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Outstandingmiddleweight of past, ‘Bobo’ Reckley

Chris Malakius, the late boxing historian, delighted in telling the story about how Vogal Reckley got his ring tag’Bobo’.

There was once a quality middleweight boxer who rose to world championship status during the 1950s, called Bobo Olsen. Years after he had retired, Malakius ended up with one of Olsen’s ring robes, with a large print of BOBO on the back.

Malakius was the manager of a local fighter, Vogal Reckley. He didn’t have a robe of his own so Malakius gave him the one worn many times by the former world champion. When Reckley stepped into the ring for his very next match and shuffled around, some in the crowd shouted”Bobo”and the name stuck.

Bobo Reckley did not have the kind of a sensational career that Olsen carved out(97-16)while going up against some of the greatest fighters ever, inclusive of the pound-for-pound greatest,’Sugar’Ray Robinson.

Nevertheless, in a career that started in 1957 and ended in 1969, Reckley put together a 15-7-3 record. For most of his career once he left home, he was based in Florida. He improved to the point whereby he was one of the headliners on one occasion in the famed Madison Square Garden.

During that fight in 1964, he lost a spirited six-round decision to Milo Calhoun. Reckley was a gifted boxer, very much in the mold of fellow Bahamians Yama Bahama and Gomeo Brennen. However, whereas the two Biminites were guided properly, Reckley was not so fortunate.

“He was a real good fighter, as good as we ever saw here in this country, but it reached a point where there was nothing else I could do for him. To get real good opportunities, you had to leave home back then. I gave him my blessing and he went off to Florida. He ended up with a fairly decent career, but for the ability he had I never thought he achieved his true potential,”said Malakius when I interviewed him quite a few years before he died.

Reckley was certainly one of our”sad”sports stories. For the last several years of his life, he walked the streets, sometimes begging. I remember though his engaging smile and his interest always to talk about sports. It was clear that the cards just didn’t fall right for him.

‘Boston Blackie’, who fought Reckley to a draw when they were both coming up the ranks and the late’Baby Boy’Rolle who defeated him in his final fight, always talked about Bobo in a special way. Reckley registered victories over some capable fighters like Herman’Scatterhawk’Dixon and Andy Mayfield. Old-timers would argue that Reckley was the fourth best Bahamian middleweight behind the three Hall of Fame inductees(Yama, Gomeo and Elisha Obed).

Fans of the late Sammie Isaacs and Battling Douglas, who presently lives in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, would want a debate, although they would gladly acknowledge that Bobo Reckley was one of the really good ones produced here in this country.

(To respond to this column, please contact Fred Sturrup at frobertsturrup@gmail.com)

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