He’s still got it,” Laquicha Smith told The Star-Ledger.
Smith is talking about the frail man, walking the streets of Camden, N.J. with a cane -- a man who abuses drugs and alcohol and has been homeless for 10 years.
That man is former two-time world boxing champion Rocky Lockridge.
The 50-year-old man no longer stands in the ring, but sits on a stoop on the corner of 7th and Chestnut Streets looking to score drugs and greeting passersby.
“Everybody kisses me, calls out ‘Champ, Champ, Champ,’” Lockridge said.
And he was a champion. A one-punch knockout of Roger Mayweather, uncle of Floyd Mayweather Jr., in 1984 launched Lockridge to a new level of fighting with a record of 32-2, the paper reported.
He felt on top of the world -- bought a house in Mount Laurel, N.J. with his wife and children and was making pretty good money. But he was also making poor decisions. He fought hard and partied harder, snorting cocaine and drinking whatever he could get his hands on, according to the paper.
“I’m bitter. I’m very bitter…I made some mistakes, a whole lot of mistakes, but they were beyond my imagination,” Lockridge told the paper.
And his career took a downward turn after several losses. He ultimately lost his title after a 12-round battle against Tony Lopez in 1988. Lockridge soon retired in 1989 followed by a two-fight only comeback in 1991. He ended his career with a final record of 44 wins, 36 knockouts, nine losses.
He career came to a close and so did his marriage.
“I could not handle not being involved in the fight game…My wife, Carolyn…Her and I both began to see that we weren’t going to be the team that we at one time had been—inseperable,” Lockridge said.
In 1994, he moved to Camden, alone, and got a job with a drum and barrel company cleaning and painting barrels for $8 per hour.
But, he got into trouble and was arrested twice for burglary and served time in jail. He was released in 1999 and hasn’t worked since, the paper reported.
He lives off of $140 a month and food stamps and frequently sleeps in an abandoned row-home -- he doesn’t like the 7 p.m. curfew at some shelters, Lockridge told The Star-Ledger.
And this sad turn of events isn’t uncommon for fighters. Although a top fighter, Lockridge did not accrue enough money to retire on. His top purse wold translate to $450,000 today, according to The Sweet Science.
“Boxers don’t come from the Ivy Leagues and Beverly Hills, they come from ghettos and Third World countries, looking to get themselves out of poverty,” Ramos said.
Still, Lockridge has hope. He wants to get back on his feet, reunite with his family and quit drinking and drugs.
“Now I’m ready for this, mentally and physically, to get me back on track…I am in dire need of that kind of support and I want it. I’ve been knocked down. Now I’m finally ready to get back up,” Lockridge said.
The Retired Boxers Foundation would help Lockridge with supplemental security income, housing and Medi-Cal, but he must be sober, the foundation said.
And Lockridge claims he is ready.
“I can’t make up for the lost time, but I can just get there, be there, spend the rest of the time with my wife and children and give them the time that I have left,” Lockridge said.