Note: This Biofile interview was conducted in 1993.

Status: Former Heavyweight champion: 1956-60, 1961-62.

DOB: January 4, 1935 In: Waco, North Carolina

Residence: “New Paltz, NY. Since 1965.”

Childhood Heroes: “Joe Louis, he was my idol. I liked the way he carried himself. Ray Robinson. Of all the boxers I’ve seen in my life, only Robinson could do everything. Rocky Marciano. In my mind he was a guy with very little ability, but he still became heavyweight champion. I have never seen such a display of determination. He won his fights, every one of them, on sheer guts and determination.”

Hobbies/Interests: “Working with kids. That’s it.”

Nickname: “I never had a nickname, except for Rabbit from Cassius Clay.”

Early Boxing Memory: “I first started out with my two older brothers Billy and Frank. I carried their bags when I was 12. I was just released from a school where a judge sent me away to. I used to run away from home and steal at night. I watched my brothers train and I wanted to train so badly. Cus (D’Amato) asked me if I wanted to start and gave me some equipment. I started. I won the Golden Gloves when I was 16 and 17. I was Cus’s first Golden Gloves champ. But I learned so very much away at the school. A teacher there – Mrs. Costa – when I got to know her, she gave me confidence in so many ways. I had always felt stupid in school. I hated school. Then on Fridays, she used to have a question and answer session. She’d ask a question and who’d ever answer it would get a piece of candy. One time she asked a question and I thought to myself, I knew the answer. No one answered. Then she gave the answer and I was right. I knew it. I ran out of the classroom, down the hall. She chased after me and said, Floyd, I know you knew the answer. She gave me the candy. That was the beginning for me right there.”

Favorite Movie: “Casablanca.”

Musical Tastes: “Hillbilly. Hank Williams – better known as The Drifter. I loved his stuff. Boy, he wrote some beautiful stuff.”

Favorite Non-Boxing Sport To Play: “Training. Running. I like training. Almost every day. I fought at 190. Now I’m 190-195. Boxing is a sport I sincerely love. I just love.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Winning the Olympics (gold medal as a middleweight in Helsinki, Finland in 1952). That is my greatest sports moment. Nothing will ever surpass that. It was a feeling I never had. Never in a million years did I expect to win. I asked God, Just let me win my first fight and I’ll be satisfied. I won my first by decision. Then I won the next three by knockout. I felt very, very proud. Almost as if I won a war for my country.”

Most Painful Moment: “When I lost the fight to Johansson. I felt like I let the whole country down. He took the title back to Sweden. I’d've given a million dollars if they’d cut a trap door in the ring and I could crawl through it to my dressing room. The walk through the crowd was worse than any physical pain I suffered. I always fought for people more than myself. I could accept defeat but I had disappointed all my fans. After losing to Johansson, I hid in my house for three weeks.”

Closest Boxing Friends: “Ingemar Johansson. I still see him. He has a place in Miami. He doesn’t like the cold in Sweden. I try to go over to Sweden every year. I’m very popular over there. When I lost my title, 80% of my mail came from Sweden. They wrote how sorry they were for me losing. After I regained the title, I went back. I was criticized for that – because they’re all white people over there. I don’t care about colors. I don’t see colors. They supported me and I appreciate it. I fought Johansson three times. When I visit, he takes me out to dinner and I take him out.”

Hardest Puncher(s): “Johansson – the hardest I’ve ever been hit. I don’t remember going down or getrting up. When Sonny Liston hit me, I remember going down and getting up. Of all the heavyweight champions, I’ve been knocked down the most. But when my fights were stopped, I was always standing up. So I also hold the record for getting up. The referee never said Ten and I was on the ground.”

Fights Most Concerned Before: “Whenever I had a fight, I wanted to have a lot of fear. Fear exhilarates everything – speed, power. The more fear I had, the better I fought.”

Pre-Fight Meal: “Steak, vegetables, potato. I’d eat at 2 or 3 in the afternoon if I was fighting at 10 p.m. One big meal a day.”

Toughest Opponents: “The two toughest both put me in bed. Hurricane Jackson – all he did was throw punches. And the Canadian, George Chuvalo. Very strong. Both were stronger than me. Both weighed a lot more. After Chuvalo, I nearly collapsed in the dressing room. I gave more in that fight than any other.”

Favorite Fights: “Cassius Clay-Joe Frazier III. The Thrilla in Manilla. Man, that was some fight. Rocky Marciano-Joe Walcott I.”

Interesting Fact: “I have no enemies. I like everybody. Even one’s who don’t like me, I like them [laughs].”

People Most Admired: “People at nursing homes. I go every week I’m here. Usually every Sunday for 2-3 hours. They’re my best friends. I enjoy talking with the people. I give Communion.”

Most Treasured Possession: “God. A long time ago he showed me he was there. I never forgot it. About 17 years ago my daughter Jennifer brought a little cat home. Every day she’d come home from school and say, Where’s the cat? Where’s the cat? One day, the cat got run over by a car. I prayed to God, What should I say to Jennifer? Every time I cry when I think about it. You probably won’t believe it. She didn’t ask about the cat until seven years later. He just took it out of her mind. What a clever way to do it. Everything dawned on me then.”