By today’s fancy terminology, Ray Rodgers would be known as a laceration management specialist.
In boxing lingo, that’s a cut man.
In simple terms, he stops the bleeding.
“People think I have some magic potion ... well I do have something that can hold two drops of water together,” said Rodgers with a sly smile.
Rodgers, a former Conway High football and University of Central Arkansas football player who is internationally known as one of the best cut men in the business as well as a longtime coach and national official with the Golden Gloves and Silver Gloves, was the speaker at Monday’s luncheon of the Arkansas Sports Club.
He has boxed, coached boxing, officiated boxing and served as an boxing administrator for almost half a century, most recently as the cut man for Little Rock’s Jermain Taylor during his run toward a light heavyweight championship.
He was one of the unsung heroes after Taylor took a head butt in his championship bout with Bernard Hopkins 29 seconds into the fifth round.
Working in Taylor’s corner, Rodgers said he had less than a minute to correct the problem.
“I could see his skull,” Rodgers said. “I’ve watched the replay several times. When Jermain went into the corner, the announcer said that cut would be a big factor to overcome. After Jermain came out, the announcer never mentioned the cut again.”
When he was taken to the hospital later, Taylor required 16 stitches.
That was far from the record.
He worked a corner with former boxer Iran Barkley, who later required 2 1/2-hour surgery and 62 stitches to his face. “His head looked like a tow sack full of doorknobs,” Rodgers said.
He said treating cuts is a skill learned at ringside with practical experience and not in an educational institution. He said he worked with some of the best at at early age
“You’ve got to be quick, careful and confident,” he said. “A boxer’s career and well-being may be in your hands.
“The boxer may be tough, but when he’s face gets beat up, there’s fear. That’s why no matter how it looks I tell the boxer that I have it under control, and it’s nothing but a scratch.
“I’m in control of injuries from the head, face and to the shoulders and you have 50 seconds at best between rounds. But I can say to the best of my knowledge, none of my boxers has lost a bout on conditions I’m supposed to control.”
Rogers only coaches at the amateur level. He serves as a cut man for professional fighters. That service has taken him to Hong Kong, Germany, Scotland, England, Ireland and every major boxing arena or casinos in every major city in the United States.
He recalled a fight in Kansas City in which one boxer took a beating and as he rushed to the corner between rounds, he heard the referee say, “I’m gonna give you one more round.” “No, you’re not,” Rodgers said he heard the boxer say.
At most championship bouts, the boxing federation places an inspector in each corner to make sure the cut man and attendants do not use an illegal substance.
At one bout involving Taylor, Rodgers said the inspector in his corner was “as green as ground moss.”Rodgers noted, “He was asking about everything and finally I told him that I was working a championship bout and I knew what I was doing and he didn’t, so shut up.
“He had on this nice blazer. After the fight, I put my greasy hands on the back of his new blazer, rubbed him on the band and said, ‘Nice working with you.’”
(David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or email@example.com)