A life lived with a big smile and a large laugh: Local boxers remember the legendary Cob Riddle

Published 9:47 pm Friday, August 12, 2016

Contributed Photo Elizabethton native and boxing legend Cob Riddle, who passed away Thursday morning, is pictured sitting in one of his favorite places—inside a boxing ring.

Contributed Photo
Elizabethton native and boxing legend Cob Riddle, who passed away Thursday morning, is pictured sitting in one of his favorite places—inside a boxing ring.

The local boxing community was saddened this week after the loss of a legend.

Elizabethton’s Cob Riddle, who was involved in the sport of boxing as a coach and fighter for 57 years, passed away Thursday morning at the age of 73 after his fight with cancer.

“We have lost a legend,” said Bang Bang Promotions boxing coach Scott Vance, who had Riddle as a coach in the early 1990s. “He meant a lot to a lot of people.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In and out of the boxing ring, Riddle, who grew up and lived in Elizabethton, impacted many, and that fact is made apparent by the long list of individuals from all over who have left messages of remembrance on the boxing legend’s Facebook page since his passing.

Riddle, who was known for his big smile and large laugh, was considered a life mentor first and a trainer second by many of his boxing pupils.

“He taught us values before boxing,” said former professional boxer Scott Potter, who fought under the guidance of Riddle for many years. “It was all about values first and boxing second. He would say ‘I will train you, but you can’t take it to school and use it on somebody.’ If we got in trouble he would come to school. He would be there before our parents. He impacted so many lives.”

Riddle organized and coached boxing teams in both Elizabethton and Johnson City for many years, and over the years, Riddle trained many fighters who went on to be champions. Potter, who started training under Riddle when he was eight years old, said that many of his fellow fighters saw Riddle as a father figure.

“I was with him from seven to eight years old and on,” Potter said. “All of us fighters were. He would take us all fishing, and he didn’t have to do that. He wasn’t get paid at the time to train us, much less take us out on a boat.

“And to the kids that didn’t have parents, he was their parent,” Potter added. “He was a parent and a trainer.”

For Riddle, his journey into the world of boxing started when he was just 14 years old in 1959, when he began training under the late Don Marshall. In 1965, after becoming a middleweight quarterfinalist in the Kansas City Golden Gloves, Riddle was presented the Tony Zale Award by Tony Zale himself. The award is given to outstanding boxers, who show great sportsmanship. Riddle would go on to be a six-time East Tennessee Golden Gloves Champ, who won three southern championships. In AAU, Riddle claimed the Middleweight championship in Knoxville. During his career as a fighter, Riddle fought on cards that included the name of  Cassius Clay, who would later become know as Muhammad Ali.

After his years as a fighter, Riddle started his storied career as a coach, during which he trained Olympian Bernard Taylor and coached Gary “Sand Man” Stallworth in a televised co-main event held at Madison Square Garden. Riddle also worked in the corners of HBO Boxing and ESPN Sports Boxing. Also while working as a boxing coach, Riddle trained members of Peyton Manning’s fraternity at the University of Tennessee.

Riddle’s son, Mike Riddle, said that his father lived and breathed boxing and had a drive to train and help young aspiring fighters.

“Dad absolutely loved boxing,” Mike Riddle said. “It was his life. He loved helping the youth. He loved teaching them the game. He always encouraged his fighters, and I cannot begin to name all of the fighters he helped build into champions. It’s just amazing to see all of the lives that he has impacted, and all of the love and support that has been shown.”

Funeral arrangements for Riddle will be held at the Memorial Funeral Chapel in Elizabethton. Receiving friends will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, with the funeral following at 8 p.m. On Monday, graveside services will be held at 1 p.m., with everyone meeting at the funeral home at 12:30 p.m.