In early 1992 Parker had a new con going: ex-NFL linebacker Mark Gastineau, formerly an All-Pro with the New York Jets in the mid-80s, now a fledgling prizefighter. Acting on a verbal agreement with a representative of George Foreman, still wildly popular despite losing to Evander Holyfield in April 1991, Parker chose Gastineau as the surest route to The Windfall Factor. If Gastineau could build a record of at least 12-0, Parker was told, he would receive a shot at Foreman in a sideshow bonanza for all involved.
But the star of the Sack Exchange was finding it harder to corner the Sock Exchange—even in the gym. So his bouts were fixed. (It should be noted that there is no evidence Gastineau was aware Parker was fixing his fights.) In his pro debut, Gastineau drygulched an acrobatic professional wrestler in eighteen seconds and then went on to face civilians and professional dive artists until Parker fatefully matched him with Tim “Doc” Anderson. Although the two men had been estranged for nearly two years—Parker had cheated Anderson out of thousands of dollars—Parker ludicrously promised his former fighter $500,000 to play stuntman against Gastineau. Anderson, however, had other things in mind—namely revenge via double-cross. When Parker showed up at his hotel room just hours before the fight to rehearse the dive routine, Anderson shocked him by refusing to comply. On June 9, 1992, Anderson smacked the hapless, hopeless, and helpless Gastineau around the ring en route to a lopsided decision win aired live on the USA Network. Parker, whose cocaine addiction had worsened over the years, now saw another dream—or delusion—slip out of his meaty grasp.
By refusing to follow the script, Anderson put himself in the crosshairs of a vindictive sociopath. Six months later, Parker offered Anderson a rematch against Gastineau under the pretext that Gastineau had become a liability: Parker wanted Gastineau knocked off in order to trigger a contractual clause that would prove beneficial to “Elvis.” Incredibly, Anderson agreed, and the fight was scheduled to take place on December 3, 1992, in Oklahoma, a state without an athletic commission. Gastineau-Anderson II marked one of the lowest points in the sport's history and set off a chain of events outrageous even for the anarchic world of boxing.
Improbably, the nearly talentless Gastineau stopped Anderson in the sixth round in front of a few hundred spectators on a non-televised card. Later, the sickening truth would be revealed: Anderson, whose cornermen never showed up and were replaced by strangers, had been poisoned. After the fight, Anderson collapsed in the dressing room, unconscious. He was discovered hours later by a janitor and taken to a hospital, where doctors suspected that Anderson had been drugged.
Whatever he had been poisoned with left Anderson suffering from vertigo and largely bedridden for the better part of three years. Desperate for a cure for his undiagnosed illness, Anderson eventually decided to confront Parker. Without knowing exactly what chemicals had been used to spike his water, Anderson faced a lifetime of suffering. It was Parker who had the answers, and Anderson would get them. They met at an Embassy Suites in Lake Buena Vista on April 28, 1995, and their showdown ended with Parker, who had no idea what kind of toxin had been slipped to Anderson, laid out on the floor, shot eight times, DOA. Anderson was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But Parker was not a man whose death triggered much mourning. His own sister, Diane McVey, probably put it best when she spoke to writer Robert Mladinich in 2005: “Over the years, there were so many people who might have wanted Rick dead. He wasn’t a very nice person, and took advantage of a lot of people. I’m not surprised someone killed him.”