by Michael Marley
Former world heavyweight champion Michael "Dynamite" Dokes, blessed by natural boxing talent but cursed by a wicked addiction to cocaine, died early Sunday morning at his family home in Akron, Ohio.
The ex-WBA champ, who served almost 10 years in a Nevada prison for a horrendous assault on a woman he lived with, was born on Aug. 10, 1958, and died on August 12 at the age of 54. Dokes was battered in recent months by cancer.
Dokes' death was confirmed to me by his lifelong pal and cornerman/adviser Sterling "Mac" McPherson.
A 6-3 gazelle who possessed a 78-inch reach and had delicious footwork, Dokes was more than a slick boxer. He also had a powerful punch and boxing legend Evander Holyfield recently described Dokes as having the swiftest fists he ever faced.
Dokes accomplished more as a gifted amateur than most boxers do in their combined amateur and professional careers.
His overall pro record was 53-6-2 with 34 KOs. Before turning pro, he served notice of his immense ability by going to the finals of the National AAU Tournament at age 15 before losing to future heavyweight champ and Muhammad Ali conqueror Leon Spinks.
He defeated top amateur Marvin Stinson and also lost close decisions to Cuba's Olympic hero Teofilo Stevenson and future heavyweight king Big John Tate. In the 1976 National Golden Gloves competition, Dokes beat both Tate and another future heavyweight champion, Greg Page.
In the pro ranks, Dokes outpointed slickster Jimmy Young and then took the WBA belt by stopping Mike "Hercules" Weaver. Dokes was relieved of the crown when ponderous South African puncher Gerrie Coetzee knocked him out.
In a great 1989, Dokes gave Holyfield a real test before McPherson and referee Richard Steele combined to stop it. After a 1993 Madison Square Garden loss to Razor Ruddock, Dokes' career and personal life turned into chaos.
As a young world champ, Dokes was mentioned as one of the world's best. Though he and fellow champ Larry Holmes were both promoted by Don King, the promoter never sought to match the two men.
A real look at Dokes' career becomes an examination of "what might have been" had he not gone off the deep end with the drug abuse which led to his battering of companion Sandra Cummings and a long prison stint.
A Las Vegas police officer said Dokes assaulted Cummings so badly that it was not possible to recognize her face from her driver's license photo.
This was the same Dokes who presented himself as a gallant gentleman and tossed red roses to female fans upon entering the ring.