Interview: Emile Griffith
Griffith began his professional debut June 2, 1958
as he won a fourth round decision over Joe Parham.
He was first introduced to amateur boxing by his uncle
in St Thomas, West Indies when he was 18 years old.
Six time champion Emile Griffith was inducted into
the International Hall of fame in 1990 and world hall
I'm here with 6 time champ..What
are you doing these days?
I've been busy training fighters and attending special
You're considered as one of the
greatest middleweight of our time. What did
you think of Hopkins-Trinidad fight, if you watch
Yes, I watched the fight. Hopkins did well but I don't
think I saw the same Trinidad I know. I think Trinidad
fought good too but Hopkins was the better man that
night. If they ever fight again I think Trinidad will
get him this time. Maybe Trinidad underestimated Hopkins
or he didn't train hard enough.
Why did you decide to box?
I wanted to play Baseball but I was small to play.
Howard Albert asked if I ever boxed. He took me to
the gym department parks on 28th Street, NY. After
that, I would go over to the gym after work to workout
with the guys and I get beat up but I stayed around
to learn. I won the Golden Gloves in 1956 then turn
pro in 1958.
What do you remember from your
It's been a long time. It was at Old St Nicks in New
York City and I beat the guy by decision.
Your toughtest professional fight?
My toughest fight was with Dick Tiger. Nino was tough
too and Carlos Monzon was too. I was lucky to beat
Tiger. I always say I was lucky to win all my fight
but I trained very hard for all of them. Kids today
don't train as hard as we did those days. They want
it easy but it can't work if you don't prepare very
hard. This is what I teach my fighters.
Where did you use to camp for your
We use to go Upstate New York, called Concord Hotel
in Caskills. We took training very serious, I would
be practizing moves, body punches, right hand and
throwing left hooks. My trainer Gill Chancy was a
good trainer and one of the best in the business.
How would you compare the fight
to your fights with Dick Tiger?
Tiger was my good friend, we use to spar together
at Gleason gym in Bronx, NY then. Few years later
I got a chance to fight him, I guess that help me
to beat him because I knew his style. I learn a lot
from Tiger and learn from me too. When we sparred
together I was like 147 and he was a full middleweight.
We use to go to central park together to do our road
walk too. My two fights with Dick Tiger was a heal
of a fight. I think we had a tougher fight than Hopkins-Trinidad.
Your thoughts on Tyson-Nelsen bout?
Are you making jokes, Ike? Tyson fought a white guy
who was strong but can't fight, Tyson should have
stopped him earilier. He kept holding Tyson but Ref.
Steve Smoger just kept breaking them up. Mike needs
more work before he fights for any title.
What else can you tell me about
your meetings with Dick Tiger?
I was like a boxer, he was a puncher and boy, Dick
Tiger can hit. I was fast and my trainer Gill Chancy
use to tell me not to let my opponent throw shots
first at me, I should be the one throwing first. I
was the better man that night.
fight of your career was your highest payday?
It was my fight with Nino Benvenuti
I made almost quarter of a million.
Can you compare you fights with
We had three good fights. He was tough on all 3 fights,
2 in 1967 & third one in the garden took place
in 1968 but I was a little tougher. I think I won
all our fights but they gave me only the second one.
One of the fight with him I slipped but they called
it a knock down and we protected.
How would you compare the old Madison
Square Garden to the new? The old Garden was good
but now we have something better and larger. Now,
they have various major events there like Music, basketball,
Hockey, Boxing and more.
How did you feel to capture your
first title against Benny Paret on April 1. 1961?
It was a great fight for me and I was a happy man.
I knocked him out in 13th round and I did a back flip
in the ring after I won the title. I felt like I owned
the whole world. It was definitely a great feeling
to win the title. I received a lot of congratulation
from my sparring partnerss, many fans, my baseball
team (The Griffs) family & friends.
Tell us about "The Griffs"
It was a baseball team I formed to teach kids how
to play. I started it after I turned professional
in earily 1960's.
What was it like to be inducted
into International Hall of Fame in 1990?
It was fun. A lot of my friends, New York Comissioners
were ther. It was very exciting moment for me and
Your most memorable moment of your
career would be...?
My third fight with Benny Paret....... Oh my God,
it was a disater I almost lost my career. Benny passed
away, may his soul R.I.P after that fight, I didn't
want to fight any more. My mind can't get me to fight.
I was getting hate mails from Cubans calling me a
murderer but I also got positive mails from fans who
cared about me. The fans wrote to me saying it wasn't
my fault, that was boxing. I even received a mail
from a fan who's a truck driver he told me how a little
boy ran in front of his truck and he couldn't save
the kid's life. He said, that never made him to quit
his job. It was an accident after receiving a lot
of mail as such my trainer encouraged me to get back
in the ring so I tried to go back. The advise and
support from fans made me get back into it. They said,
we love you and want to see you fight again champ.
I didn't know I was much appreciated till then.
Can you please describe your fights
with Carlos Monzon?
He was taller and had a longer reach than so it was
hard to get into him but I do get in, I made him feel
Tell us about your Fight with Hurrcane
They did a movie on him. I lost to him but it's time
for Emile. I trained Wesley Snappes for a movie "Street
of Gold" and I was show a little in that movie
too. Wesley knows his stuff and I think he could play
my role very well.
Your favorite fighters during your
era would be ....?
I like "Sugar" Ray Robinson, I use to do
road walks with him and I sparred with him one at
Gleason Gym in the Bronx. Joe Louis, I met him few
times in Las Vegas and New York. Archie Moore was
a very good man, he showed me a lot in the gym too.
One thing I liked about him was that he never show
What's your impression of Jose
Another friend, he was the captain of the Golden Gloves
and we sparred a lot then. I learn a lot from him
though we always tried to out run each other.
Your advise to those who may be
interested in becoming a boxer?
Firstly, start with running, get in shape but they
should leave me alone if they are not doing well in
school. I was lucky to make it it's not going to be
easy for anyone who decides to box. If they find someone
who cares they must constantly listen to trainer and
do what they ask you to do.
Where are you training fighters?
I've my gym at gleason gym and I go to other gyms