The sport of boxing is full of weird tales, disturbing tales, shocking tales – and disgusting tales. This great and admirable sport we so love is, unfortunately, littered with shady individuals, with hucksters, with liars and thieves – with bad men. And it’s entirely possible the 1990s never saw a filthier individual than one Rick “Elvis” Parker. Some fans may recall the name, or the bloated, bearded face.
Parker, who tipped-in at around the 350 pound mark, left an impression – a bad one – on every person he came into contact with. Parker, a one-time wannabe rock concert promoter, wore shades along with a ginger toupee and he got into boxing pretty much by chance. Meeting his idol Don King by on a plane flight, Parker got talking with the very man most people would likely point to if they were asked to name the worst individual ever to have entered the boxing universe, and King told Parker he should “get some white heavyweights” and start from there if he wanted to get into boxing.
Bad people can attract good people, and it was with the help of a misguided nice guy that “Fat Elvis” began to make his mark (or stain) on the sport. Tim “Doc” Anderson was by all accounts one of the nicest guys ever to fight for a living, and with the promise of a weekly $750 pay-check (which Parker promised Anderson was being held in escrow for him), Anderson would fight with Parker as his promoter and he would introduce him to all the notable figures he knew from the fight game.
Things seemed to go okay until the clean-living Anderson found out about Parker’s drug use. Asked to attend a school to talk about the dangers of drugs, Parker had the sheer nerve to roll up to the event in his limo, snorting copious amounts of the white powder. Anderson, who was also going to speak to the kids, was disgusted at what he saw and he demanded the money Parker owed him (reportedly to the tune of $150,000), and he declared that their “partnership” was severed. Anderson at this time made it known he planned to pen a book all about his experiences as a fighter, entitled, “Liars, Cheats and Whores.”
Parker moved on and he believed he had found a goldmine in the form of former star football player Mark Gastineau. Gastineau had swapped his helmet for boxing gloves and Parker had a dream: he would get Gastineau to 12-0 and then he would have him fight George Foreman, and, just like that, Parker’s “Windfall factor” would be achieved – “millions and millions of dollars, all at one time,” Parker explained to 60 Minutes.
Parker had actually assisted Foreman in a few of his early, 1980’s comeback fights; with “Big George” moving on after getting his comeback underway. Parker supposedly had a “handshake deal” for Gastineau to fight Foreman as soon as he got to 12-0. But there was a problem: Gastineau couldn’t fight a lick. Parker, using his own blend of creativity and complete lack of morals, and being driven by the kind of sheer greed not many human beings could possibly comprehend, searched around and found fall-guys for Gastineau to “look good against.” These fighters were untalented unknowns, most of them never having boxed before. Gastineau, whether he was privy to what was going on or not, won the fixed fights/appalling mismatches. But then Gastineau fought Anderson.
Promised the money he was owed by Parker, Anderson mistakenly agreed to fight Gastineau. Parker than asked Tim to take a dive, even offering him a bundle to do so. Anderson said no way, yet Parker felt he would do his bidding come fight night. This was Parker’s mistake. Anderson, a proud fighting man who had been in with Foreman and Larry Holmes, beat the ever-loving crap out of Gastineau on the night of June 9, 1992. Parker was furious; the Foreman fight was now gone, and all those millions had evaporated.
But Parker came up with another plan, this one his most devious. He would have Anderson fight Gastineau again, only this time he would make sure Gastineau won. How? Parker had Anderson (far too trusting again) fight with a corner he was unfamiliar with and, some time before the rematch that took place in December of 1992, Anderson was drugged, he was poisoned. Dizzy, feeling sick and exhausted just a few minutes into the fight, Anderson was a sitting duck. It still took Gastineau six rounds to knock Anderson out.
Anderson was then literally left for dead in the dressing room, lying in his own vomit. If it was not for a janitor who found Anderson, he would very likely have died right there. Taken to the hospital, Anderson was never the same man again. His body falling apart, his balance seriously affected, Anderson was frequently vomiting and on some days he could barely get out of bed – this a far cry from the super-fit man Anderson once was.
The doctors couldn’t help Anderson, with them telling him they needed to know just what he had been poisoned with to be able to get to the root of his problems. Only one man knew what “Doc” had been poisoned with. And Anderson, fearing he was dying a slow and painful death, was determined to make Parker tell him. Arming himself with a gun, a tape recorder and two witnesses—these being Parker’s sister and his son—Anderson arrived at Parker’s hotel room in Orlando on April 28th, 1995. Parker asked his son and sister to leave them alone, and then Anderson what Parker had done to him. “Fat Elvis” denied any and all knowledge and Anderson shoved the gun in his face, before placing it down by his side. “For that stunt, your sister is dead,” Parker bellowed. Anderson’s sister, Erin, was a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. Anderson cannot clearly recall what happened next.
But, seconds later, Rick “Elvis” Parker was dead, shot eight times – in the legs, in the groin, in the head. Anderson then turned the gun on himself, but the gun jammed and he was unable to fully end his pain. Anderson then had the front desk call the police.
At the trial, with the jury not told about all the wicked things Parker had done to him, with them having no idea of the pain and frustration that had built up inside this decent person, Anderson – who never denied shooting Parker – was convicted of first-degree murder, his sentence being life in prison with no chance of parole.
People that knew Parker were not shocked or surprised somebody had killed him; just that it was such a nice person that did it. Everyone who knew Anderson was shocked at what he had done; what he had been forced to do. One of the saddest episodes in modern day boxing history (sad not because of what happened to utter scumbag Parker, but because of what happened to Anderson), this tale has books devoted it, along with documentaries and podcasts (shoutout to Knuckles and Gloves podcast).
Parker was a truly ghastly individual, a person who had no moral compass whatsoever. And to think, Parker, with his most talented fighter, Bert Cooper, came within a whisker of holding, even controlling for a short time, the heavyweight championship of the world (this in November of 1991, when Cooper decked and seriously hurt defending champ Evander Holyfield).
Rick “Elvis” Parker did enough damage as it is. It isn’t worth thinking about what further damage he might have done to the sport, to people’s lives, had he ruled the world.