|Donald Curry, Former Undisputed Welterweight Champion
Curry burst onto the national boxing scene as a member of the 1980 United States Olympic team, which also included Richie Sandoval, Bernard Taylor, Johnny “Bump City” Bumphus, James Shuler and others. “The Lone Star Cobra” defeated future world jr. middleweight champion, Davey Moore, to earn the welterweight slot on the team that eventually boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games for political reasons, under the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
By the end of 1982, Curry was a frequently televised, highly touted welterweight contender, winning both the NABF and USBA welterweight titles (beating Marlon Starling for the latter). The following year, Curry won the vacant WBA welterweight title with a 15 round unanimous decision over Jun Suk Hwang, and successfully defended it nine times. In the process, Curry became the undisputed champion of the world at 147 pounds, taking the IBF strap in a rematch with Marlon Starling and destroying Milton McCrory in the 2nd round, for the WBC version. At this point, Curry was regarded as no worse than the second best fighter on the planet, behind only Marvelous Marvin Hagler. And with America’s sweetheart, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, in the midst of his 3 year hiatus, Donald Curry was as likely a candidate as any to fill that superstar void.
Not long afterwards, the pendulum abruptly shifted and the “Lone Star Cobra” seemed to be snake bitten. In 1986, fistic followers were shocked when Curry suffered his first defeat, via 6th round TKO to Lloyd Honeyghan. Curry was never quite the same after this first dose of mortality. Less than a year later, he was counted out in a challenge to junior middleweight champion and Hall of Famer, Mike McCallum. The Ft. Worth native redeemed himself a bit, garnering WBC Junior Middleweight laurels from Gianfranco Rosi, in 1988. After dropping this belt in his second defense, Curry received two more shots at a world championship, losing by knockout to both Michael Nunn and Terry Norris. Following nearly six years of inactivity, Curry made an ill-fated and short-lived comeback; but since being stopped by Emmett Linton in 1997, Donald hasn’t fought again.
The name, “Donald Curry”, conjures a variety of verbs, “smooth tactician” and “boxer- puncher” to name a few. The truth is he was all of that and more for stretches of his nearly seventeen year career. And over the last decade, Curry has become an urban legend, a seldom seen, seldom heard from figure that assuredly holds a spot on the Dallas/Ft. Worth fight scene’s mythical Mt. Rushmore. North Texas Boxing caught up with “The Lone Star Cobra” to get his own assessment of where he’s been and where he’s going.
NORTH TEXAS BOXING: So how have you been, man?
NTB: You look like you’re still close to fighting shape. What are you weighing these days?
NTB: How long have you been training and coaching?
NTB: Are you working with any pros, or mostly amateurs?
NTB: Are you looking to get into training pros potentially?
NTB: If you had the power to show all boxing fans your three best fights, the fights that showed Donald Curry at his absolute best, which three fights would you select?
NTB: Was it a left hook that dropped McCrory?
NTB: Which is your favorite KO to re-watch?
At around the age of 7, Curry and his family (including his brothers Bruce and Graylin) moved to a new neighborhood in inner city Ft. Worth, where athletic success came early. “I was a winner from the beginning. I played pretty much everything growing up and most of the time, I won. I grew up a [Dallas] Cowboys fan, played football, basketball, baseball and I was very competitive. I got into a pattern of winning and I liked that and you’re gonna ride that type of wave until someone takes it away from you.” Curry made it all the way to the finals in his first year of Junior Olympic boxing, where he subsequently lost. But after that, “The Lone Star Cobra” was winning national titles regularly.
During his sophomore or junior year of high school, Curry recalls famed trainer, Dave Gorman playing a more prominent role in his life. “Dave had always been affiliated with the camp I trained out of, but he eventually took over, especially the financial side of things.” At one point or another, Gorman handled Curry, Troy Dorsey, Stevie Cruz, Gene Hatcher and Robin Blake. All but Blake won a world title as a professional, but without question, Donald Curry was the “star” of that collection of talent.
NTB: What type of impact did the 1980 Olympic boycott have on your professional career?
NTB: Are you familiar with who won the gold medal that year, at your particular weight class?
NTB: Had you ever fought him previously or any of the other guys who medaled around your weight class?
NTB: How do you think the 1980 squad would’ve done in terms of medals, compared to the other Olympic teams?
NTB: I’ve heard you were having problems making 147 lbs after you won the title. There’s a rumor floating around that Sugar Ray Leonard or his negotiator, Mike Trainer, advised you to remain at welter for the Lloyd Honeyghan fight. Is that true or false?
NTB: So you have no animosity towards Leonard or anybody?
NTB: Who are some of your favorite current fighters?
NTB: How do you feel about today’s welterweight division?
NTB: Thanks for your time, Donald, any last words?
The highlight of his career was winning his first world championship in Ft. Worth, against Jun Suk Hwang. “That night was overwhelming, the ultimate! Number one on my list for sure!” Sadly, Curry has lost track of the medals, trophies and title belts he accumulated over the years. But luckily, he’s a glass half full sort who knows there’s still something to be reaped and sowed from the sport that defines him.