:: Article

‘Even if the bad guy loses’

By Pete Carvill.


Jon Hotten, The Years of the Locust: A True Story of Murder, Money and Mayhem in the Last Age of Boxing, Yellow Jersey Press, 2009

Memory very rarely serves but, if it does, then George Plimpton, of The Paris Review, once wrote, “If you can’t write well about boxing, then you can’t write full-stop.”

Jon Hotten has written excellently about this barely licensed mayhem in The Years of the Locust as he has a story reminiscent of Elmore Leonard but with the added weight of being entirely true.

In one corner, you have Tim ‘Doc’ Anderson who comes across as something of a man-child, a naïve and trusting guy, who fought in rings around the world as a professional heavyweight boxer – not a great or even good fighter but a competent one, the type a promoter puts in against one of their prospects, knowing that he opposes no serious threat to their investment and potential cash cow.

Despite all stories needing an enemy or adversary to overcome, there is no one in the opposite corner; the threat to Anderson’s wellbeing comes from his own side in the form of his promoter Rick ‘Elvis’ Parker, a grossly obese, ginger toupee-wearing horror of a man whom Hotten notes as being the worst person you will ever meet.

Rick Parker did anything and everything to get ahead. He lied, stole, cheated, threatened, attacked and swindled his way across America. He fixed fights and swindled his friends, fighters, the public and members of his own family. And when Tim Anderson finally killed him, Parker’s own sister, to the chagrin of their wider family, said that it had only been a matter of time before someone had done it, expressing surprise only in that had been nice guy Tim who had done it.

And that’s the story of the story: the things that led Tim ‘Doc’ Anderson to a hotel room in Florida with a gun and a fate of being sentenced to a life being finished in prison. Despite being titled The Years of the Locust, Hotten could have called his book ‘Tailspin’ as the course set down upon is one of a series of small tragedies that, even with ignorance of the ending from the outset, makes no illusion that this is a story that not going to end any other way but badly.

And it does, despite the death/defeat of Rick Parker. There are no winners, especially Tim ‘Doc’ Anderson. The Years of the Locust is a tragedy presented in the detritus of real life, a reminder that even if the bad guy loses, then the good guy doesn’t automatically win.

Pete Carvill writes about boxing for The Sweet Science and Fight Beat.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, May 25th, 2009.