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Biofile Antonio Tarver Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: WBA/IBF/WBC Light Heavyweight champion shocked the world with his one-punch, 2nd round KO of boxing’s pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr.

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175
Born On: November 21, 1968 In: Orlando, Florida

Childhood Heroes: “Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard.”

Hobbies/Interests: “I love to eat, I love sushi. I’d say I’m a food connoisseur [smiles]. Playing golf. I’m pretty good actually, 13-14 handicap. I love the game. Winky Wright is one of my golf buddies. We play regularly in Florida. Three times a week sometimes. I try to play everywhere I go. My clubs are like American Express…I don’t leave home without ’em. Being with my kids. I just saw my son (Antonio Jr.) play basketball tonight. He’s a sophomore in Daytona Beach. He’s the shooting guard. Had about 12 points. He’s like me, a gunner. He ain’t never seen a shot he didn’t like [laughs].”

Nicknames: “Magic Man, Tony T., Tarver, Champ.”

Favorite Movie: “Scarface…say Hello to my little friend [laughs].”

Favorite TV Shows: “I like Playmakers. I don’t watch much TV if it ain’t sports.”

Musical Tastes: “I’m on that slow ground right now, soulful, slow music.”

Early Boxing Memory: “A lot of great memories, winning a group of trophies, my mom was so proud of me. Traveling with $12.50 in my pocket to a tournament and going halfs on Happy Meals [laughs].”

First Job: “I was at Holiday Inn in Orlando, by International Airport (age 16). I was like a prep chef, making shrimp cocktails, salads.”

First Car: “Blue Nova.”

Pre-Fight Feeling: “I feel relaxed. Just get a lot of rest. Just being close with the people you love and who are close to you. I don’t want to be locked up in the room…you die a thousand deaths, thinking about the fight, killing yourself about the fight mentally. I don’t hibernate. I stay relaxed and do things like make sure my friends have tickets.”

Funny Boxing Memory: “The craziest thing that ever happened to me…’95 Olympic Trials. Live on NBC in Oakland, CA. My opponent (Glenn Robinson) didn’t ever show up. I’m sitting on NBC, bouncing in the ring. Won by walkover to the Olympic Box-Offs. It was bizarre because even if he lost to me, he’d still advance to the Box-Offs. I guess he bought into the hype. I was on a two-year winning streak.”

Favorite Meal: “Turkey wings and rice.”

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “I’d have to say Cookie Crisp.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Vanilla.”

Greatest Sports Moment (answered prior to May 15th KO of Roy Jones Jr.): “I would have to say winning the championship (IBF/WBC) Light Heavyweight title (W12 Montell Griffin in 2003). And officially being named to the U.S. Olympic Team in 1996 (after defeating Anthony Stewart by an extremely rare shutout – 17-0 – in Augusta, GA at the U.S. Box-Offs). Two life dreams come true.”

Most Painful Moment: “Oh my god, getting robbed in the Olympics. And when I had my jaw broken in 2000 against Eric Harding. That was excruciating right there. (By a) right hook. And I knew it was broken instantly. 9th round. We finished the fight, but I couldn’t fight effectively. But I think it was a blessing. It took that loss for me to assess my career. I just wasn’t putting in the 100% effort. When you beat everyone, you get complacent. That was the wake-up call. Now I train for three months before a fight, not one month. I have three physical conditioning/strength trainers, working plyometrics, running 800 meters. Now I give myself the very best opportunity to win. And we’re going to continue to do it.”

Favorite Vacation Spot: “It’s a toss-up…Jamaica, Bahamas. I stayed at the Atlantis. I’d have to say Bahamas.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Just true people with pure hearts. It’s very rare that you meet people that are genuinely true. Those are the kinds of people I like to be around. Just being a good person, genuine. When you find those people, you have to hold on to them. As an athlete, being approachable. I just try to be good people. And down-to-earth. Keep both feet planted.”

Favorite Boxers To Watch: “I have to say Antonio Tarver. I’m a big fan of myself [laughs]. I’m carrying the torch for these guys to step up. I’m not afraid to take risks. I love this sport. I love the sport of boxing. I think more fighters should have that love for the game. And not just be in it for the money. I like Ricardo Mayorga. He’s a character. We need guys like that to re-invent the sport for the fans. He’s tremendously confident and he thinks he can beat anybody. We need guys like that. Juan Carlos Gomez – a helluva fighter, man. Tough fighter. I had the opportunity to fight him as an amateur (in ’94 at Foxwoods). Toughest fight I ever had. We stood toe-to-toe and banged it out for three rounds. He has some of the quickest hands in the heavyweight division.”

Childhood Dream: “To be an Olympic champion. My Olympic dream was what I truly held on to.”

You can read more Biofiles like this one at www.mrbiofile.com

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