“It’s very nice to be remembered from an Era that was very strong in the Middleweight Division.”–Mustafa Hamsho
In the history of boxing, we have had so many diverse personalities come through the sport. Some were hailed as the “Golden Boy’s” while others were labeled as “Black Bart” the guy who wore all black in the movie westerns and was supposed to be the bad guy. Mustafa Hamsho throughout his career was labeled the bad guy, but titles can be quite deceiving. During our interview, Hamsho was honored to be remembered and spoke fondly about his boxing career that saw him rise to the top of the middleweight ranks, twice challenging, Marvelous Marvin Hagler for his Undisputed Middleweight Championship of the World.
There is no doubt in today’s boxing; Hamsho would have been a World Champion and excited fans as he did in his heyday…
BB: First of all for the boxing fans who watched many of your exciting matches in the early to mid 1980’s, what are you doing today?
I am an average guy working hard to get ahead. Currently, I do public relations for a New York restaurant and own a small deli.
BB: You turned pro in 1975 in a middleweight division that was filled with tons of talent. What are your recollections of your first professional fight?
My first opponent was Pat Cuillo and he was a tough kid. He was very popular in his town and the crowd was behind him all the way. In the end, I won the decision and was happy to have my first professional win.
BB: On September 21, 1978, you face tough Philadelphia fighter Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts. In this fight, you knock out Watts in the sixth round. What are your recollections of this fight?
Watts was looking for a tune up fight, but the opponent was not supposed to be a south paw fighter like I was. It was funny he wanted a picture of me before we fought. We sent him a picture with me fighting in the conventional stance. Well, we get in the ring, and I go south paw on him. Watts turned to his manager and said, “I thought this guy wasn’t a southpaw”? His manager turns to him and says, “Too late.”
BB: You go undefeated in a 4 year span in your boxing career, (1977-1981). During those years, you have big wins against top contenders Wilford Scypion, Curtis Parker, and former World Middleweight Champion, Alan Minter. Tell me about your recollections of the Minter fight.
I can remember Minter promising the Queen he would beat me in the ring. Minter couldn’t do anything to me on that night because I was in great shape. At no time did he hurt me in the ring and I felt the referee for that fight was favoring him which had me fighting two people, but only getting paid for one.
BB: After the Minter fight, you face then World Middleweight Champion, Marvelous Marvin Hagler on October 3, 1981. You gave a gutsy performance against Hagler, but were stopped on cuts in the 11th round. What are your recollections of this fight and how would you rate Hagler as a champion?
I cannot take anything away from Marvin Hagler. He truly was one of the greatest fighters to step into the ring. When he retired, they finally gave him the credit he deserved as one of the greatest middleweights of all-time. To have the opportunity to fight him twice, I think was an honor and made me one of the tops guys in the middleweight division.
BB: The main event fight when you faced Hagler, was WBA Heavyweight Champion Mike Weaver vs James “Quick” Tillis. What do you recall about this fight and the atmosphere around it?
After my fight with Hagler, we both had to go straight to the hospital to get sewn up, so I wasn’t able to see the WBA Heavyweight Title fight.
BB: After the Hagler fight, you go right back into tough competition taking on Curtis Parker again winning a decision. You have another knockout win over Gil Rosario and from there, you face, NBC darling the “Matinee Idol” Bobby Czyz who was being groomed as a future champion. You scored a huge upset when you took the decision over the then 20-0 Czyz. What are your recollections of this big win?
I can remember my manager at the time was hearing from the Czyz camp that he really wanted to fight me. We did a mind game on them by saying, “Mustafa is not training, and he is up in Canada drinking along with partying.” Czyz was a very easy fight for me, but once again, I felt the referee was helping him. My late manager, God rest his soul, told me not to do anything wrong in the ring or they would stop the fight, giving it to Czyz.
BB: On June 16, 1983, you have one of your career best wins, when you defeated former Welterweight and Junior Middleweight Champion Wilfred Benitez. With Benitez being the Master of Defense, what was your game plan going into this fight?
I really went into that fight in top shape and the winner was supposed to be made the IBF Middleweight Champion, which was until I beat him. My game plan going in was to take away his body. On our flight home (Benitez was on the same flight as Mustafa), he was urinating blood from the body work I did on him.
BB: The Benitez win puts you back in another title fight with Marvelous Marvin Hagler on October 19, 1984. This time around, you are stopped in the third round of the fight. Which fight do you think Hagler was better in?
Hagler was better the first time around. Even though we only went three rounds, he was missing a lot of punches.
BB: Were there any other fighters in your career that ended in 1987, which you wish you could have faced?
I was supposed to fight Tommy Hearns and really wanted that fight, but he pulled out for some reason.
BB: Do you favor a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers and if so, how would you like to see it accomplished?
I totally agree with you that it needs to be done for all fighters. Last week, I was at a fight that had the NY police versus the police from Ireland. In the crowd with me was a great former champion who many know as “The Blade” Iran Barkley. He is walking around broke with hardly any money to eat. Guys like him and so many others need a pension plan like other sports such as football, baseball and basketball have.
The promoters need to pay in as well because they don’t take any punches. So many boxers are such great people and to see them broke after what they gave in the ring, breaks my heart.
BB: Now that you are retired from boxing for over 21 years, how do you want your fans to remember you?
I know that many people liked me and many didn’t. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I always gave everything I could when I stepped into that ring.
BB: Finally, what is the saying you live your life by?
“Do the best at everything you do no matter what it is in life”.
Mustafa wanted to add the following to our interview:
I really appreciate you remembering me and taking the time to do this interview. My manager once told me, whether they say good or bad things about you is not the problem. The problem comes when they say nothing about you at all.
Professional Record: 42-6-2, 26 KO’s
– 1975 –
– (Aug-23-1975, Binghampton) Pat Cuillo 6
= (Oct-23-1975, Binghampton) Danny Mc Nevin 4
+ (Nov-21-1975, Providence) Joey Houston ko 3
– 1976 –
+ (Apr-14-1976, New York) Richie Villanueva ko 3
+ (Apr-28-1976, New York) Carlos Novotny ko 4
+ (May-8-1976, Utica) Chuck Small 6
– (Jun-26-1976, Providence) Roger Phillips ko 2
= (Aug-16-1976, Newark) Reggie Jones 8
+ (Sep-11-1976, Utica) Cove Green ko 4
+ (Oct-1-1976, Utica) Benji Goldstone 4
+ (Oct-29-1976, New York) Bernard MC CLEAN 6
– 1977 –
+ (Apr-29-1977, Baltimore) Lester Camper 8
+ (May-20-1977, Binghampton) Lorenzo Howard ko 1
+ (Jun-23-1977, Newark) Archie Andrews 6
+ (Sep-27-1977, New York) Gil Rosario 6
+ (Nov-9-1977, Las Vegas) Antonio Adame 10
– 1978 –
+ (Jan-21-1978, Las Vegas) Rocky Mosley 8
+ (Jun-28-1978, Providence) Frank Moore kot 2
+ (Sep-21-1978, Jersey City) Bobby WATTS ko 6
+ (Oct-28-1978, Jersey City) Eddie Parks ko 2
+ (Dec-1-1978, Jersey City) Donald Johnson ko 6
– 1979 –
+ (Jan-27-1979, Jersey City) Pat Murphy ko 3
+ (Mar-15-1979, North Bergen) Winston Noel ko 2
+ (Apr-11-1979, White Plains) Tyrone Freeman injury 1
+ (Apr-26-1979, North Bergen) Domingo Ortiz kot 8
+ (Jun-27-1979, Secaucus) Domingo Ortiz kot 7
+ (Jul-17-1979, Atlantic City) Leo Saenz ko 6
+ (Sep-19-1979, New York) Fermin Guzman ko 7
+ (Oct-4-1979, North Bergen) Barry Hill kot 1
– 1980 –
+ (Mar-29-1980, Atlantic City) Reggie Jones kot 6
+ (Jun-15-1980, Clarkson) Wilford SCYPION disq.10
+ (Sep-24-1980, Elizabeth) Bob Patterson kot 4
+ (Nov-25-1980, New York) Rudy Robles 10
– 1981 –
+ (Feb-15-1981, Atlantic City) Curtis PARKER 10
+ (Jun-6-1981, Las Vegas) Alan MINTER 10
– (Oct-3-1981, Rosemont) Marvin HAGLER kot 11 (World, Middleweight)
– 1982 –
+ (Mar-13-1982, Atlantic City) Curtis PARKER 10
+ (May-22-1982, Atlantic City) Gil Rosario kot 3
+ (Nov-20-1982, Atlantic City) Bobby CZYZ 10
– 1983 –
+ (Jun-4-1983, Fort Lauderdale) Gil Rosario ko 3
+ (Jul-16-1983, Las Vegas) Wilfredo BENITEZ 12
– 1984 –
+ (Mar-30-1984, Las Vegas) Alexis Shakespeare kot 5
– (Oct-19-1984, New York) Marvin HAGLER ko 3 (World, Middleweight)
– 1985 –
+ (Jun-28-1985, Poosic) Miguel Rosa kot 8
– 1986 –
+ (May-20-1986, New York) Ernie White ko 4
+ (Aug-14-1986, New York) Richard Burton kot 7
+ (Nov-13-1986, New York) Jimmy Shavers 10
– 1987 –
– (May-7-1987, New York) Don LALONDE 12
+ (Aug-10-1987, Secaucus) Reggie Barnes kot 3
-(Dec-5-1987, Dusseldorf) Graciano ROCCHIGIANI kot 1