It's been a long time coming, but finally at age 36, Glen Burnie kick boxer Cliff "The Hammer" McPherson is getting a shot at his first world title.
McPherson, who also boxes professionally, will meet defending International Kick Boxing Federation light heavyweight champion David Manter of Michigan on Tuesday, Oct. 6. It will be the main event on an 18-bout card at the Michigan State Fair.
Manter is putting his belt on the line as both the IKBF light heavyweight and middleweight champion in the scheduled 15-rounder.
"I've been waiting a long time for this chance and paid my dues," said McPherson. "I could win two world titles the same night. No, make that, I am going to win two titles."
Manter, 31, has successfully defended his crown 12 times since winning the title three years ago, and is 44-4-2, said "Master" Bill Snyder, who McPherson's manager.
McPherson, who is 2-3-1 as a boxer, is 15-4-2 as a kick boxer and has been at it for about 15 years. He has been kick boxing regularly only since 1989. Once the 175-pounder won a regional belt in a Fight Factory Karate Association-sanctioned bout, but he never has had a whack at a world title.
"Clifford was chosen from a list of regional fighters across the country," said Snyder. "He has done extremely well the last six months, and we felt he deserved a shot at a world title."
McPherson has fought four times in Paris and in Denard, France. Last November moved to the No. 2 ranking in the World Professional Karate Association with a unanimous decision over Douglass Dupliese in Johannesburg, South Africa.
"Master Bill is negotiating right now for a shot at that world title and it would be held in South Africa," McPherson said. "By winning those world titles, I can put myself in position for $50,000 to $70,000 paydays in Europe. I would be in demand and I believe I can do it because none of those guys have the hands I have now."
It was at the urging of Maryland State Boxing Hall of Famer and local promoter Josh Hall of Point Pleasant that McPherson jumped in the ring to try boxing.
"A lot of the boxing people thought it was a joke and just looked at me as a kick boxer, but I've come a long way," said McPherson. "Look what I did the last fight."
McPherson scored an unanimous decision over John Keys of Baltimore at Michael's Eighth Avenue on Sept. 17. It was his most impressive showing in six pro bouts.
"I've been training at the Laurel Gym with Truman Tuttle and Robert Crawford from the Sugar Ray Leonard gym and they've '' helped me a lot," said McPherson.
"With my boxing skills enhanced it has made me a considerably better kick boxer.
"I know how to use my hands and feet and I've come far enough as a boxer that I've landed a spot on an ESPN show from Atlantic City on Nov. 19."
McPherson is a local roofer who runs the Super Kicks Gym on the Glen Burnie/Pasadena border. At one time his was the only full-time kick boxing gym, and he had 55 students age 5 to 65 in his full-contact and self-defense classes.
He started the school in his basement in 1988 with about 25 students and moved into a gym in Southgate Market Place in 1989. Because of rising operational costs, McPherson moved out of that site and into the Wishing Rock site.
He no longer teaches karate, but rather he has developed Team Hammer, a group of 15 amateur boxers and 10 amateur kick boxers.
McPherson said karate has become too much of a commercial bTC venture and he is not interested in taking people's money.
"I charge very little, just enough to pay the electric bill," said the Hammer. "I'm not in it for the money. I'm in it because I love the sport. I really enjoy teaching and training the young guys at my gym."
McPherson loves teaching what he calls "the true art of fighting," but also relishes engaging it in himself. He possesses a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do and a first-degree black belt in Chinese karate.
It was on a snowy night, Dec. 15, 1989, that McPherson brought the first and only professional kick boxing show to the county.
That night at the Glen Burnie Armory, the Hammer won a FFKA light heavyweight bout with a unanimous decision over Sam "Boom Boom" Galotpi of New Jersey.
In 1991 McPherson whipped Big Lou Chester of Pennsylvania in a FFKA and Maryland State Athletic Commission-sanctioned bout in Rockville. It marked the first time that the state had sanctioned kick boxing.
McPherson had planned to present other kick boxing shows in the county but they never materialized. He is planning amateur kick boxing shows for the near future.
"I just haven't had the time, but I plan to hold a few amateur shows in the months to come with my Team Hammer," said McPherson.
Of course, he plans to keep busy fighting over the next couple months and if everything goes his way, maybe the next few years.
"I'm 36. People say that's old, but I don't think it's old when you keep yourself in great shape as I do and keep improving," he said.
"I want to do this and just continue fighting until I'm 40 or 42."