Bio:Light Heavyweight, Richie “Popeye the Sailor Man” Rivera fights out of East Hartford, Connecticut and trains out of Orlando, Florida. Rivera is promoted by NY and CT Hall of Fame promoter, Joe DeGuardia. Rivera is arguably one of the most popular and hard-hitting boxers in the New England area. Rivera likes to describe his fights as “quick to the finish, because I eat my spinach.”
Rivera almost single handedly resurrected an otherwise dormant boxing scene of late in the Hartford market, which dates back a full century, headlined by International Hall of Famers Willie “Will o’ The Wisp” Pep and Christopher “Battling” Battalino. Other top boxers from this area of Connecticut include world champion Marlon “Magic Man” Starling, world title challengers Gaspar “El Indio” Ortega and Israel “Pito” Cardona, and 1996 USA Olympic Boxing Team captain Lawrence Clay-Bey.
Although Rivera had a relatively non-descript amateur boxing career, other than winning top honors at the 2016 Rocky Marciano Tournament, he gained invaluable experience boxing many of the leading New England amateurs, as well as in several national events. His real learning has developed over the years as a professional sparring partner for former world champions such as Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, Chad Dawson and WBO World Champion and Star Boxing stablemate, Joe Smith, Jr.
“The positive feedback I received from fighters I sparred fed into my confidence,” Rivera said. I had been insecure.” Rivera made his pro debut on January 19, 2017, stopping Devonte Hopkins in the second round at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts. Busloads of his passionate fans from Hartford started traveling all over New England, even through winter blizzards, to watch Rivera fight at venues like Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, in addition to Hampton and Derry, New Hampshire.
Rivera has overcome many obstacles in life. He spent part of his childhood living at home in the Hartford area, largely due to an abusive father and over-burdened mother who were unable to provide a stable home, before he finally landed at an alternative high school in East Hartford. At one point, though, he was kicked out of his house and forced to apply for food stamps and other government services.
In 2015, Rivera started working at the Hartford Boxing Club. Rivera has successfully marketed his “Popeye” persona: wearing a sailor’s cap into the ring before and after his fights, along with a traditional Popeye pipe dangling from his mouth. His growing fan-base love his cartoon-like look, especially children and women who pose post-fight with Rivera to take pictures and receive his autograph.
“There are several reasons for my nickname,” Rivera explained. “When I was very young, I had abnormally large forearms. It stuck with me through the years, when people referred to me in the gym, so I’ve run with it. I live in the moment!”
Richie Rivera vs Brian Howard | Resorts World Catskills | June 28, 2019he Star Boxing Triple Header featured thrilling ABO America Championship bouts that lived up to their hype and Star Boxing’s reputation for putting on thrilling fights. Richie “Popeye The Sailor Man” Rivera brawled with Brian “MVP” Howard for the Cruiserweight strap. Fighting behind an enthusiastic crowd cheering his name, the entertaining Rivera was hurt in the first by a thunderous right hand by Howard. However, Rivera would steady himself, wisely fall inside and cut the power of the strong Philadelphian. Rivera systematically chopped down the big and powerful Howard by attacking the body. Rivera turned in a gutsy performance, avoiding the power of Howard for the remainder of the 8-round bout, while scoring mostly to the body. Earning the unanimous decision victory, Rivera becomes a regional champion (ABO America’s Cruiserweight Champion) The scores by the judges were all 79-73.
Richie Rivera vs Joe Jones | Mass Mutual Center | December 13, 2019In the main event, undefeated Richard “Popeye the Sailor Man” Rivera dominated an eightround unanimous decision over “Mighty” Joe Jones, 80-72 on all three judges’ scorecards. Rivera upped his record to 16-0, 12 KOs. This was his seventh fight of the year, which is an extremely active fighting schedule nowadays. Jones had his two-bout winning streak stopped.
Rivera looked pretty impressive as he dictated the action. He aggressively chased Jones round the ring throughout the fight and landed pretty much whatever he wanted throughout this onesided bout. Rivera demonstrated effective multiple-punch combinations to Jones’ body and head, as he punished him. He landed the harder shots, especially jabs and hooks. Jones spent most of the fight in a defensive shell, as he did not throw many punches.