|"The Iceman" John Scully steps into the Doghouse to talk boxing
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr., Doghouse Boxing (Jan 28, 2009)
Thirteen years in his time as a professional pugilist, forty-nine bouts and three hundred and eighteen rounds under his belt, unforgettable throw downs with the likes of Henry Maske and Michael Nunn, it is safe to say that the former light heavyweight contender and world title challenger "The Iceman" John Scully has a lot to talk about.
With his wealth of knowledge of the "sweet science", the Hartford native has taken his accolades from the ring to commentating and training. Such fighters as Chad Dawson, Matt Godfrey, Jose Antonio Rivera as well as a slew of amateurs have been under Scully's tutelage and with a book in the works, John is going to let the world see first hand his experiences.
In this exclusive interview conducted by Doghouse Boxing, we pick the brain of Scully and get the latest info on his life and the fighters he works with, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: What has been going down in the world of the Iceman?
John Scully: Well, right now we are in the middle of our local Golden Gloves tournament so I'm busy training my 132 pounder, Joey Perez, for that. He is the defending champion and should be fighting sometime in the next two weeks. If he wins this one then we advance to the regional's and then , hopefully, to the nationals. I am also working hard on finishing my book, The Iceman Diaries. Probably the craziest thing, though, is that I actually got a call recently about the possibility of being in a reality show that would center around myself and my dealings with the kids in the gym. I should be going to New York City very soon to discuss it with them.
BH: I know that you have been feverishly working on your book for some time now, how has that been coming along, any release date?
JS: For the last few years I have told way too many people that the book will be "most likely finished in the next few months." Obviously that hasn't happened. I just never had any idea it would be this difficult to finish one but I am definitely rounding third and should, hopefully, be done with it by the summer time. I like to think it would be worth the wait for boxing fans who have never had a serious inside look into the goings on of a boxer and trainer. I take people into the gym, into the corner, into the mind. The Iceman Diaries is going to be the "realest" boxing book ever to hit the stands, I honestly believe that.
BH: How has the coaching business been for you?
JS: I have actually been training boxers as far back as the early 1990's. I had a pretty strong four man team of kids that I traveled with all over the country with in between my own training and fights and collectively they won around sixty local, regional and national championships. So it's been good and continues to be good. I got work with some great fighters along the way and hope that I can be allowed to do this for the rest of my life. I have Joey Perez now in the Golden Gloves and Matt Godfrey should be doing something relatively soon as well. I also have been working with some beginners at our gym in Connecticut, The Lions Den in Middletown, so I'm trying to help out on as many levels as I can.
BH: You fought as an amateur, as well as a professional, now you train amateur and professional fighters. Which has been the hardest, fighting in the ring, or trainer others to fight in the ring?
JS: I think every aspect of boxing on my end can be extremely tough. Amateur boxing, despite what some may think, can be a very tough game, especially back in my day when you boxed three minute rounds and there was no computer scoring system in place that limited the contact and the severity of it. Fighting as a professional fighter is an extremely brutal sport, that much is known.
But training boxers, man, that is a different type of frustration all its own. It's like when you see a boxer who has such skills and talent and ability but either the business of boxing doesn't give him the opportunities to show them or what's even worse is when his own mental shortcomings hold him back. You see guys who don't push themselves or don't take it seriously or don't realize what they have and they don't live up to their potential and it's something that can make you crazy.
When I was fighting it was often a situation where I had some thoughts creep into my head that kind of sabotaged me and I never really had a person with a real boxing mind there with me to point out what was happening so I almost always had to deal with those things on my own and many times it didn't work out right.
The upside of that is that now I can recognize the same exact scenarios coming on with guys I train and I can recognize it quickly and put the brakes on for them. I may not be a genius but I do give my boxers an extra pair of eyes that have seen what they see now and can tell them -through previous experience- what it really is.
BH: What are some of your hobbies outside of boxing?
JS: It's funny but when I really think about it most of my life is centered around boxing in some way. Most things I do, most people I know or hang out with, are things and people that have some sort of connection to boxing. Outside of that, though, I am married with three step sons and a daughter, Sarita, who is four years old now. So when I am not at the gym or at a fight I am generally doing something with them and/or with my father.
BH: Caught wind that your fighter Matt Godfrey will be taking on the former heavyweight title holder Herbie Hide. What are your thoughts on this match-up and without giving out to much information, how will you and your fighters approach this training camp?
JS: To be honest with you, without going into too much detail, it's my understanding that this fight is not set in stone in any way and that it may very well not come off. Without going into detail, it's not my place, let's just say that if this fight doesn't come off it will be only because of the business end of things. As you know, professional fighters are in this at the end of the day to make money to survive and if the risk outweighs the reward then the deal doesn't go through.
BH: At forty-one, still young I may add, but you are still sparring guys like Godfrey, Manfredo, Mike Oliver and Edwin Rodriguez. How did those sessions go, and all though you are the experienced one in those sparring sessions, did you learn or take anything away from those guys?
JS: I love to spar in the gym and I do so for different reasons. I have been sparring and fighting since I was about twelve. I loved it then, I loved it when I was twenty and twenty five and thirty. I loved it when I was thirty five and I still love it today the same way. So I generally do it for myself, but I also do it for the boxers I work with because I honestly, 100 percent, feel that if I have an attribute as a trainer it is the fact that I had so many fights as an amateur and as a pro and have sparred so many rounds that I can relate to the fighters and what they are going through in a way that a man who never boxed before just cannot.
Sometimes when you are away from boxing, though, you actually forget what it is to be hit, to get hurt, to struggle, to feel pain and exhaustion while in the ring. So I keep sparring because I want to keep my finger directly on the pulse of what these guys are going through. It's a connection I have with them that often helps me when we reach a critical moment in either training or between rounds of a fight.
BH: You were telling me that you sparred sixteen rounds in one session, not bad for an old dog. Just kidding brother. Anyway, since you train these cats and spar with your fighters, and most of all stay in shape for your own health, what if your daily regime like?
JS: To tell you the truth, and this surprises many people, but I don't actually train anymore. Meaning that I don't punish myself in the gym doing the type of intense training that is needed to get a body and a mind ready for a tough twelve round professional fight. I just spar. I spar a lot, though. I probably spar more rounds in a year than most active professionals do and I guess from all the years of fighting and sparring it's a thing where I'm very relaxed in the ring now and I don't exhaust myself like some less experienced guys do. So even though some guys might be in better cardiovascular condition than I am, my experience and ability to relax sometimes makes it where I can actually spar longer that they can.
BH: What advice would you give to a young cat trying to make it in the ranks of boxing?
JS: You know, I always tell people a story about a kid I ran across in the gym about fifteen years ago. This kid was about seventeen years old with no previous experience whatsoever in the boxing game. Every day I would see him in there, though, and he would always be working like a maniac. Extra push ups, extra laps, extra everything. One day I asked him why the urgency, why he put so much into his training. He gave me the best answer I have ever heard, the answer that all boxers should live by.
He said: "Well, I figure I might not be the fastest guy or the slickest guy or the hardest punching guy. I'm probably not the most elusive or the most gifted, either, so I figure I better be in the absolute greatest condition possible so that I can at least have one area of the game that I can be the best in. Maybe me being in better shape can overrule an opponent's advantages one day."
BH: I know you used to work with former amateur standout as well as professional heavyweight fighter Lawrence Clay-Bey, do you still keep in touch with Lawrence and what is he up to these days?
JS: Clay and I are still in touch pretty often. We only live about a mile or so away from each other. He's doing well, still working 40 hours plus overtime as a corrections officer just as he was when he was fighting. His son has actually had a couple of amateur fights and is a pretty talented kid so if he pursues that then Clay will be working with him at the gym pretty regularly I would think.
BH: In closing, what are your future plans, and most importantly, what do you want the readers to get out of this interview?
JS: I would love nothing more than for readers to know that I am a boxing person all the way. I consider myself a boxer and a trainer and I am out for the fighters. I'm not a manager, matchmaker, or promoter. I'm not into the business aspect of boxing. I am into the boxing aspect of boxing, whether it be amateur or pro. So if it's an amateur bout at my gym between two twelve year olds or a world title fight being contested for 20 million at the Thomas and Mack Center, if at all possible, I'll be there.
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