"These guys are not even fighters man (laughing). They would have made good sparring partners for me and that's it. The sparring partners that I had would beat the current heavyweight champions. The sparring partners that Muhammad Ali had would beat these guys. Don't you know Jimmy Young was a sparring partner for Joe Frazier. Don't you know Larry Holmes was a sparring partner for Joe Frazier, Earnie Shavers and Muhammad Ali? Those are the names that I can call off the top off my head that would beat the hell out of these guys. Ron Lyle, Gerry Quary, Ken Norton are all guys who come to fight. How are you going to fight these guys who are crazy, tough and don't give a shit? These heavyweights today don't want to fight. All they want to do is look good and collect a paycheck," stated all-time great heavyweight champion Larry Holmes as he shared his thoughts on the current state of the heavyweight division, his own career, and much more. Check it out!
JA: A real pleasure to speak with you Larry. Have you been watching boxing recently and if so, what are your thoughts on the heavyweight division?
LH: I don't watch boxing too much, only when I can. I did watch the Holyfield fight though. I'm interested in him and what Evander's been doing as a fighter and I personally think he is doing the wrong thing. He's trying to be the Holyfield of old and he doesn't understand that when you get old, you have to make adjustments. I don't believe anyone around him is telling him that he needs to make the adjustments.
JA: Do you believe that one of the adjustments is that he needs to retire?
LH: No. He can still fight, but he needs to make the adjustments when he fights. He weighed 214 pounds ten years ago. Why does he have to weigh 225 pounds now? He's trying to do all these exercises, lifting weights, but he doesn't realize that your mind and body changes over time. You can be stronger than you were if you do the right things. If you eat right, sleeps well and enjoy your life, every day you will be stronger.
JA: Is making adjustments one of the things that you learned when you were an older fighter or did people in your camp tell you that?
LH: You have to figure it out for yourself if you listen to your body. The body will tell you don't run these many miles or it will tell you to eat this and don't drink that. That's what I did and it worked for me.
JA: How would you compare the heavyweight division of today compared to when you were fighting in the 80's?
LH: These guys are not even fighters man (laughing). They would have made good sparring partners for me and that's it. The sparring partners that I had would beat the current heavyweight champions. The sparring partners that Muhammad Ali had would beat these guys. Don't you know Jimmy Young was a sparring partner for Joe Frazier. Don't you know Larry Holmes was a sparring partner for Joe Frazier, Earnie Shavers and Muhammad Ali? Those are the names that I can call off the top off my head that would beat the hell out of these guys. Ron Lyle, Gerry Quary, Ken Norton are all guys who come to fight. How are you going to fight these guys who are crazy, tough and don't give a shit? These heavyweights today don't want to fight. All they want to do is look good and collect a paycheck.
JA: Did you watch the ESPN 30/30 series about you and Ali? If so, what is your response to the show?
LH: I watched it and thought it was okay. I thought they didn't show me enough, but that's okay. I've been taking a back seat to everything in boxing.
JA: Going back to that fight with Ali, were you apprehensive of taking the fight with you knowing the condition that Ali was in?
LH: I wasn't apprehensive at all taking the fight. I'm a fighter and I fight for money and if you give me the right money, I will fight anybody. I didn't fight Ali because I liked him or disliked him; I fought Ali because they were giving me 3 million dollars.
JA: You dropped out of school in the seventh grade. Did you ever go back and get your degree?
LH: No, I didn't. I'm still a dummy and I didn't further my education. I can't read and write real well. I can read well enough to know what I want to eat. I can count money to know how much I want to spend (laughing).
JA: Was that a hard choice for you to quit and help your mother?
LH: No, it was an easy choice for me. Either you get kicked out of school or you quit; those were my choices. What a choice, huh? The teacher who gave me that choice is probably dead now.
JA: How did you get involved with boxing then?
LH: I was always athletic. I played football, baseball and wrestled real well. When you quit school, your choices are limited to playing sports. I got tired of working in the steel mills and driving trucks, so I decided to give boxing a try. If I didn't make it in boxing, at least I tried to make it. There's no losing if you don't try.
JA: Do you ever look back and say I'm one of the lucky ones who dropped out of school and made it in boxing and other business adventures?
LH: No, not necessarily looking back on the business adventures, but I'm lucky period. A lot of people who drop out of school don't make it. People go to college all the time and they too don't make it. Some of the people drive trucks for a living. A lot of people make plans, but God is the ultimate one who makes the right plan. Whatever his plans are, that's what happens.
JA: You held the title for seven years. What was the toughest thing you went through during your time as champion?
LH: Dealing with people who didn't believe in me. Dealing with people who wrote shit about me and a lot of the stuff I didn't really care about. People who didn't give me the credit that I deserved as a fighter. I know what I did as a fighter and my record speaks for itself. They wouldn't give me my props or my just due.
JA: Why do you think they didn't give you your just due as heavyweight champion?
LH: Because I'm not as smart as the other guys. I don't know what they did to be smart, but they got people to like them. Me trying to make people like me, the more they hated me. I was in between a rock and hard place. I was focused on doing what I had to do and that was keep winning and moving forward. I was signing autographs, kissing babies, doing whatever the fans asked me to do. I never turned anyone away for an autograph. Maybe if I did turn people away, maybe the fans would have respected me more.
JA: The toughest fight in your career was?
LH: June 9th, 1978, when I stepped in the ring against Kenny Norton for the heavyweight championship of the world.
JA: For a fighter coming up in boxing or mixed martial arts, what advice would you give them?
LH: Walk quietly, but carry a big stick.
JA: Is there anything that you want to say to your fans in closing Larry?
LH: I love all my fans. Even the ones who don't like me, I still love them. For anyone who bought a ticket to see me win or lose, I appreciate it because you're the ones that spent your hard-earned money to make me money. I have no hard feelings about anything that happened to me in boxing. I have my health, and I did have my ups and downs, more downs than ups, but I thank God because he is the one who makes the plan in my life.