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From the Boxing Ring to Hollywood: Superman Star Jack O’Halloran Speaks to RSR About His Remarkable Life, Part III

Exclusive Interview by Geno McGahee (Reposted for Archive purposes)

“I was in there though when there were some great fighters, and I’m glad about that because I beat some great fighters, and nobody can ever take that away from me.”—Jack O’Halloran

Jack O’Halloran has proven that he is a man of many hats and skills.  From the boxing ring to Hollywood, he has made his mark, and it didn’t stop there.  He would go on to train and manage Frankie Liles, leading him to a world championship before a falling out.  It was another great achievement and O’Halloran presents a true American success story.  He now focuses on two things that are very important to him: his book release of “Dark Legacy,” which is an amazing read, and his independent movie career, all started with a movie called “The List.” 

The plan for O’Halloran, and many independent movie makers, is to take back Hollywood with quality and with a boxing movie on the horizon, there is a lot to look forward to.  Considering the way that Hollywood is going with the consistent remakes, the freshness has to come from the independent world and Jack vows to do his part to make the industry what it should be: Quality work. 

In this third and final part of “From the Boxing Ring to Hollywood: Superman Star Jack O’Halloran Speaks to RSR About His Remarkable Life,” we discuss the current state of the film industry, the corruption in boxing, as well as his experiences working with Chuck Norris in the action film: “The Hero and the Terror.” 

GM:  It seems like they are dumbing down movies for this generation.  You can’t go to a movie and actually watch a good drama without all of the bells and whistles they seem to keep on pumping us full of. 

That is how insulting they are to audiences.  That is why I came back into the business.  There are a lot of independents that have come back to make movies.  A lot of us want to put the creativity back into the industry.  I’m actually making a boxing movie.  I have a great fight script.  We have some neat stuff going on and when you read the book (Dark Legacy), you will realize why that book is going to take me right to the moon, and my whole life is going to change in just a couple of months. 

I kind of kick myself in the ass, but I have a record in boxing.  I have had one fighter…one world champion that I managed and trained.  Frankie Liles, former WBA Super Middleweight Champ in 1994.  That was my fighter.  The Kronk Gym had thrown him out and they sent him to the Goosens, because he had a long, extended amateur career, and he was a southpaw, and they said that he stunk the joint out and they had Tommy Hearns and a lot of people.  So, I was in the gym, and I still go into the gym and train, and I was in Goosen’s Gym and I see this kid, and I watched him for about a week, and I saw something, and I went up and chatted with the kid.  I told him that I would make him a deal.  I said that if you are willing to listen, I will make you a champion in six months.  And he said: “You’re serious.”  I said, dead serious. 

I moved him into my house and brought a nutritionist down, and we changed his diet and brought his body fat weight down to like seven-eight percent.  I put him through an old school training regimen.  I got this kid into a shape that he never dreamed of being in.  Then we went and we won the title from a kid named Steve Little, and then he defended it several times, beating Michael Nunn…he beat a lot of good fighters. 

We were in England, and it was one of the only losses that he had in his career to a kid named Tim Littles.  He was ranked number one, and I was there the night that he had lost to Littles, and it was a fluke.  He had gotten cut very bad in the first round, and his lip was hanging off, and he fought ten rounds, and I give him a lot of credit.  That’s when I really took him under my wing.  I got his mouth stitched up by the best plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, and it never broke open again, and then I really got him into shape.  And then, when we fought Littles again, I told him exactly what to do and I took him to school, and drew it on a piece of paper for him, and he knocked him out in the third round.  It was knockout of the year, and round of the year.  But then he got too big for his britches.  We had a great fight set up with Roy Jones, JR., and he came back and wanted extra money, and I told him, you know what…see you later. 

He fought a couple of times after that, but he could never fight without me.  He fought a couple of times and he lost his title, and I had a deal for him to fight in Germany as a light heavyweight and he would have been champion for ten years over there.  Frankie Liles would have beaten Roy Jones. 

GM: You think so?

I know so.  I know for a fact that he would have knocked Roy Jones out. 

GM: Now, Roy Jones has proven as of late that his chin might be the best.  Do you think that Liles would have taken him out because of that?

I knew about his chin.  When he beat Roy Jones as an amateur and I had him to where he could really punch.  In the first Littles fight, he couldn’t break an egg.  In the rematch, he hit Littles a shot, and had he really stepped into it like I told him to, Littles would have had a hard time ever getting up.  There was a lot of money sitting on the table and had he beaten Jones, that would have written the ticket for the rest of his life.  It would have went down in the history books, but people are foolish. 

I had already achieved what I had set out to do, and made him a world champion.  He defended it against some tough fighters and he won handily, and he never got hurt, and he was a foolish kid. 

GM:  Well, sometimes people get those money signs in their eyes…

Yeah, and they also have those people whispering in their ears.  He was a troubled kid before and I straightened him out.  I was a little bit tougher than he was, and he would listen, but then he got too big for his britches and made me angry and I told him to piss off.  And then, he couldn’t get anyone to manage him because people were scared.  They said: “My God, where’s jack?”  When they found out that he had left on those terms, they said: “When you get it sorted with Jack, come back and see us.” 

You know, it was sad, but I achieved what I wanted to achieve, and the kid had the world by the ass, and he just pissed it away.  It happens all of the time.  I would have probably had a great chance at being the champion of the world if I had gotten the Ali fight.  Ali would have been in a little bit of trouble (laughs).  I called him one day and said: For the first time in my life, I will go to camp, and you better bring a gun in that ring!  It’s going to be a hell of a night!

GM: This is probably a stupid question, but I am going to ask it anyway.  There were some reports that Chuck Norris had taken liberties with his costars in certain fighting scenes.  It was said that he had hit a little bit too hard and nearly made it a real fight.  Did you experience any of that when you faced him in “The Hero and the Terror?” 

No, he wasn’t that stupid.  We had some very good fight scenes.  I like Chuck.  Chuck’s a good guy.  It was probably the best picture that he ever did as an actor, and it was sad because that was his last film with Canon and they ran out of money and couldn’t promote it properly.  It was really sad.  It had a good cast, and the story was good, but they just didn’t have the money to promote it properly. 

GM:  Were you involved in the fight choreography and did you perform your own stunts?

I did all my own stunts.  We both did.  We were up on that rooftop duking it out.  Yeah, we did all of that together. 

GM:  You don’t have any fear of heights?

No…we really had a good time.  Chuck Norris wouldn’t dare get fresh with me. 

GM: We went over this a little bit, but I would like to touch on it a little more. Up to the late 1980s, they were pumping them out like crazy, with the Charles Bronson movies, the Clint Eastwood movies, and the Chuck Norris films, but now, we have been in a dry spell for quite some time.  Why don’t they release any good action films anymore? 

The problem with Hollywood is that bankers took it over, and they got into these movie stars and these casting people and there are some great actors. Michael Caine done a lot of junk because he just took the money and did it.  He is a brilliant actor.  When he did something that he liked, he won an Oscar.  A lot of people like Jack Nicholson that are not put into the right roles, and it is sad because it is deals that are made by ICM and big ad agencies and they put together a cast factor.  Somebody brings a film in, and the bankers get behind it because of the bankable actors, whether they are good for the piece or not.  That is the problem with Hollywood, but that is changing.  There are a lot of creative people like George Clooney that are getting in to doing movies and are there for the audience.  And that’s what we are going to do. 

GM:  I don’t think that there is any more creativity in Hollywood.  You notice that everything is a remake.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Black Christmas remake, the Hitcher remake, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory remake.  They are just sending out watered down versions of the real film from when it was fresh, wouldn’t you agree?

Yes, they are remaking classics that they have no right touching.  They had no right to touch them.  To remake The Producers?  And my partner is Jonathan Sanger…and to remake a Gene Wilder classic?  I mean it’s a good film, but how do you outdo Gene Wilder?  They put in Johnny Depp and because of who he is, the picture made a fortune!  It wasn’t a great movie.  They take liberties like crazy man. 

GM: What do you find to be the most difficult profession: boxing, acting, or producing movies?

I enjoy all of them!  I didn’t find any of them difficult.  I enjoyed boxing, but I’m mad at myself for not doing what I should have done, and taking a liberty with a God given talent that I could have done a lot more with, but you cannot turn the clock back.  That’s life.  I was in there though when there were some great fighters, and I’m glad about that because I beat some great fighters, and nobody can ever take that away from me.

I fought Ron Stander in Omaha and they poured me into the plane for the fight.  I trained one day, went ten rounds and beat the shit out of him, but I didn’t win in Omaha…that’s his hometown.  And I knew Ron well.  He moved to Rhode Island before he fought Joe Frazier and I would box him in the gym and beat the hell out of him every day.  But that’s just the game.  You reap what you sow, and I don’t have anyone to blame but myself.  I don’t blame anyone.  I don’t point any fingers.  I was my own worst enemy. 

GM: Is there any dirtier business than boxing?

It is only dirty if you allow it to be.  The good thing about that is when I had Frankie, and I went to Don King and told him that I wanted a title fight, and he knew who I was, so there was no arguing.  He was the promoter for Frankie, but he didn’t think that he was a great fighter and they thought that they were going to fix the fight on me in Argentina where we fought, but he had one ref and I had three.  They can only hurt you if you cannot fight.  If you have a fighter that can fight and a manager that won’t take any shit, they can’t fix anything on you. 

GM:  Would you still agree though that there is still corruption regardless of any circumstance?

There’s a tremendous amount of corruption, but there’s a tremendous amount in every sport.  Boxing is not the lone ranger.  It just gets picked on more than others.  What bigger scam is there than professional wrestling?  That right there is the biggest scam in the world.  The problem with boxing is that these kids don’t fight enough.  These big paydays have taken the blood and guts out of it.  You have guys that only fight once a year and you can’t learn your trade that way in boxing.  Boxing is a different kind of sport than any other sport.  When they ring that bell, you are on your own man.  There are no time outs or anything like that. 

GM:  Do you see any chance of boxing rebounding?

Once in a while I do, and I keep threatening that I’m going to find a champion and come back into it, but I just got so much on my plate right now.  If I looked around and found a heavyweight, I would give the sport a big shot in the arm, because he would fight every month.  I would have him fighting all the time and the public loves that.  That’s what stirs it up.  I would say, bring on any comer you want.  What are you gonna fix?  Bring them on!  I don’t care who you got…bring them! 

GM:  Outside of the book “Dark Legacy,” you are working on a boxing movie you said, correct?

We actually just produced a picture called “The List” with Wayne Brady and it’s coming out through Warner Brothers.  That’s got a good cast in it…Flex Alexander, and Sydney Poitier’s daughter, and Illeana Douglas.  It’s a nice little film.  It’s a comedy.  That will come out, but they put it on DVD, which sort of perturbed me, but it was a learning lesson. 

GM: Thank you very much for your time and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

You are welcome and I would just like to say that we’ve got the boxing picture, and the book, which will be huge.  It will keep you up all night…it’s a great read. 

Writer’s Final Thoughts

I want to thank Jack O’Halloran for his time and encourage everyone to look for his book “Dark Legacy” this summer.  I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek and it is a compelling and surprising read.

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