|Keeping Up With... Herol "Bomber" Graham
INTERVIEW by Shawn M. Murphy (Oct 2, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
Recently I spoke with Herol Graham, often called the greatest British fighter to never win a world title. Graham was a defensive wiz and quick as lightning. Graham would fight for world titles three times in his career, losing to Mike McCallum by a close decision, Julian Jackson via a one-punch knockout and to Charles Brewer via TKO in his final fight.
During his career Graham would win the British, Commonwealth, and European light middleweight titles and the
British and European middleweight titles.
Graham retired in 1998 with a final record of 48-6 with 28 knockouts.
SM: Herol how did you get started in boxing?
HG: Well I was actually about eight I think. It was really for self-defense. I was involved in a fight at a young age and I just wanted to defend myself. I had a very good amateur career actually. I won an ABA light middleweight title in seventy-eight.
SM: You were 38-0 going into the Sumbu Kalambay fight. Did you overlook him in anticipation for an Iran Barkley world title fight?
HG: No not really. Kalambay was a good guy, very strong. I knew it would be a good hard fight for me. I wouldn't take anyone for granted. Yes I had a title fight if I would have beat him. I think back now and Kalambay just got the best of me.
SM: Tell me about the close fight with Mike McCallum in 1989?
HG: I really, really do think I won that fight by a point or two. They deducted a point for low blows but I really think I beat him.
SM: And what about the Julian Jackson fight?
HG: Julian Jackson, yes. I didn’t know much about him. It was just that one good punch, you leave yourself open and you get caught. I got caught by that one stupid punch and it was all over.
SM: What happened in the two losses to Kalambay and Grant in 1992?
HG: I had a lot going on at that time in my family. I had to look after my sister after she was attacked. It was a very bad time for my family. I just wasn't my normal self at all.
SM: You would take four years off after the Grant loss, why?
HG: It was about three years I think. I never really had a good rest from the ring. I was always training and in big fights. During that time I was still training because you can't just do nothing at all and expect to ever be competitive again. I passed the test and came back OK.
SM: How tough was the Vinny Paz fight?
HG: It was a good fight, a very good fight actually. Paz really thought he could beat me but I knew there was no way he could. He ended up bleeding a lot I remember. He was a nice guy, tough guy, but a really nice guy.
SM: Was your decision to retire after the Charles Brewer fight a tough one, to go out without winning a world title?
HG: Well I knew I did my best and thought why should I carry on? I knew at that point that I was never going to win a world title so what was the use of getting battered. I just knew to give it up at that point.
SM: Fighters like Hagler, Leonard, Hearns and Duran escaped you during your career, would you have liked to have fought them all?
HG: I had a fight in the works possibly with Hagler but he turned it down. He didn’t want to fight a southpaw. At that time I thought that if I had Hagler I would be flying around the ring and there would be no way he could touch me. As far as Leonard, he was the man, the Sugarman. Hearns was a very dangerous fighter, like a cobra. He was just very quick. That would have been a tough fight for me because he was so tall and had those long arms. Hearns was a great fighter and I really respected him.
SM: Who was some of your toughest opponents?
HG: Kalambay was a real tough guy. I boxed him twice and he was quite slippery. You know all fighters are difficult because you never know what's going to happen. It's so hard to choose one from the other.
SM: Any regrets looking back?
HG: None whatsoever. I probably would do the same things again, I was always in great shape.
SM: So what are you up to these days?
HG: I am a personal trainer, I do quite a bit of that. I work for the Virgin Complex. I'm doing some promotional work right now, leaving as soon as I'm done talking to you. I still keep in great shape myself.
SM: Herol any final words for the fans out there?
HG: What I've done in my life I've done for me, and we all have to prove to ourselves that we can succeed. I always wanted to be a better person. Of course you're always going to come unstuck. But you got to get up, wipe yourself down and go forward if you have the will to do so. It takes a lot of will.
SM: Herol, well said. Thanks for speaking with me.
HG: My pleasure Shawn.
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