Exclusive Interview by “Bad” Brad Berkwitt
“It was a great fight (title fight against Saoul Mamby). I have a lot of respect for him. I have mixed emotions about the fight.”—Maurice “Termite” Watkins
Maurice “Termite” Watkins was one of those fighters who may have not gotten the press he deserved during his boxing career, but he surely has after. During his heyday, he amassed a professional record of sixty one wins, five losses and two draws, with 42 coming by knockout. He beat many of the top contenders in the light welterweight division and on October 2, 1980, he faced than WBC Light Welterweight Champion Saoul Mamby, dropping a unanimous decision. Many felt “Termite” won a fact that he still feels strongly about today.
Life after boxing is when “Termite” became a household name when he went over to Iraq, in 2003, to help exterminate after the war. While there, well, you will have to read further into our interview to find out what happened next…..
BB: First off, let’s catch the readers up on what you are doing since you retired from boxing in 1990.
Since I have retired from boxing I have been doing a lot of different things. Most importantly, I have been grandpa to a heard of grandkids totally 11 so far. Being Pops is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I am really involved in my church Fellowship of the Nations. Currently, I work for a company called Transfield Services America. In 2003, I went to Iraq to support our military. In 2004, I took the country of Iraq to the Olympics.
I started a boxing ministry called Fighter Nation. We sent the first female in American history to the Olympics. More recently, I was contacted about doing a movie on my story of going to Iraq. The movie will be called “They Call Me Termite”. Finally, I worked on a book and released it about my Iraq story called “Termite”.
BB: You turned professional in the 1970’s a golden era for the sport of boxing. What was it like to fight during that time?
Boxing in my era was awesome. In 1974, I made the US team at 16. My team consisted of Sugar Ray Leonard, Howard Davis, JR and many others. We were an awesome team. I turned professional in 1975. It truly was the best era in boxing. You had Roberto Duran, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Tommy Hearns, and Saul Mamby to name just a few. Wow! I was so blessed to be a boxer at that time in history.
BB: With that said, do you think boxing can ever get back to what it once was? If so, what does it need to do?
No boxing will never be that great again. There is too much money and politics in it now. The best people for the positions are not always put in the spots. It is who you know. We fought because we loved the sport and it was an honor to be a boxer. Today, it is all about the money. The amateur program is so political now it is sad. It is almost as bad as the pros. Who you know and that relationship with certain people is really what gets you somewhere. The point system really hurt the sport. It is gone now, but it really did a lot of damage to the sport.
Amateur boxing is political from the judging, to who makes certain teams. The adults who are supposed to be there to protect the boxers have lowered their standards so much. Even the coaches who are being picked for the Olympic teams are not always the best qualified for the position. It is terrible.
BB: You fought a strong list of fighters in the junior welterweight division. Who do you feel was your toughest opponent and why?
Of course Saoul Mamby was tough that is why he was the champ. Rocky Ramon was mean and tough. Alfredo Escalara was dirty and a great fighter. I really cannot say who was the toughest. Howard Davis, JR. was great boxer and a big heart.
BB: On October 2, 1980, you reached the pinnacle of your career when you faced then champion, Saoul Mamby for his WBC Light Welterweight Title. In this fight, you dropped a unanimous decision. What are your recollections of the fight?
It was a great fight. I have a lot of respect for him. I have mixed emotions about the fight. Mike Tyson sent me the film with a letter that said he thought I won the fight. It was for sure very close. I thought I won the first 7 rounds, but lost the 8th for sure. I thought I may have picked up one or two other rounds. I say all this not to take anything away from Saoul. He was great.
Aaron Pryor was great. Alexis Arguello was awesome. Sugar Ray Leonard was a junior welterweight for a while and was great. But I am going to say Alexis Arguello even though Aaron Pryor beat him
BB: What do you think makes boxing better today than during your days in it?
More money in boxing today than when I was in it. That makes it a little better, but overall; I do not think boxing is better. I think its worse. We do not have the same quality of boxers as we had back then. The love of the sport is just not there. We do not have the great trainers as we did back then either.
BB: What do you think makes boxing worse today?
What I think makes it worse is that boxers really do not earn their way to a title fight now. I had 55 bouts before I ever fought for the title and today they fight for titles with 15 fights. The weakness of the coaching hurts boxing today. Coaches that really don’t know what they are doing are in corners and making matches for these kids. Of course, politics hurts boxing.
We coaches that have experience have got to pass what we know down to the new coaches.
BB: Do you favor a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers and if so, how do you think it can finally be accomplished?
I would like to see our boxers have a retirement fund. So many boxers dedicate their whole life to boxing and then when they retire they have nothing. Other sports have a retirement fund, why not boxing? It kills me to see great fighters retire with nothing.
BB: Finally, what is the saying you live your life by?
“I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me.”
“Termite” wanted to add the following to our interview:
I also have a foundation. The Termite Watkins Charitable Foundation. We work with ex-cons, gang members and bullying at schools. This is very special to me. There has been a movie script written. We are trying to close the deal now. The movie will be called, “They Call Me Termite.” It’s about my experience in Iraq and taking them to the 2004 Olympics.
I have been blessed to have been a boxer in the greatest era in boxing. I am so thankful for all the people that made it possible for me to have boxed. My dad, mom, brother, sister. School mates. They all supported me so much. My coaches such as Kenny Weldon, Albert “Potato Pie” Boden, Tony Gardner, and Hank Grooms. My fans, without them there would be no Termite Watkins. My church family. My ex wife Sharla. My kids Jared and Tessa Watkins. The promoters. All the boxers I fought. I thank you all. Without you, my life would not be where it is today. God bless you all.
Finally, I do a lot of public speaking as well. If you are interested in booking me, please reach out to “Bad” Brad and he will forward me your information.
Division: light Welterweight
Professional Record: 61-5-2, 42 KO’s
Date Opponent Location Result
1974-05-21 Cesar Cortez Houston, US W KO 1
1974-06-04 Lupe Cantu Houston, US W KO 3
1974-07-02 Arturo Cirillos Houston, US W TKO 4
1974-07-16 Harvey Wilson Houston, US W KO 6
1974-08-05 Arturo Cirillos Corpus Christi, US W KO 3
1974-08-18 Nick Alfaro Houston, US W PTS 8
1974-08-26 Ricky Ramos Corpus Christi, US W KO 4
1974-10-13 Bobby Rodriguez Corpus Christi, US W KO 1
1974-11-10 Robert Perez Corpus Christi, US W KO 1
1974-12-17 Ray Sears Orlando, US W PTS 6
1975-01-17 Vicente Hernandez San Jose, US W PTS 10
1975-01-29 Dave Kibby Daly City, US W UD 8
1975-02-17 Gilbert Galvan Corpus Christi, US W PTS 10
1975-04-15 Mike Whymms Orlando, US W PTS 8
1975-04-22 Otis Locklear Orlando, US W KO 3
1975-05-06 Rudy Gonzalez San Jose, US W PTS 10
1975-05-21 Leroy Walker San Carlos, US W TKO 8
1975-06-17 Victor de la Cruz San Jose, US W UD 10
1975-07-16 Marion Thomas Houston, US W KO 7
1975-07-29 Gene Prado San Carlos, US W UD 10
1975-08-19 Larry Peterson Orlando, US W KO 5
1975-11-18 Bobby Flores Houston, US W TKO 6
1976-01-20 Juan Hidalgo Miami Beach, US W UD 10
1976-02-10 Chamaco Cuenca Miami Beach, US W KO 5
1976-02-24 Lamar Baskin Albuquerque, US W KO 2
1976-03-09 Valente Ramos Orlando, US W KO 3
1976-03-16 Adriano Marrero Miami Beach, US L SD 10
1976-07-24 Richie Puentes Biloxi, US W KO 6
1976-08-09 Augustin Estrada New Orleans, US W TKO 7
1976-08-31 Rocky Ramon Corpus Christi, US W PTS 12
1976-09-21 Arturo Leon Corpus Christi, US W UD 10
1976-10-26 Otto Breeding Orlando, US W KO 3
1976-11-17 Augustin Estrada San Antonio, US L UD 10
1977-02-16 Jose Gonzalez Orlando, US W PTS 10
1977-03-22 Norman Goins Corpus Christi, US NC ND 10
1977-07-26 Ernesto Ortega Orlando, US W KO 7
1977-09-22 Paulino Garcia Tampa, US W TKO 5
1977-09-27 Cuyo Mendoza Orlando, US W TKO 3
1977-10-25 Freddie Harris Orlando, US W PTS 10
1977-12-01 Steve Homan Houston, US W PTS 10
1978-01-19 Benny Marquez Houston, US W PTS 10
1978-04-11 Hilbert Stevenson Orlando, US W PTS 10
1978-04-20 John Morgan Houston, US W KO 4
1978-05-16 Joe Medrano Houston, US W KO 7
1978-08-15 Rick Craney Houston, US W KO 1
1978-11-02 Gary Smith Orlando, US W KO 5
1978-12-09 Arthur Clarke Houston, US W KO 7
1979-01-16 Richie Lee Roberts Houston, US W KO 3
1979-03-09 Teodoro Osuna New York, US D PTS 10
1979-08-15 Roberto Perez Beaumont, US W KO 7
1979-09-14 Howard Davis Jr Houston, US L UD 10
1980-01-09 Jimmy Martinez Holland, US W KO 1
1980-03-22 Nathan Davis Grand Rapids, US W KO 3
1980-04-06 Sammy Rookard Houston, US W KO 4
1980-05-22 Larry Moore Holland, US W KO 3
1980-10-02 Saoul Mamby Las Vegas, US L UD 15
WBC World Light Welterweight Title
1982-07-21 Billy Smith Shreveport, US W KO 3
1982-08-17 Bruce Strauss Lafayette, US W KO 3
1982-08-27 Jose Rodriguez Houston, US W KO 10
1982-09-22 Paul Gentry Houston, US W KO 4
1982-11-12 Alfredo Escalera Miami, US L UD 10
1989-04-30 Anthony Williams Galveston, US D PTS 6
1989-06-01 Carlos Gonzalez Phoenix, US W KO 1
1989-07-20 Raymundo Lopez Tucson, US W KO 2
1989-08-10 Virgil Green Billings, US W KO 3
1989-10-05 Moses Robinson Houston, US W KO 2
1989-12-11 Joe Garcia Pasadena, US W PTS 10
1990-02-17 Robert Dixon Conroe, US W TKO 2
1990-03-16 Yaqui Hernandez Phoenix, US W PTS 6