Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 288
LaVern Roach, a skinny kid from the small town of Plainview, Texas, rose from obscurity to become one of boxing’s most popular figures during the 1940s. Roach’s rise to prominence occurred during an era when boxing shared the spotlight with baseball as the nation’s top two professional sports. As a result of Roach’s death—which marked the first nationally televised fight during which a boxer died from injuries received in the ring—the sport of boxing came under closer scrutiny by the general public than ever before.
West Texas Middleweight is the story of Roach’s all too brief journey from a West Texas amateur, to enlistment in the US Marines, where he captained the nation’s most successful military boxing team, to becoming a Madison Square Garden main eventer. He received the distinction of being named The Ring Magazine’s “Rookie of the Year” for 1947 and was considered a top ten contender for the middleweight championship of the world. This book chronicles Roach’s road to his final fight—and it explains why, as noted by legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, “boxing changed because of LaVern Roach.”
Purchase From: http://www.ttupress.org/
How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Since my subject is a Texan, it has allowed me to relate to him since we both come from similar backgrounds and heritage.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
It was a godsend.
Where did your love of bookish things come from?
My 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Williams, gave me a love for literature. I won an essay writing contest that year and got to fly for the first time the 45 miles between Plainview and Lubbock, go see the movie Dial M for Murder, and picnic at McKenzie Park. What a thrill for a 14-year-old boy.
How long have you been writing?
This is my first, but hopefully not my last book.
What kind(s) of writing do you do?
This is a biography but I hope to do all kinds of writing in the future.
How does your book relate to your life path?
It is a culmination of 70 years of life experiences.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I initially thought that the hardest part would be finding enough material to fill the pages but soon discovered that condensing or editing the book became the hardest or most challenging part.
What projects are you working on at the present?
No literary projects at the time, but after the book is published I will work on trying to get LaVern Roach into the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I will let you know as soon as I have some free time.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Flying at all sorts of speed
If you were a superhero, what would your name be?
Superman with a big ‘S.’
If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?
A giraffe: high enough to observe all that goes on.
Frank Sikes, a third-generation West Texan, grew up in Plainview, where LaVern Roach, along with Jimmy Dean, were hometown heroes. Sikes graduated from Texas Tech in 1967, then was a US Navy Officer proudly serving aboard the USS Little Rock stationed in Gaeta, Italy from 1968-1970. He attended the University of Houston School of Business, from 1973 to 1975, and got his master's degree in religion from Wayland Baptist University in 2011.
Frank and his wife Nancy have been married for 50 years and have two grown children out of the house, and two Boston Terriers, Molly and Maggie (or as some suggest Boston terrorists) who rule the house. Lubbock has been home for the past 30 years with stops in Newport, RI; San Francisco, CA; Gaeta, Italy; Houston, TX; and Albuquerque, NM. West Texas Middleweight is his first book.
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