If 44 year old isn’t allowed to box, he’ll make a federal case
Don Rohrer’s dream hasn’t wavered during the past 18 years. The 44-year-old, who resides in Zephyr Cove, can’t erase a vision of himself entering the ring for his first professional fight.
It’s a dream that Rohrer feels the Nevada Athletic Commission quashed last month when it declined to issue him a boxing license.
Hence, Rohrer’s aspiring professional boxing career has shifted from the ring to the courtroom.
Since being denied a license on July 24, Rohrer says he has decided to challenge the decision in federal court. In addition, he plans to sue the commission at least $1 million.
“I’m not saying I’m the best fighter ever, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the worst ever. This is something I have to settle. I have to fulfill this dream so I can live the rest of my life,” Rohrer said. “It’s no longer an ability-to-box issue, it’s a right-to-box issue.”
Mar Ratner, NAC executive director, refused to discuss the case because of the impending lawsuit.
However, Nevada Deputy Attorney General Joe Rolston revealed that the commission didn’t tender Rohrer a license because of his lack of boxing skills.
“It had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Rohrer’s age. The issue of age was never even brought up. The questions were based solely on, ‘Do you have the ability to compete,” Rolston said. “The burden is on the boxer to satisfy the commission that he can compete. After hearing all the evidence, we did not feel that had been demonstrated.”
In seeking his Nevada license, Rohrer was required to pass a thorough series of medical tests besides being able to demonstrate his boxing skills.
“They want to make sure physically there is not a blip, and I basically passed everything off the charts. It costs nearly $1,000 to get the medical tests done. It’s a high standard and it probably discourages a lot of people because of that,” Rohrer said.
After passing vision tests, chest X-rays, an EKG and a complete medical exam, Rohrer was then required to spar in front of a commission inspector.
Rohrer sparred for less than a round June 7 with Commission inspector and University of Nevada boxing coach Mike Martino present. The experience infuriated Rohrer.
“They matched me against a guy 20 pounds heavier and taller than me and he was extremely awkward. We’d get off a few exchanges and then he charged me like a bull,” Rohrer recalled.
Rohrer still felt comfortable with his showing since Martino reportedly told him, “‘There are some pros Don could beat today.’ If that’s so, I challenge the commission to go out and lift or suspend every pro that in Mike Martino’s opinion I could whip – or you have to issue me a license.”
Martino refused to talk about the sparring session when contacted Wednesday afternoon.
According to Rohrer, Martino inquired about setting up a second sparring session. Rohrer declined.
“How can they tell in less than one round with a 20-pound weight disparity (that I can’t fight),” Rohrer said. “If I tried to spar again, I knew they’d try to do one of two things – try and get me injured or overmatch me.”
During 18 years of dabbling in the ring, Rohrer has yet to participate in a sanctioned amateur or professional fight. He’s gone three or four rounds in sparring sessions and been told by Dallas trainer Curtis Cokes and Roger Mayweather that he had the tools to box professionally.
What matters most to Rohrer is personally knowing that he belongs in the ring.
“I’m equipped to do this. I have to offset a lot of things in the ring and I rely on movement to do that,” said the 147-pound welterweight wannabe. “Given the right opportunity and the chance to progress, I’m not saying how far I could go. The issue in my heart and mind is that I have to find out.”
Rohrer had hoped to fight on the Lennox Lewis-Henry Akinwande heavyweight title card in July at Caesars Tahoe.
“Main Events was interested in putting me on the card. We were sky high, and then the whole thing turned into a stonewalling act,” Rohrer said.
Rolston feels Rohrer misunderstands the licensing process.
“The thing Mr. Rohrer needs to understand is that he believes he has the constitution right to box. In Nevada, it is a privilege he gets after he’s proven he can meet all of our qualifications,” Rolston said. “This is solely to protect the safety of the boxers. It’s a licensable profession, like being a doctor or a dentist.”
Rohrer doesn’t believe he’s a risk.
“The ring is a dangerous place, but why would I put myself on the line with a wife (Deborah) and a child (Sarah) if I thought it was an exercise in futility or I thought I might get my head handed to me.”
The fight goes on.
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