Since the 80's and early 90's John Bray has played an impressive role in boxing. We had the honor to get an interview with John Bray, founder of the the John Bray Boxing Foundation and trainer for the TV reality show "The Contender" season four. Here is what he had to say.
CA: You had a very long and successful amateur record 124-12. Do you feel having an extensive amateur record is important for a fighter considering going pro?
JOHN BRAY: I think they should have an extensive amateur record before they think of going pro . I had a very long amateur record. You don’t need 100 amateur fights, but you do need to gain the experience. Only for this reason, you can see the different styles of boxing fighters. You can’t replace experience.
CA: What did winning the 1991 Gold Medal along with Oscar De La Hoya and Raul Marquez feel like?
JOHN BRAY: I was fool of pride. It was beautiful. Winning in 1989 was the proudest I ever felt though.
CA: Growing up as a boxer you had the opportunity to be trained and mentored by some of the world’s best boxing trainers. Which trainer do you feel had the biggest impact in your boxing career?
JOHN BRAY: Wow. That is a tough one. Angelo Dundee, George Benton, Lou Duva, and Richie Giachetti all had a big impact in my life. The most influential was my amateur trainer Mike Salas. He influenced me not only in boxing but in his life. Mike started training me at 13 years old. He with out a doubt had the biggest impact in my life. He is one of the reasons why I give back to the community.
CA: You sparred with some of the best fighters in history including Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, and Mike McCaullum. Which fighter did you feel had the most skill?
JOHN BRAY: Hands down Mike McCaullum, no one comes close. The other guys where tough and rough. Incredible pressure from Holyfield, Mike Tyson is an extremely hard hitter but no one comes close to Mike McCaullum
CA: You are currently a world renowned boxing trainer. You trained notable fighters like Tommy Morrison, Lance Whittaker, Jeremy Williams, and Miguel Espino. You took Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero to win his first world title when he knocked out Eric Aiken at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. What qualities do you look for in a fighter before you commit to training them?
JOHN BRAY: Strong work ethic, character, and the life style he lives. The reason why is because it all comes into place.
CA: You are the boxing trainer for the reality TV show The Contender which was recently filmed in Singapore. Can you describe your experience?
JOHN BRAY: My experience with the people who produce and work for The Contender is Awsome! They take care of the fighters and that is the way it should be. It is unfortunate that many boxing promoters put fights together with little to no regard for the fighters. It is a breath of fresh air working on The Contender.
CA: What qualities make a great boxer?
JOHN BRAY: Character is number One! If you have great character you will become a great fighter. Boxing is not a job but a lifestyle. Pretend you have gone to prison and this is the way you have to live. Only a man with great character will make it.
CA: Boxing promotions are facing a challenging time in the fight game. Mixed martial arts is having a bigger presence than ever in fight promotions. Which boxing promoter do you feel is good for the sport?
JOHN BRAY: Don King promotes events. It is a show! That is why he is where he is today. Good fighters, good matches, open workouts and boxing clinics. This keeps people interested and keeps boxing in the media.
CA: Oscar De La Hoya and you both competed and represented the U.S. Boxing Olympic Team together. Do you think Oscar de La Hoya and his promotion company Golden Boy Promotions could do more for the sport?
JOHN BRAY: He is one of those guys who what ever he touches turns to gold. He has done a lot for the sport. I think that Golden Boy Promotion’s CEO Richard Schaefer could learn from Don King and should immolate Don King Promotions.
CA: The two remaining Contenders fight for the championship. The Contender 4 Season finale takes place Wednesday February 25th, 2009 at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Connecticut. What is your prediction between Rico Hoye and Akinyemi Laleye?
JOHN BRAY: If AK stays focused and does what he does. He will be victorious.
CA: What is your prediction between contestants Troy Ross and Hino Ehikhamenor 10-round cruiserweight fight for The Contender?
JOHN BRAY: Troy fought two Olympic games and is an established pro boxer. He learned his trade and knows what he is doing. But don’t count Hino out. He has the ability. I think it will be a tougher fight for Troy than people think. It is going to be exciting.
CA: Who do you feel are some of the most accomplished fighters?
JOHN BRAY: Manny Pacquiao, Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather
CA: You are the founder of the John Bray Boxing Foundation. Created to help inner city at risk youths learn to box, in an effort to keep them off the streets and away from peer pressure and trouble. What inspired you to open up this foundation?
JOHN BRAY: My amateur boxing coach Mike Salas had a lot to do with it. I grew up in a poor neighborhood and wanted the opportunity to learn how to box. Mike Salas made a big effort to train and mentor me. He was not just interested in my boxing career. But cared a lot about me as a person and mentored me to help me grow. The John Bray Boxing Foundation is my way of giving back to the community and making a difference in young people’s lives.
JOHN BRAY QUOTE: “Work hard, stay humble and give grace to GOD”
CA: Is there anyone you would like to thank?
JOHN BRAY: I am thankful and grateful to the boxing community as a whole. I am grateful to the John Bray Boxing Foundation, Jerry Gonzalez and Tom, Ben and Bonnie Bray. Without them none of this would be happening.