Premiering on AETN Monday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m., the latest edition of “Men & Women of Distinction” tells the story of Arkansas Sports Hall of Famer Ray Rodgers. Rodgers, who graduated from amateur boxer to coach to holding top leadership posts in the sport, has dedicated more than 70 years of his life to boxing. His skills as a “cutman” are legendary, and he’s worked in the corners of some of professional boxing’s greatest champions.
Rodgers was born in Oklahoma but moved to Conway, Arkansas, as a child. In fifth grade, he was introduced to boxing and has been hooked ever since. He spent 14 years as an amateur, and at age 16, while still an amateur fighter himself, he began coaching younger kids. He relished the role and expanded it over the years - coaching countless youngsters out of his own Little Rock gym and presiding over both the national Silver and Golden Glove organizations. His dedication to youth is further demonstrated by the “Golden Gloves Education Center” he opened next door to the gym, which serves as a quiet place for the kids to study.
In the early amateur days, before headgear became mandatory, coaches had to take care of cuts that would open up on fighters. Over time, Rodgers developed his own technique and was soon sought after in the professional ranks for his talents. Today, he is known throughout the sport as one of the best cutmen and has travelled the globe, working for some of the most recognizable fighters in the game. To date, he has been in the corner for more than 50 championship fights.
Still, it is the desire to teach and instill the values of self-discipline and dedication that keeps him rooted in amateur boxing. For many of his protégés, the Ray Rodgers Boxing Club offers refuge from an uncertain future – one that all too often ends behind bars. Rodgers’ enduring legacy is his tireless commitment to mentoring young people toward education and away from the streets.
“Men & Women of Distinction: Ray Rodgers” will repeat Sunday, Nov. 18, at 11 p.m. The film is produced by Jon Renfroe. “Men & Women of Distinction” features interviews with prominent Arkansans known for their citizenship, character and accomplishments. Explore more episodes featuring extraordinary Arkansans at aetn.org/programs/menandwomenofdistinction.
Monday, Nov. 11, 2018