By Jackie Kallen
It was July 21, 1992 and it was a hot night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Tim Witherspoon was headlining the card against Everett Martin. He lost. But on the undercard, I turned a young fighter from Monroe, MI pro. His first fight was a 1st round knockout of Bruce Anderson, who was 1-0 at the time. It was the beginning of wild ride that is still ongoing for the man his dad named Bronco.
It’s been more than 21 years, and Bronco McKart is still fighting, still pleasing crowds, and still doing what he enjoys doing. It’s been a long roller coaster ride with high highs and low lows. But last Wednesday night at Masonic Temple in Detroit, he got win #56. His record is now 56-10-1. He has fought the best and is still not afraid to face any man in the ring. At 42 years of age, he is in excellent shape and still loves to fight.
He fought veteran Miguel Munguia in an 8-round middleweight fight, stopping him in the fifth round. This was his second fight for Kaltsas Productions. He won a fight against Dan Wallace in September. The headliner on the card was up-and-coming Tony Harrison. McKart is proud to be a part of the resurgence of boxing in Detroit. He was part of the glorious James Toney era and he is happy to see it starting to flourish again in Detroit. All of us in the Motor City are thankful that the sport seems to be rising again here. If all the fighters, managers, matchmakers and promoters work together–Detroit will rise again as the source of champions it once was.
As Bronco says, “Detroit was the original Mecca of boxing! During the Kronk heydays, boxing was Detroit with Emanuel Steward. Then you bring James Toney on the scene–p4p #1 guy in boxing at that time–and now to be a part of this resurgence of boxing back in the city is awesome!! Detroit is a resilient city. It’s struggling right now,but it has a history of great fighters, and that’s fitting because Detroit is a tough city and will recover! I’m proud and honored to be a part of this. I feel like a kid again, with this excitement in the city!”
Bronco is the kind of boxer that the young fighters in Detroit need to emulate. He fought anyone, any time, and has always been a perfect gentleman–both inside and outside the ring. He was the epitome of grace when he lost his first fight back in 1993. He was 7-0 at the time, it was his first fight in Las Vegas, and he was on the James Toney/Iran Barkley undercard. It was a close decision, the opponent only fought twice again after that, but Bronco went on to greatness–despite the loss.
That loss did not get us down and we went on to fight again less than two months later. Bronco won and didn’t lose again for three years. Along the way he won the WBO Light Middleweight title against Santos Cardona and racked up over 20 more victories. Then came the opportunity we prayed for. A title shot against Ronald “Winky” Wright. The fight was set for May 17, 1996 in Bronco’s hometown. The odds were in our favor. Or so we thought.
It was one of those fights that was so tough to call that even the fans who were there that night have long argued over who won. Judge Mark Nelson had McKart winning 116-113. Judge Gordon Volkman had it 115-113 for Wright. The kicker was that judge Bernard Teachout saw the fight the same way Volkman did. Wright got the win.
Monroe fans were shocked and so was I. How was that possible? I had Bronco winning by at least three rounds. But I was admittedly biased since I managed him. We sucked it up and Bronco went on to put together another string of 14 wins. He beat guys like Glenwood Brown and Ronald Weaver. Then, in 2000, he got the chance to fight Wright again. I was living in Los Angeles by then and no longer managing McKart, but I was pulling for him to avenge his earlier loss. It was not to be. Winky won this one unanimously.
To Bronco’s credit, he went at it a third time with Wright in 2002, but was DQed in round eight. That didn’t stop McKart from taking on the best in the game. He came back gamely seven months after the third Wright fight to face Verno Phillips, but came up short. After a couple of wins he challenged Travis Simms for the WBA title. Again he couldn’t quite pull it off.
Bronco McKart is one of those fighters who never gives up and never loses faith in himself. He gamely came back and made a run at then-unbeaten Kelly Pavlik in 2006 for the NABF belt. He didn’t win but he has fought twelve times since.
It’s not sure how many more fights McKart will compete in. I’m not even sure he has a clear retirement date in mind. But as long as he still loves it, stays in shape, and brings the crowds in–I say “Go, Bronco!”