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Biofile: John Scully Interview

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John “The Ice Man” Scully has done it all in boxing. He’s competed for a world light heavyweight title against Henry Maske in Germany, shared the ring with several all time greats, trained a world champion (Chad Dawson), commentated on fights for television, published articles about boxing in Boxing News magazine, and he’s not done yet. Hey, ESPN, do yourself and the sport a favor and get Scully involved in your new boxing telecasts.

One of the most interesting figures in the sport took time out to answer my Biofile questions…


First memory of boxing:
ICEMAN: I was in my elementary school library in the 4th grade and I was looking at a book that had a photo of Henry Cooper bleeding profusely against Cassius Clay. I remember thinking that boxing must be pretty brutal if guys were bleeding as much as Cooper was in that picture. That’s the first boxing picture I ever remember seeing. The first fight I remember hearing about was The Thrilla’ In Manila, 1975. I was eight years old.
Boxing heroes:
ICEMAN: Muhammad Ali is my idol, first and foremost. I had a lot of boxers that I looked up to and followed, everyone from Nino LaRocca and Willie Pep to Robin Blake and Greg Page but Ali is and will always be my number one guy, in and out of the ring.
Pre-fight feeling:
ICEMAN:  “The wait in the dressing room before a professional boxing match -that last hour- could be enough to strip a man who never fought before of whatever pride, desire, heart or courage he thought he had.” – Iceman John Scully, April 2002.
I can’t put it in any better terms than that.
Prefight meal:
ICEMAN: I used to try and eat perfectly before a fight, even after the weigh-in. Grilled chicken and water and some plain pasta and fruit. But then before one fight Vinny Pazienza told me that after I make the weight I should reward myself and that my body was craving something I love and that some fat intake would help me in a big way. It made sense to me so from then on I started eating the things after the weigh-in that I had been abstaining from in camp. Some ice cream, some pizza. Felt like great advice to me. 
Greatest career moment:
ICEMAN: I have several that stand out and the answer to this question changes in my mind each time it’s asked but I think my fight with Michael Nunn stands out to me, even though I didn’t get the decision. It’s the fight I’m most recognized for and considering the opposition, it’s the fight I am most proud of. Surreal in a way to fight him but at one point early in the fight he called me a “Mxxxxxx Fxxxxxx” in a clinch and after that it was as real as it gets. That moment pretty much broke the ice for us.
Most painful career moment:
ICEMAN: Mentally it had to be against Drake Thadzi. I hated boxing at that time. I have always thought that I probably felt a lot like what Muhammad Ali must have felt like against Larry Holmes. Like a zombie who shouldn’t have been anywhere near a ring that night. Physically, though, that would be the rotater injury I sustained in the first round against Sam Ahmad at the Blue Horizon in 1998. First left hook in the first round of the fight and my shoulder felt like it exploded. Couldn’t lift it above my waist for the rest of the entire fight. Took a long time to get over that one.
Which performances were you at your very best:
ICEMAN: In terms of my overall career, my showing against Nunn gets the most attention and credit but for me, in terms of fighting in a style and with skills I wanted to, I’ve always pointed to fights with Alphonso Bailey on USA Tuesday Night Fights and Art Baylis on Prime-TV. I felt like a real professional in those fights, I executed very well and got things done in ways that I used to dream about when I was a kid.
Funny boxing memory, anything that made you laugh:
ICEMAN: I remember once in a 12 round fight, around the 4th round against Melvin Wynn, I farted early on and it smelled so bad that I actually danced all the way to the other side of the ring because in my mind I didn’t want him to know I did it.  Crazy stuff. 
Embarrassing boxing memory:
ICEMAN: Losing to Drake Thadzi as I did in 1998. If I could go back in time I would never have entered the ring for that fight. I was so confused and disillusioned with boxing, I wanted to get out of the game. I hated it. I was mentally in the worst frame of mind I’d ever been in going into a fight. It was as if I put forth no effort in that fight. In my mind I was waiting and waiting, round after round, to get started and hopefully catch him late but I had nothing in me that night. 
Why do you love boxing?:
ICEMAN: Its hard to even describe or put my finger on it exactly. So many reasons and aspects of it. The places I’ve been able to go, the things I’ve been able to witness and the friends I’ve made in the game probably goes in first place. In terms of the actual act of boxing, I still spar to this day because the reality is that nothing makes me feel as I did when I was 19 years old as being in a ring throwing and dodging punches does.
Hardest puncher you faced:
ICEMAN: Lamar Parks. We fought twice in the amateurs and sparred twice in the professional ranks. His power was amazing, I remember thinking he must have a miniature bowling ball in his glove. The force and the leverage he put into his shots was very abnormal. Nobody hit like he did when it came to one punch for one punch.
Your toughest opponent:
ICEMAN: Being real, my toughest opponent in professional boxing was trying to make weight for fights. Making weight and the difficulty in doing so has resulted in me hallucinating during fights, having to stop and lay down on the floor in a health club so I didn’t pass out and having to receive nine bags of intravenous fluid at the hospital after one match. I fought many tough guys who presented big problems, strength and style wise, like Thadzi, Tim Littles, Billy Bridges, Art Baylis, Alphonso Bailey and others but nothing was as challenging as the mental and physical effects of drastic weight loss in a short period of time. 
First famous boxer you ever met:
ICEMAN: I started off big. I met two super famous boxers on the same day in June of 1983 in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Willie Pep and Muhammad Ali.  It was also literally within a month of those meeting that I started a relationship through the mail with Archie Moore.
So while it’s been great since and I’ve met hundreds of notable boxers, it’s been pretty much downhill after those three.

About Scoop Malinowski

Author of six books including "Muhammad Ali: Portrait of a Champion" and "Heavyweight Armageddon: The Lewis versus Tyson Championship Battle" available at amazon