TSS Book Review: The Years of the Locust
Anyone who ever met former heavyweight boxer Tim “Doc” Anderson will agree that he is the unlikeliest of killers. Affable, good-looking, sometimes garish but also self-deprecating, funny and quirky but totally honest and genuine, Anderson was convicted of shooting to death his former promoter, Rick “Elvis” Parker, in a Florida hotel room in April 1995.
He is currently doing life without parole; a sentence that at least two jurors have emphatically stated is much too harsh because of the unique circumstances of the crime and the inherent decency of Anderson.
What led up to Anderson shooting the despicable Parker multiple times is the subject of a terrific new book called “The Years of the Locust: A True Story of Murder, Money and Mayhem in the Last Age of Boxing” by highly regarded British author Jon Hotten.
No stranger to examining the underbelly of sports, the author’s previous books, “Muscle” and “Unlicensed,” chronicled the netherworlds of bodybuilding and boxing respectively.
In his latest, he accurately depicts Anderson as a naïve and gullible former pro baseball player who fell in love with the sweet science and, after a chance meeting with Parker in Los Angeles, was led to believe that the fast-talking promoter could lead him to a shot at the heavyweight championship of the world.
The 6’4”, 344-pound Parker, who wore a red wig and snorted cocaine like a vacuum cleaner on automatic pilot, was a born con man. He had made his fortune recruiting disenfranchised youngsters to traverse the country, going door-to-door to sell a cleaning concoction called Sun-Sational.
As successful as Parker was in that endeavor, he dreamed of making his mark in boxing by becoming the white Don King.
After being dismissed, insulted and outhustled by many of the sport’s power brokers, including King, Parker was led to believe that if he could get a white heavyweight to 12-0 he would make millions by matching his fighter against George Foreman. He placed his hopes in Mark Gastineau, the former football great who couldn’t fight a lick.
After the incorruptible Anderson refused to throw a nationally televised fight against Gastineau in San Francisco, an enraged Parker allegedly poisoned Anderson prior to a rematch in Oklahoma City, where there was no boxing commission. After being stopped in the sixth round, Anderson, who was lightheaded, nauseous and hallucinatory, was left to die.
Hours after the arena had emptied, an alert janitor found Anderson lying unconscious, in a pool of his own vomit, on the locker room floor. In the book the always classy Anderson graciously acknowledges the janitor for saving his life.
Anderson’s life was never the same after the alleged poisoning. A lifelong health fanatic, he could barely get out of bed for several years. Besides suffering from crippling depression, he was afflicted with, among other things, vertigo and he had also survived a baseball bat attack by masked goons who had been dispatched by Parker.
A constant threat that Parker held over him was that he (Parker) would kill Anderson’s beloved quadriplegic sister and her children if Anderson ever went to the authorities.
If written as fiction, the facts of this case would seem too far-fetched to be true. The sad reality is that the now 51-year-old Anderson, a good man and dedicated athlete who compiled a 27-16-1 (13 KOS) record against the likes of George Foreman, Larry Holmes and Jimmy Young, was driven to murder by the strangest of circumstances and most vile of men.
If ever a killing could be justified, this is the case. Even Parker’s half-sister said she was not at all surprised that he was killed. She is just surprised that it was Anderson who did it.
Hotten pulls no punches in presenting this extraordinary tale by juxtaposing the lives of two men from opposite sides of the spectrum. Throughout the book you’ll find yourself screaming for Anderson to just run away and get out of harm’s way. It is difficult to accept that he, a quintessential good guy, is as doomed as the predatory Parker.
What will surprise even the most devoted fans of the true crime genre is the reality of just how depraved a villain Parker is. Even for readers with no interest in boxing, this book will keep them up at night, turning page after page, and talking about the circumstances of this sordid case for quite some time.
Read Mladinich's take on the Anderson saga here: http://www.thesweetscience.com/boxing-article/2340/clemency-tim-doc-anderson/
“The Years of the Locust” is available at bookstores, as well as at Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com.
Tim Anderson welcomes any correspondence. Feel free to write him at the following address:
Timothy A. Anderson
Hardee Correctional Institution
6901 State Road 62
Bowling Green, Florida 33834