WEST TEXAS MIDDLEWEIGHT
The Story of LaVern Roach
(Sport in the American West Series)
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 288
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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 TEXAS TECH PRESS:
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I am a part-time writer wanting to be a full-time writer. Being a part-time writer limits your total concentration and focus on writing.
Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?
We all too often see sports figures as only celebrities without realizing that there may me much more to them other than their athletic achievements. They too have personal lives that often mirror our own ups and downs in life.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Getting to know the main character through his letters and the interactions with his family members and friends. This happened to the point that I now feel I am part of his family.
From the time that you first got the idea to write this book, did you ever doubt that it would actually turn into a published book?
No, not really. Not because of any writing skills that I may or may not have possessed (most of which were acquired while writing the book with the assistance of so many people), but because of the subject matter – it was a story that needed to be told. I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time.
Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book?
LaVern – Scott Eastwood if I could get Clint to direct it. Evelyn – Emma Stone.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
The female mind.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I have a couple more sports biographies in mind then perhaps will look at fiction writing — perhaps another Catch 22 type of story.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Live long enough to see this book in print.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
He did it his way.
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.
Connect with the author on FACEBOOK.
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June 1 – June 10, 2016
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