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Richie Kates, light heavyweight contender in one of his division’s golden eras, dead at 69

Galindez (right) takes it to Kates in their classic May 1976 WBA light heavyweight title bout.
Fighters Network
12
Mar

Light heavyweight contender Richie Kates, one of the top fighters in a talent-laden division in the 1970’s and ‘80s, has passed away in New Jersey two months before his 70th birthday.

Promoter J. Russel Peltz broke the news on Twitter on Saturday, March 11.

Fighting in a division that featured some of the best talents in the past century, Kates shared the spotlight with champions such as Bob Foster, Victor Galindez, Marvin Johnson, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Mike Rossman and Michael Spinks during his career. Some of the best fighters who never won a title in that division such as Yaqui Lopez and James Scott were also part of that golden generation.


One of 11 siblings to a family of migrant farmers from the Deep South, Kates moved to New Jersey as an infant and lived there his entire life, turning professional at the age of 16 using a fake ID while still in high school and fighting along the Eastern seaboard during his early years, most notably in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.

He got his first title shot one day after turning 23 years old in South Africa against Argentina’s Victor Galindez, in one of the most dramatic fights of all time. After causing a nasty cut on Galindez’s head via accidental headbutt, Kates and Galindez fought a gory and bloody 15 round bout that ended with Galindez scoring a dramatic stoppage only seconds before the final bell. A rematch in Rome one year later ended in a decision win for Galindez as well.

Kates retired in 1983 when he was only 30 years old with a record of 44 wins and six losses, with 23 knockouts. His life was the subject of a documentary called “Richie Kates: An Uncommon Journey.”

 

Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for HBO.com, ESPN.com and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for RingTV.com.

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