Talk to us about the dedication required to be a pro boxer?
Chris Eubank Sr (CESR): Oh, you want to talk about dedication, oh my God. OK… There is a thing called the ‘Warriors Code’, and what does it mean? Well… It means you have got to be clean. You have to be in the gym every day, on the road every day. If you put the hours in, you enjoy the reward.
And it is about manners. In normal life I am very well mannered as I am supposed to be. Inside the ropes, it would be ill mannered of me to be smiling. You are meant to inspire fear, to look aggressive. This is why I attracted 17 million people to watch my first fight with Nigel Benn. I wasn’t saying hello to everybody, I behaved like a warrior should. You want to see smiling, go to watch a couple of comedians at the Apollo.
You have to earn your right to be a man of the community, to be looked up to. It’s about kudos. You have to earn it. It took me seven years to earn the title ‘boxer’. And it is an exalted name, a great name.
Consistency. Practice. Knowing you have to perfect a certain move or punch. Getting in and sparring at 100% intensity at every opportunity. Going to the gym when your body, head and hands are bruised and tender, your limbs are aching or you’re feeling poorly. Getting up 4am to run, no excuses.
You have to constantly assess things to make sure you are progressing and everything is working. But it is no good being all enthusiastic and training your backside off for a few weeks, then missing a run or a workout, or going out drinking one night and having a terrible workout because of that. Every single workout counted when I trained, I didn’t miss any chances and made sure I covered every angle. I was on the regime, nothing less.
When were you at your happiest in your boxing career?
CESR: The moment I was at my happiest in my entire life: 18th November 1990. A second after Richard Steele stopped the fight between myself and Nigel Benn. The realization that I had honored all of the sacrifices I had made over seven years of my life. Solitude. No friends. No girlfriend. In the gym every day. On the road every morning. Six days a week over seven years. No life. I had honored all of that by beating him. So after the referee pulled me off of him, that was the moment for me.
Who were your boxing heroes?
CESR: My life heroes as a teenager were Bob Marley, Jesus Christ, Mohammed and Moses. Now they are my mother and my father, followed by Gandhi, Ali, Mandela and Martin Luther King, as well as the aforementioned.
But did you have a favorite boxer?
CESR: Dennis Cruz from the Bronx, New York was the most aesthetically pleasing fighter I’ve ever seen. I wanted to be able to go through my moves and dance with my feet and throw my jab all as poetically as he did. Pernell Whitaker was another guy who was poetic, but not like Dennis Cruz. Dennis missed his boats through a lack of discipline, and I learned from that.
In your opinion, who is the best boxer ever to grace the ring?
CESR: Fantastically, Thomas Hearns would be one. Most people would say Sugar Ray Robinson, but fantastically Thomas Hearns would have got him or anyone if he made advantage of his, well, advantages. We’re talking about 10 and a half stone with the height and a reach of a superheavyweight, the hand speed of a lightweight, the power of a middleweight and the fact he had an unorthodox, brilliant jab. You probably couldn’t have beaten this guy if he boxed correctly and kept his cool, fantastically.
Are you involved in the direction of the boxing careers of your two sons, Chris Jr and Sebastian?
CESR: Am I involved? This is all I do. All I have on my mind is my children. I am the father, so it is my duty to make sure they become not just World Champions, then undisputed Champions. Then I must make sure they get close to, and finally surpass, my 19 successive World Championship successes. In four years’ time, Sebastian will be heavyweight champion of the world. You may say I’m odd, but I have the track record to show that the things I say hold weight.
Who would you say was the best middleweight of your time, besides yourself?
CESR: McCallum and Nunn were quality fighters but not like Herol Graham or Nigel Benn. Graham you couldn’t hit and Benn you couldn’t evade. They were unbelievable. Look what Nigel did to Iran Barkley, and what Herol did to McCallum for six rounds, before running out of fitness. The reason I knocked them out in the gym and ring was a matter of endurance more than talent, of concentration.
Eddie Hearn recently admitted that some of your opponents under his father Barry, during your prime years as a super-middleweight Champion, were politely below-par. What do you think of this?
CESR: Below the par? It’s funny you say that because when I think Nigel Benn, Michael Watson, Sugarboy Malinga, Jarvis, Essett, Thornton, Giminez, Holmes, Graciano Rocchigiani, Amaral, Wharton and Collins, I think they all either won World Championships or closely challenged for World Championships before or after or before and after they engaged in combat with me. That’s a record that I don’t think any other fighter in Europe has ever had. So it’s interesting that that would be said. All the other challengers I didn’t mention, or most of them, were some kind of Champions and unbeaten contenders. So again, I say it’s interesting for a thing like that to be said!
How would you (Chris Eubank Sr) like to be remembered?
CESR: As a man who didn’t have ego. If a member of the public puts pressure on a boxer to fight, we step down and remain dignified. That is the mantra of the warrior. The ring is the only place we raise our fists. That is the only time we look menacing and fierce, the only place we stand with elegance and majesty. Outside, we are quiet. You have never found me in any illegal fights, never heard of me becoming angry with anybody. All I did was protest against the war in Iraq.
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