Boxer's death investigated

Heavyweight Dietrich found in Dundalk home

March 04, 2010|By Brent Jones | brent.jones@baltsun.com

Heavyweight boxer Mike Dietrich, a fan favorite known for having a damaging left hook and attacking style, died Tuesday at his home in Dundalk, according to his trainer. He was 26.

Baltimore County police are investigating the cause and the circumstances surrounding Dietrich's death.

His body was found about 5:15 p.m. in the basement of a home in the first block of Shipway.

"They called me and his sister right away," said Jake "The Snake" Smith, Dietrich's trainer. "I was at the gym. We were all in shock."

Smith said he considered Dietrich part of his family, and the boxer often accompanied him and his wife on vacations.

"He was a lovable guy, a character," Smith said. "He was so good with kids, showed them how to throw punches. He could hit like a mule kick."

Dietrich's boxing career began about a decade ago. He was groomed over the years by Smith, Moe Rites and Kevin Rooney, who trained former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in the mid-1980s.

As an amateur, Dietrich, a Patapsco High graduate, was a two-time Silver Gloves national champ and a one-time Police Athletic League national champ.

Dietrich credited much of his in-ring aggression to the anger he felt after losing his mother, who died of cancer in 1999. He rose through the ranks quickly, fighting and defeating grown men as a 5-foot-11, 201-pound 16-year-old.

Although he showed much promise as a youngster, Dietrich's career was derailed temporarily after he was stabbed in December 2005 and nearly died.

Dietrich suffered a punctured lung, a punctured heart valve and a severely damaged colon after an altercation with a roommate.

He boxed after a 16-month layoff, scoring a knockout in his first bout back.

Rites said Dietrich, who finished with a 12-1 record as a heavyweight, was getting ready for a March 20 fight against Wes Taylor, the only man to hand him a loss as a professional. Dietrich sparred six rounds Monday.

"He looked damn good," Rites said. "He was in shape, and doing everything, throwing a lot of combinations."

But after his session Monday night, Smith said, Dietrich went to work as a doorman at a bar on The Block. Smith said Dietrich got into an altercation with a man that night.

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