When you talk about light heavyweight champions, Bob Foster should be in the conversation.
He’s considered by many as one of the greatest ever in the division.
Foster had a knack for the big punch. “His reach was so long,” said Rose Foster. “When it would connect it was the end.”
Rose, Bob’s widow, was a fan of her late husband’s left jab.
Although ferocious in the ring, the six foot three Foster was a gentleman. “He was kind,” said Rose. “He was a big teddy bear.”
Former champion Dick Tiger didn’t get the teddy bear in the ring on March 24 of 1968. Instead, he got the beast.
It was a devastating left hook that sent Tiger to the canvas and made Foster the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World.
His childhood friend and trainer Joe Louis Murphy always believed Foster was headed for greatness in the ring. “I saw the potential,” said Murphy. Foster and Murphy grew up together in Albuquerque’s South Valley.
Foster moved to the area from Texas as a little boy. Murphy watched him grow into a champion. “He only weighed 101 pounds when he went into the Air Force.
So with three meals a day, he blew up to about 175. That’s how he became the light heavyweight champion of the world.”
Foster defended his title 14 times from 1968 to 1974. He even tried the heavyweight division, fighting the likes of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
That part of his career was all about economics. “Lightweight, the pay was not good, but the heavyweights, they were better,” said Rose. Foster won 56 fights, 46 by knockout. He also had 8 defeats and a tie.
In 1990 he was inducted into boxing’s International Hall of Fame. “They treated him well, like a king and everybody liked him,” said Rose.
Even though Foster was celebrated as a great light heavyweight champion throughout the world, he never felt like he was really supported in New Mexico.
“Well they didn’t really because he was beating everybody up then,” said Murphy. “Bobby rose up higher than them, most of the guys he ran around with. There was that envy.”
Rose Foster agrees. “He was slighted,” said Rose. After he decided to retire from boxing at the age of 40, Foster found work in law enforcement.
He joined the Bernalillo County Sheriffs department. He later became a detective.
Foster never let his work keep him away from his first love of boxing.
He continued coaching the sport. “Him being one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time you still saw him,” said Boxing coach Luis Gutierrez. “He still came back, he still served the community. He still served the South Valley where he grew up where I grew up.”
Foster died of cancer in 2015. He was 76 years old.