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Forgotten Champions: Bruce Curry


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The second most successful of the Curry brothers, Bruce was known for his boxing ability, but on the downside he was somewhat chinny and suffered some upset knockout losses before his career took off for real. He managed to capture the WBC light welter title in 1983 and held it until 1984, making two successful defenses. He is also known for giving Wilfred Benitez a tough fight and dropping him several times in one fight 1977. Sadly, his career came to a screeching halt after he developed a mental illness soon after losing his title and was arrested and then sent to a hospital in 1985. He would return to the ring once more after that. This is the story of Bruce Curry.


The oldest of the Curry brothers, Bruce was born 29 March 1956 in Marlin, Texas. He stood 5'9 and a half (176 cm) and along with his brothers Graylin and Donald, he was a promising amateur boxer. But, while Bruce and Donald went on to win world titles as pros, the middle brother Graylin was unable to have a successful pro career. Bruce was a two-time Texas Golden Gloves champion and a four-time Fort Worth GG champion as well. In 1976, he first won the Western Olympic trials, before facing Sugar Ray Leonard in the overall finals and losing to him on points. Bruce's reported amateur record was 315-11. He entered the pro ranks in September that same 1976 and won his first fight on points. He racked up 13 wins, defeating the Japanese contender and world title challenger Lion Furuyama by a TKO5, before losing for the first time against none other than Wilfred Benitez. They fought on 18 November '77 at Madison Square Garden and Curry put Benitez down twice in the 4th round and once in the 5th, but Benitez came back and Curry started to tire. Eventually, Benitez won by a split decision but everyone was impressed by this young new fighter from Texas, who had been the first one to put Benitez down in his 35th fight-and 3 times even. They had a rematch on 4 February next year and it was again a hotly contested fight, but Benitez had learned his lesson and boxed cleverly, in the end winning by a majority decision after Curry had exhausted himself. He had had a match only 8 days prior and in Japan, which was to blame for his poor conditioning, but still scored with some good punches to body and head and gave Benitez a good fight. In his next fight, Curry stopped Luis Resto, who would later become infamous for using loaded gloves, by a TKO2. On 7 April '78, he won the NABF title by stopping Monroe Brooks by a TKO9-Brooks had earlier challenged Saensak Muangsurin for the WBC title and almost gone the full 15 rounds against him and also dropped him once. However, in his next fight in September, which was in Puerto Rico, he for the first time was exposed as chinny as he got stopped by the unrated Domingo Ayala by TKO9. Only a month later, he lost to Adolfo Viruet, another Puerto Rican, by UD10. He came back at the end of the year by beating Wade Hinnant by SD10.


In April next year, he defended his NABF title against Willie Rodriguez and won by KO10, before fighting Thomas Hearns-Motor City Cobra, at 147 pounds. The fight was in Detroit, 28 June and the shorter Curry came out aggressively, but was unable to connect much on the taller Hearns. Hearns jab repeatedly snapped his head back. Curry had some success in the second round and then in the third landed a couple of nice lefts to body and head. After Hearns got cut from a punch, he knew he had to step it up and he then staggered Curry with a right to the head and then put him down with a follow up barrage. After Curry got up in time, Hearns knocked him out with two big right uppercuts, while holding his head, and a follow up barrage. Curry would still not give up campaigning at 147 and he first beat Greg Stephens by UD10 before fighting him again for the NABF welter title, 3 June '80 in Las Vegas. Once again, after being better for most of the fight, Curry gassed late and was put down twice in round 11 and stopped. After also being stopped by the 12-2 Steve Hearon by TKO7 the following year, he decided to go back to 140. He started winning again and in November '82 he won the USBA title by UD12 against Ronnie Shields. Next year, after stopping Tyrone Rackley by TKO1, he challenged for the WBC belt against Leroy Haley, back then 47-2. Haley had twice beaten Saoul Mamby and taken the title from him. The fight happened 18 May at Dunes & Hotel Casino Outdoors Arena in Vegas and Bruce Curry could finally call himself world champion after he beat Haley by a convincing UD. He and his brother Donald, who had won the WBC belt at 147 earlier that year, became the first pair of brothers to simultanously hold world titles! For his first defense, Curry went to Osaka, Japan, to fight the 14-0 Hidekazu Akai and he proved himself superior when he stopped Akazu by a TKO7 on 7 July. On 19 October, he had a rematch with Haley for his second defense, at Showboat Hotel & Casino in Vegas, and this time needed a split decision to retain his title against the shorter but cagey Haley. Just as it seemed like nothing could go wrong, he ran into Billy Costello, who was 26-0 and highly rated as a strong and durable brawler. Nobody knows what happened with and around Curry, but he went on to lose in convincing fashion on that night of 29 January '84, fighting in Beaumont, his home state of Texas. He was significantly behind on two of the scorecards when he got stopped early in the 10th round by TKO after a gruelling, all-out war.


Not long after that, hell broke loose! On 2 February, he had an altercation in the gym with his trainer Jesse Reid and fired some shots from his gun at him! He reportedly blamed Reid for his loss to Costello and they got into a fight. He was arrested for gun possession and assault with a deadly weapon, but soon a disturbing truth was revealed-he had gone mentally ill. He was therefore released and all charges were dropped against him, and instead he was interred into a mental hospital. He stayed there for about a year, until being deemed healthy again and released 26 March 1985. He went back to the gym and started training again, but it took until next year before he again had a fight. It was on 29 April that the world last saw the former world champion in the ring. By then, he was a completely different man and was even stunned once against a guy with a 4-19-1 record, Tomas Negron Garcia. He still managed to win by MD8. That proved to be his last fight and Curry surely knew he was finished as a serious fighter. He retired at the age of 30 and with a record of 33 wins, 17 by ko, and 8 losses, 5 by ko.


It is interesting how both he and his brother Donald fell on hard times right before the end of their careers. There isn't info on his current whereabouts but he is still alive and presumably living in Fort Worth. Bruce Curry was a very talented fighter, but one can say he made some career mistakes and lingered on too long at 147. He had everything to be a big star, like his brother Donald, but it simply wasn't meant for him to have a long career. It was likely the punishment he took against Costello that shortened his career and led to that bout of mental illness. I hope you enjoyed this presentation.



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