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Biofile James Toney Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Professional boxer from 1988-2017. Won multiple world titles across four weight divisions, middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heayweight. Final record is 77-10-3 with 47 knockouts and 2 no contests.

Ht: 5-10 1/2  Wt: 190

DOB: August 24, 1968  In: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Childhood Heroes: Ray Robinson. Sugar Ray was smooth. Great technician in the ring. Very classy guy. A great person, a great dresser. Tommy Hearns – in the same league as Sugar Ray. Muhammad Ali.

Hobbies/Interests: Bowling. Every Sunday morning I wake up at 7 a.m. and go bowling. Playing with my kids. Playing with my dogs.

Nickname: Lights Out. My friend and co-trainer Greg Owens named me that as an amateur.

Early Boxing Memory: My first day in the gym (age 12), I knocked someone out. He didn’t wake up for a while. I went home and told my mom. I was ready to take on the world then.

First Job: Working at Burger King. I think I was 14. I quit the same night [smiles].

First Car: 1976 gray Ford Granada. My mom gave it to me.

Childhood Dream: To play in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders like Jack Tatum. I used to play defensive back and quarterback. I like sports with a lot of contact. I just wanted to crush people. When I got to high school, it was to be like (Detroit Lions running back) Billy Sims. I used to jump over piles of snow, practicing like Billy Sims.

Favorite Movies: Scarface, New Jack City. I like movies with violence and killers.

Musical Tastes: Rap.

All-Time Favorite TV Show: The A Team.

Favorite Meal: Pizza and Burger King, they’re tied for number one.

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: Cap’n Crunch.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Vanilla.

Pre-Fight Meal: Fish, turkey, baked potato, with water and Gatorade.

Pre-Fight Feeling: I start off in the morning, get up early as hell, 7 a.m. Always do this: Get up, walk around, eat…steak and potatoes, feel ecstatic, can’t wait. In the dressing room, I’m punching the walls, ready to go, ready to kick (butt)! Give a good show. (Once in the ring) always look my opponent in the eye…execution style. Then I know it’s time to go…Knock out or be knocked out. Don’t try to be friendly with me. I never touch gloves. (Toney doesn’t even like to touch gloves when sparring.) That’s not my style.

Greatest Sports Moment: Winning the IBF Middleweight title by knocking out Michael Nunn (1992). Felt great. Something I’d accomplished. Saw everyone else do it – Hearns, Robinson – and I finally done it.

Most Painful Moment: When I lost my IBF Super Middleweight title to Roy Jones. So disappointed. I wasn’t in shape. Should never have lost to that guy.

Favorite Boxers To Watch: Oscar De La Hoya – I like Oscar. Good little fighter, good puncher. Mike Tyson. Barrera. Chris Byrd. I respect Chris Byrd, he’s a warrior. And a technician like myself. Nobody does it like Detroit fighters. I know what he went through to be champion. He has a beautiful family. 

Closest Boxing Friends: Tommy Hearns. George Foreman. George is a really nice guy. I remember when I was on the way up, he’s the only guy who sat down and talked with me. Everyone else was flying around. I like him a lot.

All-Time Favorite Fight: Hagler-Hearns. The war. I dream of being in a fight like that. Hagler did the job, he kept the pressure on Tommy. He got hit a lot, he kept coming on.

Funniest Boxer: “Vampire” Johnson [smiles]. (Wilbert “Vampire” Johnson boxed many times on ESPN in the 1980’s. He was popular and well-known for coming to the ring in a coffin, complete with Dracula cape. He liked to smile – showing that he was missing several teeth like Leon Spinks, hence the nickname “Vampire.”)

People Most Admired: Tommy Hearns. He’s helped me out a lot. He came to a lot of my fights. Gave me advice. He’s down-to-earth. You’d think he’d be stuck up being a champion and all that, but he’s not. When I was 7-0 I visited Tommy at his house. He sat me down and told me I had to work hard to be a champion.

James Toney vs Iran Barkley 1993 highlights of a fistic masterpiece

About Mark Malinowski

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