Rick Anderson returns to the ring at the age of 65

Until last week the most interesting aspect of Rick Anderson’s martial arts and boxing career was that he had served as a bodyguard for movie stars Chuck Norris and Mr. T and pop music star Tiffany.

So what could be more interesting or unusual than that? The fact that Anderson, who just turned 65 this month, is renewing his pro boxing license and is training to go back into the ring.

What would possess a man of his age to take this leap of faith?

“My last fight was 10 years ago, and that’s a long time to be away from the ring,” Anderson said as he discussed his decision at Rumble Boy Gym in Medina.

Anderson, who owns that gym, has trained fighters over the last 10 years, sometimes sparring with them to scratch his boxing bug.

“At my age, there was a lot of medical stuff I had to do in order to be cleared to box,” Anderson said. “I wanted one last run before I say goodbye to the ring. I have been helping others, and one of the reasons for my comeback is to show the young fighters I am going through the same things they go through.”

Roadwork every morning and weight training every afternoon for the last six weeks are the first steps in Anderson’s comeback.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I can still be in shape,” he said. “It’s about the journey. I’ll admit the training schedule I’m on now was hard at first. It’s one step at a time.”

Anderson’s plan is to drop 10 more pounds so he can fight at 167 as a super middleweight.

Looking back on his early years, Anderson said he has always been fascinated by the fight game. Like many fighters, he has tatoos on his arms - four of them to be precise. He has tatoos of cartoon characters Mighty Mouse and Underdog on his left arm and two personal tatoos on his right arm.

“I grew up in a tough neighborhood,” he said. To harness his use of fisticuffs, he did it the right way by working with trainers and fighting only in the ring with a referee.

Once Anderson finished high school, he trained in the Twin Cities. In 1988 he moved to California and began training at the Jet Center, a boxing gym in Van Nuys. Some of the fighters he met there became world champions, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard, to name two. Another interesting character at the gym was Tommy Morrison, who had a starring roll in the Rocky V movie.

The Jet Center experience made Anderson tougher and stronger, he said. “It was basically a trial by fire,” he explained. “The first time I stepped into the ring, a guy named Jesus bloodied me up. Two weeks later, I bloodied him up.”

Kick boxing became Anderson’s focus after his initial fight training. He won Midwest Regional and Southern California championships and became the United States middleweight champion. On the side, he wrestled professionally and even did some bare-knuckle boxing.

“I fought a Japanese bare-knuckle champion on live TV once,” he recalled. Since he has been training amateur boxers the last 10 years, Anderson thought boxing would be his best bet to return to the ring. One of his students is Wayzata High School student Colt Holmes, who has had six amateur fights.

Holmes is fascinated by his manager’s decision to compete in the ring. “I’d love to see it,” Holmes said after sparring with Anderson at Rumble Boy Gym last week. “He’s getting there.”

While he works on getting back into the ring, Anderson continues to work with Holmes, whose ultimate goal is to fight professionally. Since Holmes is still in high school, a pro career may not be coming soon, but Anderson believes he is on the right track. The next fight for Holmes will be Sept. 30 at Brainerd’s North Pacific Center. “The key for any young fighter is don’t get a big head,” Anderson said.

Certainly, a boxer who is 65 years old has a few reservations about getting back into the ring.

“I have had 32 broken bones since I started fighting,” he said. “You name it ... ribs, wrists, toes, my knee, my nose several times. My biggest fear is that my nose will be broken again.”

While Anderson has reservations, his wife Jessica has even more of them. “She is on the fence about whether I should fight again,” Anderson said.

But with all the training he has done during his comeback, Anderson said there’s no turning back.

“I’ve got to be honest,” he said. “The thing I have missed most is fighting in front of a crowd.”