From his beginnings fighting in the Jr. High School boxing league, the WBC (Windsor Boxing Council), to battling it out in some hellacious throw downs, to now, training top boxers around the world, former contender “The Iceman” John Scully has pretty much seen all and done all in the boxing world. And now in the second part of this exclusive interview conducted with Scully, he talks more about his experiences in the boxing world, and gives his thoughts on the passing of one of the good guys in the sport, Vernon Forrest.
For the record, John Scully was my very first interview when I stepped in the writing world and five plus years later I have been able to interview Scully numerous times and have grown to know Scully. He is very fan and media friendly, willing to help out the kiddos and from we all have seen, is one hell of a trainer. So read on to see what Scully had to say, enjoy.
Interview By: Benny Henderson Jr.
Benny Henderson Jr.
Between part one and part two of your interview, the boxing world lost another warrior in the senseless murder of Vernon Forrest. I know that you knew Vernon so if to opening up this interview, give a quote on your thoughts on the late great Vernon Forrest.
One of the greatest compliments I ever got as a boxer came just a few years ago, the night of the Toney-Jirov fight, when I ran into Vernon in the crowd. I was surprised to have him tell me that he used to watch me back when we were in the amateurs at national tournaments. I had no idea he even knew me but there he was actually recalling specific fights he saw me in. And he tells me he liked watching me, and he was very careful with these words, because I "didn't box like a white guy." I laughed when he said that, I knew what he meant, and I told him several times over the years that I was going to use that quote in my book. And now I definitely will. His passing has brought out so many personal stories from people and most of them seem to have the same common theme, that being what a great guy outside the ring he was. I didn't know Vernon extremely well like a lot of others but it seems from all indications that he was as much of a champion out of the ring as he was inside it.
I know I already asked you your most memorable moment in your fighting career, but you have also trained as well as commentated. Out of those two I just mentioned, do you have a memorable moment that sticks out the most?
As a trainer I had many, many tremendous moments and many stand out but several jump out at me. Being there with Jose Rivera when he beat Terra Garcia for the WBA junior middleweight title on Showtime was a spectacular moment for me. Being there with Clay-Bey for final fight of his career, the draw on ESPN with Derek Bryant was just as spectacular because of the situation we found ourselves in late in the fight. Clay-Bey finished one of the late rounds with a huge flurry of punches in trying to go for the knockout but Bryant survived the round. After that Clay was physically spent. Almost forty years old, working full time at the prison on the midnight shift. Four kids at home. He didn't really need boxing at that point and it was clear the end of his career was near but we still had three rounds to go. It was really something in that corner from the end of that round on, like something like out of a Rocky movie. He sucked it up and dug as deep as he possibly could and came back like gangbusters and got a draw out of it. To be there for it that close to the action, to see a professional fighter dig down like that, it literally left me exhausted afterwards.
There's been a lot of other great moments, too, including having some of my amateur boxers win national championships over the years at the Junior Olympics, PAL Nationals, Ohio State Fair and Silver Gloves.
Your three favorite fighters and why?
One guy I really like now is Manny Pacquiao. The thing I like about him, on top of his fearlessness and his dedication and drive, is the fact that he seems to enjoy boxing more than any other fighter today. I think young guys on the way up can learn from him. His enthusiasm. Watch him when he makes his ring walk. I love the fact that he seems so happy, so excited to be there. He's so small and he's walking down the aisle surrounded by ten guys who are all taller than him and he's going to the ring to face bigger guys in huge fights and what does he do? He spends the entire walk to the ring smiling the biggest smile you've ever seen while waving to what looks like every person in the arena.
I also love Muhammad Ali, of course, because without Ali the game wouldn't be what it is today. He changed the boxing world; he's the one who brought huge anticipation and exciting build up to fights.
Finally, I always loved to watch Tommy Hearns. Awesomely skilled guy with out of this world jab, right hand, left hook and body punching. But the main thing is that every time he fought he came to fight and fight hard and he threw everything in his arsenal. You always knew you would get the best of him when you watched Tommy Hearns
What is next for John Scully?
I am in the process of organizing some bouts in the Bronx, New York and Scranton, Pennsylvania for some of my amateur kids and I am also working on a big amateur show to be held at my gym on September 19th. I have spoken to (former light heavyweight champ) Virgil Hill and he's going to be bringing a few kids he works with to box on the show. So it's going to be a really special event all the way through. It's an outdoor show and we're going to have music and a lot of food, kind of like a block party with boxing as the main theme. Then that same night my kid Joey (Perez) makes his professional debut on the undercard of a Matt Remillard main event. So September 19, 2009 is shaping up to be a landmark day in my career as a boxing person. After that, hopefully I am in the gym helping Godfrey and Oliver get ready for bigger and better things, too.
In your opinion, what is the difference between yesterday’s fighters, compared to todays?
The absolute biggest difference between the fighters of yesteryear as opposed to today is the fact that they lived to fight and they fought to live back then. Maybe the greatest example of that comes from the fact that Willie Pep lost his world featherweight title to Sandy Saddler at the end of October in 1948. Now, the amazing thing isn't that he beat Saddler over 15 rounds in a rematch held just a little over three months later. It's the fact that he squeezed in two fights in between all that before the rematch. Think about t hat for a minute. He loses the featherweight title by knockout at the end of October. Comes back and has two fights and then fights a rematch with the guy who KO'd him and he beats him over 15 rounds. All in less than a three and a half month span. With some of the guys today that whole scenario would have taken well over a year to complete. Certain guys would need a long rest and he would need to go to the Bahamas and then he'd have to go film a bit part in a movie somewhere and then fly back to New York to record an album and then do a soda commercial and then he'd have to talk trash for four months before finally demanding no less than twenty million for the honor of watching him fight the guy again.
The world champions back then, though, they fought to make money and to advance their careers and feed their families. It was more of a job it seemed and they treated it as such. I mean, professional boxing is a murderous business in any era and to go through the rigors of training and the fights is something brutal on the body and mind, I know this for a fact. But Ray Robinson lost for the first time ever by a decision to Jake LaMotta with eight ounce horse hair filled gloves on but he got right back on the horse and fought Jake again right away just a few weeks later. Those two didn't need six months to be convinced to come back and honor us with their presence and Jake didn't just sit on his win over Ray like he had nothing to prove because he already beat him. Those two fought six times against each other when it was all said and done!!
So it seemed like back in those days the fighters wanted to fight as opposed to some guys today who seem to only want to fight when it suits them. You'll have a guy with thirty fights in eight years talking about the "tough schedule" he's been on over the course of his career. Don't get me wrong, you have Julio Cesar Chavez and James Toney and many others like them who have fought enough tough fights for five men but the record books shows that every champ back then was putting in the work every chance he got.
So in that regard I understand why the old timers claim the guys back then were tougher. I mean, I don't think they come any tougher, so to speak, than Manny Pacman or Gatti or Holyfield but I certainly understand the tone of their meaning when they say these things.
If anybody can get anything out of this interview what would you want it to be?
If I wanted someone to gain knowledge from this piece it would be that I am very much a fan of boxers and what they go through to be who they are. Win, lose or draw, champion or contender, trial horse or opponent, I have great respect for them and try to encourage the fans and critics alike to respect these guys for what they do, too. Emotionally and mentally and physically, this is a sport like no other and the men and women who choose to box for a living are a special breed, believe me. Unlike the second string QB on an NFL team who is still guaranteed to make six figures every year, there are top rated professional boxers out here whose wives still have to work a 9-5 job to make ends meet. There are easier and more lucrative and less painful ways to make a living, believe me.
Anything you would like to add or say in closing?
JS: Only that I appreciate the opportunity to talk boxing again with you and the readers of your site.
Once again I would like to thank John Scully for his time and thoughts, for more info on “The Iceman” And be sure to check out his official site www.icemanjohnscully.com
Benny Henderson Jr.