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Scully, victorious in pro debut,
Sept. 16 , 1988.
Winning and competing in amateur tournaments afforded Scully with many parring gigs. This is Scully with Donny LaLonde in training camp for LaLonde's WBC lightheavyweight title defense against Eddie Davis in October of 1987. Scully and LaLonde still keep in touch.
Jones and Scully as amateurs in 1987.
Roy Jones, Jr., Michael Ward and Gerald McClellan at Sugar Ray Leonard's Olympic camp. This picture was taken three weeks after McClellan and Jones had faced each other for the first and only time in the 1988 National Golden Gloves.
With the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard at his Olympic camp in 1988.
Scully with his friend and mentor, Archie Moore at a boxing dinner in 1989.
My Boxing Memories of the 1980sBy "Iceman" John Scully
I am 35 years old and I started boxing in 1982. Several years before that, around 1978, I became interested in boxing. I recall watching Sugar Ray Leonard in 1979 against Andy Price and Wilfred Benitez and Ali against Spinks in 1978. When I hit the 7th grade in 1980, I really started watching the fights and reading the magazines and getting into it more and more -- from betting with other kids on the fights right down to organizing our own little neighborhood league (Some of my wins were over the likes of Ron Jensen, Tony Vierra, whom outweighed by 25 pounds and when I pinned him against his washing machine . . . it was over), Dave Coleman and Greg Szepanski (Greg outweighed me by about 30 pounds but without his glasses his vision was impaired: I boxed from the outside and coasted!).
I think I am lucky I came along at the time I did. The Eighties were perhaps the best and most memorable time for boxing and I was there watching from the very beginning to the very end. It was a memorable time for other things too, right? Madonna came out in 83; Michael Jackson and 'Thriller' in 84, Prince and 'Purple Rain,' Pop Rocks, 'Dallas' and 'Knots Landing' (who did shoot JR?). My man Lynn Swann retired, 'The Super Bowl' shuffle came out, RUN-DMC, and The Space Shuttle Challenger exploding.
Other Eighties icons I were Knight Rider, New Kids on the Block, Sheena Easton, Miami Vice (Crocket and Tubbs were the Coolest guys on TV), Hill Street Blues, Leg Warmers and guys walking down the street with Ghetto Blasters on the shoulders up to their ear. Can you believe that?
I am sure most of you have your own memories. I started boxing in the 80's and gave up on all other sports for the most part. Almost all of my best memories from boxing came from the 80's. Here are some you might remember and some I'll never forget.
I remember in October of 1980 I got up for school one morning and read that Muhammad Ali was stopped by Larry Holmes. I couldn't believe that Ali didn't finish the fight. I remember being in a daze, feeling sad for my hero. I had a hard time accepting that he got stopped. It wasn't until years later that I realized there was and is a very big asterisk next to that result.
I remember that the 1980's had some of the biggest fights ever and that the build up to them was so immense that it made the pre-fight hype for Tito-Oscar and Tyson-Lewis seem weak by comparison. It seemed to me that the whole world, boxing fans or not, were waiting to see who would win between Leonard and Hearns in 1981 , Holmes-Cooney in 1982 , Hagler-Hearns in 1985 and Leonard-Hagler in 1987. Back then they were not on HBO or PPV either so you knew if you wanted to see those fights we (in Connecticut) had to go to the Civic Center and watch it with 10,000 other people. That was cool. I remember being 15 years old when the first Arguello-Pryor fight happened in Miami in 1982 and I ran three miles from my father's apartment to my house that night just to see the fight. How big of a boxing fan was I? We didn't even get HBO !! I ran home just so I could hear it and kind of see it through those squiggly lines you get when you don't have a certain channel. As I found out shortly after, it was. I also remember when Alexis beat "Boom Boom" Mancini in a fight that so many sentimists wanted Ray to win. When Alexis stopped him I remember him consoling him on TV in the ring Right after the fight. That was one of the classiest displays I have ever seen in boxing.
I remember when Sugar Ray defeated Marvin Hagler in 1987. I was at Hagler's Gym in Brockton the next day getting some sparring in. I remember the gym was real quiet, like a place in mourning. One of the amateurs was there in the dressing room with me and he said, "Man, everybody is so depressed here." Everybody was asking me, "Aren't you upset that Marvin lost?" I'd say, "Upset? I won 50 bucks off that fight last night. You think Marvin cares if I win or lose in the Golden Gloves? I have to go where the money's at."
I also remember back then going to Petronelli's (Hagler's gym) in Brockton and sparring with good fighters like Robbie Sims, Cedric Parsons and "Irish" Steve Collins. I was honored when Stevie beat Sam Storey for the Irish National title at the Boston Garden because after the fight, in Ring Magazine, Stevie mentioned that he had been "sparring with southpaws like Robbie Sims and the great amateur, John Scully, and after them I dont think Sammy could show me very much." Even though I lived over 2 hours away it made me feel like a part of that Gym. As a matter of fact, about 5 months ago I was in Brockton at the same gym sparring with Richie LaMontagne for his fight with Michael Bennett and Goody Petronelli was telling someone there that I am like a member of his gym. That made me feel good.
I remember in 1987 and 1988 at the National Golden Gloves I fought future WBC #1 contender Lamar "Kidfire" Parks twice and beat him both times by decision. I boxed him, gave him a lot of lateral movement. Later on, as pros, we sparred at Times Square Gym in New York City and we went 8 rounds one day and 6 rounds the next day. Lamar was what you'd call "heavy handed." When he and I fought I didn't realize it as much because I boxed and moved more than when I sparred. Also, in a real fight your adrenaline hypes you up more. But, as pros, when you settle down and throw harder shots and pace yourself more, especially in the gym, you see more of a man's total arsenal. Punch-for-punch, Lamar had as much power or more than just about anybody I ever boxed.
That same year that I fought Lamar in '87, I saw a kid on the Knoxville team for the very first time. He was in tournaments with me before but I never paid much attention to him. That year, because his home team franchise holder hosted the fights, he was in the papers every day and the crowd was behind him. I remember that what stood out about him was that before he fought, before the winner was announced between the two guys that had just fought he would get in the ring and loosen up. I remember thinking, "Look at this guy. His home team is the host so they just let him do what he wants. If I tried to get in the ring like that they would kick me out." Anyway, he wore an all white uniform - white shoes, trunks, shirt and headgear. He was real flashy. I remember he moved a lot and in his five fights on the week he hardly got touched on his way to the 156-pound title.
That year, he beat Ray McElroy in the finals. I remember going home and telling my father, "You should see this kid from Knoxville. He is going to make the Olympics. His name is Roy L. Jones Jr." (I didn't realize at the time that he was actually out of Pensacola, Florida. In the Nationals you represent your Golden Gloves franchise. His was Knoxville. The 'L' is for Lee. They always used to announce him back then as 'Roy L. Jones, Jr.')
One year later in the National Golden Gloves in Omaha, Nebraska I saw Roy attempt to win his third straight National G.G. title. He beat Thomas Tate by decision early in the tournament and stopped Future NABF Champ Fabian Williams later on. But it was his third fight of the week that caught everybody's attention. Too bad nobody filmed it because it was a WAR. I was getting ready to go into a different ring in a few minutes (there are three fights going at once at a National tournament) but the fight between Roy and Gerald McClellan was so exciting I hardly had time to warm up. I remember Roy being backed to the ropes a lot during the fight but he would fight off hard with furious flurries. Gerald was strong too, though, and would retaliate the same way. Nice flurries and combinations of hard punches for all three rounds. The decision was a close one and hard to call but, in the end, Gerald won the decision that would end up as the greatest victory of his amateur career. The fight was so tough for Gerald that a month later in camp with Sugar Ray Leonard, he wasn't sparring yet because his jaw was still sore from the fight with Roy.
I remember when Mark Breland was the "King" of Amateur Boxing in the early 1980's. Nowadays, I see a lot of guys come out of the amateurs and their promoters hype them up and tell of great records like "125-3" and "212-5" etc. And I can tell you that the great majority of those records are not accurate. When you are a top-level amateur and you fight so often, the chances are that you will be a highly decorated amateur and you will STILL accumulate 10 or 12 or more losses. I know of future Olympians and pro champions to be that have lost 4 and 5 matches in ONE year. Yet, when they go pro, they are listed as having records like I mentioned previously. Mark Breland was different. He was such a glorified and sought after amateur that his every move was under the spotlight. As far back as 1982, a full two years before he even made the Olympic team, he was in the movie, 'Lords of Discipline' and was featured in 'People Magazine.'
In 1983 he was the first, and from what I know, the only amateur to this day, the only boxer to be featured on the Cover of 'KO Magazine.' Mark's record as an Amateur ended up at 110-1 with over 70 stoppages. He won the 1982 World Amateur title, he won five NY City Golden Gloves titles and he won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Olympics. He beat the Russians and the Cubans and the best this country had to offer. Some say Teofilo Stevenson, Johnny Bumphus or Felix Savon were the greatest amateurs ever but, to me, Mark's record stands for itself. Only one man beat him ands that was more than 2 and-a-half years before he even made the Olympics. (He avenged that loss to Darryl Anthony with a 3rd round KO as a professional). Mark Breland dominated his class and beat many of the world's best with ease. It's hard to argue his achievements for a guy that went 18-0 in international matches.
I remember, in 1988, after coming home from the Gym one day getting a message on the kitchen table that said Sugar Ray Leonard had called. Of course, that is not something you expect to get at 20 years old from one of the greatest boxers of all time and a guy you have watched since you were a kid. I remember in 1981, the night of September 16th, being outside playing with other kids and all I could think of was that in a few hours there would only be one 147-pound world champion. A kid at my school, LP Wilson in Windsor, had a shirt that said 'The Showdown'. That fight was huge! I stayed up real late that night just so I could get some word from ESPN to see what happened. Seven years later I am getting messages that he called me! Well, I called and it was actually JD Brown, Ray's assistant that called to see if I would be interested in going to a Pre-Olympic Trials camp that Ray was organizing. It took me no time at all to say 'YES'. I went to camp with them in Maryland and I was in camp for a couple weeks with people like Roy Jones, Jr., Ray Lathon, Gerald McClellan, Razz Chapin, Michael Ward and David Sewell. The first day there, I was in the dressing room and someone came in and introduced me to Ray. I am talking to him and I am thinking, "This is Sugar Ray Leonard talking to me." A week or so later I was invited to his house and I went with my coach. I have a video of myself, my coach and Sugar Ray walking all around his house, talking and laughing. And the whole time I am there I am thinking to myself, "I am walking around Sugar Ray Leonard's house with him....now I am watching TV with SUGAR....RAY...LEONARD ........I am holding Sugar Ray Leonard's Gold Medal NOW." I remember over a dozen years ago I saw Mike Tyson on the 'Arsenio Hall show' with Ray and Ali. And Tyson was, even as a popular champion, still in awe of these two guys. He was telling Arsenio something to the effect of, " I don't know. Sometimes I still can't believe that I am here with the Greatest and the Sugar Man." I always thought what he meant was, he grew up watching these guys and now he can't really grasp that he is here with them in more of a position than as just a fan of theirs asking for an autograph. And I know what he means...I mean, being a boxer for all these years I have had the opportunity to befriend many boxers and meet many of them and hang out with them and sometimes I think to myself how cool it is for me, just a kid from Windsor, CT that used to box in his backyard with other kids from the neighborhood, that I became a professional boxer that has met some of the guys I read about and watched as a boy. I mean, one minute I am fighting Tony Vierra in his basement with K-Mart boxing gloves as a 13-year old and the next I am competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials with Sugar Ray Leonard cheering for me in the front row. I am sure you can't blame me that it is one of my most cherished highlights for me after 20 years of boxing. Sugar Ray Leonard cheering me on.
Another guy who I read about as a boy and later became friends with was the late Archie Moore. It would not seem probable or even possible that the two of us would become friends but we did and this is how. When I was 15 there used to be a section in Ring Magazine called "Boxer's Beat" and in it they would have addresses of former boxers and I used to pick out certain guys to request Autographs from. I wrote to Tommy Hearns and got back a form letter reply with a nice picture. Artie Levine sent me a signed picture too. But Archie Moore's reply? Not only did Archie Moore write back to me , but he offered his services to be my "Advisor through the mails." I said agreed of course and all the way to his passing, Archie Moore and I would write to each other. When I got my first letter from him I had never had a real boxing match in my life. And Archie Moore advised me all the way from my first fight in May of 1983 as a 15-year old Junior Olympian to well into my professional career. I have many, many letters handwritten by him here at my house. I also have a short video tape from a Boxing dinner in 1989 in Massachusetts that we both attended. During his speech to the crowd he started telling the story of how this young 15-year old contacted him through the mail and how they have been keeping in touch all these years and how he is 8-0 now as pro and he is a "Beautiful young man." Then he called me to the stage, telling me to "Hurry! Hurry up now!" as I approached the stage. I have it all on video, with he and I hugging each other. I kind of realized it at the time but not really until now. It is really pretty cool and amazing when you think about it. One of the greatest, if not THE greatest light heavyweight Champion EVER, and one of the Greatest Legends of the game befriended a 15-year old kid through the mail that only wanted an autograph. Befriended him in 1983 and called him on the phone and wrote to him and sent him pictures and clippings and advice and love through the mail all those years. He made friends with me when I was a kid, not knowing that I would ever really grow up to be a pro boxer. For all he knew I was just a kid trying to box and after two or three junior fights I would be through. But he took the time to encourage me to stay in school, to listen to my parents and my coach. He gave some great boxing advice, even stuff that was very unorthodox like 'yelling in your opponent's ear during a clinch. That will confuse him.' He called me at my house all the way from California just to say ' Hi' and to see how I was doing.
I love the Internet! It has allowed me to make contact with one of the Mongoose's Daughters, J'Marie. I keep in touch with her by the Internet and I feel in a way that it is almost like keeping in touch with him too. Anyone that knows her, knows she talks like her dad. I am 35 now and I don't carry a whole bunch of things in my wallet. I have pictures of the four kids I train (Orlando, Sammy, Greg and Dwayne), I have some credit cards (they just give those things away don't they), a driver's license and I have a white plastic card with black lettering. It was given to me by one of the greatest boxers the world has ever known. Archie gave it to me and said it was one of the last, and maybe the last card, given out to someone that wasn't an actual member of his program in San Diego. Archie told me the requirements for being in his group. He gave me the membership card and I still carry it with me today. The greatest 175-pounder of all-time gave it to me himself and he said I deserved it. The card says, "ABC Club - Any Boy Can." And if they live by the rules and ways that Archie Moore did, they probably can.
To close up this trip down the 80's memory lane, I will hit you all with a flurry (trying to steal the round as some call it) of 80's thoughts that will close the show. Remember welterweight Nino LaRocca going to 58-0? The Wars between my friend Cornelius Boza-Edwards and Bobby Chacon? Remember when Macho Camacho was the young, wicked fast, brilliant, exciting young boxer in the game?
When Roberto Duran, whose career was left for dead three years before with "No mas!" went on to beat Davey Moore at MSG in New York - remember how raucous the crowd was? Remember when Salvador Sanchez died in a car crash in the prime of his career? Ray Leonard getting beat by Duran only to come back and humiliate him a few months later. And wasn't it real cool when Ray Charles sang "America The Beautiful" before the fight...remember that?
Remember when Marlon Starling came from behind to shock everybody by beating Breland for the WBA Welterweight title? Remember when Donald Curry was beaten in a huge upset by Lloyd Honeyghan? Remember John Munduga, Wilfred Scypion, Michael Olijiade, Charlie "White Lightning" Brown? You forget NOW, but do you remember how exciting the rise of Mike Tyson really was? Remember "Rockin" Robbie Sims? Murray Sutherland? The ESPN tournaments? Barry McGuigan-Eusebio Pedroza, James Scott fighting in prison? Remember how good Michael Spinks was as a light heavy?
Remember Jose "The Threat" Baret, Marvis Frazier, Milton McCrory, Colin Jones, John Conteh, Gerrie Coetzee and his "bionic right hand," Wilbur "Vampire" Johnson, Mustafa Hamsho, Dennis Andries, Bazooka Limon, Sean O'Grady having over 80 pro fights by the time he was 23 years old? Randy Shields, Stevie Cruz, "Joltin" Jeff Chandler? How's that for names from the past? If you remember them, and I know you do, e-mail me sometime with your own memories.
Until then...Keep Cool
John Scully's website
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