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The former Light Welterweight champion and 1996 International Hall of Fame inductee Aaron Pryor discusses his career, the highs, the lows and a whole lot more. Now 59, Pryor resides in Cincinnati with his wife Frankie and currently trains his son Aaron Pryor Jr. who happens to be a 6-ft, 4-in super middleweight…
Scoop Malinowski: I heard recently from a reliable source that you had so much energy that you would spar 35 rounds (that’s no misprint) a day sometimes and even spar with cruiserweights. And you’d offer sparring partners $5,000 if they could knock you down. Is this true or myth?
Aaron Pryor: “I don’t know how you heard that but it’s true though [smiles]. I worked with everybody, big guys, little guys. That’s what I’m doing with my son Aaron Jr., he’s a super middleweight and spars with heavyweights sometimes. He’s gonna be the next Jimmy Paul – long, tall, throw a lot of punches.”
Scoop: Your autobiography came out a few years ago and it got positive reviews. How do you feel about your book “Hawk Time”?
Aaron Pryor: “From what everybody tells me, it was a great story. I never read my own book. Never read my own book because it’s too emotional, you know? But everybody praises my book, says it was a great book and a great story. And I ask, If it’s such a great book and great story, how come nobody made a movie of it? How come it didn’t go nowhere? I don’t know, it might happen someday.”
Scoop: What is your first memory of boxing?
Aaron Pryor: “Hitting somebody back after hitting me. That’s what I remember – my first big memory of boxing. Actually I hit him with the same punch he hit me with. And he had more experience than me, he had already been boxing. The guy knew what he was doing when he ran into my gym. And I hit him back with the same punch he hit me. That’s what I really got out of it – competing with him.”
Scoop: What was the greatest moment of your boxing career?
Aaron Pryor: “Is when this guy named Norman Goins, out of Indianapolis, when I was 16, he was probably 21. He hit me in my stomach…Ooohhh! And I got up off the floor and finished the fight. That was one of my biggest moments in boxing. This was the Golden Gloves in 1971. I didn’t win. But I got up. That’s the only fight I ever lost. I was never stopped in my whole career. I fought him as a pro – I got the payback. In my ninth professional fight (KO 9 in 1979). He had just beat Howard Davis. He beat Davis but they gave it to Howard.”
Scoop: What was your pre-fight feeling/mindset before entering the ring for a fight?
Aaron Pryor: “You know, with 220 amateur fights, I didn’t really think about it. It was just like an ongoing thing. I didn’t really think about it, who I was fighting or why I was fighting, where I was fighting. I just wanted to fight and I fought. That was the attitude I had.”
Scoop: Do you have a funny memory in boxing?
Aaron Pryor: “Well. Having fought one of the greatest fighters of my career – Alexis Arguello. I really miss, I mean, I took it kind of personal because he befriended me and I really liked the guy. Super nice guy. And it really took a lot out of me, leaving the earth so soon. And the beginning of my career my first world title fight was Antonio Cervantes who is in the Hall of Famer. And one of my last title fights was with a Hall of Famer. So I got these two guys that stuck out in my head.”
Scoop: Of all your fights, which one or two did you feel at your absolute, finest, sharpest? What was your best performance?
Aaron Pryor: “I hate to say it but I think my finest performance was against Arguello. From what I feel, that was my best performance. That was the best I could be.”
Scoop: Did you have an embarrassing boxing memory?
Aaron Pryor: “Yeah. I had a bad boxing memory. After taking off five years I came back and they put me in there with a guy named Bobby Joe Young – and that was the only fight I ever lost (in 1987). I just don’t think I should have fought him. Because he was a contender in another weight division. I shouldn’t have fought him. I had been off three or four years and I came back and I fought the wrong guy.”
Scoop: Who was the toughest opponent of your career?
Aaron Pryor: “Alexis Arguello. He was three times world champion, going for his fourth title, like Muhammad Ali. And he almost did it.”