by Andrea J. Fine
In this corner, wearing blue and purple Everlast trunks, is Randall “Tex” Cobb, 46, a former heavy weight boxer who once went 15 rounds with Larry Holmes.
In the other corner is…. Willie Nelson.
The 63-year-old, 5-foot-9-inch Willie Nelson, a country music heavyweight but a prizefighting novice, squared off for three rounsds against Cobb in Philadelphia. While the match ended in a draw, it succeeded in raising more than $100,000 for scholarships and boxing charities.
No betting was permitted, but Willie was clearly the favorite of the Boxer’s Ball crowd at the Belleview Hotel.
As soon as he entered the hall, the room filled with shouts of, “Take it easy on him, Willie!” and “Go, Willie!” And when he removed his short, black silk robe, with yellow trim, revealing his black boxing shorts and sleeveless Farm Aid T-shirt, the crowd clapped and cheered. Ignoring his opponent, Willie reached through the crowd and picked up a glass of white wine from a nearby table and ceremoniously lifted it in a toast to the onlookers.
Maybe Wille’s nonchalance resulted from his training for the fight. At a black-tie cocktail party before the main event, he told Country Weekly he’d been “training for the past few months, and Texas we have sparred a few times, too. And I run a lot, anyway.”
Any special diet to gt in shape? “Yeah,” Willie said, “I have a see-food diet: I see food, and I eat it!” Though the country singer estimated his opponent outweighed him “by a good 60o pounds,” he said that in the end, he would iwn. “This is a survival, endurance test,” he said.
Tex had been a championship-level boxer, but he left the ring in the early 1980s and began a television and film career, appearing in almost 20 movies, incluidng Uncommon Valor, Diggstown and Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.
He predicted an easy win over Willie. “He’s not going to be able to carry his golf clubs or his guitar in here,” Tex said, “so he’s going to have a lot more trouble than he might imagine.”?
The Boxer’s Ball supports amateur boxing. Last year’s event attracted a ringful of boxing stars, including Holmes and ex-champion Joe Frazier. This year, Cobb suckered Willie into the fray.
“Tex Cobb is a good firend of mine,” said Willie, a champion frundraiser. “He called me a few months ago, told me about the event and his involvement and wanted to know if I’d come help him with it.”
Tex tells a slightly different story: “I said, ‘Willie, how’d you like to hit me in the mount?’ Now, Willie thought this was a great idea. So I said, “Well, do you mind if people come and watch?’ So we went at it from that angle.”
Why Willie Nelson?
“I needed a win,” Tex said, grinning.
But when the referee called both men to the center of the ring so the fight could begin, it was clear Tex was nervous. “I don’t care if he hits me,” he told the official, “just as long as he don’t kick me.”
That’s just want WIllie did. While ex waited for the right punch, Willie danced around him, swung and kicked. Tex managed to dodge the blows. Several times, both men fell into the ropes together.
When the bell rang for the end of the first round, Willie’s team tried to get him into his corner, but the singer reached back through the ropes in an attempt to retrieve that glass of wine.
The biggest drama came in the third round, when both men pulled the referee down. Willie held him on the mat with his foot, while both fighters and the crowd counted to 10. The two then lifted thier arms together and declared tehmselves both winners.
Tex got the Second Boxer’s Ball Belt for his efforts, then a gold medal was presented to “the gallant warrior: Willie – On the Road Again – Nelson.” Then everyone joined Wilile singing his signature song.