To Many Boxing fans the 80s was the Golden era, across the board Boxing divisions were littered with super star names such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Wilfred Benítez, the heavyweight division had its fair share too Larry Holmes was considered the dominant force along with the likes of Mike Weaver and Trevor Berbick, the back end of the 80s would see the youngest ever Heavyweight champion crowned his name of course was Mike Tyson.
After beating Greg Page to become the Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champion in 1976, Michael Dokes turned Professional winning his first five fights, in 1977 the 18-year-old Dokes was invited to take part in a Televised Exhibition Bout with the then Champion Muhammed Ali 35 who was in training camp for his title defence against Alfredo Evangelista.
While the Exhibition told us all we needed to know about Ali the televised event got the boxing world talking about the young prospect, his sublime punching speed, great footwork, and strong right hand would see Dokes use those attributes to go on a 17-fight winning streak, culminating in a scrappy draw with Ossie Ocasio however 2months later in rematch Dokes handed Ocasio a destructive 1st round TKO.
Back on track Dynamite Dokes was considered the air apparent to Larry Holmes’ Title, his chance for a crack at the championship came in 1982 against the formidable Mike Weaver, Weaver a herculean specimen was an somewhat inactive champion with a bad habit of starting fights slow, Dokes by now had mastered the art of quick stoppages and used this to his advantage jumping on the champion from the opening bell, midway through the first round, with Weaver under pressure from the challenger, the referee abruptly stopped the fight in favour of Dokes, fans and commentators alike at ringside called “Fix” in unison claiming the referee was in the pocket of a certain Mr Don King.
“Money Is not the most important thing in life, but theres nothing more important, once you gain it you lose your incentive and become content”
Almost immediately a rematch was ordered but the controversy didn’t end there.
Weaver had learned from his first fight mistake and weathered the early Dokes storm taking the new champion into the later rounds, Weaver having the better of most of the rounds felt sure he had regained his title only to see the judges declare the bout a draw.
The Allure of all the benefits that come with being the Heavyweight Champion of the World befell Michael Dokes but for all the wrong reasons, while many Champions go on to greater glory and achievements Dokes fell at the what should have been the beginning of a glittering career, at 24 he lost the title to Gerrie Coetzee in his first title defence, with his title gone and his career spiralling out of control a mix of fast woman, drink, drugs and arrests, his followers and supporters soon began to desert him too.
After a brief spell in Jail, Doke’s went back into the ring fighting journey men to earn a living, meant as nothing more than cannon fodder a chance fight with Future Champion Evader Holyfield would catapult him back into the public eye, although a 10th round loss ensued Dokes would give the performance of his life, and earn him the renewed respect of the boxing world.
Dokes would continue Fighting through the 90s but by now he was nothing short of a journey man himself, occasionally being wheeled out to face the likes of Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock and ‘Big daddy’ Riddick Bowe to tee off on him while he earned a half decent payday.
Dokes’ career ended in 1999 after he was sent to prison for a 15yr sentence, In 2008 the one-time Champion came out of prison after serving 9-years, however ill health had begun to set in, with a boxing career that lasted over 21 years he never fulfilled his true potential, Michael Marshall Dokes died of liver failure in 2012 aged just 54.