There are certain sounds that are synonymous with Tulsa - some can be found at TU football games. If you’re there... chances are you’ve run into Mad Dog. Even the TU players seem to be a part of his kennel. But if you’re not a sports fan, you can hear that infamous bark around town almost every night.
In establishments where image is everything, there is Mad Dog - carrying a vase of roses in one hand, along with stuffed animals crammed into a laundry basket. He doesn’t fit in with the nighttime cliques. In fact, you might think he looks intimidating, but this is one dog that’s more interested in being a lover than a fighter.
"It's a blessing that I can do this, and bless others," said Mad Dog late one night in Brookside.If you pay attention, you can see Mad Dog’s footprint everywhere - ladies leaving establishments all around town with roses, and sometimes stuffed animals as big as they are.
The affection felt for Mad Dog could fill an arena - which is where the character Mad Dog was born.
"Stick Penn - Kenneth "Stick" Penn," said Penn's former promoter Dale Cook. "I loved boxing. I loved kickboxing. I did both. How good was I? I was pretty good," Penn said.His career record has more losses than wins. But what Mad Dog was known for wasn’t knocking people out - or getting knocked out... it was his entrance that endeared him to fight fans - and his promoter, Dale Cook.
"His ring entrance was something to behold," Cook said. "He'd be led to the ring by the ring girls, barking like a Doberman Pincher. People just loved the "dog". He didn't always win - as a matter of fact most of the time he didn't win - but he was very entertaining."
Eventually, like most pugilists, it was too many blows to the head - along with a car accident that left him with a stent in his brain - that caused him to hang up his gloves."I'm partially disabled," says Penn. "I've got a bad back, and two bad knees."
Once he left the ring, Kenneth couldn’t keep a job - the lowest point seeing he and his wife living out of a car.
"Basically, I didn't have nowhere to stay. We were on the streets. I had to do what I had to do."
Now, for the past 25 years, he’s been using the "Mad Dog" character developed in the ring to provide for his wife and five children by selling teddy bears and roses across town.
Despite his charm, there are still obstacles to overcome - just like in the ring. He pushes on, though, earning the adoration from people who understand he’s just trying to make a living.
"You've got an honest living selling flowers," said a gentleman on Peoria. "It's one of the oldest things, besides prostitution."
Mad Dog draws support from the fans who love him and his “unique” character. His “arena” is no longer a boxing ring, but whatever Golden Hurricane event he’s invited to. There, he supports the Tulsa players, like those who have supported him for so long.
"I've been really lucky, in some way," says Mad Dog. "I've got people that really love me."
"When I see him at the games, the kids still love him - he's still doing his barking routine - he is still the "dog"," says Cook. "That's how people remember him, as a good natured guy who looks ferocious but is really loveable. He's a fixture at Tulsa sports."
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