Breakout Trainer ‘Iceman’ John Scully speaks to the Doghouse
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (August 16, 2005)
Motivation: a: the act or process of motivating; b: the condition of being motivated; 2:a motivating force, stimulus, or influence: Incentive, Drive
Former world title challenger John Scully knows what it takes to bang it out in the ring, not only the talent aspect that usually is portrayed but you need heart and you have to be motivated to do so. No motivation, no will and you have a serious problem. “Often fighters just need that push,” stated John Scully, and you need motivation to uphold the skill. So after throwing down as a professional fighter for thirteen years earning a record of 38-11 (21) and partaking in some unforgettable bouts with the likes of Michael Nunn and Henry Maske, it is safe to say the Scully knows a bit about the ‘sweet science’.
The Connecticut native has traded the gloves in to train others in the manly art of self-defense at the ‘Ring 159 Gym”. Under his tutelage at this time is the former Olympic team captain Lawrence Clay Bey where just a few weeks ago on Friday Night Fights the ESPN 2 crowd got to witness the motivational skill of John Scully who kept his fighter in the bout by his well chosen words of motivation. Scully has also just taken on the former WBA welterweight champion Jose Rivera who had a bout set for September 3rd until he sustained an injury.
Talk about pressure, make the entrance to the ring just knowing that the guy in there is going to do his best to knock your lights out, but what about standing ringside calling the shots out to your fighter and what game plan you shout out could very well make or break your fighter, you have to be slick and know just what you are talking about and that is a challenge Scully isn’t afraid to take on and so far he has done a good job of doing so.
As a fighter Scully portrayed the talents it took to be successful and now as a trainer he offers up those accolades to guide others into success. The breakout trainer stopped by the Doghouse to chat about his career as a trainer and gives his thoughts on his fighters and what it takes to win, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: First off Ice I just want to say thank you for taking the time out for the Doghouse readers. You stepped out of the ring four years ago and took on the role as trainer, how has it been calling the shots instead of taking them?
John Scully: Well, I have actually been training boxers since I was an amateur myself, back in the 1980's. And in the 1990's when I was ranked in the top 10 in the world I actually had a very strong amateur team that I traveled the country with in between my own fights. I had several national champions. Armed Forces champion. PAL, Junior Olympic, Golden Gloves, Ohio State Fair champions. So my experience as a trainer goes way back to when I was just starting as a boxer myself.
BH: You have a stable of fighters you are working with, Chad Dawson and Lawrence Clay-Bey to name a few and now you have taken over the training reigns of the former WBA welterweight champion Jose Rivera who is facing Daniel Santos September 3rd. Santos is a hard-hitting southpaw who has faced some great opposition, coming into this fight what do you think will be Rivera’s keys to victory?
JS: Well as of today I just found out that Jose's fight with Santos is off. Hopefully it will be rescheduled. Jose had an injury that has hampered him for a while and he needs to get it 100 percent before he goes through with a world title fight. As for Chad Dawson, I was training him for a good while and he and I made great strides. Great strides. I think it is very, very fair to credit myself with teaching him how to really dig to the body like a professional and for giving him the confidence to use his boxing gifts and his jab like a real professional. But it's the same old story. He left his manager and promoter recently and he wanted me to still train him but the manager that he just left is the guy that pays the rent at my gym so obviously there is no way I could train him in my gym, right? Last I heard he was down in Florida working with Winky Wright's people.
BH: You had twelve years of ring time as a pro and just a few years training now, watching your fighters in the ring does it ever give you the itch to want to lace the gloves up just one more time, or are you just going to stick to training?
JS: Since my last fight in 2001 I have stayed in the gym and I still spar on a very regular basis. I sparred probably more than 300 rounds in the year of 2004. I have been boxing with guys like Scott Pemberton, Peter Manfredo, Sean Creegan, Jose Rivera, Ray Olivera, Richie Lamontagne and many others. I never actually retired, either. I was training for fights all through 2003 but one after another, nine in a row actually, fell out on me. I started training Clay-Bey in the mean time and I eventually picked up other boxers to work with and when I couldn't secure a solid fight for myself I started making that my main focus. But I still box in the gym all the time.
BH: Who were some of the men that were instrumental in your career?
JS: Muhammad Ali was a huge influence on me, in the ring and out. Early on in my amateur career I used to box like Ali when he was younger. Dancing, moving, hands low. I beat a lot of good kids using that style. My first trainer was a guy named Joe Barile and he always used to repeat to me the words of Willie Pep. "He who hits and runs away will live to fight another day." Plus my father was the one who originally inspired me to box and introduced me to boxing.
BH: One of your fighters Lawrence Clay-Bey just fought a very entertaining bout a few weeks ago on Friday Night Fights, but in that fight he did take some punishment and if I am correct he actually wanted to quit in this fight but you motivated him to stay in there. What did you say to Clay-Bey to keep him in there and what are your thoughts on him continuing his career, do you think he can actually raise a stink in the division at thirty-nine?
JS: It was such an emotional fight; in the corner it was very emotional. I was very hyped up because I don't believe in quitting in the corners and I tend to think even the guys that do quit in the corners didn't really, really want to. They just don't always have anybody there to talk them out of it well enough, to give them a reason to go on. One thing I remember telling him is that I couldn't let him quit in front of his daughter who was at ringside. And he responded like a champion.
BH: Exactly how many fighters are you working with now?
JS: I am training Clay-Bey and Jose Rivera and have been also developing some amateurs at my gym in Windsor, ‘The Fight Factory, Ring 159’.
BH: When somebody comes into the gym and asks you to train them what is the first thing you look at before you take the fighter on, and what qualities do you feel makes an all around fighter?
JS: I work with anybody that asks me too but after we train for a short time I see how much dedication they have. You can tell pretty quickly who is all mouth and who really wants to try and be something. I weed them out after that. I had an undefeated professional I was working with not too long ago and one day he just up and left. One of the guys that was around him told me that the kid said I trained him too hard. You believe that? Too hard!
BH: What has the most pressure, fighting in the ring or instructing your fighter in the ring?
JS: Fighting in the ring is much more pressure filled. Waiting in that dressing room for them to call your name to come out to the ring. There isn't any pressure in sports heavier than that!
BH: The highlight of you overall career so far?
JS: I have been fortunate to have many, many highlights over the years. Beating world champion Darin Allen in 1988 to win the Eastern Olympic trials was a huge moment in my life. Seeing four kids I trained, (Sammy Vega, Dwayne Hairston, Greg Cuyler and Orlando Cordova) win so many amateur titles over the years was huge for me. I always told Dwayne when he was a little kid that I would take him to see Mickey Mouse someday. And in 1998 he won the National PAL title over Anthony Peterson at Disney World in Florida! Meeting Ali, sparring Roy Jones and James Toney, almost beating Michael Nunn in a 12 rounder, fighting for the IBF world title in Germany. Those were all highlights for me.
BH: What are some of the obstacles that face a young fighter, and advice you give one who is under your tutelage?
JS: Most boxers find the intense training as a huge obstacle. Getting hit in the head and body and feeling such new types of pain is a huge obstacle. I try to relate almost everything they go through to something similar that I went through. I am a trainer that has been there and seen everything that they have seen or will see. There is no situation that will hit them that hasn't hit me already so I can relate to them and many times it makes them feel not so alone in there.
BH: Anything you would like to add or say in closing?
JS: Only that I appreciate you even interviewing me. When I was a kid reading about boxing and Ali and guys like that I always thought how great it must be to have people know you like that. I never turn down an interview request now because I find it pretty funny, it's really a trip that you even care enough what I have to say to ask me.
I would like to thank Jon Scully for his time, it was greatly appreciated, for more information of the Iceman please visit: www.IcemanJohnScully.com.
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