Interview with WBO Heavyweight Champion Lamon 'Relentless' Brewster - Part 1
by Benny Henderson Jr. (Aug 24, 2004)
What makes a fighter? What drives him to excel to the level that he so desires? To Lamon Brewster it is faith in God, believing in oneself, and taking a chance in life that some are not willing to take no matter what the cost. Just call it being 'Relentless'. Always push forward no matter what others may say or do. If the odds are stacked against you, just knock that stack down. That's exactly what 4-1 underdog Brewster did when he challenged then WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko for his title back in April of this year. After getting up off the canvas in the fourth round, Brewster showed tremendous heart to do what most ringsiders believed he couldn’t accomplish. With a flurry of punches he stopped the 6’6” Ukrainian in round five of their heavyweight championship bout. On September 4th the new WBO heavyweight champion will make the inaugural defense of his title against IBF Pan Pacific heavyweight champion Kali Meehan, 29-1 (23), on a Don King promoted card televised by Showtime. The only loss on the 6'5" New Zealand-born Australian's ledger is to recent Mike Tyson conqueror Danny Williams. Brewster, 30-2 (27), has whacked out 26 of his opponents within the first five rounds and boasts an impressive 13 first round stoppages. A devout Christian and family man who feels that he can use his platform to spread the word of God, Brewster is a fresh of breath air to a sport that so often feeds off negativity. In part one of this two part interview we will discuss his upcoming bout with Kali Meehan and look back on his stunning win over Wladimir Klitschko. We will also get to know Lamon both as a fighter and a person and get his thoughts on his career and faith. Lamon was more than willing to share his thoughts to Doghouse. Enjoy!
Benny Henderson Jr.: What have you been up to lately?
Lamon Brewster: I have just been training like he devil, man. I have been training hard because now I have something that everybody wants and everybody will be coming for it. So everybody that I fight I just have to make a statement that if you come my way and try to get my title you're barking up the wrong tree.
BH: What is your training regime?
LB: My training regime is lots of bag work, lots of sparring and lots of running. I diet and get a lot of rest and vitamins. I am just trying to make sure that I am not burning myself out, but I am pushing all the same. I do lots of homework by studying fight tapes and such.
BH: I read that you are into yoga?
LB: Yeah man, I like to do yoga because it makes me limber and helps me to learn how to breathe under harsh conditions. Yoga relaxes you and helps you to become as one with your body, you come to understand your body a lot better.
BH: How emotional was it for you to dedicate the Klitschko fight in the memory of Bill Slayton, and then win it?
LB: It was very emotional because when Klitschko first come on the scene they was making all the hoopla about him, my trainer was the first to take a look at this guy say that he wasn’t nothing but another European fighter and if you take the fight right to him you will knock him out and he didn’t think nothing of him. For my trainer to say that was something. Bill was old school and very humble and he didn’t bad mouth anybody. But when he did say something he was always on the money with it. So I always kept that in my mind and at one point I was going to fight him and it didn’t happen for some reason. The fight with Sanders and Tua didn’t go through and finally I got the fight him and it was for a world title and my trainer was on his deathbed. So I had to make sure that in my mind I made my trainer proud of me and allowed him to rest in peace in my mind as I felt I should do.
BH: Your win over Wladimir Klitschko was overshadowed with controversy and accusations. Did all that take away anything from you personally as far as joy or excitement that you may have felt in being the new WBO heavyweight champion?
LB: No, because I know for fact in my mind in my heart in my spirit and he knows and everybody else knows for a fact that there was no foul play. So him making those accusations didn’t hurt me but what it did hurt was the sport of boxing. Here is a guy that I had respect for before the fight, during the fight and immediately after. He dressed well and doesn't carry a big entourage he didn’t try to bully people, he just got into the ring and fought. To the best of his ability he spoke good English and wasn’t into slang and he didn’t think he was tough and I respect that man that is what boxing is all about. But, it hurt me so bad because of the sport. We have been in the dark ages of boxing because there are so many people that are mean and try to intimidate people and fighting at press conferences. They can’t speak proper English and do foul things to the gloves. Then you get somebody like Klitschko who probably has millions of followers who has probably the most followers out of any fighter outside of Mike Tyson today, and then he is going to say something like he did. That hurts the sport of boxing and that is really sad that he would say that. And then he is saying the Nevada State Commission and every last one of them sitting ringside don’t know their job and isn’t doing their job. You have a guy following you in the bathroom and holding the cup with you and know you are saying that they don’t know their job and they are cheating, that is just wrong man against the whole establishment.
BH: Have you thought about a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, or is it not important?
LB: At first after the fight was over with because some people was like "oh, you caught him with a lucky punch" or what not as they were trying to say, "oh, it was impossible for him to lose". I was like all for it, but after he made those accusations of foul play no way, he will have to earn the shot to fight me again. That was just so wrong for him to say man, it was just really, really wrong for him to say that.
BH: Do you feel that he is overrated?
LB: I think he is a good fighter and I don’t take anything away from him. I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is overrated or a real good fighter. I think that he is a real athlete. He is a very smart individual in terms of being an athlete. You can teach an athlete any type of sport and they will excel at it. But a fighter is the one who when in the trenches he is going to fight till he can’t fight anymore. If you knock him down he is going to get back up and fight harder, he is going to fight from his heart. Not from just being a good athlete. A real fighter comes from absolutely nothing but welfare, poverty and the ghetto. That’s the difference man. It is like what are you fighting for? I’m fighting to get out to of the ghetto and get away from the drug dealers. What are you fighting for? I’m fighting so my brother and me can go down in history as the two world champions. I tell you what; as long as you feel that way you will never be the black man in the ghetto. Believe me, we are fighting for more than just trying to be world titleholder’s man. I am trying to take care of my family, I am trying to get out of the ghetto and get away from the drugs and drive-bys and all of that, so I am fighting for a lot. I am fighting to make the little boy down the street not look at the drug dealers but look at me. I am trying to do something positive so you can do it.
BH: Now this isn’t a race thing is it?
LB: Oh no man, just trying to better yourself that is all I am saying. I have seen my mother struggle for so many years and I couldn’t help her. These guys come along with PhD’s and everything. I am like you don’t even know what struggle is, I’m fighting for a whole different reason. This fun for you, but it is life and death for me. It is Wladimir’s choice but he could have been an astronaut or a high-ranking army official, but this guy wants to be a fighter. He wants to take the one job that a poor man can do without having to have a degree. I’m not fixing to lose to somebody like that man. I don’t care who they are, what color or what they believe in, I’m not going to lose to somebody like that.
BH: What can you tell us about your up coming opponent Kali Meehan?
LB: I think he’s a good guy, he is Australian and they are tough and always game to fight. He is going to put up a good fight. He is tall and I’m glad that he is tall because if I ever get to fight Vitali this will be more experience for me. I look forward to this fight because this isn’t going to be a walk over but at the same time it is going to give me more experience fighting tall guys.
BH: Is there anything about his style that concerns you coming into this fight?
LB: He has a heck of a right hand and is very quick and also has a good left hook. He has a lot of heart also. This is another guy who feels that he is doing this for his family. In this fight you have two pit bulls locking up.
BH: You are a spiritual man. How much of a role do you feel that your faith plays in your career?
LB: I’m glad you asked me that, I’m going to tell you the way I believe. I believe that everybody on this earth has a gift. Some people have more, some people may have only one, but we all have a gift. It is just a matter of you figuring out just what it is and when you do figure it out you apply it to your life. I go back to what God said “I give you your own will, then I give you my road.” So you got two roads in life to travel on, you have your road and his road. His road is the gift that he gave you, it might not be the gift that you want but that’s the gift that he gave you. And in my case he didn’t give me multiple gifts, he gave me one gift. He gave me two roads and I tried it down my road. My road got me working at Wendy’s working 9-to-5 for peanuts. But when I said "Lord I am going to take your road no matter how hard or long it is", it was through my faith that he gave me this gift and he is going to guide me because I am on his road, and though it was a hard role I am now heavyweight champion of the world. That’s what I believe. Some people don’t ever figure out what their gifts are and some people realize they have a gift but are not willing to take the chance to see that gift through that God has given them. Some people have the ability to talk, some people have the ability to think and some people are athletic. My ability was to fight, I don’t want to get hit in the face or the head but God didn’t give me the ability to run faster than another man or to be a scholar or astronomer. So I have to use the gift that God gave me. So I am heavyweight champion of the world.
BH: Preach on now.
LB: [Laughing] Oh I’m sorry.
BH: Hey man it is cool, I am a man of faith myself and I teach Sunday school so I know what you are trying to say.
LB: Exactly what you just said about being a Sunday school teacher, I read the Bible and all the time. When I was a kid nobody had to make me go to Sunday school, I loved it. I want to pass the world of the Lord on because he has been so good to my family and me. I believe that if more people really looked at what it is to be a child of God we wouldn’t be having the problems in this world that we have. I try to take what my knowledge and my wisdom and being champ or before I try to talk with people and let them know that God is real, look at me. I am not anybody special, I’m just a man that God showed favor in and is using as a vessel. We are all vessels but a lot of us don’t want to be used that way.
BH: What do you feel your best quality as a fighter is?
LB: I think it is the fact that I can fight multiple styles. I can box, I can brawl, fight backing up, going forward. I can adjust to my opponent. You have some fighters that can fight only one way and they will win as long as they fight certain opponents, but they don’t have that ability to adjust.
BH: How is it working with Don King?
LB: I think it is great. Since I have been with Don King I have won three titles. I have had two continental titles and one world title. King really fought for me to fight for the WBO title when they tried to say that I was ineligible from being an inactive fighter. But it was because of them I didn’t fight. They wouldn’t let me fight for the title and if I did they would strip me of the title. Don was like hold up, we are not having that. So that was a blessing.
BH: The funniest thing I heard was in the post interview with Larry Merchant after the Klitschko fight. You were about finished and you mentioned Don King and Larry walked off. And King shouted “He don’t wanna talk about Don King.”
LB: [Laughing] They don’t want to talk about Don baby, they don’t want to bring me up baby. Yeah that was funny.
BH: That was funny as can be. I personally thought Larry Merchant was a bit aggravated you beat Wladimir. He was rude to the guys behind you when I have seen it many times before when others would shout out too about their fighter winning.
LB: You know man Larry Merchant really, really wanted Klitschko to win. When Vitali won his fight and he talked to him, he was so happy when he talked to him he was shaking. He didn’t really want me to win. In the off camera pre-interview he said some mean things to me. But hey, I won.
BH: What has been your best accomplishment to date?
LB: My biggest so far is winning the WBO heavyweight title; regardless of who it was I was fighting.
BH: What has been the force behind your success?
LB: God first, he is my foundation. My family would be the walls that keep me warm and comfortable through these hard times. My effort is the roof that I build for my family, but God keeps everything stable.
BH: What inspired you to box Lamon?
LB: I was a big Bruce Lee fan when I was a kid and I loved martial arts. I used to tear the house up doing it. My mother told me one day that I wasn’t going to tear the place up anymore, I'm taking you down the street to take boxing lessons and get rid of some of that energy. My father was in boxing, Marvin Johnson was in my community so it seemed like boxing really chose me. If it was up to me I would have probably been an actor or something, but that wasn’t the gift that God gave me though.
BH: Who were your boxing heroes when you were growing up?
LB: When I was a young man, my first and foremost was Marvin Haggler. Then it was Sugar Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, and Ali. Just the greats, man them guys were incredible. The when I got older it was like James Toney, Julio Cesar Chavez. Just a lot of great fighters.
BH: Did you have a rough life growing up?
LB: Well, I really can’t say that I did because there was so much love in the home I didn’t know it was all that bad. I had prayer warriors in my grandmother and mother. I had a great family. It wasn’t about money or what you didn’t have, we were just happy.
BH: What are your hobbies out of the ring?
LB: Chess, I am playing chess right now. The only difference between boxing, chess and life is this. Boxing is done physical, chess with the hands, life is mental. Chess is all about making the right moves, being patient and waiting for the right opportunity to take advantage of that opportunity. That is life.
BH: After the Klitshcko fight did that help you with the media, and how do they treat you?
LB: They treat me good. People see my effort and that I am a genuine person. I didn’t do anything for them to really say anything negative about me. Hey I got off of the canvas to win this fight. This man was winning the whole fight and I never complained. But the minute something went wrong with him he hollers wolf.
BH: I’m glad you said that Lamon. Ole Wlad was really bringing it to you. He hit you with some good shots and you kept on coming. I say you have a good chin even though you call it heart. It was a good fight. You seemed real hungry.
LB: Oh yes, I really wanted it. I wouldn’t say that Wlad didn’t have a bad chin either. I hit him with some good shots also. I am probably one of the hardest punchers in the heavyweight division right now, but one fight doesn’t make that clear to the fans.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?
LB: I would people to know that you can any do anything in life that you want to do. You don’t need justification by your peers or family, nobody has to say oh you can do it. If you want to be successful in life, all you have to do is believe that you can do it. In my life a lot of people put me down and doubted me because I was small. But through my faith and determination I’m heavyweight champion of the world. So I just want to be a testimony for every man. If you go out for your dreams don’t be afraid. The times you fail are when you don’t try. But if you give it your all and believe in God he isn’t going to let you down.
BH: What would you like to say to Kali Meehan?
LB: Let’s put on a good show for the sport of boxing and be gentlemen out of the ring and fight like the devil in it.
BH: Anything to the fans?
LB: I would like to say to the fans thanks for supporting me. Everybody that rooted for the underdog, thank you.
I would like to thank Bob Goodman of DKP and Jenna McGrath for all their help on this interview. I really appreciate your time. I would like to personally thank the WBO heavyweight champ Lamon Brewster for his kindness in this interview. You are a true gentleman and deserve the belt that you hold. I look forward to more interviews with you in the future. For more information on Lamon visit his website: RELENTLESS LAMON BREWSTER.
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