Over time I’ve observed that I have a special affinity for artists that hail from my hometown, New York. What attracts me is a certain down-to-earth realism that not only influences choice of subject matter, but also how it is expressed. I believe the operative word here is “soul”. Robbie Dupree is from New York, and indeed possesses soul in great abundance.
You can feel this easy, pragmatic, earthy realism in Robbie’s songs. I always enjoy an artist whose CD you can put on…. and leave on. Robbie is such an artist. Easy to listen to. The songs are melodic, the rhythms engaging and his vocal delivery effortless.
I noticed he released his new CD on Spectra Records; and it so happens that I have recently licensed a CD for release on Spectra as well. I guess this makes us label-mates……. partners in crime, as it were. – Gregory Abbott (Singer & Songwriter)
“In my opinion, Robbie is and will always be one of the best both in the studio and on the stage. He has shown staying power throughout the years and his music is still a bona fide KNOCKOUT!”– Bertie Higgins (Singer & Songwriter)
The phone rings…. An easy voice on the other line says “Hey Brad, how are you?” From that point, the tape rolls. For the next two hours, we spoke of 80’s hit maker Robbie Dupree’s musical career and for the follow up to his stinging jab, a right hand right in the kisser, but in a good way, to the RSR readers where he talks extensively about his love for the sport of Boxing.
The year was 1980, and the airwaves were filled with some great tunes and one of those included Robbie Dupree’s smash hit “Steal Away” on his self-titled debut album from Elektra Records. I can remember being in the 6th grade at the time and living on Miami Beach where you had radio stations like Y100 that played the track over and over again. “Steal Away” hit number # 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July 1980. His follow up track from the album was “Hot Rod Hearts” and that hit number # 15 as well on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1980. Robbie would go on to record many albums over the years staying true to the music he sings and loves. He is very big overseas where many artists from his era of music have found success, and in between those long trips on a plane, he also performs gigs throughout the US.
Ladies and Gentlemen, RSR welcomes Robbie Dupree….
BB: First off, let’s catch the RSR readers on what you are doing today.
Well, I have been doing the same thing steadily since Steal Away came out in 1980 which is touring. We have been doing it particularly in Japan, Scandinavia and Europe along with doing it in the states, but not as much as I have overseas. I still make records and put a new one out on Spectra Records called “Time and Tide,” which I feel is very good. I have tried to maintain the integrity of my career and just don’t make records to just keep doing it, but hope they are still relevant along with me staying true to the music I love.
This past May, I came back from Europe to do The Jimmy Fallon Show which was fantastic and a lot of fun. It was really cool how I got on Jimmy Fallon’s Show. He is a big fan of the 80’s music period like you are. So they put me in Rolling Stone Magazine when they asked him: “Who would you like as your number one guest who you haven’t had on yet?” He said, “Robbie Dupree.” Could I believe that? It was unbelievable and next thing I did was have my management contact his people and they were thrilled to have me come on and play with The Roots. More recent, I have been touring around the country in Missouri, Illinois, Florida and New York to name a just a few.
Steal Away this year actually wound up in two Hollywood Films (MacGruber with Will Forte from SNL and in a Jim Carrey movie that is coming out later this year called “I Love You Phillip Morris”). It’s been a lot of fun to continue to have a career all these years later.
BB: Your biography says you started singing on Brooklyn street corners in the early 1960’s. What was Brooklyn like back then and how did it affect you musically?
I am actually Brooklyn born. Actually, I was a kid and there were older guys who would sing on the street corners and it was my first inspiration to really get outside of the music my parents listened to and that was the Street Corner music that I heard in East Brooklyn New York. It’s a typical story and a cliché anymore.
Growing up in the late 50’s, which was pre-Beatles and electric guitars, which happened later on. So that was my earliest influence not just because it was the music I heard on the street, but also because it was the first time I heard music performed by what I considered regular guys. They weren’t Hollywood Stars and were guys just from the neighborhood that made it seem accessible to me.
BB: In the early 70’s you played with Nile Rodgers in a group called “New World Rising.” Nile would go on to find fame with Chic during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Were you ever approached to join that band?
No, what happened with that scene was that I had a band in Brooklyn and we broke up. The Bass Player and I stayed together for many years. On an audition for some other guy in the Manhattan, we met Nile and his cousin Tom Murray, who wanted to do something. The guy we went to audition for was not what we wanted so we all banded together and started a band. We wound up forming a really good band which was interesting at the time because we had an interracial band which you didn’t really see outside of “Sly and the Family Stone”up until that time. For us, it was hard to do especially at that time in my neighborhood in Brooklyn had a lot of racial tension in those days and it was slow coming. We played together for a period and played a lot in Harlem. At the end of that band, as you have happen in so many young bands, we broke up for some reason or another.
Nile went on to music school in Boston and I never saw him again. Years later, I was looking at People Magazine and I realized he was the guy in the group Chic. I was living in California at the time and of course the music of the late 70’s was Chic, Sister Sledge and others were doing the disco stuff. When I saw his picture, he had gone from a big afro and all the stuff I knew him as like him and his cousin were Black Panthers back in the day.
So to have two guys from Brooklyn and two Black Panthers in a band back in those days was a wild scene. A couple of years later when I had my success, I bumped into Nile again at a couple at benefits and it was nice. Then in 1993, he wound up being a guest on my album “Walking On Water” and he played on the title track which was the first time we played together in more than 20 years. It was really cool and he did a great job. Knowing him today, and from back then, when he was dirt poor coming from the Bronx, shows how far he has come and has done very well.
BB: You moved to LA in the late 70’s and in 1980, you signed a contract with Elektra Records. That same year you had your debut self-titled album yield two top hit singles with Steal Away and Hot Road Hearts. Did you feel it in your bones when you recorded this album, and especially “Steal Away,” that you had something special in the can?
I don’t recall that. When you go back and when you think about these things, I remember being absolutely broke going to California hooking up with my friends that I had met in New York who had moved out there a few years earlier. I was so happy that I got a job from two of my friends who were boxers from New York and owned a restaurant out in Venice, California, when I went there, I needed money, so they gave me a job as a Host which I knew nothing about the restaurant business.
The bar (The Brandywine Cafe on Lincoln Blvd) was a hangout for great boxers in LA and the guys who hung out at Golds Gym like Lou Ferringo, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Frank Zane. Fighters like Carlos Palomino and really cool people. I made some money working there and that was the money I used to pay for my demo. The demo eventually became the record. In a roundabout way to answer your question, is just to say I was so happy to get a record deal that was sort of culmination of my dream which I had worked on for a long time and never expected a hit. The odds on getting a record deal were slim and getting a hit was even slimmer. When it happened, I was completely shocked.
Another chapter on that was when they deal actually happened, I wasn’t even playing music and had recorded the demo of four songs and nothing happened/nobody bought the deal. I was out of favors and out of everything, so I went back to New York where another friend gave me a job loading trucks out in Long Island when I got the record deal. When I came back to California it was such a lark that, I was so happy that I had got a deal and at least temporarily had been saved from this life that I was going back into, so when the hit came, I couldn’t believe it. I had loved what we had recorded and the process, but I didn’t think Steal Away was going to be my ticket.
BB: In 1981, you were nominated for a Grammy along side Christopher Cross, The Pretenders, Irene Cara, and Amy Holland for Best New Artist that would go to Cross. Were you at the Grammys that night and what did it mean to you to have the honor of being nominated?
Again, it was just the culmination of this incredible – rarefied moment of going from nothing to the Grammys at Radio City Music Hall was an unbelievable honor. I never thought about winning and the new artists as most everyone else knew Christopher was going to win everything because he had like five hits that year and it was in the bag, but being there was some validation for me. Remember I started playing music/gigs around 1966 and now it was 1981, so obviously I was no overnight sensation.
I brought my parents to the Grammys because they had endured my kind of life for all those years and they probably were worried on what was going to happen to me because I had being doing it for so long and nothing happened. So this was their night in a way so I brought them from Brooklyn in a limousine which was the first time they ever rode in one and they were in their glory. We went to an after party in New Jersey and they stayed out for the first time until 5:00 AM in the morning.
BB: I can tell you this that when I was in the sixth grade back in 1980 and living on Miami Beach, they played your song Steal Away everyday on the radio and we loved it. All these years later, you still hear it on soft rock and 80’s stations. When you hear it today, is there anything you would have done differently since many times, we tend to be our biggest critics?
No, I don’t. I don’t know how to say this, but the song doesn’t really belong to you as soon as you finish it. People say what were you thinking about when you recorded it? The answer is it’s the thing I held against videos. When you finish a song and put it out, and it becomes a hit, if I was to show you the mail I still get it’s always things like: We just had our 30th anniversary and this was the song that my husband and I played at our wedding. Or this was my son’s favorite song, but he died in 1990. All these emotional stories that I never even conceived of…it was just a song to me, but what I know now is that all of the meaning and all of the memories…love from all songs not just mine, is part of the soundtrack to each person’s life. I let go of if it (Steal Away) and it becomes everyone’s story. When people come up to me I always listen with gratitude and I never get offended or protective because the listeners are the ones who gave its life.
BB: Many artists such as yourself become so known with one song of many they have recorded and with that said, do you ever get tired of singing Steal Away because your fans of course come to hear it?
Of course it’s gets old, but the difference is when you play a song like Steal Away that resonates with the audience as it does, it gives you a different energy when you start playing the song. Would I play it around my house for my own enjoyment? No… What happens is when I go to a show and play it, I know the reaction of the people and how they feel about it, so that keeps it from being too old. I remember a line from a James Taylor song from back in the 80’s that can answer your question much better than I can. It’s a song called “That’s Why I’m Here.” He sings various lines like: James, can I borrow your truck? Sure, that’s why I am here. Then he says, I will sing Fire and Rain again and again because that’s why I am here.
That was his first song that hit. I am sure they asked Humphrey Bogart about Casablanca.
I am sure they ask anyone what they are most known for. I found a philosophical view point about it which is, dance with the one that brought you. I still enjoy it and as long as people dig it and I realize Steal Away is why I am even able to still do this.
BB: In watching the video for it, you didn’t look comfortable shooting it. Would you agree?
Yes, I agree. Remember we made that video before MTV and were part of the first wave of artists who were making videos. Nobody knew how to react to it. For example, you are lip synching which is ridiculous. The label at the time insisted on the ridiculous scripts they had like you are playing a gig there is a girl and the usual stuff. As videos got more efficient in the years to come, where they were doing multi-camera shots and were like mini movies artists got comfortable with the medium. It was uncharted territory for me and I never cared for it much.
BB: Another thing I remember from the 80’s was when an artist had a big hit you appeared on every major TV show that was on during those days. What were some that you appeared on?
I was on Solid Gold, Merv Griffin, Midnight Special, American Bandstand and all the rest of the shows that any artist that had a hit in those days went on.
BB: VH1 voted Steal Away number 64 out of 100 for the biggest one hit wonders of the 80’s. You also had a hit with Hot Rod Hearts which makes you more than a one hit wonder of course. Why do you think many still want to lump you in as a “One Hit Wonder Artist?”
They called me up and asked me would I be interested in doing the special. I said I would be interested in doing it and it would be good for the exposure, but the problem I have is that I did have a second hit. The guy I was talking said back to me, “Can I tell you something? There are no shows for two hit wonders.” If that is the case, I said, “Sign me up!” (We both cracked up on that line!) “
BB: In 1987, you recorded a song called in “Girls in Cars” that both wrestlers Tito Santana and Rick Martel used as their entrance music. Were you a wrestling fan at the time?
I got a call from Rick Derringer who was the Producer of the album. This was around the time when Cyndi Lauper and Dave Wolff were involved with the rock and wrestling stuff. They got this idea to do this first album and were using a lot of the wrestlers singing, but they also had a couple of ringers. They asked me if I wanted to do one of the songs and I was way in between this and that because I had not really restarted my career after leaving Elektra Records. It was a fun thing to and many were getting on the wrestling train so it was like simple for me. I made a video with them and I did the record for an album called “Pile Driver” and I thought it was something I would never hear of again. But in recent years, it’s sort of emerged like a cult thing which is crazy it’s like that. For years and years I heard nothing about it, but then I started getting mail about it. I guess what it has to do with is You Tube. Before that, it disappeared into old wrestling memorabilia.
BB: In 1997, your song Brooklyn Girls appeared in one of my favorite Al Pacino movies “Donnie Brasco.” How were you approached to get your song in the movie?
I actually was not approached at all and will tell you a crazy story about that. When things are out of your hands and they are with Publisher and Managers you are out of the loop with nobody calling me directly. So what happened was I had just been on tour in Japan and my guitarist who was on the tour and is an old friend of mine named Brian Ray who now for the last five or six years has been with Paul McCartney. We came back from Japan and landed in Los Angeles where he lived. I stayed with him for about a week to see old friends. The first night we went to dinner he mentioned that around the corner Donnie Brasco was playing with Al Pacino. Pacino was a favorite of ours and we went to see the movie. We never heard the song or recognized it was in the movie which it was in a scene where they are in a restaurant and it was in the Juke Box. I was so engrossed in the movie, I never noticed it. At the end of the movie, Brian and I are watching the credits role right to the end and Brian and I see my name and the song. I asked him, “Did you hear the song you played on it?” He replied: “No, I didn’t hear it.” So it turned that it was the song and I got the cast album on Hollywood Records and I got a video of it when it came out and this time, I really watched for it. I could hear it slightly in the background. Then several years later, a friend of mine who edits for television and takes out all the bad language and stuff called me from California and he said “guess what I am doing?” I am doing the TV mix for Donnie Brasco and I am making your song louder for TV. I never did see the TV version yet, but I guess if you see it, you will hear Brooklyn Girls louder than you did in the movie.
BB: Obviously the musical landscape has clearly changed over the years and many especially my generation are really paying homage to the 80’s music as the last really great decade of music during our era. What are you thoughts about the music industry about the last 30 years of the direction?
Well, it’s a bittersweet experience. On the good side, a lot of good music has been made and the internet has saved artists from obscurity. If it was not for the internet you would have not found me for the most part or Bertie Higgins who you interviewed as well. There are many artists who are not with a label, so where do you find them, by looking in the phone book?
So before when the artists left the labels, they no longer had a storefront and no ability to be in touch with the people, so they vanished. The internet is probably the single most important tool to create again the autonomy for artists can have their own websites and sell their own products and so on and so forth. Conversely, it’s been a problem because it’s given birth to the concept that music should be free and it’s OK to rip it off. So while it has been good, it has been bad. In terms of the music direction and the content it’s self, I can only say that each generation has its own music. People from the 50’s swear there has never been anything like Acapella. People from the 60’s lament all those great singer/songwriter records. People from the 70’s were Disco were crazy. People from the 80’s were New Age Crazy. In the 90’s was maybe The Dave Matthews Band decade. I think that you have to allow each generation that grows up through High School to College to have their own music. I think some reach back and like music from other times.
I cannot really judge the music today because it doesn’t have anything to do with me or the type of music I create. I have to look at it and say that is the way it is and they like it today.
BB: It seems that as we get older we appreciate what came before us musically, but growing up, we at times, would not give it the time of day. What are your thoughts on this?
It is so true. Very seldom do we say my Dad and I went to a concert together. It isn’t like that for the most part. However, as we get older, we find an appreciation. I grew up in a household that was listening to the old Frank Sinatra from the Capitol Years in the 1950’s and was totally disinterested in him. I thought it was lame and The Rat Pack stuff too. Later, in my life, I found that music again and I learned about his (Sinatra) and the soul music that he sang which the Italian people took as their own. He sang to the city dwellers and it was every man’s song. He was a Man’s Man and guys understood why the ladies liked him and he always sang about the heartbreak of getting your teeth kicked out in songs such as “One For My Baby.” He didn’t try to become a Teen Idol even though that is how he started out and he evolved over the years. He became the guy who walked into the shadows after the girl had left him and kicks something off the curb and then has a drink that every guy can relate to.
As you get older, you get mature and you understand the maturity of music like that. It did my heart good to see Bono of U2 present Frank in March of 1994 with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. It was cool to have someone who was not square to present it to Sinatra. It was an opportunity to be part of the Sinatra Legend and I understand that. I will give you an image about Frank that was really unbelievable. I was on the West Side Highway and it was the end of the week he had died (Died May 14, 1998) so it probably was around May 19th. Whoever it was on the radio says, “We are going to shut down now and there is traffic on the highway, but before we go, let’s say goodbye to the Chairman of the Board together, I will leave with you this, have a great weekend.” All of sudden he puts on New York New York and I am in traffic as I mentioned. All of sudden, I look over and see a cab driver with a Turbine on singing and I look on the other side and there is a guy in a pickup singing as well. I realized it was like a movie. It crossed all barriers and just imaging the camera dollying back and the end coming up in this amazing New York moment that I happened to accidentally catch. That said a lot about Frank Sinatra and his music.
BB: Recently I went to see both Tony Bennett and Donna Summer at a venue here in Virginia called Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. As we both know both their careers and the different eras of course. I was delighted to see how music continues to transcend all racial, economical and language barriers. Over the years, you have as you said, traveled the world. Does it still amaze you to see this as well?
Yes, that’s what happens and does it transcend and I did a radio show back when Steal Away was a huge hit and I am in New York, and all of sudden the publicity guy says, “we actually have gotten a cross over here and you are on the charts for black radio.” So with that information, they set up a couple of things for me to do and one of them is to go see the DJ Frankie Crocker who was at the time the number one Black DJ in New York. I went up to Frankie’s studio and he had on his head phones and said something like, “who is the fellow?” When they told him I was Robbie Dupree he got a big smile on his face and when he went back on the air, he told his listeners we have two big surprises for you today. Of course one of them was that I was white and that was a surprise. In those days, it didn’t matter. Music really was about starting with the Motown days in the 60’s where white kids for the first time got exposed to black music and little white girls had stars in their eyes for Smokey Robinson.
It was a time where music really did end a war and help with racial injustice. Music really meant something and you did not hear stuff like yesterday, Smokey Robinson was shot in a drive by from a member of the O’Jays. It wasn’t like that shit and it carried through from the 60’s – 80’s and the shit went out the window. We went back to this racial divide and all of this crap like gang violence started up again. I was so happy to see the racial crap go during those years, but now it has come back and worse than ever. Music was a healer and to be any kind of part of that meant something. I always say I don’t want to add to the pile of shit out here. If you do something good, you feel like you added to something even if it’s a small part to the music world and I am cool with that.
BB: What CD is in your car right now that you are listening to?
Hits and Misses by Joni Mitchell.
BB: Who is your favorite singer of all-time and why?
Marvin Gaye. His voice and the enduring songs he left behind are still unparallelled by modern artists. His voice is romantic, soulful and most importantly he carried a strong message that changed R & B music forever.
BB: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one CD and movie, what would choose?
For the CD I would pick something that was instrumental because you would never get bored with the message. It would be a Miles Davis CD it would have beautiful playing and great imagery without words. The movie would be Casablanca which I still feel to this day, is the greatest movie ever made. It has held up for me ever since I was a little kid. I own it and watch it at least once a year.
BB: What are your words of wisdom to the young singer or songwriter starting out today?
Be careful what you sign. Music is sort of unchanged thing whether they are hip hop songs or R & B songs or standards. People for the most part sit down and write the same. The problem for people is the things you sign today impact you for the rest of your life. I have such a deal like that, that I live with it forever and pay it like alimony for life because I made the mistake.
BB: How did you first start following the sport of boxing?
My father was a huge boxing fan and my grandfather was a fighter. We grew up in the Black and White TV days watching Gillette Cavalcade Friday Night Fights from MSG. Don Dunphy called them and he was great. It allowed me to see the end of an era of fighters like Jake Lamotta, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carmen Basilio, Gene and Don Fullmer, Emile Griffith and Benny “The Kid” Paret who my dad exposed me to. My dad used to bring me over to the Ridgewood Grove and Saint Nicks Arena. He also took me to the old Madison Square Garden where he took me to see Willie Pastrano face Jose Torres who stopped him for his title.
I got to see a lot of live fights at the top level and also club fights. Then when I was 13 years old, I went to the 75th Precinct and they had a Police Athletic League (PAL). I started to box and my dad and grandfather had shown me a few things as well. I did that on a loose level for a few years and throughout my life, it was the kind of training I did because it was cheap and easy. I always had a jump rope with me and for many years, I always had a setup whether in the band basement or garage where I had a speed bag and heavy bag for conditioning. When I got to California in the late 70’s it was the heartland of Mexican Boxing and I got to meet the owners of the Main Street Gym. In fact, the back photo on my original album was shot in the back locker room of the Main Street Gym where I worked out along with Muhammad Ali’s gym as well. Boxing always reminding me of music discipline where you spend an infinite amount of time practicing on your own for a very short period of time to perform for the people. It was mediation for me and I loved the discipline of working out.
BB: Who are your top three fighters of all-time and why?
Alexis Arguello is my number one. They used to call him “Flaco” meaning “The Thin Man” in Spanish. I picked him because he added a class and elegance to the sport. I had a tremendous amount of love for him as an athlete, boxer and a political guy even though I know they misused him in Nicaragua. I thought during his time he was the pound for pound best guy.
Number two was Roberto Duran for obvious reasons of defiance and street stuff that embodied what boxing was on the brutal side. He didn’t give a Fuck about the media and I remember when he knocked out Ray Lampkin and they said something to him like Ray is laying right behind us on the ropes and he could be hurt. Duran said something like, “next time I will kill him.” My third favorite fighter was Muhammad Ali again for obvious reasons, but I don’t think he was the best fighter of all-time. If you grew up with Ali then you understand the phenomenon he created. My friend Leon Gast who did the great movie “When We Were Kings” (Oscar Winner) and lives close to me in Woodstock. His political stand and his problems along with the bad stuff he did as well that I didn’t forget, but people today tend to.
BB: Who do you follow today in the sport of boxing?
Well, today it’s harder for than it’s every been for me to follow boxing because there is no longer the venue with ABC, NBC, and CBS that showed the great trilogies and fights with say warriors like Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Bazooka Limon, Hilmer Kenty and Sean O’ Grady. There was a time when the top 20 in any weight class in boxing where “the baddest men on the planet.” Today they don’t show it like they do. I follow the Mexican fighters and enjoy Manny Pacquiao.
BB: Since you mentioned Manny Pacquiao. Here is the ten million dollar question: Who wins if Floyd Mayweather, JR. ever faces him in the ring?
It really depends on how long they stall it. I really can’t answer that question, but I think that there is a way Floyd Mayweather, JR. can fight by never fighting and eluding a lot of offense by doing so. It is very possible that Floyd will make the fight boring by running around and not engaging Pacquiao and win a decision. I don’t think he will go toe to toe with Manny. I have lost interest in the fight because Floyd’s attitude and lack of a championship heart he displays. I really think the fight is not going to happen.
BB: What is the greatest fight you have ever seen and why?
Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti I. You had two guys that were at the end of their ropes and would have been a walk out bout on a major championship card, but it turned out to be what boxing is all about. There was no title or major money involved and it was a ten rounder where they fought for it like it was the championship of the fucking planet. Then the remarkable story about their camaraderie outside of the ring and that is what true boxing is all about.
BB: Do you have funny stories about fighters you have known or met?
Well, it’s not really a funny story, but one that happened when I was in Vegas. It was after Montreal when Roberto Duran beat Sugar Ray Leonard. The rumor was Ray had lost his taste for the sport and wanted to quit. What happened was I was in Vegas and the trainer Bennie Georgino who was a big gambler was there and Angelo Dundee was there for some other fight. So what happens is Dundee gets on the elevator and this is told to me by Georgino who gets on with the actress Susan Anton and Sylvester Stallone and Duran. Duran is high as a dog and completely fucked up and he gets off the elevator and goes down to the lobby and calls Leonard to say let’s do the fight right now. That is why you saw the second fight happened so quickly. (It was five months and five days (June 20, 1980 between their first match and second match November 25, 1980.) Duran went back to his party ways and when Ray saw that, he said, “let’s do it.”
BB: If you had to pick one fighter since the day you started following boxing, who do you feel moved the sport ahead the most and why?
It has to be Muhammad Ali. They built PPV around him where people used to go to movie theaters to watch fights. It changed the purse amounts and took it from smoke filled arenas with Damon Runyon characters to like celebrities and movie stars. You had Frank Sinatra working as a Photographer for Life Magazine at the first Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier fight at Madison Square Garden.
RD: Here is a question that you have not asked yet and may not, but the fighter with the most wasted potential?
BB: No, but damn good question and shoot….
Tony Ayala, JR. He was a fucking monster in the ring during his day. Can you imagine the fights that were before him? Fights with Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler and so many others. It was all there and even though he was a piece of shit that did horrible things, but in terms of wasted potential, he was the guy who could have made Roberto Duran look like the good guy.
BB: Who is your favorite Boxing Commentator?
I was actually crazy about former heavyweight contender Jerry Quarry and he really called it like it was. He really knew fights and I thought he could really talk about them even though there were guys with longer careers. I also like Gil Clancy who I met through former champion Billy Costello who is from around here. I got to sing the National Anthem for Billy before his fight. He had a local card here recently that I went to see it. He looked OK, but he has Stage 4 Lung Cancer. They did a benefit for him and they also are trying to put up memorial for him to say thanks for what he did for Kingston. I talked to him a bit and he seemed alright.
BB: What is your favorite boxing movie of all-time and why?
That’s a tough one. I am going to go with Raging Bull. For ultra realism I think that was the movie that represented boxing, that character and the Bronx at that time. I think it was the most articulate of the boxing movies and the least Hollywood.
BB: If you could change one thing in boxing today, what would it be and why?
I would go back to 15 round fights. I think it’s the difference and you can’t get away with fucking around as much when you have to go 15. There men and anybody that puts on gloves and goes in there is a man. There is no such thing as anybody is not a tough guy. When you are a fighter, you are a tough guy period and maybe not as tough as the next guy, but you are serious or you don’t do that kind of thing. 13 – 15 are the true championship rounds.
BB: Do you favor a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers and if so, how would you like to see it accomplished?
Well, of course I favor it and actually favor health and retirement care for everybody with fighters being no exception to that. Fighters dedicate their life to a sport and they often get fucked around. The way they can achieve is not that difficult. I think with the absorbent ticket prices that are charged for major fights, that a percentage of that take should go into a fund. PPV should also put a percentage into the fund as well. I think that ever professional card that is sanctioning by the professional bodies should contribute a small percentage, but a percentage nonetheless of their over all gate at the end of the year. Since it would be a small percentage, it will not hurt the small promotions.
I think at a certain level they should, but say a four round fighter who gets very little of his purse should not have to contribute until he hits a level where he is making some decent money. Finally, I think the promoters of the fights themselves owe a debut to this people because they make the lions share of the money. The King’s and Arum’s and so on and so forth should all give and every governing body at the end of the day, should have some type of insurance plan for the fighters who fight in their governing body in some sort of a way that it get taken care of. There is enough surplus money to do that.
BB: Finally, what is the saying you live your life by?
“Measure twice, cut once.” (It has to do with your work and knowing what you have to do so you don’t have to fuck around.)