Rickey Ballenger has been called the best boxer to ever come from upper South Carolina. Ballenger, who died in an industrial accident in 1978, won over 200 matches as an amateur and lost 11. He compiled a professional record of 4-1. Ballenger was a classy boxer with a devastating punch. In the days when military fighters made short work of locals in the Carolinas Golden Gloves in Charlotte, he beat Art Redden, the defending light-heavyweight champion and one of the best. Ballenger began boxing at an early age as did many Gaffney youngsters coached by Roy Turner. He won tournaments all over the South, including the Carolinas Golden Gloves five times. While serving in the U.S. Army, he won the All Army and All Service titles. He held the S.C. heavyweight championship for several years and lost to Jimmy Ellis in the Olympic trials in 1968.
Gaffney residents view Ballenger as a legend. Upon his untimely death, he left a brother, Mike, also a fine boxer, sisters, Donna and Sarah, a daughter, Mrs. Shannon Blanton, and a granddaughter, Magen Blanton.