“Wanna be a champ?”
Interview with 19 year old heavyweight Michael Marrone
By Aaron Imholte (July 27, 2005) 
I received an e-mail on one of my ‘Ranting and Raving’ columns from a Vero Beach Florida resident named Gus Curren. I was talking boxing with Gus via e-mail when one day he wrote that he trains a 19 year old 10-0 heavyweight from Florida named Michael Marrone. First of all it is always nice to see a fresh undefeated face in the heavyweight division, but more importantly a 19 year old face! I told Gus that I just had to talk to him.

Being so young can have its advantages, but it can also have its pitfalls, be it parties, drugs, or alcohol. (I know, being 18 myself.) But as you will see in this interview with the young, focused, confident, and most importantly undefeated Marrone, those pitfalls are not going to come into play in his life.

Aaron Imholte: Mike, growing up in Florida there had to be a heavy boxing influence down there?

Mike Marrone:
Well I grew up around fighters. The area I live in is a haven for boxers. I trained in the same gym where all of Lou Duva’s champions trained since I was nine. Guys like Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfeild, Vernon Forrest; I could name a lot more.

AI: Tell us about your trainer Gus Curren, he’s been with you since the start right?

Yeah and people find it hard to believe that he has been with me all this time because so often you’ll hear about a fighter switching trainers as they move up the ladder. But for me it’s all about loyalty and Gus is very important to me, I wouldn’t trade him for anything.

AI: How did you end being managed by Lou Duva?

Lou was aware that there was a young heavyweight here and he couldn’t believe it when Gus told him that it was the kid who bugged him all the time at the gym years ago. When I was nine I always asked Lou if I could do anything for him. I always held punch counters and carried spit buckets and did stuff like that for him. He wrote “Wanna be a champ? Let’s do it” in a book I have in my room. I kind of think its fate that I ended up with Lou.

AI: So you really are a product of boxing, I mean you’ve been around it your whole life.

I grew up with boxing I have always loved it. It’s the purest of sports, it is one of the only sports in the world where you are totally dependant on yourself. If you have a poor work ethic in boxing you won’t last. I think everybody is here for a reason and yours may be to cover boxing for the New York Times, mine is to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

AI: Now you recently beat Forrest Neal and he has been in with guys like Vassily Jirov and Steve Cunningham, was that your biggest victory?

Neal has been the biggest step up for me so far. Every win is big but yeah that was the biggest step up for me. Records can be deceiving though. In one of Lou’s books called ‘Rocky Lives’ there are some names of prospects in there that used to have good records that I have never heard of so it is hard to go on just a record.

AI: Recently we have seen a lot of prospects in the heavyweight division fall on their face. I’ve spoken with Dominick Guinn and he always sounded confident but it just never came to the ring with him. What do you have that sets you apart from guys like Joe Mesi and Dominick Guinn?

Dominick Guinn trained here (Vero Beach, Florida) for the Michael Grant fight in my junior year when I won the national golden gloves at 17. I have nothing bad to say about him. But I am willing to do anything and I know a lot of people say this but I am willing to die in the ring. I love boxing and my dream is to hear Michael Buffer announce me as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world one day. I think about it constantly, for people to come up to me on the street and say ‘hey champ, hey champ’ that’s just a great honor and once you’re the champ you are always the champ.

AI: Sounds like nobody can question your hunger.

Living in a small town is important to me. Right now I am 10-0, which sounds impressive to people a lot more so than 8 or 9-0. I just can’t let people what people say go to my head too much though. To get to where you are going you have to remember where you have been. I mean none of the trophies are at my house, they are all at the gym where they belong. I do not let the trophies and medals get to my head. So I keep them at the gym and not in my house because they belong to the gym as far as I am concerned.

AI: You sound very disciplined, too disciplined to be 19.

Well I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I don’t have the desire to, I just really don’t have the desire to be normal.

AI: So what’s next for you Michael?

We have a tentatively scheduled 8 round bout on ESPN 2 August 26th at Foxwoods and that is it for the near future. I am focused on that.

AI: Do you have anything to say to your fans in Florida and your future fans reading this?

I appreciate the fans’ support and I do intend to be the heavyweight champion of the world someday. I can think of nothing else, I really do have a one track mind.

I would like to thank Gus Curren for keeping in touch and setting up this interview with Michael Marrone. We wish Mike all the best of luck in the future.

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