Where are They Now: Kevin Rosier

Friday, August 09, 2013

Professional boxer and kickboxer Kevin Rosier went 1-1 at UFC 1, and went on to compete in kickboxing until 1999, MMA until 2000, boxing until 2001. The lifetime of fight sports, often unregulated, has taken a toll.

Joel Rice, editor NashvilleScene.com, profiles Rosier for their Face in the Crown section.

Kevin Rosier is sitting in a white rocking chair in front of The Manor at Steeplechase, a retirement community in Cool Springs. It’s a rather unremarkable senior-citizen scene, save for one striking incongruity: Kevin Rosier isn’t exactly a senior citizen. In fact, at 51, he happens to be one of the Manor’s youngest residents — a role he mischievously relishes. (“How are you, gorgeous?” he calls out to an octogenarian doddering past him.)

William Blake tells us that the road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom. In Rosier’s case it also leads to The Manor at Steeplechase and that row of white rocking chairs.

Born to a French-Canadian farming clan in upstate New York, Rosier started studying “the sweet science” of boxing at a Boys & Girls Club. By 16 he was sufficiently intimidating to be hired as a bouncer at some notorious Buffalo nightspots. After shuttling between aunts and uncles for most of his adolescence, he began a noted fighting career that included boxing, karate, Muay Thai, kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

“I had a lot of heart,” Rosier says. “I did them all.”

Some of his fights were mainstream affairs. But much of his career is a blur of cages in Moscow, darkened pits in Thailand and Yakuza-infested dens of iniquity in Japan. (One MMA bout was dubbed “Mayhem in Mississippi.”) Rosier also fought in the very first UFC championship in 1993, and was featured in a recent Sports Illustrated piece on the event.

“I paid my dues. I paved the way. Now it’s a billionaire industry,” he said.

All the while Rosier was working as a bodyguard for entertainers like Rick James (“He was always nice to me”), Billy Idol (“He was an idiot”) and Debbie Harry (“Let’s just say she enjoyed life, and leave it at that”). Nightclubs like Studio 54, Limelight and CBGB frequently retained his services as a bouncer.

“I prefer the term ‘quality-control engineer,’ ” he says.

Though Rosier cannot always recall the who/what/when of a life spent in the ring, the body has a way of failing to forget. Open-heart surgery and a nearly fatal fall while already in intensive care are only half the story.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” he says.

Having spent most of the past decade in and out of VA hospitals, the white rocking chair here in suburban Nashville may hold a certain uneasy appeal.

“When the party’s over, the party’s over,” he says.

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