Frankie Randall – A terrific professional that loved his job too much
Frankie Randall toiled away in the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions for over a decade and his hard work was finally rewarded when he defeated the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on January 29, 1994.
That unforgettable triumph brought Randall the WBC junior welterweight title and recognition as the first man to defeat the Mexican icon in 91 fights.
However, time hasn’t been kind to Randall, who went on to lose the rematch to Chavez in contentious fashion. The now 58-year-old, who would also win the WBA 140-pound title twice, is being looked after in a care facility.
“My dad has pugilistic dementia and Parkinson’s,” Marcus Randall, the former three-time titleholder’s only child, told The Ring. “A frontal lobe brain injury that affects his speech, motor skills, and mental stability.
“Due to his condition, my family and I made the decision to place my dad in a nursing home in Tennessee. We wish to keep the location private at this time.”
Randall’s son has watched his father deteriorate over the last several years.
“I’m sure his condition progressed over time,” Marcus said. “He was a boxer; he gave his whole life to boxing, he loved his job. But my family and I have been dealing with his condition for almost 10 years.
“It has been hard to watch my father become a shell of what he used to be. It almost seems like he is stuck in time. I feel like he will wake up and be his normal self again, but that is not the case – this is a new fight. People will remember Frankie Randall the boxer, but it’s my dad, my hero, just sitting there, slowing down. It’s been a challenge, and the challenge has become my fight.”
Marcus doesn’t hold any bitterness toward boxing and the hand it has dealt his father.
“How could I hold ill will towards my father’s profession that provided for me,” he said. “His favorite quote was ‘I love my job’ and he made damn sure the world knew it. He worked hard to accomplish his achievements. He overcame hardships, personal struggles and many other challenges in his life. Boxing gave my father a lot, but what it took from me I will never get back, no matter how frustrated I get, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much I wish I could snap my fingers and bring him out of this bad dream.”
He concedes that his father didn’t know any other way and fought on when, in hindsight, he should have looked at different career choices.
“My dad fought well past his prime,” Marcus acknowledged. “He gave every last ounce of his life to boxing. I do not know any professional athlete that wants to walk away from their identity. Boxing was his life; the way he made a living. Boxing was what he was known for, it gave him purpose.
“I’m sure if my dad was able, he would be in boxing, training fighters, sharing tips with his two grandsons. He would be sharing knowledge about the art of boxing – ‘The Surgeon’ doing what he loved. But our life is a different journey.”
Marcus’ two favorite memories of his father are him saying “I love my job” and the post-fight interview after he upset Chavez as a 15-1 underdog.
“I wanna say hello to my little boy back in Tennessee. Marcus, I love you, buddy!'” the new champion told Showtime that night.
The magnitude of the Chavez win isn’t lost on his former trainer Aaron Snowell, who has also worked with Tim Witherspoon, Mike Tyson, Julian Jackson and Tim Austin, among others.
“Just to knock down Julio Cesar Chavez, who had never been off of his feet before, was one great accomplishment, but to beat him, it’s part of boxing history,” said Snowell. “Plus, that was the opening of the MGM Grand, which is a great boxing oasis now.”
Snowell vividly remembers Randall speaking to his young son after Chavez regained the title.
“Frankie Randall loved his job,” said the trainer. “After the fight, Frankie’s son was riding in the van with us and crying because his father was feeling something from the fight. Frankie replied, ‘Stop crying, stop crying, you have always been my lucky charm…'”