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Eddie Mustafa Muhammad: From World Champion to Trainer of World Champions

Exclusive Interview by Marc Anthony

“Whatever they bring me I take it to another level.” – Eddie Mustafa Muhammad

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad started training at the age of twelve. A 2-Time New York Golden Gloves champ at 147 pounds. In 1971, in one of his New York Golden Gloves championship bouts, he went on to defeat the heavily favored Vito Antuofermo in front of a crowd of twenty thousand people at Madison Square Garden.

Turning pro in 1972, his first title fight was in November 20th, 1977, against Victor Emilio Galindez, and lost by unanimous decision back when fights went fifteen rounds. After that loss, he went on a seven fight win streak.

In March 31st, 1980, Eddie captured the WBA World Light Heavyweight Title by TKO in the 11th against Marvin Johnson and defended the title twice. The first defense was against Jerry Martin on July 20th, 1980, winning by TKO in the tenth round. His second successful defense was against Rudi Koopmans. He ended his boxing career with a stellar 50-8-1, 39 KO’s record.

Because of his successful boxing career and disciplined mindset, Eddie has gone on to become a very successful boxing coach in Las Vegas Nevada’s H.I.T Factory boxing gym as well as appearing in the 1980 movie RAGING BULL (as Billy Fox) and a 1981 version of BODY AND SOUL (as himself).

MA: Where are you currently training fighters?

In Las Vegas, Nevada, with H.I.T Factory…It’s a great gym! It’s on 2206 Paradise Road between Sahara. We get a lot of prospects and world champions. A lot of guys train there. It’s a good facility.

MA: Is it open to the general public as well?


MA: How was the transition from World Champion to Trainer of World champions been like?

It wasn’t a problem. It’s very simple…What you have to do when you are a trainer. You don’t train the athlete the way you used to fight. What I do… whatever they bring me I take it to another level. If you train someone how you used to fight then you will have major problems.

MA: What do you remember about the Marvin Johnson fight?

I remember about the Marvin Johnson fight was that when you fight a guy like Marvin you had to bring your “A” game and your lunch. It’s going be a nice long fight. Marvin is going give you everything he had plus try to reach back for more. So knowing that, I got myself into tip-top condition. I had my fight plan ready and I executed it and I stopped him in the 11th round.

MA: How can anger be used in a fight, if at all?

Anger cannot be used in a fight! If you are angry and if you are in a rough situation when you come back to your corner, who are you going to listen to? You don’t want to listen to me. I want control over everything. You won’t hear what I am saying.

MA: How do you tell a fighter that he is past his prime?

If he can’t make himself do what he wants to do… if his skills are eroded? The fighter is the last one to know. You can be the best trainer in the world but at the end of the day if you try to tell a fighter that he should retire, it’s not going happen because…again…the fighter is the last one to know. All you can do is tell him “you’re missing this” “you’re not doing this” but when we were together earlier you were doing all of that but now you are not doing it at all. You have to let him know.

MA: You were in movies: RAGING BULL (1980), SWEET DREAMS (2006), ON THE ROPES (1999) and BODY AND SOUL (1981). What was that like?

I really had a great time doing all the movies but the one I really enjoyed was RAGING BULL with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Cathy Moriarty. I had a great time doing that! I had to do my part for about six months. To know those people and to see how the same way a fighter, the way we train for fights, they trained to get there parts down immaculate. It was an honor to work with those people. I had a great time with those people. We made great friendships and we won an Oscar! Not too many fighters can say they won an Oscar.

What I most remember about doing the movie? Was when Robert De Niro and I were doing our parts, sometimes I got too close. The punches were just nicking him. He kept saying “Move back… Move back.” I remember it like it was yesterday. They knew my punching power because they came to one of my fights. I knocked out Dave, I knocked him out cold. That’s when they come into my dressing room and introduced themselves.

It was funny though, he kept saying “Move back… Move back.”

MA: In your article, the thing that stuck out the most to me is the saying you wrote: “I am too strong; you are not going to walk over me.” That can be used in everyday life. Is that the mindset you instill in your fighters?

I can try to instill it in my fighters but at the end of the day. “I am who I am”… “I have the utmost confidence in Eddie Mustafa Muhammad”… You know “I have the utmost confidence in everything and anything that I do.” “The only thing that I am afraid of is what I can’t see, what I can see I can deal with it”
MA: You said if you need advice (it isn’t too often in the sport of boxing that you need advice), the first person you call is Bob Arum. He told you the exact things you needed to do step by step. Can you share what he told you?

Well, I have known Bob for a long time. I saw him in Monte Carlo when Mike McCallum was fighting Sumbu Kalambay and I was screaming and hollering at Mike on what to do. Mike did it and he won the fight. Mike and Bob then said I should become a trainer. Bob said you should come to Vegas and train your fighters in my gym at Top Rank and see how it goes from there. I took his advice.

MA: Biggest difference between “old school” trainers and current ones?

There is nothing wrong with mixing old school and new jack together. You basically have to put things into perspective. You had some guys chopping trees but now you have strength and condition guys doing this and doing that.

MA: Can you share some moments you had with Muhammad Ali?

We just cracked a lot of jokes and hung out together. We had a lot of fun together. He taught me a lot about becoming humble. At that time Ali, and probably still is, the most recognizable face on the planet. He showed me how to be humble with that. He would tell me “Listen, if anyone comes to you asking for autographs. You must give them the autograph because those people pay to see you. They don’t have to! But they do, so you owe them something for that” which he is 100 percent right. So every person who asked me for an autograph, I don’t care what I am doing, I will stop and give them that autograph.

MA: Thank you so much.

Thank you very much. Tell  Brad I got his book.

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad
Nickname: “Flame”
Division: Super Light Heavyweight
Professional Record: 50- 8-1, (39 Knockouts)
Sep 15 Dave Wyatt New York W KO 4
Sep 16 Jose Pagon Boston W KO 1
Sep 29 Pete Pagon New York W KO 3

Feb 1 Percy Hayles North Bergen, NJ W KO 1
May 17 Billy Wilson North Bergen, NJ W 6
Jul 9 Jose Anglada New York W 8
Sep 24 Elwood Townsend Philadelphia W KO 1
Dec 3 Radames Cabrera New York L 10

Apr 8 William Classen New York W 8
May 10 Nessim “Max” Cohen Marseille, France D 10
Aug 26 Eugene “Sugar” Hart New York W KO 4
Nov 25 Mario Rosa New York W KO 8

Jan 14 Steve Smith Philadelphia W KO 4
Apr 28 Don Cobbs Philadelphia W KO 2
Jun 16 Len Harden Philadelphia W KO 10
Aug 18 Bennie Briscoe Philadelphia L 10

Mar 8 Hildo Silva New York W KO 7
Apr 29 Dino Walker Kingston, NY W KO 6
Jun 28 Otis Gordon New York W KO 4
Jul 14 Lee Barber Philadelphia W KO 4
Oct 1 Jimmy Owens New York W TKO 10
Oct 29 Frank Davila New York W KO 2

Jan 18 John Wilburn New York W KO 3
Mar 11 Matthew Franklin Philadelphia W 10
Sep 16 Eddie Phillips Wilmington, W DE KO 4
Oct 19 Victor Galindez Turin, Italy L 15
(For WBA Light Heavyweight Title)

Feb 15 Jesse Burnett Las Vegas W TKO 10
Mar 12 Ba Sounkalo Bamako, Mali W 10
Apr 14 Nat Gates Fort Lauderdale, FL W KO 6
Jun 2 Ray Elson Jersey City, NJ W KO 2
Jun 14 Ed Turner White Plains, NY W KO 4
Aug 18 Chuck Warfield Newark, NJ W KO 1
Sep 6 James Dixon White Plains, NY W KO 1
Oct 13 James Scott Rahway, NJ L 12

Jan 26 David Conteh New York W TKO 8
Feb 26 Pat Cuillo New York W 10
Jul 10 Lee Royster Atlantic City W KO 5
Jul 16 Fred Brown New York W TKO 3
Aug 31 Johnny Wilburn Long Island, NY W KO 1
Nov 28 Kid Samson Hauppauge, NJ W TKO 4

Mar 31 Marvin Johnson Knoxville, TN W TKO 11
(Wins WBA Light Heavyweight Title)
Jul 20 Jerry Martin McAfee, NJ W TKO 5
(Retains WBA Light Heavyweight Title)
Nov 8 Rudy Koopmans Los Angeles W TKO 4
(Retains WBA Light Heavyweight Title)

May 17 Renaldo Snipes Atlantic City L 10
Jul 18 Michael Spinks Atlantic City L 15
(Loses WBA Light Heavyweight Title)
Dec 11 Michael Hardin Nassau, Bahamas W TKO 8

Aug 7 Pablo Ramos Philadelphia ` W 10
Oct 2 Lottie Mwale Las Vegas W KO 4

Jan 22 Jerry Celestine Stateline, NV W 10

Jun 29 Andy Russel Cayman Islands W KO 1

Feb 9 Tyrone Booze New York W 10
Mar 21 Oscar Holman Detroit W TKO 7
Apr 3 Ricky Meyers Galveston, TX W TKO 4
Jun 18 Ricky Parkey Atlantic City W 10
Aug 22 Elvis Parks Detroit W KO 1
Dec 21 Slobodan Kacar Pesaro, Italy L 15
(For Vacant IBF Light Heavyweight Title)

Feb 4 “Prince” Ray Davidson Newark, NJ W TKO 7
Mar 24 Marvin Epps Newark, NJ W 10
Oct 21 Arthel Lawhorne Newark, NJ L KO by 3

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