The dramatic theme from the movie Rocky blasted into the crowded standing-room-only Sheraton-Kensington Ballroom as I burst from the dressing room on my way to the elevated ring in the center of the building. It was fight night in Tulsa. Sponsored by my friend, trainer, and middleweight kickboxing champion of the world, Dale “Apollo” Cook, arguably the greatest fighter on the globe. I was on the card for my debut bout, appearing under the fight name given to me by the other kickboxers in Apollo’s stable of fighters—”Chuckamania.” A takeoff from “Chuck.”

As I approached the ring, playing the moment for what it was worth, I heard a surprised voice call out from the spectators. “Sasser! What are you doing? You’re the same age as we are.”

Two former cops from my days as a police officer. I was 51 years old. Admittedly, at that age, you don’t look forward to a long career in pro fighting. It had taken months to even find an opponent. After all, a guy defeats me, all he’s done is beat an “old man.” But if I beat him. . .

I was fighting a 23-year-old kid from Spain

I felt in great shape, fighting as a middleweight. I had been training hard with Apollo’s stable of kickboxers and I was fired up. I could have danced all over the top of the Philadelphia Library steps, just like Sylvester Stallone did in the Rocky movie.

I climbed through the ropes into my corner. The Spaniard glared at me from the other side of the ring. I grinned back.

The bell rang. The first round was even, each of us testing the other with front and round kicks, knees to the midsection, and carefully selected punches. By the second round, I was beginning to dominate. I caught my guy with a jolting side kick to the belly and followed up with a flurry of punches. I hoisted him over my head and slammed him to the canvas.

We were fighting a style called sado kai, an early rendition of “cage fighting” in which almost anything goes. In fact, the Tulsa World railed against the brutality of it the next morning.

The Spaniard cracked two ribs on my left side; two of the toes on my left foot were disjointed and stuck out at awkward angles by the time the final bell rang. He was bleeding from the nose.

Wracked with pain, I could hardly breathe as I made my way to the center of the ring for the decision.

“The judges have a unanimous decision,” the referee boomed. “The winner in the blue corner—’Chuckamania’ Sasser.”

The crowd went wild. I received a standing ovation. Chalk one up for senior citizens.

 

Charles W. Sasser’s A Thousand Years of Darkness has been called “The most important American novel since Atlas Shrugged.” And perhaps the most prophetic and controversial.