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all been a pack of lies
Eubank (some great stuff)
Just found this on another board.
First of all, Chris, how did you get started in boxing?
I was working as a janitor at a gym in New York and started sparring.
And how old were you?
16. A Bronx boxer called 'The Horse' asked me if I would spar with him, I said 'yes' and I haven't stopped.
You turned pro at 19. Did you box as an amateur?
I started sparring two months before I turned 17 and had my first professional fight two months after I turned 19. And yes, I boxed amateur.
Did you achieve much in your amateur career?
I went 19-7, my amateur career lasted one year, so I averaged a fight every two weeks and took every fight I was offered, mostly around clubs in the Bronx. I won the New York State Youth title and the 1984 Spanish Golden Gloves championship tournament. All my amateur fights were at open class level, so I made my amateur debut in open level; I'd been having gym fights with pros for nine months straight and worked right the way upto two sets of 15 rounds a night and three sets of 12 rounds a night, having started with one set of three rounds which left me near-dead! That was despite training for four months and getting fit before I got in the ring.
My amateur career started through being a late replacement, and it was contested at light heavyweight, above my natural weight at the time; I was stopped in 30 seconds. Every tournament match or title match was at light-middleweight, while the fights I took on short notice were mostly (the) 165lbs weight category.
Did you beat any notable future professionals as an amateur?
There was a fellow called Ricky Thomas who I beat to win the Youth belt. He had some great combinations and caught me left, right and upwards, so I had to rely on aggression to get the nod of the judges. I kept calling him in and all that.
Did you have a natural talent for boxing, then?
Not particularly. Obviously, I had good hand speed in the ring, and speed is natural. Accuracy is speed, because the sooner the punch gets there the more likely it's going to land. I suppose I had good poise, largely down to the way I walked!
But it took me two years to learn how to throw the right hand correctly, and three years after that to learn how to throw the left hook correctly. And four years in total to learn how to throw each bodyshot correctly. I trained seven days a week and abstained from all substances.
I sparred four or five days a week without fail, full-contact sparring at all times. Sparring is where you hone ring intelligence, instincts, infighting and even integrity, not on fight nights, on fight nights you only use - if needed - what you've already done thousands of times in the gymnasium.
The person who thinks about catching a jab will get hit - bang. And that person will flinch if his sparring had been semi-contact. If you flinch, you're giving your opponent one up. It's all about sparring. You get to know when a fighter is hurt and when to move in for the kill. Timing was still one of my best assets after Watson II - knowing when to slow down, you don't necessarily have to speed up all the time to get results. Timing and will, spacing and pacing and not showing pain were some of my best assets.
You never said you loved boxing, so where did your drive to succeed come from?
Well, I did love boxing. I fell in love with the art of boxing, and fell interested in the art of war, which I applied to boxing. I only disliked the worst aspects of boxing; disfigurement, brain injuries and, most of all, distreatment of boxers. To like those aspects of boxing you'd need to be insane.
I loved the nobility of boxing, the constraints of the gymnasium, the rules and regulations that were to be adhered to; that noble behaviour. And I loved what I was - a fighter, a warrior.
In regard to where one's drive came from; I suppose being away from my boxer brothers and having to prove myself to the world and in turn (to) them, because they bullied me as far back as I can remember and that conditions me to want acceptance in life.
Is it true that you fought at Madison Square Garden as an amateur? And did that meaning anything to you?
I put all my eggs into the philosophy basket, so that didn't mean anything to me. I studied the philosophy of the art and the philosophy of fighting intensely, whereas say Mike Tyson for example put most of his eggs into the history basket, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of boxing history.
Is it true that you knew Mike Tyson and Dwight Gooden as a teenager?
They were acquaintances. I would see Mike at various fights and Dwight at VIP's where I was working as a minder. Neither of them were personal friends. Although I got to know Mike personally when I visited him in prison.
I only really had one personal friend in New York and that was a fellow called Ray Rivera, a Puerto Rican who was Golden Gloves champion and trained with me in the Bronx, he would have gone to the Olympics if he didn't get involved in drugs and shot down a year before. He had really fast hands and was just as good as Roy Jones at the time in my view. I was looking forward to going out there with him, and getting noticed on his undercards, because he could have won the Olympics in my view.
Another of my sparring partners, called Bradley (Austin), he was 147lb and also had really fast hands. He would have won the Olympics if he didn't get involved in drugs and have to turn professional to pay his dealer. I have no idea where he is now or how his career panned out. My cousin, Woodia, he sold drugs from New York, and he ended up dead at 27. Drugs are bad.
Who did you model yourself on?
I didn't model myself on anybody.
Any boxing heroes?
Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. But not for their boxing styles. Tyson for his standard setting and Ali for his integrity. These men inspired me, and I had an excessive determination to be mentioned among them, they even influenced me to embrace Islam!
What about your boxing style, then? Did you model that on anybody's?
As a philosophy, I have actually pointed out to people over the years that the best way for you to become a good boxer is to look at all your favourite fighters and then mould their best qualities into you. Thus you are not treating one fighter as your role model. You are extracting the best bits of others.
I tried to be as poetic as Pernell Whitaker was in the ring, but my style came mostly from my personality; such as holding the hands in half-guard instead of full-guard because I'd always lived life as black or white, hot or cold, and throwing punches untelegraphed from that position - as in life, go straight to your target, that doesn't mean there won't be obstacles in your way, there probably will be, but you still go straight for the target, just disregard potential obstacles, do not lose your focus.
Another reason I held my hands in the half-guard is because the majority of people were drinking heavily, night clubbing, sleeping around, taking drugs; I didn't want to be like these common people, I wanted to be different. Box in the full-guard and no fighter will be scared, because they have been training for that stance all their boxing lives. Box in the half-guard and they have to work out the terrain from scratch, and while they are doing that, you are hitting them.
What I advise youngsters to do is take the best parts of and the techniques of other fighters and try to make them your own. Of course I had to copy people in order to learn. There was a guy at my gymnasium in New York called Dennis Cruz, who I stole a few dances and weaves from, and a fellow there called Solano who I stole a few moves from regarding escape.
I admired greatly the jab of Thomas Hearns, but I wouldn't say my jab was like his. I admired it but I didn't have the same body structure he had, so mine was different. He wore his shorts high, but his hips weren't near his chest like mine were.
So, actually, my style more or less was my own, in accordance to the fact I had a rare body structure that limited me somewhat - for example, I had to learn to do splits and backbends to develop flexibility to assist my style, the former being absolutely excruciating, but that's the price you pay to get to the top.
all been a pack of lies
What was your training routine?
I didn't have a set routine when I was in New York, because I was constantly learning. But when I made Brighton my base and got a small weekly allowance from my promoter Keith Miles, I did. I was on heat to train then for a good while, it was a passion of which I could feel deep within my solar plexus.
I would train first thing, from around 5.30am to around 7.30am. I remember clearly it was 200 pushups, splits, a full body stretch, 500 free squats, another 200 pushups, 100 pullups, a five-mile run along Brighton beach and 1000 reps on abs and obliques. Then start gym work at 2pm or 4pm depending on how I felt.
The gym work was 15 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of shadow boxing, three to 15 rounds of full-contact punches, 15 minutes of skipping, 15 minutes of speedball and finish with 15 minutes of shadow boxing in front of mirrors. It would be at either Jack Pook's gym or Cheetahs Gym at King Alfred Leisure Centre, and I'd often find myself power walking there, to the gymnasium. On the morning run, I'd be finding myself dancing and shadow boxing.
Ronnie Davies was hired as a supervisor, he'd offer ideas when he took me on the pads and we'd work on certain punches and moves together that weren't in the texbook, though I was offering most of the ideas, and that's what we did right through my career. But basically I trained myself, because I'd already learned everything in New York, I just needed to streamline to perfect my style.
I wouldn't just use my fists in shadow boxing, I'd use my feet and body to develop agility. And shadow boxing is where you work on combinations, without the resistance of a heavy bag or the impact of hitting a human body to affect your punches, it's shadow boxing that is the time to concentrate on throwing more than one at a time. The pads were great for target practice, accuracy and power, my need on them was to train for power, because I had the accuracy naturally.
Anyway, the gym routine stayed similar when I started driving to Romford to train at the Matchroom gym from mid-89, where I often had great sparring with Errol Christie and Herbie Hide, I did 500 reps on abs and obliques after the workout followed by 20 medicine ball hits. My morning training changed, to just eight miles of roadwork. I brought backbends in after the Contreras fight, with my friend Walter 'Dr' Johnson.
Before the Nigel Benn fight, my friend John Regan deviced a swungball to help my reflexes, and I brought that into my routine. After the Benn fight, I would do only 50 or 60 situps, twice a day, instead of 500 or 1000 reps, and simply took more bodyshots in sparring, a trait I'd sadly left from my days in New York. The only way to condition yourself to taking bodyshots is to take bodyshots, the situps and medicine ball hits only assist. You don't put concentrated effort into skipping or speedball, they are only auxiliary.
When a fight was announced, all heavy bag work and pad work had been done and that was left, it was time then to spar. I never did weight-training, because it tightens you up, and boxing is about being loose and relaxed. After the (second) Watson fight, John Regan deviced a special small punchbag for me to sharpen my jab and I brought that into my routine, splitting into two daily gym workouts at my home gym when a fight was announced.
By the way, I had to take three weeks off after the Benn fight and four weeks off after the Watson fight, for internal damage to heal and so forth. I never took a day off from February 1983 to then! I took a day off after a fight from the Malinga fight onwards though. I always finished sparring the day before a fight itself to keep immunity to blows.
The Malinga fight was also the first time the day-before weigh-in was used, for me, I remember.
Did you use weights before the Thompson fights?
Then how did you jump two weight divisions?
Through eating three big meals a day instead of one small meal a day, which I'd had for 15 years. It wasn't heaven, to force-feed is torturous.
It (weight-training) is an unnatural form of exercise. Chimpanzees, as an example, are eight times stronger than a man, yet do not lift weights. Lifting weights can increase the size and strength of muscles, but genenally only increases the size and strength of muscles that are seen that have aesthetic value. It does not address the majority of muscles that have no aesthetic value such as ligaments and tendons, and leaves ligaments and tendons weak.
Weight-training also does not increase flexiblity - it actually reduces flexibility, thus hindering the flow of energy through the body. You punch hard through technique and learning to totally relax to gather you're strength before concentrating your effort into hitting your target.
Describe the technique...
Obviously, a punch starts from the toe, and you want the wave of movement to travel into the knuckles, and you want the index and middle knuckles to connect because those two knuckles flow from a direct line straight up your arm which prevents injury. If boxing was touch boxing, I doubt anybody could touch me on that. I had a natural talent for touch boxing, but it took me dozen's upon dozen's upon dozen's of months to become a skilled fighter, and you still have to train relentlessly to maintain.
What's your food intake like today?
I had a better appetite before and after those 15 and a half years, I just never found myself hungry when I was boxing. Now, I eat a little more. But I find breakfast makes you hungry for lunch, lunch for dinner... and it all makes you overweight. So I start to eat after 12 o'clock. For lunch I like corned beef, white rice and fried onions, which I've eaten for as long as I can remember. My father used to make it; now, no one does it like me.
And for dinner, you're looking at roast lamb, salt beef or corned beef brisket with lots of vegetables and salad, that's what I like best, with probably the best tasting lager in the world - Heineken. Follow that with rum and raisin ice cream and we're talking. Broccoli is my favourite vegetable - it's not as bad as people make out, it might give you wind, but I'd prefer to have wind and have good health.
I also drink lots of water. Most of the planet is covered with water, so there must be a clue to its worth in that fact. Usually it's tap water because it isn't as old as bottled water. And I still eat strawberry bon bons and blackjacks, always have and always will there.
There are fighters like Ricky Hatton who swears by weights to make each muscle stronger and faster, fighters like Joe Calzaghe who uses a lot of arm punches to keep an opponent occupied, and fighters like Nigel Benn who never used to go full-on in sparring but saved it for the fight. What do you make of those? I suppose everyone differs.
Yeah, but I think those are very gifted and exceptional. I didn't have anything handed to me on a silver platter other than a cast-iron chin, I had to work!
When would you say was your peak?
The John Jarvis fight, because I had six weeks on Bodmin Moor away from my wife and kids and could keep my weight down and be mean with it, or the Henry Wharton fight, because the Board of Control used weight-checks for six weeks which forced me to keep my weight down.
Obviously, taking off 10 or 15lbs in the two or three days before a weigh-in doesn't do one favours, but you have to understand that my objective was to win, not look good for the people. I could fuel up on water and hit the man with one or two bodyshots a round and one or two proper jabs a round, for four to six rounds, and two to four rounds later he is broken down. My posturing would influence judges, as well as their close-up look of my foot movement and the occasional flashy flurry, that could inspire them.
Obviously, my peak years were 1990 and 91, of course.
Who are the five best boxers you ever got in the ring with?
Michael Watson in our second fight, Joe Calzaghe, Herol Graham, Nigel Benn and Ray Rivera; in that order. Nigel Benn hit the hardest by far, Herol Graham was the most evasive by far and Michael Watson in our second fight was the strongest by far.
Watson in our second fight kept up the pace of a lightweight and I haven't ever fought below light-middleweight, so he set the highest pace, and kept it up to boot. Dan Schommer was the most technically skilled, followed by Watson, and Joe Calzaghe the most exceptionally skilled. It's close between Rivera and Calzaghe as to who had the fastest hands being my size. Herol Graham was the best chess player. I have plenty of respect for Herol Graham, but he's not the best boxer I've seen to never win a world championship - that is Dennis Cruz.
For me, I took all of my opportunities with both hands - Herol Graham blew his against Julian Jackson, for example. As for Dennis, I heard he got involved in drugs after he left our gym, in New York, he was one fight away from a title shot. You know, I recall I had plenty of offers to try certain substances - I never did. It may have made me look uncool, but I had that discipline.
Are you not interested in being a trainer or a commentator?
Nope. You only get to see a fighters heart when the moment is required, so you could be wasting many thousands of hours of your time. My artistic license won't allow me to be a commentator or analyser, because most people only understand the basics.
What's your best training advise for young boxers, though?
Objective will make you a champion, because the subjective spells failure. And sparring is the best training, the more the better.
Alright, man. Always a pleasure.
all been a pack of lies