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Old 04-30-2009, 04:07 PM #1
Southpaw16BF Southpaw16BF is offline
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Default Emile Griffith Interview

Emile Griffith began his professional debut June 2, 1958 as he won a fourth round decision over Joe Parham. He was first introduced to amateur boxing by his uncle in St Thomas, West Indies when he was 18 years old. Six time champion Emile Griffith was inducted into the International Hall of fame in 1990 and world hall of fame...

I'm here with 6 time champ..What are you doing these days?
I've been busy training fighters and attending special events

You're considered as one of the greatest middleweight of our time. What did
you think of Hopkins-Trinidad fight, if you watch it?
Yes, I watched the fight. Hopkins did well but I don't think I saw the same Trinidad I know. I think Trinidad fought good too but Hopkins was the better man that night. If they ever fight again I think Trinidad will get him this time. Maybe Trinidad underestimated Hopkins or he didn't train hard enough.

Why did you decide to box?
I wanted to play Baseball but I was small to play. Howard Albert asked if I ever boxed. He took me to the gym department parks on 28th Street, NY. After that, I would go over to the gym after work to workout with the guys and I get beat up but I stayed around to learn. I won the Golden Gloves in 1956 then turn pro in 1958.

What do you remember from your pro debut?
It's been a long time. It was at Old St Nicks in New York City and I beat the guy by decision.

Your toughtest professional fight?
My toughest fight was with Dick Tiger. Nino was tough too and Carlos Monzon was too. I was lucky to beat Tiger. I always say I was lucky to win all my fight but I trained very hard for all of them. Kids today don't train as hard as we did those days. They want it easy but it can't work if you don't prepare very hard. This is what I teach my fighters.

Where did you use to camp for your fights?
We use to go Upstate New York, called Concord Hotel in Caskills. We took training very serious, I would be practizing moves, body punches, right hand and throwing left hooks. My trainer Gill Chancy was a good trainer and one of the best in the business.

How would you compare the fight to your fights with Dick Tiger?
Tiger was my good friend, we use to spar together at Gleason gym in Bronx, NY then. Few years later I got a chance to fight him, I guess that help me to beat him because I knew his style. I learn a lot from Tiger and learn from me too. When we sparred together I was like 147 and he was a full middleweight. We use to go to central park together to do our road walk too. My two fights with Dick Tiger was a heal of a fight. I think we had a tougher fight than Hopkins-Trinidad.

Your thoughts on Tyson-Nelsen bout?
Are you making jokes, Ike? Tyson fought a white guy who was strong but can't fight, Tyson should have stopped him earilier. He kept holding Tyson but Ref. Steve Smoger just kept breaking them up. Mike needs more work before he fights for any title.

What else can you tell me about your meetings with Dick Tiger?
I was like a boxer, he was a puncher and boy, Dick Tiger can hit. I was fast and my trainer Gill Chancy use to tell me not to let my opponent throw shots first at me, I should be the one throwing first. I was the better man that night.

Which fight of your career was your highest payday?
It was my fight with Nino Benvenuti (Poster: PeltzBoxing). I made almost quarter of a million.

Can you compare you fights with Nino Benvenuti
We had three good fights. He was tough on all 3 fights, 2 in 1967 & third one in the garden took place in 1968 but I was a little tougher. I think I won all our fights but they gave me only the second one. One of the fight with him I slipped but they called it a knock down and we protected.

How would you compare the old Madison Square Garden to the new? The old Garden was good but now we have something better and larger. Now, they have various major events there like Music, basketball, Hockey, Boxing and more.

How did you feel to capture your first title against Benny Paret on April 1. 1961?
It was a great fight for me and I was a happy man. I knocked him out in 13th round and I did a back flip in the ring after I won the title. I felt like I owned the whole world. It was definitely a great feeling to win the title. I received a lot of congratulation from my sparring partnerss, many fans, my baseball team (The Griffs) family & friends.

Tell us about "The Griffs" ?
It was a baseball team I formed to teach kids how to play. I started it after I turned professional in earily 1960's.

What was it like to be inducted into International Hall of Fame in 1990?
It was fun. A lot of my friends, New York Comissioners were ther. It was very exciting moment for me and my family.

Your most memorable moment of your career would be...?
My third fight with Benny Paret....... Oh my God, it was a disater I almost lost my career. Benny passed away, may his soul R.I.P after that fight, I didn't want to fight any more. My mind can't get me to fight. I was getting hate mails from Cubans calling me a murderer but I also got positive mails from fans who cared about me. The fans wrote to me saying it wasn't my fault, that was boxing. I even received a mail from a fan who's a truck driver he told me how a little boy ran in front of his truck and he couldn't save the kid's life. He said, that never made him to quit his job. It was an accident after receiving a lot of mail as such my trainer encouraged me to get back in the ring so I tried to go back. The advise and support from fans made me get back into it. They said, we love you and want to see you fight again champ. I didn't know I was much appreciated till then.

Can you please describe your fights with Carlos Monzon?
He was taller and had a longer reach than so it was hard to get into him but I do get in, I made him feel my punches.

Tell us about your Fight with Hurrcane Carter?
They did a movie on him. I lost to him but it's time for Emile. I trained Wesley Snappes for a movie "Street of Gold" and I was show a little in that movie too. Wesley knows his stuff and I think he could play my role very well.

Your favorite fighters during your era would be ....?
I like "Sugar" Ray Robinson, I use to do road walks with him and I sparred with him one at Gleason Gym in the Bronx. Joe Louis, I met him few times in Las Vegas and New York. Archie Moore was a very good man, he showed me a lot in the gym too. One thing I liked about him was that he never show off.

What's your impression of Jose Torres?
Another friend, he was the captain of the Golden Gloves and we sparred a lot then. I learn a lot from him though we always tried to out run each other.

Your advise to those who may be interested in becoming a boxer?
Firstly, start with running, get in shape but they should leave me alone if they are not doing well in school. I was lucky to make it it's not going to be easy for anyone who decides to box. If they find someone who cares they must constantly listen to trainer and do what they ask you to do.

Where are you training fighters?
I've my gym at gleason gym and I go to other gyms too.
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Old 04-30-2009, 04:08 PM #2
Southpaw16BF Southpaw16BF is offline
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Here's another very interesting interview from Griffith.....
- By Ted Luzzi: Wednesday night April 20th the USA network carried the movie "Ring of fire. The Emile Griffith story" Since the success of Clint Eastwoods "Million dollar Baby” boxing movies are back in vogue. The story of Emile Griffith is a very interesting one. Emile Griffith was a fighter that achieved the highest honors in his weight class winning the welterweight championship three times. Griffith then became one of that rare class of fighter that has skill enough to win the title at a higher weight. He won the middleweight title twice. He fought a total of 24 world title fights, and at one time had a 15-1 record in title fights. Emile Griffith fought at a time when there was only one world champion and competition was tough. His 339 rounds in world title fights are more than any other fighter in history. He also knew tragedy.. He mortally wounded World Champion Benny Paret while winning the world welter title from him. Griffith was never the same after Parets death. Griffiths friend Keith Stechman arranged a phone interview with Griffith for me on Monday. I talked to Emile and found he was the friendly very likeable man everyone says he is.. After we talked it was suggested that I call his biographers Ron Ross house Wednesday right after the documentary was finished and get the impressions from some the people watching the show with Emile. Here are the interviews first on Monday the later on Wednesday night.

TL: Fate dealt you a staggering blow with the Paret tragedy. How much as a fighter did you ever get over it?

EG: I was reminded of it all the time by everybody. I never really was as good as a fighter as before. I never got over it even now.

TL: We know your worst moment as a fighter what was your happiest?

Winning the welterweight title. My dream was true.

TL: You started your amateur career at age 15. 24 years later when you quit boxing you still had the same trainer and manager. This is very unusual what kept you together with Howie Albert and Gil Clancy?

EG: They were very nice men and looked after me.

TL: Would you tell other new fighters to do the same as you did with Albert and Clancy?

EG: I would tell them to do your job. Work hard and do what your trainer says.

TL: The few times you lost fights you seemed to be able to win the rematches. Why was that?

EG: Griffith starts laughing. If I lost I was determined to get them back and beat them. Losing made me more determined.

TL: Why do you think you stayed at the top so long in boxing so long? 24 world title fights?

EG: I did what my trainer said. When your trainer says to do something, do it.

TL: Who were the toughest and best guys you ever fought.

EG: The best was Dick Tiger. The toughest Casper Ortega.

TL: You stepped into the ring with two of the most talented welterweight champions of all time in Luis Rodriquez and Jose Napoles. Who would you rate as better?

EG: Rodriquez was a classier fighter. He had a better Jab.

TL: You have seen the documentary at a preview last week did you like it?

EG: It was very good, I have no complaints.

TL: Anything you would like to say to your fans?

EG: It’s nice to be remembered

Wednesday night seven of Griffith’s good buddies took him out to dinner and then went on to the house of Ron Ross to watch the show. Some of them had already seen the documentary at a preview at a Movie house the week before. I called from California to New York and continued the interview.

TL: Did boxing on the card the night that Sugar Ramos beat Davy Moore and Moore died soon after bring back memories.

EG: I just stayed by myself and did not want to see anyone. I sent a note to Ramos telling him I knew how he felt but that it was not his fault.

TL: Is it true that you backed into the ring the next time you fought at the garden so that you did not see the corner where Paret died?

EG; Yes I did not want to think about Benny.

TL: Your mom was your number one fan. Did you enjoy all her yelling and waving her arms for you at ringside.

EG: Just try and stop her!

TL: Did you really design her hats she wore to the fights.

EG: No very rarely. Mom was fun at the fight I liked having her there with me always.

TL: You had a signed contract to fight for the middleweight title with Dick Tiger. Irish Joey Archer however was the number one contender. Archer made a big fuss saying that he should get the title shot and it was unfair that you did. It was reported that you were upset and offered to tear up your contract and fight Archer with the winner getting the shot. Is that story true?

EG: Nobody says I get something unfairly. I do my job. I would have fought him. (Note: After Griffith won the middle title he defended his title twice against Archer winning both times.

Near the end of your career you got a shot at the title with Carlos Monzon in his hometown. Many people thought you won the fight and your trainer Gil Clancy was hopping mad when Monzon got the decision. Did you think you won that one?

EG: Yes I thought I won but I was surprised that Clancy got so mad.

TL: What was the best thing about boxing for you?

EG: What my fists could do for my family. Love of family.

Next I talked to Ron Ross. Later in the year the biography of Emile Griffith by Ron Ross is expected to appear, and the rights to produce a feature film for movie houses have already been sold. Ron Ross has written about boxing before. The book about the rough and ready colorful brawler Al"bummy” Davis" was written by Ron. In the film “Ring of fire" Ron was in interview frequently.

TL: How did you like the film Ron?

RR: I was very pleased. I particularly appreciated the film clips.

Keith Stechman was next:

TL: How did you like the film Keith?

KS: I did like it. I would rate it high.

The guys that saw the show with Griffith Wednesday are lucky guys. Emile Griffith is fun to be around. . He has some short term memory loss but still retains his jaunty charm. Emile Griffith always knew how to handle his status as champion. Griffith was as noted for his grin and friendly words to everybody as he was noted for his champion quality athletic ability. Nowadays Griffith goes with Keith Stechman twice a week to the Starret City boxing club in Brookland. He still helps train fighters. Keith has known Griffith for years and says he is "honored" to be his friend. Ron Ross describes Griffith as almost a member of his family and that his kids see him that way. The current issue of Sports Illustrated uses the word” Beloved". Such words are used to describe someone very special. Over the years those Griffith has helped are too many to mention. I can understand why people like him so much after talking to him. Griffith’s niceness and basic decency just come through.

The last time I interacted with people associated with a champion fighter was at a title match I attended in Las Vegas. The people I met reinforced the negative image some people have of the sport. Emile Griffith however is one of boxings good guys. His friends reflect who he is. Griffith is clearly most identified as a boxer. I wonder however if he is not much more a "champ" because of who he is as a man.
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