Word spreads quickly in the boxing community, so it was no surprise that news had made it around the circuit, even before it hit the media outlets, that heavyweight Tim “Doc” Anderson had murdered his former boxing promoter, Rick Parker. What was surprising, however, was the tone of this communication. No one was sorry for Parker; they all said it was a shame that someone as nice as Anderson would have to pay a price for killing such a sleazy guy.
Anderson did pay a price, one that many feel is too high. Although a cursory examination of the evidence disputes Anderson’s intention to shoot Parker, he was sentenced to life in prison, without parole, for premeditated murder.
Anderson did have a motive for killing Parker. Parker had stolen his money and had drugged him with a poisonous cocktail that left him physically disabled. Money is money, but the drugging was as much for retribution than anything else.
In addition to Anderson, Parker also promoted former NFL superstar Mark Gastineau. With a high-profiled football career that netted him MVP in the 1984 Pro Bowl, the New York Jets defensive lineman was a promoter’s dream when he decided to turn to boxing in 1991. From the beginning, Parker hoped to get a big money fight with Gastineau and was working to put a $20 million deal together with George Foreman.
Getting Gastineau’s record built up to make him a suitable opponent for Foreman was going to be pricey. It began with his first victory over professional wrestler Derrick Dukes, who later admitted to taking a dive, as did other fighters who helped build Gastineau’s record, as was reported in a televised 60 Minutes segment.
This is what got Anderson in hot water with Parker. Despite being offered $500,000, he refused to take a dive. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Anderson had refused from the beginning. Wanting the fight, however, Anderson strung Parker along until it was too late to find a replacement opponent. On June 9, 1992, in front of a USA Tuesday Night Fights audience, Anderson pummeled Gastineau into his first loss. Parker was livid. The time and money he invested in Gastineau was down the tubes.
Six months later, on December 3rd, in a desperate bid to try and salvage the Foreman fight, Parker arranged a rematch in Gastineau’s home state of Oklahoma, a state without a boxing commission at the time. Without fear of scrutiny, and knowing that Anderson would never take a dive, Parker arranged to have Anderson poisoned, ensuring Gastineau’s victory. Anderson had his suspicions; he had unfamiliar cornermen and the water they gave him tasted sweet. When he asked about it, he was told they had put a little sugar in it to give him additional energy. Feeling light-headed and nauseous, Anderson was knocked out in the sixth round.
In the early morning hours, long after everyone else had left the venue, a janitor discovered Anderson passed out in the dressing room. He managed to get him to a hospital where he was being tested for drugs, when Parker abruptly arranged Anderson’s transportation to the airport. Although the preliminary report showed the presence of a slew of drugs including arsenic and LSD, a final analysis was never completed. For the next two years, Anderson suffered from debilitating dizziness and nausea. Not only did the effects of the poisoning ruin his boxing career and medical supply business, they essentially ruined his life.
In the fall of 1994, when it appeared that his symptoms would not go away on their own, Anderson’s doctor told him that without knowing precisely what he had been poisoned with, he would be impossible to treat. This is what brought Anderson and Parker together on that fateful April 28, 1995, in a hotel room in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Anderson admittedly was afraid of Parker. In addition to routinely carrying a gun, rumors abounded about Parker’s underworld dealings and reports that he had actually committed murders. Recognizing that it would be risky to try and get Parker to give him the money he was owed and to reveal the poisons he had used, Anderson brought along two “witnesses” for protection, Parker’s son and sister, and a tape recorder. For additional protection, Anderson, who had never fired a pistol in his life, brought one along.
Initially, the meeting was cordial, enough so that Parker’s son and sister left the hotel room to give the men time to talk privately. Anderson’s memory of the events that followed are a bit sketchy, but he does remember Parker shouting, he remembers Parker slamming the tape recorder against the wall, but most of all, he remembers Parker screaming that he would kill Anderson’s sister and her family. This was not the first time that Parker had threatened to hurt Anderson’s paraplegic sister. Perhaps it was her vulnerability that made that threat so appealing to Parker.
Anderson emptied his revolver into Parker, reloaded and fired repeatedly into his own head, but the gun misfired, again and again, which was confirmed by a subsequent ballistics examination. It was not Anderson’s time to die.
No one expected Anderson to get life in prison, not even the jury that convicted him, as was written to the judge after the trial. However, along with a inadequate defense, absence of crucial evidence, and confusion over mandatory sentencing guidelines, life in prison is exactly what Anderson got. Anderson has been in custody ever since his initial arrest, and is now being kept under close supervision at the Hardy Correctional Facility in central Florida.
Yes, word spreads quickly in the boxing community, and the word that is spreading now is that enough is enough. At the recent Boxing Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canastota, New York, a who’s who among boxing celebrities, familiar with Anderson and his case, circulated a petition to draw attention to Anderson’s plight. At the very least, they contend, Anderson, who had never been in trouble before, not even for a traffic citation, deserves either a new trial to present additional evidence, or to have his sentence commuted for time served.
After reviewing all the information, Miami attorney Marcia Silvers has taken Anderson’s case, pro bono. Donations to help defray some of the legal expenses can be sent to the Tim “Doc” Anderson Legal Defense Fund, c/o Marcia Silvers, P.A., 2601 South Bayshore Drive, Suite 601, Miami, Florida 33133. Ms. Silvers’ phone is (305) 854-9666 and fax: (305) 857-0090.