WAIL! The CyberBoxingZone Journal
October 2000 issue

An Interview with Ted Bodenrader

By JD Vena

     If you grew up in the Boston area and were an avid boxing fan, you might have woke up every Sunday and scurried through the sport sections of the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe to read what Ron Borges and George
Kimball had to say about boxing.  Ever since I was a lower case JD, the inhabitants of my home knew that those pages had to be extracted from the
sport sections and set aside for me before I arose from my slumber.  It was
during 1997 when I discovered another local scribe appearing in those pages
that caught my eye as Borges and Kimball had.  After following this prospect
for a while, his noticeable gift for writing would eventually thrust him into my list of favorite pound-for-pound writers.  Thirty-one year old, Teddy Bodenrader, 175, of Georgetown, MA, now writing out of Billerica, MA (home of Atlanta Braves hurler, Tom Glavine), has been one of the more appealing and creative writers covering the boxing beat today. Unfortunately, while working for the Herald, getting the opportunity to write as often as he and his readers would have  preferred, was as frequent as Roy Jones Jr. finding himself in a competitive fight. 

Like a prelim fighter looking to enter the top ten, Bodenrader took matters
into his own hands a couple of years ago and began writing for such popular
boxing magazines as The Ring, KO Magazine, World Boxing and ESPN.com.  In the upcoming weeks, Bodenrader will bring his talents to the worldwide web
with his own site called Knockouts.  Judging by the way that Bodenrader
describes Knockouts; you the fans may have interests (maybe even personal)
other than boxing for visiting his new web site.

JD Vena: Throughout the last decade, you wrote for the Boston Herald.  Since
you left the Herald, you have been a frequent contributor to such magazines
as Ring Magazine, KO, World Boxing and Boxing 2001.  Besides having
different deadlines, what are the major differences between writing for
newspapers and magazines?

Ted Bodenrader: When you're writing for magazines, you have the right of
sitting back and enjoying the fight with a nice cold one (Laughs).  No
seriously the biggest difference in covering an event for Ring Magazine or a
major daily metropolitan newspaper is the freedom involved.  The Boston
Herald for instance is laid out in a tabloid format so its space can be very
limited.  You have to get all of the bare essentials such as who, what, when
and why all in a couple of lines.  You're writing for the next day so your
article has to be in timely fashion.  Instead of a general overview of an
event, it's basically more of what happened that night.  Once you get all
that down, you're practically out of space and therefore, you're very
limited in what you can write.  With magazines, you have the liberty of
covering the entire spectrum of the story.  If I'm doing a story on Felix
Trinidad, I can talk to about four or five different experts for their
opinions.  I can talk to Teddy Atlas or Max Kellerman and get all of their
viewpoints on what makes Felix such a great fighter.  I enjoy the liberty of
magazine writing a lot because it really allows me to delve much deeper into
my creative style.

JDV: What are the advantages and disadvantages for writing for newspapers
and magazines?

TB: The main advantage for writing for a big city paper is that it allows
you to become a hot name in that community.  That's especially true with a
beat like boxing as opposed to a bigger beat like football. People will have
a couple of pitfall ladders.  In New York, you have three guys who basically
cover the entire sport.  You have Wally Matthews, Tim Smith and Mike Katz.
Everyone in New York knows them.  When you write for a top-notch magazine,
your exposure within that community declines tremendously because more
people are going to buy New York Daily News as opposed to Ring Magazine.
But on a worldwide level, the magazine will give you exposure all around the
map and that's the cool thing about working for Ring.  I was really shocked
when I spoke with Shane Mosley, Naseem Hamed and Lennox Lewis and they knew my work very well.  They never knew me when I worked for the Boston Herald. I really enjoy that kind of global involvement in the sport as opposed to

JDV: What have been the differences between the people you've worked with at
the Herald and the magazines?

TB: My relationships with the magazines have been much better because I
don't have to have my article done by the next day (laughs).  The one thing
I really noticed about the newspaper industry and the people is that it's a
real cutthroat environment.  It's very competitive especially with the
Herald.  You find yourself competing with four or five other writers and you
really have to tread water.  It's a very political environment.  I started
working for the Boston Herald when I was 21 years old and I felt that I was
never really respected as an adult.  The people there always looked at me as
a 20-year old kid.  I made my own break in this business. The Herald rarely
allowed me to do anything.  They weren't letting me write anything but an
occasional high school story. So, I approached the sports editors one day
about covering Tyson-Holyfield II in Vegas. They scoffed at the idea but
then when I offered to foot the bill ($800 for airfare and a room at MGM)
they let me do it. It was my first time I traveling west of New York. How
sad is that? Bite Night was the first big boxing event I'd ever covered.
That's like losing your virginity to Cindy Crawford.  Kimball left literally
an hour after Tyson bit off Evander's ear because he had to catch a plane to
Ireland for vacation. I was left in my lonesome to cover the aftermath of
Bite Night. I wrote 11 stories in my three days there and when I got back, I
had about 200 phone calls from readers. It was cool. That was how I got to
cover the beat. That was how it started. It had its pros and cons. That was
how I got the Ring Mag gig, but I also became a threat to a lot of folks at
the Herald and people began plotting to screw up my career. Even after my
career started to take off, I felt as though they would never give me the
opportunity.  With magazines, you can pretty much determine your own fate.
It's all you.  Everything that is judged is the quality of your work and
that's how I believe it should be.  I really enjoy writing for magazines
because if you write a good article for them, they'll want you to write for
them more often.  Fortunately, the Ring has kept me on since February of
last year.  I had a cover story for KO Magazine when Mike Tyson was
incarcerated the second time.  The feedback was positive and now I write a
good couple of articles a month.  Right now I'm working on one about Kirk
Johnson for Ring Magazine.

JDV: You once mentioned to me that the Hagler-Hearns Superfight of 1985
attracted you to sport of boxing.  I myself became fanatic during the hype
of the Tyson-Spinks mega event.  It seems that events such as these are what
adds to boxing's fan base.  What match-ups today do you feel would draw more
of the casual fans to become full-time boxing nuts?

TB: When I think about the current state of the sport, there are three fights that are absolute earth shattering bouts and I believe they would really soak in the entire planet.  All of them involve Mike Tyson but there's always a chance he could get into trouble.  A third fight with Evander Holyfield would obviously be a mega-event just because everyone remembers what happened the last time.  However, I think a bigger one would be Tyson against Lennox Lewis because it's something we haven't seen yet. Secondly, it would be the first time in history that Tyson went into a fight as a prohibitive underdog.  Plus you have Tyson talking about eating his children and shooting him.  The grandfather of them all would be Tyson versus George Foreman because when you think about it, there are three guys in sports today who not only transcend boxing but they really transcend sports altogether.  You have Oscar de la Hoya, Mike Tyson and George Foreman.  Getting two of them in the ring at the same time would put sales right through the roof.  I think Tyson and Foreman would definitely shatter
the 2,000,000 pay per view record without a doubt.  It would be the ultimate
case of good versus evil.  You have the big old teddy bear with the apron around his waist against the world's most glorified punk.  But there are a lot of other guys in the sport who could really draw in a lot more casual fans.  The problem is they really have to start fighting people.  The first guy that comes to my mind is Prince Naseem Hamed.  I think that he is an invaluable commodity and they only use about 30% of him.  If you talk to anyone, the one guy they want to see get knocked out the most is the Prince. I think that is almost universal.  It's a shame.  There are fights that can be made for him but they're just not making them.  I don't know what they're waiting for.  His brother seems like the type who doesn't want to risk anything.  Overall, I don't think that the sport is shy on talent, it's just the fact that they're not putting together many big fights.  Hamed is just one guy who could attract a slew of fans.  Floyd Mayweather is another guy who could become a Sugar Ray Leonard because of the talent he possesses.  As soon as or if these guys start fighting each other boxing will draw a lot more fans. 

JDV: Hamed has been fighting a lot of smaller guys.  The next opponent they
are working on for him is a fight with either Morales or Barrera, fighters
who built reputations at a lower weight class.  To many observers, Hamed is
too much of a puncher for the likes of Morales, Barrera or Derrick Gainer.  Do
you think that the Prince has to move up to 130 pounds before we can
actually envision him losing? 

TB: The one thing that could affect Hamed is the fact that he's 5'3.  He's a
very small guy.  Hamed is also troubled by speed.  You saw that with Augie
Sanchez a couple of months ago at Foxwoods.  If he fought Mayweather, he
would certainly have his hands full.  Obviously a guy like Corrales who is 6
feet tall and could stay on the outside would give Hamed a lot of trouble. I
don't see Hamed having problems with guys like Paulie Ayala or Johnny Tapia
because of them having to move up in weight.  He's definitely the man at 126
but again, what is he waiting for?  We'll find out a little more about Hamed
if the Barrera fight comes off.

JDV: Though they were relatively close fights, the decisions rendered in the
Morales-Barrera match and the recent Ayala-Tapia rematch left many people
shaking their heads in disgust.  Assuming someone like middleweight
champion, Bernard Hopkins and Trinidad were to fight meet, it would seem
that if the fight went the distance it would favor Trinidad because of his
strong relationship with Don King?  Why would fighters such as Tapia or
Hopkins risk fighting the "promoters guy?"

TB: There is definitely a risk proposition but I think fighters are really
trained more than any other athlete to believe that they are indestructible.
That's why you have fighters who go into fights with broken hands or hurt
shoulders.  But I think fighters often overrate themselves.  With Tapia, I
think he just wanted another shot at Ayala.  A lot of times, your ego can be
your worst enemy and I think the first Ayala fight and his personal problems
contributed to him a great deal and he wanted to get that monkey off his
back.  He has been burnt twice now.  The first fight with Ayala was
extremely close and there is no doubt in my mind that had he renewed his
contract with Top Rank, he definitely would have got the nod in that fight.
If he were still with Arum he would have got the decision because he had the
belt and Ayala was a no name at the time.  These promoters definitely play
God with a lot of fighter's careers and get away with it.  Tapia's first
loss was a going-away present from Arum.  It was Arum's way of saying,
"Fine, you don't want to fight for me?  Here's your first loss and don't
trip on your way out the door."

JDV: This wasn't the case when "Sugar" Shane Mosley defeated Oscar de la
Hoya.  Did the outcome of that fight surprise you?

TB: It didn't surprise me, it shocked me.  I was watching the fight a bunch
of my friends and I remember Harold Lederman giving his final unofficial
scorecard, which he had in favor of Mosey by two points.  All of the
Mosley's fans were applauding and I turned to my friends and said, "Don't
get too excited.  Mosley is probably going to get ripped off.  I thought
that because I didn't think Oscar would lose two decisions out of his last
three fights.  Besides, he was awarded gift decisions against Ike Quartey
and Pernell Whitaker.  I just didn't believe that it was going to happen
again after he lost a controversial decision to Felix Trinidad.

JDV: What kind of scenarios do you see unfolding in the heavyweight division
after the Lewis-Tua heavyweight title fight?  If Tua wins, do you think he
goes after Holyfield, Tyson or even George Foreman or do you think he'd give
Lewis an immediate rematch?

TB: I think if Tua wins, he'll take one, maybe two easy fights before going
after Holyfield or Tyson.  The reason for that is I think Tua is a very
vulnerable fighter.  You saw that against Hasim Rahman, Oleg Maskaev, David
Izon and Ike Ibeabuchi to a degree, more with the other three.  If he is
lucky enough to beat Lennox, which I don't believe he will, I don't think
he's the kind guy who would be a dominant champion.  He's too limited,
one-dimensional and very short.  I don't think he's fast enough to get
inside and at least Mike Tyson had that for a short man.  I think mediocre
guys like Kirk Johnson or Frans Botha could beat him.  I think that they
would ultimately go after Mike Tyson.  I mean that is a fight fan's dream:
two physically comparable, power punchers, coming at each other like a train
wreck.  Tyson would also be a bigger payday and easier fight for Tua than

JDV: If Lewis wins, what will that fight say for his greatness?  Other than
beating a slowed version of Evander Holyfield twice (you know what I mean),
Lewis doesn't have many career defining fights.  How many contenders would
Lewis have to tackle before he's considered by many as an all-time great?

TB: I think that people will never consider Lewis as an all-time great no
matter he does and that's a shame because people refuse to give him his due.
Some of the criticism is his fault, but he has been as consistent as anyone
in the last ten years of the division.  I for one have always been very high
on him going back to the 1988 Olympic games.  I remember I had the chance to
hang out with Angelo Dundee in New York the day before Lewis' first fight
with Holyfield and he said that Lennox Lewis is one of the most gifted
heavyweights he has ever seen and that he could be one of the best ever.
His problem is that he doesn't have that spark that you really need.  I also
think being in the shadow of Holyfield, Bowe and Tyson all of these years
zapped his drive and motivation.  Now he's finally considered "the man" and
getting the recognition that he deserves and he's fighting with a lot more
zest.  He's been showing what he has been capable of doing and fighting
better than ever before.  He has the style that allows for some longevity.
He has a lot of power, which is the last thing to go and he doesn't need a
lot of mobility being 6'5.  But people will always point to his lackluster
performances when his name comes up and that's really unfair.  I mean, how
often do you hear people refer to Ali's fight with Chuck Wepner?  You never
do.  You hear them talk about his fights with Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and
George Foreman.  A lot of people will point to his fights with Oliver McCall
and Zeljko Mavrovic.  I mean who is Zeljko Mavrovic?  In my opinion, the
fights that define a fighter are the big ones, the ones that you have to get
yourself up for, the marquee fights.  When you really look at it his resume
is very impressive.  He knocked out Riddick Bowe in the Olympic finals.
Lewis knocked out Razor Ruddock when he was a 3-1 underdog.  Then he took
out Golota in one round when people thought he was one of the best guys out
there.  Then he takes out Michael Grant and defeats Evander Holyfield.  So
those are the fights that I look at, the real challenging fights and when it
was all on the line, Lewis rose to the occasion, took care of business and
did so in spectacular fashion.  But people will criticize him even in
victory and always come up with excuses like "Golota was petrified" or
"Grant was a bum all along."  People will never give him credit because he's
a gentleman and he's British.  Boxing fans also tend to be very hypocritical
by nature.  They call Tyson an animal or lunatic but at the same time they
endear him over a truly classy guy like Lennox Lewis.

JDV: You're starting up your own web site in the upcoming weeks.  What have
you the idea to do this?  Who are you going to be doing this with and what's
it going to be called?

TB: It's going to be called www.knockouts.org and it should be up in a
matter of a month or two.  We hope it will launch in the late fall.  The
reason why we're setting this up is because I think that boxing has been
some of the most colorful stories in the sporting world.  However, for
whatever reason, a lot of reporters are afraid to touch upon them.  What
we're going to try to do is bring a lot of those stories and boxers to life
deeper than what they people read about men with red mitts taped around
their wrists.  I have interviewed some of the biggest athletes on the
planet.  I've interviewed Michael Jordan, Ken Griffey Jr., Magic Johnson and
Bobby Orr.  And as much as a circus clown he is, none of those athletes
could compare to the interview I had with Peter McNeeley a couple of years
ago.  Some of the stories he told me after his fight with Tyson were just
incredible.  The thing that makes boxers so colorful and interesting is that
they really are just regular guys who are thrust into the public eye almost
prematurely.  If you polled a hundred boxers and asked how many of them had
been shot, you'd be amazed at the results.  Of the top of my head I can
think of ten of them.  If you ran the same poll with hockey or baseball
players, you'd probably come across one.  The stories of boxers are
sometimes tragic but nonetheless they are very intriguing.  The reasons why
we're calling our web site "knockouts.org" is because when you think of word
knockout, you think of two meanings: you think of Ray Mercer knocking out
Tommy Morrison and you think of someone 6 feet tall with long blonde hair
stuffed with silicone.  Not only are we going to have a terrific boxing
section but we're also going to have an extraordinary gallery section of
top-notch models.  Our featured model is a beautiful one named Ava Wyler.
She is one of the most gorgeous females you can find anywhere on the
worldwide web.  One of my partners is a real sharp businessman mastermind
named Rick Anderson who is responsible for many of great ideas and features
you'll see on this site.  We have Jeff Hansen who is one of the slickest in
web site design and I will of course be handling all of the boxing features.
I'm from the MTV generation so we really want to make this web site very
hip, almost like the Maxim of boxing.  Sure we'll be covering the important
aspect of the sport but I also want to feature stuff that will interest fans
that other web sites don't touch upon.  We want to talk about ring entrances
and personal tidbits on boxers and trainers and boxing movies, what boxers
are considered the sexiest and the most hated.  I have been conducting a Q&A
section with a number of top boxing personalities, like Fernando Vargas and
Emanuel Steward the other day.  One of the questions I asked them was, who
they were more impressed with between Mia St. John and Laila Ali and when I
mean impressed I'm not talking about their boxing ability.  We want to make
it a really fun web site to visit.

JDV: I suppose the greatest benefit for a boxing fan who has access to the
internet is the fact that you can read about breaking news or gossip or
fight reports the day after the actual fights in lieu of reading about them
two months after later.  Though I enjoy and still subscribe to magazines
such as KO Magazine and Boxing Digest, do you sense that boxing mags have
lost a lot of business or interest over the years?  If so, will they
continue to lose more in the near future?

TB: Yeah.  I think it's almost inevitable.  If you look across the map,
there been a number of newspapers have gone out of business?  It's all
because of the Internet.  Putting a magazine together is a lot of work.
It's impossible to get it out the week after a fight.  It takes a good month
or two to get it out.  There is so much artwork and pagination and all that
good stuff.  Ring Magazine, which is now in glossy print, will always, be
successful because of the tradition involved.  It's been around for decades.
It's like McDonalds and Coca-Cola.  I do think a lot of newer magazines such
as Fight Game are going to take a big hit from the Internet boom.

JDV: Will you continue to write for Ring Magazine while you're working full
time doing Knockouts?

TB: Absolutely.  I have a lot of enjoyment working for Ring like you said it
gives you more of an opportunity to express yourself and your creativeness.
It's one thing when you're working for a paper and they tell you that you
have forty lines.  You just don't have any time to get into the good stuff.

JDV: Does it also have to do with the honor of writing for such a
prestigious magazine?  Ring Magazine is one of the oldest American sports

TB: It definitely does.  I remember the first time I had something in the KO
Magazine and then the Ring.  I just couldn't wait to get it in the mail.  It
was one of the first times where I was really proud to have my name on
something.  The Herald was a cool thing but Ring Magazine has been really
special.  It was something that I had grown up with and I never thought that
it was anything really in reach.  I met Nigel Collins in Atlantic City
during the Ivan Robinson-Arturo Gatti match and I gave him a portfolio.  A
week later I saw him down at the Floyd Mayweather-Angel Manfredy fight in
Miami and we talked more and he has given me the privilege of writing for
the Ring for a couple of years now.  It's a tremendous honor to be on staff
with and getting to know great writers like Steve Farhood and Ron Borges,
who is my personal writing idol.  As long as they'll continue to have me,
I'll still be writing for them.

JDV: Do you think that boxing magazines and some writers resent boxing web

TB: I would tend to think that magazines might feel a little threatened by
them.  Just think in another five years or so, newspapers and magazines may
be obsolete.  I think they're probably pretty concerned about it.  They are
going to have to come up with more inventive ideas to outdo these sites.  I
don't know how though.  I was in the House of Boxing the other day and
watching the Tyson-Golota press conference.  That's pretty amazing.  You
can't pick up a boxing magazine and watch a press conference.  House of
Boxing, The Cyber Boxing Zone and Fight News are the real big ones and I
visit them all the time because they are on top of everything.

JDV: Will your web site have these special features of video and sound

TB: We're going to have all kinds of cool stuff.  We're going to have clips
of fights, famous sound bites, all of that stuff.  Boxing has so many
exciting clips.  That's why I think our web site will be a hit.  How many
other sports have you seen a man parachute into a ring during a fight?  When
was the last time you had a hockey game at Madison Square Garden break out
into a brawl?  The Bowe-Golota scene was one of the most spectacular scenes
I've ever seen.  I don't mean that in a positive way, but boxing provides
spectacles like none other.  That's what really attracted me to the sport in
how it is so theatrical.  Believe it or not, my favorite part of a fight is
sometimes not even the fight itself.  I really enjoy the hype and
speculation.  Trying to figure out all of the scenarios and imagine how the
fight is going to unfold.  The anticipation factor before fights have been
some of the most exciting moments in my life.  The twenty minutes before a
fight and the moment before a decision is announced is just incredible.  You
don't feel that tension and drama with other sports.  When there is a match
between two evenly matched guys, you have three months to speculate and to
talk about the fight and when it all comes down to it, it's man against man.
There's no pads or helmets.  It's two guys waging war.  There isn't anything
more primitive than that.  The atmosphere before a fight is better than the
Academy Awards.  I can remember going to the Holyfield-Tyson rematch and
seeing Madonna, Bruce Willis and Pamela Anderson.  The entire sport just has
an entire theatrical, Hollywood flow to it and I don't think there is
another sport out there that offers those elements of excitement.

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