Gene “Mad Dog” Hatcher Interview: WBA #140 Champ From Puncher to Preacher! By Ken Hissner (Feb 14, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
Gene “Mad Dog” Hatcher was a fighter known not to “pull any punches” when he dethroned Johnny “Bump City” Bumphus in June of 1984 in Buffalo, New York for the WBA world light welterweight title. Today he heads Hatcher Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas.
Hatcher paid his dues winning the AAU title in 1980 and capturing a medal in the Olympic trials. That was the year the US didn’t send a team to the Olympics in Moscow do to a boycott. In 1981 he decided to turn professional winning his first 11 fights in 11 months, 9 by knockout. He was then matched with former WBC super featherweight champion, Alfredo Escalera, 45-11-3, in his first 10 rounder. It was before his hometown crowd in Fort Worth and he won by decision. Hatcher was trained by Pa-Pa Joe Barrientes and his father, Ron.
Several fights later Hatcher defeated Philly’s Jerome Artis, 26-11-4, stopping the slickster in the 7th round. Gene and his wife Lori lost their second born son after he was born 10 weeks premature. After 29 days of doctor and hospital care they both were broken. He took the next fight not prepared like he should have only having a few short weeks of training. Before this happened he was offered a CBS fight with another Philly fighter in Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley, 9-0, in Atlantic City. His camp hoped the Artis fight would prepare him for this fight. He would drop his first fight after 14 consecutive wins. “Hatcher was a very determined fighter and due to his style he hoped to wear you down and come on later in the fight,” said Tyrone Crawley. Crawley is a police officer in Philly and a frequent attendee at the fights since his son is an amateur boxer.
Hatcher would bounce back with 3 knockouts before giving Escalera a rematch at Madison Square Garden in June of 1983. Hatcher found himself on the canvas in the 6th round and would lose a close 10 rounder on the semi-windup to Roberto Duran winning the WBA light middleweight title over Davey Moore.
Hatcher again scored a couple of knockouts and was matched with Joe Manley, 13-1, in Las Vegas. Manley was the Olympic representative in 1980, and would win the US Amateur title in 1981. Both fighters knew each other well. The fight was for the ESPN championship over 12 rounds with Hatcher gaining the win over the future IBF light welterweight champion who would take that crown in 1986. This fight propelled Hatcher back into the ratings and an eventual shot at the WBA title held by Bumphus, 22-0. Behind on all scorecards Hatcher would score a dramatic 11th round stoppage to become world champion.
In his first defense Hatcher won a split decision over South American champion Ubaldo Nestor Sacco, 46-2-1, in Fort Worth, in December of 1984. It was Hatcher’s sixth straight win since losing to Escalera. Due to the closeness of the fight they had a rematch in Italy in July of 1985. Hatcher was knocked down in the 5th round and stopped on a cut in the 9th round. He would move up to the welterweight division the following year winning 4 straight including stopping Darryl Anthony, 22-2, for the vacant WBC Continental Americas title.
In February Hatcher would drop down to 141 and lose to Frankie Warren, 22-0, in Sacramento. The drop in weight was too much for him. In his next fight 6 months later he was able to get a title bout with WBC/IBF welterweight champion Lloyd Honeyghan, 30-0, in a bullring in Andalucia, Spain. The champion had stopped unbeaten WBA/WBC/IBF champion Donald Curry for the title’s and stopped Bumphus. Then beat unbeaten Maurice Blocker before meeting Hatcher. Before the bell rang Honeyghan was halfway across the ring in what would be a slugfest until the champion landed a left followed by a wild right hand that dropped Hatcher. He was able to beat the count but was out on his feet as Honeyghan hammered him against the ropes causing the referee to stop the fight as Hatcher slumped to the canvas. All this in 0:45 of the 1st round.
It would be close to a year before Hatcher would return to the ring posting a couple of wins before losing to future WBA champion Aaron “Superman” Davis, 25-0, by decision in New York. A loss in his next fight to Anthony Williams who had defeated Darryl Anthony would retire Hatcher. He returned to the ring over 3 years later scoring a pair of wins in 1993. Almost a year later he had his final fight in July of 1985 winning a decision. Hatcher would end up with a 32-7, 23 knockout record.
In 1988 on his wife Lori Jean’s birthday he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. “Praise God on that day Jesus became everything,” said Hatcher. They have been married since 1979 and have 3 children, Justin, Brandi and Lindzi. Hatcher had been a board member and teacher at Chapel Creek Fellowship from 1994 to 2008 before starting his own ministry.
KEN: Who did you lose to in the Olympic trials in 1980?
GENE: I fought Dave Moore but did not lose! Donald Curry was at one end of the bracket and so was I. We both were from the same club in Texas. The politics of amateur boxing is the reason Curry and Hatcher did not fight the Championship fight for the US Trials.
KEN: You defeat one of the dirtiest fighters I have ever seen in Alfredo Escalera in less than a year boxing while he had 59 fights. Was it a tough fight?
GENE: Very tough, but that is my kind of fight and my hat goes off to him and I respect him. He was one of the toughest fights for sure!
KEN: The first person to get a win over you was a friend of mine, Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley. How good was he?
GENE: I think Ty was really a lot better than he got credit for and should have stayed with boxing longer. If he would have gotten a trainer to teach him how to bring his ass behind his punches, he could have been great! He should have called me after the fight that I really did win without the decision going my way? Ha’ tell Ty hello and God Bless!
KEN: Another Philly fighter Jerome Artis was not one of my favorite people. What kind of a fight did he give you up until you stopped him?
GENE: You know I really did not even know who Jerome was until after we fought. I really think he was defeated before he got in the ring with me because I remember he got on his bicycle and ran after the Mad-dog came out! He was a very good boxer but could not handle the heat of the dog!
KEN: I watched your rematch on you-tube with Escalera and it looked like he butted you around the 7th round. Was that cut the same cut that was opened in the Sacco rematch?
GENE: After the Escalara fight is when I started getting cut more often. He did know some tricks with his glove laces, elbows and shoulders along with head butts. Sacco also took full advantage in order to cut me but he also was as tough as Escalera. There is a rugged attitude that is very detectable in some men and Sacco and Escalera both had it!
KEN: You defeat Joe Manley for the ESPN title. Had you fought him in the amateurs since he was the 1980 Olympic representative?
GENE: No, I was heavier as an amateur. Joe was very good but he just underestimated the Mad-dog!
KEN: You come from behind and stop Johnny Bumphus in the 11th round. How big of a thrill was that and how good was Bumphus?
GENE: Yeah, I heard so much about how much I was the underdog and really it is what got me ready to fight. I always liked a challenge. I really think Johnny was the best, but allowed his humbleness to be wrecked by stardom. He just upset the dog with his big mouth and his trainer-manager Lou Duva. I hope and pray for Johnny because I know how hard it is in the real world after stardom!
KEN: You win a close fight over Sacco in Texas by split decision. Was that another real tough fight?
GENE: Yes, very tough, but Sacco I believe had more keeping him going then most average guys. I did find out later that he got busted by the law with illegal substance that ended his career.
KEN: The rematch is in Italy and you are dropped in the 5th and stopped on cuts? A good stoppage?
GENE: No, if you have seen the stoppage you can see that the dog finally started going forward and was about to rip his head off. The ref did see this and stopped it. I was bleeding very badly but all I can say is that Sacco was about to do down!
KEN: You defeat Darryl Anthony (only one to beat Breland as an amateur) but drop down to 141 for the Warren fight next. Why dropping down to light welter again?
GENE: Today I can say because all I felt was they offered a good fight with some kind of promise behind it. I was full of testosterone at that age and I wanted to go to the top. I know now we should have been a little smarter. You can definitely see better afterwards!
KEN: In spite of the loss you get a WBC/IBF welterweight title bout with Lloyd Honeyghan in Spain. It was hard to tell what happed on you-tube, but it seems like a left was followed over the top by an illegal right hand.
GENE: Well, you know better than me. The last thing I remember was I was in a big bull fight arena and I was going to win! The next thing I remember was getting mad at the ambulance driver to slow down because I did not want to die in Spain! Honeyghan did hit me before I knew it and with a good right hook, then good night sweet prince. I fought the rest of the few seconds on instinct.
KEN: Sometime in 1988 on your wife’s birthday you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Was there turmoil in your life at that time?
GENE: Christ became my Salvation when I was 12 years old but I learned to live in the middle of the road. Growing through my teenage years I took full advantage of the doctrine “Once saved always saved”. After many wake up calls that I ignored I found myself completely defeated many times but always could find a way out! At the age of 28 on my wife’s birthday, I finally gave up on trying to live on the high road. I do believe God knows the beginning as well as the end and He holds the keys to life and death but there is a problem with a doctrine that gives a liberal way out! I learned there is not just a “one time bought” one- way ticket. A daily relationship is the only way to get to the Heavenly destination! The devil made me do it” is just an excuse and I guarantee that he will burn! After I had decided to shoot myself and literally at the same time I looked up to see a picture of my beautiful wife and children and remembered it was her birthday. I was washing her car. This is where God brought me to my knees in my front yard. I just remember crying out after falling to my knees saying, “Lord I cannot go on anymore, will you please help me”? I am telling you my friend He did and did He ever! He changed everything! The rainy cloud went away and the light shined, and I praise Him every day because the day of Christ is here upon us! Thank you Jesus!
KEN: Losing back to back fights to Aaron Davis and Anthony Davis and Anthony Williams did you know it was over?
GENE: I honestly thought I had come back and won against Davis but in New York now way! It was the same with Escalera. After my father Ron went to Glory land, I noticed that my desire just was not the same. The Williams loss finally helped me realize my day was over and the business of boxing spoke very loud! The young day of being full of piss and vinegar was over. When I started feeling like I was the opponent is when I said enough!
KEN: You became a board member and teacher in 1994 at Chapel Creek until 2008? Did you then start your own ministries or as a part of CCF?
GENE: I am still on the Pastoral Board for the church. Gods call in my life came in 1988, after I almost ended my life. My father Ron passed in 1994. Gods call in my life came to me before CCF started. The week that my Dad passed was our first service at CCF. God has continued to be with us and keep us a loving and a giving Fellowship under Pastor Keith Day. My ministry is with CCF and where the Lord leads me today.
KEN: There’s another believer in Ft Worth who is a former world champion, Paulie Ayala. I did a story on him. Do you run into him much?
GENE: Paulie and I are brothers in Christ and yes we have visited many times. Troy Dorsey, another former champ is also a good brother and friend. Paulie grew up in the Gorman Masonry Gym while Donald Curry, Stevie Cruz and I were champions.
KEN: Anything advice you would like to give to a young boxer starting out today?
GENE: I would tell a young man that wants to win that hard work pays off and to keep focused on his goals. He should push himself beyond his physical limits at least 5 to 6 times a week. Do take a day to recover and get his mental self to a 100%. I have learned from failure that a clear conscience helps. I believe when a man can live for Christ, his spirit can be 100%. When a young man can be 100% physically and live by faith 100% then his mentality will be 100%. Victory is what you want and it is up to you.