The Strange Boxing Case of Bob Hazelton, Boxing’s First Steroids Victim
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Correspondent
RCM BOXING HISTORICAL ARTICLE
Tall London heavyweight Bob Hazelton, who fought professionally as a boxer from 1966 to 1980, and then went on to become a weightlifter and bodybuilder, was truly boxing’s first victim of anabolic steroids. The lesson learned by the life of Bob Hazelton is applicable today, as professional athletes from Lance Armstrong to Lyle Alzado, from Steve Courson to Roger Clemens do not seem to have learned the lesson.
Bob Hazelton had both of his legs amputated above the knees due to steroid abuse, one in 1986 and the other in 1987, Hazelton lost nine of his first 13 professional bouts, including losses to George Foreman, Jose Luis Garcia and Pedro Agosto. Fighting between 179 and 222 pounds, Hazelton seemed to do better in the lower weights at light heavyweight than the upper weight classes above it. Bob stood a tall 6’6 1/2″ but weighed only 183 pounds when he fought Big George Foreman, who outweighed him by 40 pounds. Today such a match would never be sanctioned.
Bulking up on steroids enabled Hazelton to win 11 bouts in a row and was on his way to a shot at fighting Joe Frazier, before getting stopped by former World Light Heavyweight champion Bob Foster in the tenth round of a bout refereed by Sandy Saddler. Hazelton then won six of his last seven pro bouts, including stopping Bob Foster in two rounds in a rematch, losing only to former European Heavyweight champion and later top contender Lucien Rodriguez. Hazelton knocked out Bob Sutton in the second round on February 21, 1980 in his final professional bout in Gainesville, Florida, finishing his career at 20-11 with 18 knockouts.
As Hazelton continued his athletic talents at bodybuilding and weightlifting, working as a bodyguard for Van Halen. Hazelton continued to use and abuse anabolic steroids until his body was destroyed, in the era before human growth hormone (HGH) and steroids were regulated or even considered to be a danger.
In 1971, Bob began using steroids in England as he was told it would help him put on the extra weight and bulk to compete with bigger boxers, gaining 27 pounds. Bob even defeated such names as Manuel Ramos (Win 10), Ernie Terrell (Win 10) and Eddie Machen (Win 10).
After losing both legs due to steroid abuse, and suffering two heart attacks, Bob Hazelton lectured on the evils of steroids to over five million high school students, college students and professional athletes in the United States from his wheelchair over a ten year period. The highlight of his life was when Bob testified while crying to the United States Congress House Committee on the Judiciary about the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004. Bob now lives with his wife in Howard Lake, Minnesota. Bob Hazelton lost to himself due to steroid abuse, but salvaged his life in his new career lecturing about the evils of steroid abuse. Despite Bob’s pleas, many professional athletes today refuse to remain clean of HGH and steroids. The ongoing dangers of HGH and anabolic steroids remain ever present in professional sports.