Interview: Philly’s David “American Dream” Reid - From Olympic Gold to WBA Crown By Ken Hissner (Nov 2, 2009) DoghouseBoxing
Few boxers in the history of boxing have risen to win the world championship as fast as David “American Dream” Reid did in his twelfth fight! His winning Gold Medals at the 1995 Pan Am Games and 1996 Olympics got him a multimillion dollar contract as he put Denver based America Presents on the map in the boxing world.
Reid had a good training base coming out of the 26th and Masters ABC Recreation Center in Philadelphia. In 1993 before he left the city for Northern Michigan University he would win the PA Golden Gloves State championship advancing to the nationals where he became the National Golden Gloves 147 pound champion. He also won the Olympic Festival championship that year. “Reid was the real deal. He took good advice while here. It was important to keep your fighter safe,” said Fred Jenkins. Jenkins took in Al Mitchell who would eventually moved to Marquette, Michigan, and set the ground work for numerous boxers to use as a platform for the Nationals, Olympics and professionals. “Dave Reid and I are former sparring partners. He was an awesome amateur and professional boxing champion. Also, Dave is a longtime friend of mine and a wonderful person”, said Rodney Moore. (Rockin Rodney was Mr Blue Horizon out of the same Philly gym as Reid) Mitchell arrived in 1989 as the Junior Olympic coach and took over at NMU in 1992. Six world champions and one gold medalist were produced. One of those world champions and the only gold medalist was Reid.
One of the fellow student/boxers who attended NMU with Reid was Ricky Ray Taylor. “Dave was a terror in the ring in Marquette and his weekly sparring matches with Vernon Forrest were classic. He was a hard worker in the gym. He was a jokester, always laughing and carefree. It was difficult to get him angry and rarely did anyone ever see him upset,” said Taylor. Taylor had 140 amateur bouts and has been a trainer since 2000 in Manhattan along with being a writer.
In 1994 Reid was the US Amateur champion and would win the Coca Cola box-off for the Goodwill games in St. Petersburg, Russia, losing to a Cuban. In 1995 at the Pan Am Games he defeated Puerto Rico’s Daniel Santos who would go on to become a the WBO welter and light middleweight champion while last year winning the WBA light middleweight title. This was the first sign of his left eye suffering from injury by Santos. While Reid was the 147 Pan Am champion Cuban Alfredo Duvergel won at 154. The two would meet in the 1996 Olympic finals at 154. First, Reid won the US Amateur Championship in 1996.
At the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, Reid posted wins over boxers from South Korea, Czech Republic, Tunisia and Uzbekistan. The Cuban defeated a boxer from Kazakhstan in the medal round. Reid scored a dramatic knockout over Duvergel to win the Gold Medal. His stock skyrocketed as he was the lone American to win Gold. “I didn’t want to continue to train him but to turn him over to someone else, but he insisted I train him,” said Mitchell.
Reid would turn professional in March of 1997 in Atlantic City defeating Sam Calderon, 10-0, over 4 rounds. He would never fight anyone with a losing record. The bout was on HBO and earned him $200,000. Next was Robert Koon, 13-1, who was on a 10 fight win streak. Reid would stop him in the 6th of a scheduled 6 in Denver. Koon would finish his career in 2001 fighting for the world light heavyweight title.
Within a month Reid stopped John Long, 7-1-1, and then Geoff Yalenezian, 11-0, both in the 2nd round. His promoter, Dan Goosen, had Reid on a fast track to the title. Reid’s left eye lid was drooping. “I had eight operations during my career,” said Reid. In October the former WBC welterweight champion Jorge Vaca only lasted 0:46 of the 1st round in Atlantic City. The following month Dan Connolly, 19-2, lasted 5 rounds, also in Atlantic City.
In January of 1998 Reid would step up his competition facing Robert “Push-up” Frazier, 15-1, who would later lose in a 12 round IBF title bout in 2001. “We fought each other in the Golden Gloves. I had him down in the 1st round,” said Reid. In the 5th round Reid would stagger Frazier. Frazier would erase the knockdown when Reid was deducted a point in the 6th round for low blows. It was his third warning, but Reid still won clearly over 8 rounds by boxing his opponent. Frazier’s IBC title was not on the line. In March he was off to Corpus Christi, Texas, to win another decision, this time over Fidel Avendano, 45-8-1, who had a win over Roger Mayweather. “This was a good learning experience for me. He was a tough opponent,” said Reid.
In May Nick Rupa, 29-5-1, who the year before lost in a title attempt against Terry Norris, was brought in to Atlantic City. Since the Norris fight he had scored 3 straight knockout wins. Rupa, from Trinidad, was living in Canada and known for his toughness. Reid finished him off in the 2nd round in his first scheduled 10 rounder. The next month he would finally fight in Philadelphia at the Apollo Theater, on the co-feature to Shane Mosley who was defending his lightweight title. The former WBC welter and light middleweight champion Simon Brown, 47-7 was brought in. Earlier in the year he was stopped in 6 rounds by Philly’s Bernard Hopkins in an IBF middleweight title defense. “Unfair to Reid the press was making comparisons of him and Hopkins as if Reid would be his successor,” said Mitchell. Hopkins was not taking too kindly to it. “The fight was unbelievable as I stayed to my game plan and stopped him in 4 rounds,” said Reid.
In October Reid would fight for his first nominal title, the WBC Continental Americas against southpaw James Coker, 19-0, from San Antonio, Texas. He was a tall lanky boxer that could make his opponent look bad. “He was tough,” said Reid. Reid won easily on the scorecards, but Coker had him down in the 11th and 12th rounds, in Atlantic City. It was the sixth time Reid fought in the gambling city out of his eleven fights. It would set the stage for his title fight some five months later at the Convention Center in the same city.
The WBA champion was Laurent Boudouani, 38-2-1, from France. He won the title in 1996. He had fought a draw with Guilermero Jones, now WBA cruiserweight champion, in a title defense, defeating him in a rematch. He stopped Terry Norris in his previous fight in his 4th title defense and his second Atlantic City appearance. Reid easily won on scores of 117-112-, 117-111, 118-112. “It was a great feeling become world champion,” said Reid. It would be the last fight in the career of Boudouani.
Reid’s first defense was against the Australian and PABA champion, Kevin Kelly, 24-5-3, who had won his last 12 fights and had never been stopped. Reid found himself on the canvas in the 5th round from the aggressive opponent from down under. “Kelly was tough,” said Reid. He would get up and go on to win handily. “Time was running out for him with the eye. The doctor gave him a year,” said Mitchell. This is one of the reason’s Reid was right back the next month in Las Vegas against the former WBC champion, Keith Mullings, 16-5-1, who had stopped Norris for the title, but lost it in Spain by a majority decision in his last fight. In Mullings last appearance in Las Vegas he lost a split decision trying to win the IBF title from Raul Marquez just prior to the Norris fight. He was a gritty fighter who came to fight, just like Kelly. This was only Reid’s fourteenth fight and already his career was winding down though unbeaten and the champion. Though the scores were very similar as in the Kelly fight it was a much harder one for Reid. “Mullings was my toughest fight,” said Reid.
Mitchell advised Reid not to take the Felix “Tito” Trinidad fight. “I wanted him to fight Oscar (De La Hoya),” said Mitchell. The money certainly would have been greater. De LaHoya had lost to Trinidad on a controversial decision. Since Trinidad wanted nothing to do with a rematch he gave up his IBF/WBC titles. Only Reid’s WBA title would be on the line.
The fight itself started out with Reid looking competitive as he had been in his previous fights. It’s after about halfway through the fight he would begin to slow down. Reid had Trinidad down in the 3rd round. Things were looking good. Almost on cue, in the 7th round Reid went down. In the 10th he went down for the second time. In the 11th round he would hit the canvas three more times. Trinidad would have a point taken away for a low blow. Referee Mitch Halpern asked Reid if he wanted to continue. He somehow managed to go the full 12 rounds. The decision was a formality. Reid suffered his first defeat in his fifteenth fight. This would be the beginning of the end of a spectacular, but short lived career for the former Olympic Gold medalist. “I asked him to retire. When he didn’t I told him I couldn’t train him anymore,” said Mitchell.
It would be eight months before Reid decided to fight again. Mexican Kirino Garcia, 28-20-1, was the chosen opponent. As usual, someone right in front of Reid, though he hadn’t scored a knockout since June of 1998 in his tenth fight. He wouldn’t have to look for this guy. Forget the record. He lost his first eighteen fights. He was on a five fight knockout streak and had defeated Meldrick Taylor and Simon Brown among others. It was a tough fight. It was not the Reid prior to Trinidad in this fight. The scores were close at 95-94, 95-93 and 96-93. This was the closest decision Reid had in his seven decisions.
Five months later, Reid would fight Urbano Gurrola, 18-7, on April Fools Day, 2001. Gurolla had been stopped five times including his last fight a year before. This seemed like a good opponent to take out. Though Reid looked better by boxing more, it was still not easy watching the former champion go the distance with this caliber of fighter.
Next would be Maurice Brantley, 23-3, in July. Reid was the heaviest weight of his career at 166 fighting a super middleweight. Reid knocked Brantley down in the 3rd round which was the difference in the scoring after 10 rounds. The scores were 95-94 (twice) and 97-92.
Reid wasn’t done. Or was he? What would be his final fight was with the fighting policeman Sam Hill, 13-2-1, from St. Louis. Even the location had changed. His last five fights were in Las Vegas. This one was in somewhere called Elizabeth, Indiana at the Belterra Casino Resort. Reid was never in the fight from the start. The referee finally stopped it in the 9th round ending the former champion’s career.
Reid would be bored without boxing and eventually join Mitchell in Marquette. “I work with the 5-17 year olds. There are two gyms up there,” said Reid. I asked him how his eye was today. “My eye is fine today. I am able to see good now,” said Reid. From all reports, he hasn’t blown his money. He had 19 fights, including four world championship bouts in 56 months minus the 8 months off after the Trinidad fight. Reid gives out few interviews. I want to thank Mitchell and Dennis Hasson, another NMU boxer who talks to Reid frequently. He tells me Reid reads the Bible every morning. This was something Reid was reluctant to talk about so I respected his privacy. The one thing I know the answers to why he received so much in such a short space of time may be between those pages. It tells of a man who was given less than four years to accomplish quite a bit. He too, wore a crown.