There are actors who play tough guys in movies, and then there are tough guys who act in movies. Randall “Tex” Cobb is the latter.
For the most part, his acting career has been a series of lesser roles, but he was so perfect for those roles viewers always remembered his performance as if he was a star with top billing.
Before he ever stepped in front of the camera in a scripted role, he delighted audiences in the boxing world where he was known as a man who simply would not go down.
When it comes to boxing, Cobb was perhaps better known for being able to take a punch than his ability take out quality opponents. I’d say he was a mediocre fighter at best, but I say that understanding that even at the age of 64, he could still kick my ass.
His record is filled with no-name opponents with few exceptions:
• Earnie Shavers: A man who Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, and Ken Norton, all claimed was the hardest puncher they ever faced. Cobb TKO’d him in the 8th round in just his 17th professional fight.
• Ken Norton: A former WBC Heaveyweight Champ by the time he fought Cobb, he was best known as the second fighter in history to beat Muhammad Ali. He broke Ali’s jaw in the fight, but failed to knock him out. He also failed to knockout Cobb, but did get the victory by decision.
• Michael Dokes: Dokes was the WBC Continental Americas Champ when he fought Cobb in 1985. He was declared a winner in the fourth round on a technicality. Two of Cobb’s seven losses came at the hands of Dokes.
• Buster Douglas: Famous for being the first guy to beat Mike Tyson, he stepped into the ring against Cobb on 3-days notice in 1984 and beat him on a 10-round decision.
• Leon Spinks: Spinks beat Muhammed Ali and became champ in just his 8th professional fight in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Although his success wasn’t one that lasted long. Cobb beat him a 10-round decision in 1988.
Cobb’s most famous fight is perhaps is 15-round contest against Larry Holmes, for the WBC title on Nov. 26, 1982. Holmes looked like The Hulk compared to Cobb, and it was obvious his skills were far better. Holmes beat the shit out of Cobb for 15 rounds, but Tex refused to go down. His face was a swollen, bloody mess by the end of the fight.
“He must have a head carved from Mt. Rushmore,” Howard Cosell said.
Cosell announced he would never call another fight again after witnessing the brutal beating. Throughout the last half of fight he continually begged the referee to stop the fight from the announcer’s table. His reaction was due in part to the death of Duk Koo Kim, just two weeks earlier. Kim died of brain trauma four days after a fight with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in which he was brutalized in much the same way Holmes pummeled Cobb.
Here is an excerpt from the Larry Holmes massacre. It’s not for the faint of heart.
He wrapped up his boxing career with a professional record of 42-7 with 35 knockouts, and he himself was only knocked out one time. That one time was in 1985 when a guy named Dee Collier caught him with a good shot in the first round, bringing Cobb’s record to 27-7. He fought his final fight in 1993.
Cobb famously came to the set of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective with a black eye and looking worse for wear due to a fight he was in the previous night, according to the director’s commentary on the DVD release of the film. Ace was released in 1994. It is unclear whether it was a barroom brawl, of which he was also known to get involved, or whether it might have been his final professional fight on June 7, 1993, where he defeated Andre Smiley in a second-round TKO.
Another Randall “Tex” Cobb fun fact related to his boxing career was his fight against a guy named Sonny Barch in September 1992. Cobb TKO’d Barch in the first round, but the win was later stripped from him when both he and Barch tested positive for cocaine after the fight. A magazine article at the time alleged Cobb, Barch, and others, did lines together both before and after the fight.
While had a few film and television roles before 1987, it wasn’t until then that his acting career exploded. That was the year he became a movie bad guy superstar with the release of Raising Arizona. He also appeared in Richard Pryor’s Critical Condition, Police Academy 4, a made-for-tv Dirty Dozen movie, and episodes of Miami Vice, Moonlighting, and Frank’s Place.
“I love acting. It’s easy for me. All you do is look in the camera, smile, and lie with charm. I learned how to do that watching Don King promote fights.”
He also fought nine times that year, probably trying to cash in on his new-found celebrity, winning every single bout.
So for some actors, it takes a good script and movie magic to turn them into on-screen badasses, but for Cobb, being a badass was just part of his daily routine. Thankfully he got the opportunity to put his battered face on screen, and flex his badass chops for a few years in Hollywood.
“Hollywood’s a great place to vacation, but I wouldn’t want to live there. The people don’t have a concept of reality. Their reality is how good they pretend.”
Cobb hasn’t appeared in anything since a two-part episode of Walker, Texas Ranger in 2001.
I guess going out against Chuck Norris isn’t a bad way to go.
Thanks for keeping it real Tex.
Now dance for us, Tex. Dance for us.