By Leon Smith
The next part in quarantine from Chris Eubank Sr via Instagram, or ENGLISH as he likes to be referred.
Eubank Sr tracks his early learning experiences and speaks of how he transcended the sport, as well thoughts on fellow Britons Naseem Hamed and Ricky Hatton and more.
Chris Eubank Senior on Old School
Going into 1990, from 1983, I had the ultimate learning curve, or upbringing, in boxing. I learned from everyone.
From the old Apollo Boxing Club, South Bronx when it was well known for what they called the ‘smokers’ that Nelson Cuevas put on, to old Freddie King at Matchroom Gym. Both those characters have recently passed.
To the Gleasons Gym before it moved under Brooklyn Bridge and after, to the old Thomas A Becket on the Old Kent Road in London, and the Wincobank Sheffield gym with Herol Graham; do you understand?
And the Madison Square Gardens, in my amateur career, before it was renovated, a great learning experience before about 20,000 on TV. York Hall in Bethnal Green I fought many times on the way up.
I would have these gym fights at the Apollo Boxing Club in NYC on Friday or Saturday nights from 1983 in front of around 200 men all hedging their bets and drinking rum from paper cups, it was either $2 or $3 a head on the door. I got free hot food out of it, that was my prize for entertaining them.
I learned from gentlemen such as Lenny DeJesus, who had worked with Roberto Duran, from Patrick Forde, who had worked with Cus D’Amato and Eddie Futch, from Errol Christie, a sparring partner, who had worked with Emanuel Steward and Thomas Hearns at the Kronk.
There was also Johnny Walker Banks, a gym fighter, who’d come back from sparring Hagler to tear me up in the Bronx when I was 18, but I’d always make it to the last bell on my feet, and as the old saying goes: ‘If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.’
I learned a lot from Errol, who knocked my tooth out at Thomas A Becket in 1988. I was responsible for breaking Gary Jacobs’ nose, he’ll tell you that’s why it went flat. While his nose was being seen to, I was there in my ripped vest and broken Adidas boxing shoes on my Nokia suitcase phone with calls back to New York.
I learned a lot from my first manager, Adonis Torres, who told me all about the Mob in the 30s, 40s and 50s and what a skulldugging business this was.
That’s why I interviewed Mickey Duff and the rest of that Cartel, and Frank Warren, Frank Maloney, Barney Eastwood and Barry Hearn. From those I interviewed, I chose to employ Barry Hearn to work as my manager and promoter.
I learned a lot from Mike Tyson, who I met at Versace on 68th Street and Madison Avenue in January 1990. He remembered me from the amateurs and from seeing me at the Duran-Moore fight with my friend Felippe, and held baby Christopher in his arms.
We are talking 1 in a million luck. For the stars to align and little old me from London tower blocks and lock-ups to come along to just absorb all this knowledge and experience bestowed upon me over these years coming up in this game, my mother must have been praying hard. I slipped through nets.
My friend Felippe (Parilla), a former Golden Gloves Champion who I ran and trained with, he was shot dead at 19 after getting involved with a few wrong people. Brown bread. Just before he was shot in the head, he was the one who encouraged me to work with Maximo Pierret on the pads, who was improving him into this very promising professional prospect. I learned so much, to keep myself to myself and stay good.
Senior on Dedication
Fighters today talk about a hard eight-week camp for their fights, four or five days a week. I had a hard eight-year camp for (Nigel) Benn, seven days a week, or I wouldn’t have won.
Senior on Drawn Verdict
It was a conundrum fighting Benn the second time, because I wanted the security and the revered green belt, but I never actually wanted to be tied to Don King.
Don King wanted the green belt back in America. A draw was a result of my mother’s prayers. My ego wanted the green belt and unification, in fact I already had a yellow and burgundy robe made with WBO, WBC & WBA Champion enscribed on it for the next fight after Benn, but my career may well of ended with Don King, which I certainly wouldn’t of wanted.
Senior on Game Changing
I launched box office on Sky in 1994, when this small satellite station signed me on direct terms to sell dishes for them. What progressed was what we see today, allowing fighters to earn the millions they do. My fight with (Graciano) Rocchigiani in Germany before had pioneered on the Premiere pay-per-view channel there, and drew 14.5m viewers on ITV.
The blueprint of a subscription TV station signing a reigning world champion fighter though was then used in Germany with Henry Maske and this Michalczewski, and then in the United States with Naseem. My showmanship and lead opened those floodgates, for the tens and hundreds of millions of pounds and dollars.
Senior on Naseem Hamed
I took a liking to little Naseem because he was such a cheeky chappy. This was before the fade haircut and before his voice had even broken, hair parted to one side like Prince Charles.
Naz was a lovely man again when he went back to Barry Hearn in 1999. He turned professional with us on my undercards and should never of left. There is an interview on YouTube of Naz on Parkinson with Caroline Aherne from 99, and that’s the Naz that I know and love. That’s what Naz is like one on one away from the cameras.
I helped the kid, he had my phone number and we spoke a lot. When he said he wanted to take his opponents head off before an amateur fight, I told him to relax and try to score points or he’ll lose. He did that and stopped his opponent, and Naz apparently never stopped fighters back then. He was at my wedding when he was 15 or 16.
His best career performance was under Barry in London against this (Vuyani) Bungu, a great champion. I told Naz to show his jab and boxing skills in this one and that if he wanted a three-rounder, train for 12 rounds, because if he trained to win in three rounds it would go 12.
When I spent time with Naz in private the night before (MA) Barrera, he looked into my eyes and said in this very cold manner: ‘I want to seriously hurt this individual.’ That’s why he lost. He had the ability to out-box Barrera in my opinion and walk him onto a big counter left hand.
This was unfortunately the 1 time in 10 that the orthodox fighter beat the unorthodox fighter. It’s law of averages. Naz was a great champion.
Senior on Ricky Hatton
Ricky achieved great feats, he reminded me a bit of Henry Wharton with more agility. A great example of persistence and resolve was his win over Kostya Tszyu. I always loved the Mancunians, fighting in front of them, and always a sell-out.
I had Joe Cortez when I fought Joe Calzaghe after midnight, after Naseem fought, and he wasn’t breaking us up when we went into clinch – he kept saying to punch our way out. What also worked against Ricky was the long stretches between fights.
He was a better technical fighter than he is given credit for. If you look at the way he positioned his gloves, close together around sternum height, like myself also, it made it difficult for opponents to read what punch was going to be released next.
Senior on Cruiserweight Move
It was the first time in 15 years I didn’t have to take weight off! 10 years before, I was starving myself to make 11 stone for Michael Justin at Hove Town Hall. So to come in at 13 and a half stone was a luxury.
The problem was (Carl) Thompson was probably over 15 stone on the night and all muscle, so I couldn’t push him around.