Cleveland firefighter accused of attacking man at boxing gym

August 31, 2018

Cleveland firefighter accused of attacking man at boxing gym

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A veteran Cleveland firefighter, who once sparred with boxing legends such as Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and Lennox Lewis, is accused of attacking a 28-year-old man inside an Ohio City boxing gym.

No charges have been filed against Lt. Rodney Harris, who was off duty at the time, and he has not been arrested. Harris had a two-fight professional boxing career. His 13-year-old son is the second-ranked amateur boxer in country in the 138-pound weight class for his age group.

The incident happened Tuesday at the Old Angle Boxing Gym, which opened in 1943 and is now a non-profit gym where several people, including retired police officers, volunteer in order to help kids learn boxing and stay away from trouble.

Four witnesses gave the same account of what happened at the gym, and Harris gave a different version, police reports say. Officers referred the case to the city prosecutor, who will decide if charges are filed.

Harris’ son was sparring with a 28-year-old man, who is roughly his size at about 140 pounds, according to police reports.

The other boxer hit the teen with a couple low-blows during a round and the two scuffled inside the rings, according to police reports.

The fighters were separated and went to their respective corners.

The four witnesses told police that Harris jumped into the ring and choked the 28-year-old boxer from behind so hard he lifted him off the ground by the neck, police reports say.

He slammed the boxer to the ground and kicked him several times in the head, then jumped up and stomped on the boxer’s head at least once, police reports say. Harris also stood on the boxer’s neck, police reports say.

Ricardo Lozada, a retired Cleveland police officer who volunteers at the gym, jumped into the ring to stop the attack, according to police reports. Lozada yelled for Harris to stop the attack, but jumped in the ring when he refused, police reports say.

Harris jumped on the boxers’ head and several people pulled Harris away, the four witnesses told police.

Harris told police that he watched his son get slammed to the ground and went to break up the fight, police reports say. He accused Lozada of getting in his face while Harris was trying to protect his son, according to police reports. He also accused Lozada of being racist, according to police reports.

Harris, when contacted by cleveland.com, initially gave his account of what happened, then told a reported that “it would be bad for you” if a story was published, and then said he just wanted to say “no comment.”

Officers noted that Harris is about 6-foot-4 and more than 250 pounds. The boxer he is accused of attacking is about 5-6 and 130 pounds.

Cleveland fire spokesman Mike Norman said he was unaware of the incident and had no comment. 

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