|Interview with Rob ‘Bam Bam’ Hines - Former IBF Light Middleweight Boxing Champion
Interview by Ken Hissner (Jan 25, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
He was 8 when he started boxing. He was 1978 #106 State GG champ when I first saw him, though telling me recently he only weighed 90 pounds representing Moylan Recreation Center, 25th and Diamond, in Philadelphia. His amateur record was 178-11. His next door neighbor was Bernard Hopkins whom he beat in a 1977 amateur bout. He would later spar with Hopkins as a pro and still “kick his ass” as Hines put it. Hopkins remarked on HBO prior to the Tarver fight “the two toughest southpaw’s I ever fought were #2 John David Jackson (WBO light middleweight and WBA middleweight champion),
and #1 Rob ‘Bam Bam’ Hines. Basketball great Hank Gathers and current Temple University women’s coach Dawn Staley also grew up in the neighborhood.
Hines had fought 1972 and 1976 Olympian Davey Armstrong three times losing all three in close fights. He also fought former WBA junior welterweight champion Johnny Bumphus in the amateurs.
In March 16, 1980 14 members of an Olympic boxing team fell to their death on a US flight to Warsaw, Poland. Little did they know there would not be an Olympics for the United States due to President Carter’s boycott. Philadelphia’s Lonnie Young was one of the victims. Bobby Czyz, Marvis Frazier, Alex Ramos, Jimmy Clark, Lee Roy Murphy and Rob Hines were scheduled to be on that flight. That same year Hines dad died. It was a bad time in his life. He lost to future NABF champion Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley that year in the National A.A.U. tournament and thought it best to take time off before he turned pro in March of 1981.
As a pro he was 25-3-1 (17) over a ten year period. He retired at the age of 29. He won the IBF light middleweight title in November of 1988. I had a chance to talk to Rob and discuss his good but short career.
KH: You turn pro winning your first 17 fights. I notice you have a win over Rocky Balboa in your 4th fight in Las Vegas. That is not who I think it is, is it?
RH: (Both laughing) No.
KH: Who trained and managed you?
RH: Al Fennell was always my trainer from the time I started. Sam Ingerman was my only manager. He also had Charles Singleton and Roger Stafford.
KH: In June of 1984 you suffer your first loss to Ricardo Bryant (11-5, 8 KOs) in A.C. by 7th round tko. What happened?
RH: My head was getting too big for me. I hurt my left hand, but that had nothing to do with my loss. Bryant was very strong.
KH: In your next bout you take on Kevin Howard who had just come off a loss to Sugar Ray Leonard and you win an easy decision.
RH: When Ray wanted to have a comeback fight he wanted a tough Philly fighter. He had Richard Nixon (not the president), Buster Drayton, Howard and Hines to pick from. He chose Howard and had to come off the canvas to win a decision. I got the loser as it turned out.
KH: Your next fight is against tough James “Hard Rock” Green (20-6, 12 KOs) in his home state of NJ and you get a draw. What kind of a decision was that?
RH: I thought I won that fight.
KH: In August of 1987 you fight Donald Bowers (21-3-1, 14 KOs) from Detroit. The record shows you had him down in the 2nd round and continued to hit him. You were awarded a tko win that was reversed to a no contest in two. Bowers would never fight again.
RH: We went to court to get that decision reversed but didn’t win. Actually, I grabbed the top rope with my right hand and used it for leverage and knocked him down with my left hand. That was illegal for me to do that.
KH: You followed up with a win over Michigan state champion Tony Montgomery (18-2, 12 KOs) whose only loss up until then was a disqualification to Donald Curry.
RH: We fought for the USBA title and I stopped him in the 10th round.
KH: Next was future world champion Steve Little from upstate Reading, Meldrick Taylor’s cousin. You defend your USBA title in winning an easy decision.
RH: My hand problem continued but I can’t afford a long layoff in getting an operation.
KH: After a warm-up knockout win you get your title fight against unbeaten Canadian Matthew Hilton (29-1, 23 KOs) who is the IBF light middleweight champion in November 1988. I had met his two brothers along with his dad at Cus D’Amato’s house in Catskill just before Matthew turned pro.
RH: I beat him in Las Vegas. We then signed to meet Darrin Van Horn (38-0, 24 KOs) in Atlantic City. If we beat him we get a five fight deal with Bob Arum (Top Rank) and go to Italy to fight Gianfranco Rosi (45-3). This time I hurt my left hand in the first round. The pain hurt so bad I wanted to quit. My trainer told me to use my right jab and get thru the fight best I could. I managed to win a couple of rounds but not the fight. I lost my title and a big contract deal winding up with two bad hands.
KH: You take nine months off and return to score a quick stoppage of Salim Muhammad (7-3-1, 1 KO). He had just lost a ten round decision to Van Horn the month before. You would be the only person to stop him during his career.
RH: I knew I wouldn’t be fighting much longer.
KH: In what would be your last fight you lose to Brett Lally (26-5, 16 KOs) from Michigan for the vacant NABF title in Atlantic City.
RH: I had to lose twenty pounds in a short period of time to make 154. He stopped me in the 4th round. That would be the end of my career.
KH: I met you at an amateur tournament in Philly back in September. I saw you again in December at Shuler’s Gym where you said you had a fighter in a tournament that night.
RH: I train amateurs, pro’s and people who just want to learn how to box.
KH: I appreciate the interview and will I be seeing you in Dover, Delaware next month on a Dave Tiberi co-promoted show? I know the two of you sparred with Hopkins.
RH: I will be there. If you need anything else please let me. It was my pleasure.
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