The lone boxer in this year’s class, he is the 61st pugilist overall to earn entrance into Mahoning Valley’s most prestigious sports hall of fame.
Born October 12, 1947, he attended both East and Chaney High School and is a 1965 CHS graduate.
During his formative years he worked with his father as a roofer, beginning at age 12 and until his dad’s passing at age 16 four years later.
It is because of his father’s interest in boxing – his dad grew up in West Virginia – that it trickled down to his son and while work and school left him unable to train for regular school sports, he used his evenings to begin training for his boxing career and doing so under the tutelage of trainer Art Mayorga, a 1992 Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame inductee.
His first match took place in 1964 with Mayorga’s Home Club boxing team and he went on to fight multiple local greats including Bernie Profato, Mike Boswell, John Henry and John Giroski, also taking on the likes of Pittsburgh fighters Willie Wilson and Jimmy Clap.
While serving as a Navy Seabee in Vietnam, he spent numerous lunch hours and evenings boxing with his Marine and Army counterparts.
He was a sparring partner for local professionals Mike Koranicki and John Zele, both of whom were members of Mayorga’s Home Club (later known as Gennaro A.C).
As his career unfolded, he would go on to win three gold medals in the Ohio Police Olympics, also earning two bronze and one silver medal at the International Police Olympics which took place in Ohio, New York and Texas, respectively.
He often jokes that his claim to fame is that he ‘beat the man who beat the man,’ that coming when Earnie Shavers arrived on the scene.
While in U.S. Navy boot camp. Shavers lost a decision to Mike Boswell in the Youngstown Golden Gloves. Boswell then went on to win in Cleveland and after this year’s honoree got out of boot camp, before being deployed to Vietnam, he fought Boswell at Yankee Lake in Brookfield where he scored a hard-fought decision.
“So, I beat the man who beat the man. Of course, Ernie would have beaten both of us at the same time after that,” Rogers noted recently with a smile on his face.
He later served as an amateur judge, applied for a professional license and has been a professional boxing judge now for over 30 years.
He judges pro boxing and both amateur and pro MMA events in Ohio and Pennsylvania, having judged several championship boxing matches including the Lamon Brewster versus Siarhei Liakhovich pairing for the WBO World Heavyweight Championship, which took place at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland (April 1, 2006) and won by Liakhovich by unanimous decision in 12 rounds.
That fight would go on to become Ringside magazine’s “Fight of the Year.”’
He said he always enjoyed boxing but never expected to make it his career choice and in 65 fights, went on to post a 57-7-1 overall mark.
For his efforts both inside and outside the ring, he was inducted into the “Legends of Leather” Hall of Fame along with his contemporary, Bernie Profato, that occurring on October 15, 2000.
He retired as a Sergeant from the Youngstown Police Department in 1998 after working patrol, Strike Force, Vice Squad Commander and Homicide division.
He also retired from North and South Side Hospital Security and as Mahoning Valley Sanitary District Security Officer. He currently serves as Deputy Sheriff (SRO) for the Youngstown City School District.
His wife, the former Rae Blakeman, passed away in January 2022 and they are the proud parents of three daughters: Debi Springer of New York, and Michelle Strack and Melanie Rogers, both of whom reside in Ohio.