Tony Triem Interview on Boxing History, Top 10 Bests, Pacquiao, Mayweather, Legends and so much more! By David Tyler, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 15, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
former Light Heavyweight golden gloves champion. Owner of the largest
collection of boxing photographs in the United States...over 30,000. The
Director of the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the son of a boxing
historian. Mentored in the sport by all eight original boxing
historians. Please join me in welcoming boxing historian Tony Triem into
David Tyler - Tony, how would you define a boxing historian?
Tony Triem- I
probably would answer that question different than other boxing
historians. I believe that a true historian preserves and keeps the
memory of boxing's great pugilists alive by keeping them in the eyes of
the public so they are not forgotten. Boxing is a sport that dictates
the history of our country....the first true sports hero in our country
was a prize fighter by the name of John L. Sullivan.
DT - Your father was also a boxing historian? TT - Yes... and I would also like to
mention that all of today's boxing historians are honored to have that
title attached to our names. Sure there are a lot of historians that
know a great deal of boxing from the 1970's forward but I hesitate to
label them historians...I would be very cautious about calling anyone
today a boxing historian...myself included. Back in 1950 there were
eight men who were called the premier boxing historians of all time and I
don't believe anyone today could match their knowledge of this sport.
DT - I wasn't aware of that fact....who are these men? TT - Hank Kaplan, Al Nelson, Floyd Taylor,
Guy Turpin, Billy Mahoney, Harry Pegg, Bill Frietas, and my father,
Harold Triem. I had the pleasure of knowing each of these fine men.
These eight me started the first and original World Boxing Historian
Association. These men knew boxing from the first existence of the sport
and could talk to you about any prizefighter at any weight from 1719 up
until the time they passed away. No boxing historian alive today can
match their knowledge of the sport. The greatest of them all was Hank
Kaplan and I had the pleasure of knowing this great man for 45 years.
DT - Tony, thank you for the information about boxing historians. How far back do you go in boxing history? TT - I am familiar with the first champion - James J. Figg - 1719 to present time.
DT - Who was James J. Figg? TT - He is from England and recognized as
the first Heavyweight Champion. I believe his record was 269 wins with
one defeat which he avenged twice. He opened a boxing theater in
England...he was the first to claim the championship and held the title
for 17 years.
DT - In earlier talks, you mentioned that you have a
top ten list for each of the eight original weight divisions and you
would share this information with our readers. Can we start with your
top ten Heavyweights? TT - James J. Jeffries, Jack Johnson, Jack
Dempsey, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Gene Tunney, Jim Corbett, Sonny
Liston, Rocky Marciano, and Larry Holmes.
DT - Tony, how did you decide on who would make the list? TT - By looking at the fighter at the top
of their careers and the quality of their opponents....where the
opponent was rated at the time of the fight.
DT - Your list for the top Light Heavyweights? TT - Gene Tunney, Bob Fitzsimmons, Ezzard
Charles, Sam Langford, Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Harry Greb, Kid McCoy,
Michael Spinks, Archie Moore, and Bob Foster.
DT - How about the best Middleweights? TT - Bob Fitzsimmons, Stanley Ketchel,
Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Harry Greb, Sugar Ray Robinson, Nonpareil
Jack Dempsey, Kid McCoy, Tommy Ryan, Roy Jones Jr., and Mickey Walker.
DT - No Jake LaMotta? TT - Jake LaMotta was a fine fighter. No
one can dispute that fact. Just watch his fight with Sugar Ray Robinson,
February 14, 1951, LaMotta was tough. But you asked for my top ten...no
disrespect to LaMotta, just my personal choices.
DT - Fair enough. Next up, the Welterweights. TT - Sugar Ray Robinson, Nonpariel Jack
Dempsey, Kid McCoy, Tommy Ryan, Joe Walcott, Henry Armstrong, Sugar Ray
Leonard, Mickey Walker, Tommy Hearns, and Mike Gibbons.
DT - I will have to do some homework on Nonpareil Jack Dempsey. TT - He was quite a fighter...when you do your homework, check out his fight with Bob Fitzsimmons.
DT - Will do. Next, the Lightweights. TT - Benny Leonard, Joe Gans, Roberto
Duran, Henry Armstrong, Aaron Pryor, Jack McAuliffe, Packey Mcfarland,
Barney Ross, Tony Canzoneri. I have a tie for 10th place...George " Kid " Lavigne and Pernell Whitaker.
DT - Now the Bantamweights. TT - Terry McGovern, Eder Jofre, Jimmy
Barry, George Dixon, Pete Herman, Carlos Zarate, Ruben Olivares, Panama
Al Brown, Kid Williams, and Johnny Coulon.
DT - I am familiar with about six of those
fighters....Wikipedia and I will be best friends tonight as I research
your top ten bantamweights. Now for the Flyweights. TT - Jimmy Barry, Jimmy Wilde, Pascual
Perez, Pancho Villa, Fidel LaBarba, Frankie Genaro, Benny Lynch, Ricardo
Lopez, Ad Wolgast, and Peter Kane.....are you interested in my top ten,
all time, pound for pound list?
DT - Yes! TT - Bob Fitzsimmons, Sugar Ray Robinson,
Nonpareil Jack Dempsey, Sam Langford, Charley Mitchell, Henry Armstrong,
Stanley Ketchel, Jack Dempsey, Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, and Harry
DT- Why do you rate Bob Fitzsimmons over Sugar Ray Robinson? TT - Bob Fitzsimmons was a Middleweight at
most...he weighed about 168 lbs, never more than 173 lbs. his entire
career. He was the first three time world champion...Middleweight, Light
Heavyweight, and Heavyweight champion of the world. He was at a weight
disadvantage of 30lbs. to 54lbs. to every opponent he fought. No other
fighter of any era can make those claims.
DT - I have seen photos of Mr. Fitzsimmons and he
looks like a pretty tough customer! Tony, any favorite fighters who did
not make the list? TT - One of my favorites is a Heavyweight
fighter named Young Stribling. He fought back in the 30's and
40's...from Macon, Georgia...his mom and dad were circus people. His
parents managed and trained him and his younger brother Dave Stribling.
Tragically he died in a motorcycle accident at the tender age of 28 on
the way to the hospital to see his new born son. He had fought 286
prizefights in his brief career. No less than Jim Corbett called him the
best "pound for pound" heavyweight ever. Stribling and Arichie Moore
hold the top two spots for knockouts in their boxing career.
DT - Any others? TT - I love watching Jack Dempsey fights.
He was one tough fighter. He would get into a crouch and come right at
you. Jack has quite a story...from a hobo to the Heavyweight Champion of
DT - Let's look at current fighters...can you give us a top ten ranking of today's boxers? TT - It's the historian's job to rate these
fighters after the book is closed...their careers are over. I can tell
you as a fight fan that I like to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny
Pacquiao, Tim Bradley, Saul Alvarez, Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez, Nonito
Donaire...those are just a few. I would also add that I have a great
deal of respect for all fighters who are willing to step into that
square circle and literally put their lives on the line.
DT - Your thoughts about Floyd Mayweather Jr.? TT - Whether you like him or hate him
doesn't matter to me. He is not a pound for pound great fighter. He has
carefully picked his opponents so that he has a 42-0 record. He is an
excellent prize fighter with superb boxing skills. You can't take that
away from him. Even though I am not a Mayweather fan, you have to give
credit where credit is due. I f you are going to call yourself a boxing
expert then ask the question 'what did the fighter really do during his
career?' Look at the fighters Mayweather and Pacquiao have been
fighting. How good are these opponents and what point in their careers
did they fight Mayweather and Pacquiao?
DT - Fair enough. Your thoughts about Manny Pacquiao? TT - I feel that Pacquiao is a little
overrated....since he got with Freddie Roach he has improved with power
in both hands...he is a fast, hard hitting fighter. He does take too
many punches to land a punch and many of his punches are wide. For those
reasons, Mayweather would have the advantage if they ever fought.
Pacquiao is the type fighter that would take ten punches to land
two....but he is a tough little guy and that would keep him in a fight
with Mayweather. If they fought...I would take Mayweather by decision. I
will say that I love Pacquiao as a fighter and have no respect for
Mayweather as a fighter. But then again, Mayweather may not like or
DT - Do you think they will ever see a Mayweather Jr./ Pacquiao fight? TT - No. I believe that if one of them
wanted to prove that he was the toughest fighter out there then the
fight would have already happened.
DT - In your opinion will either Mayweather Jr. or Pacquiao be considered as an all time great? TT - Not in my opinion. They will be
considered two of the best of this era if they continue winning fights.
It would be very hard to consider a fighter 'an all time great ' that
only steps into the ring twice a year at most. I know that both of these
prize fighters have plenty of admirers out there who would argue that
point with me and I accept that fact. I only ask that if someone is
going to call them all time greats...then tell me about Henry Armstrong,
Sugar Ray Robinson, Kid McCoy, and how Mayweather or Pacquiao would
match up with them.
DT - How do you deal with the current boxing fans who only know the Pacquiaos and Mayweathers of the boxing world? TT - I respect their opinions as boxing
fans....it's not worth an argument or getting angry over someone who
disagrees with my views. I consider it a lot of fun talking boxing and
the discussions will invariably end up with the 'who can beat who'
DT - What's your opinion of boxing today and the future of boxing? TT - Boxing is in a very bad place today,
maybe the worse ever. However, the sport that we love and cherish, ebbs
and flows like a river...there has always been low and high points in
boxing. I just hope I am around to enjoy the next big wave of fighters
that will carry the torch for prize fighting.
DT - What can be done to bring boxing back into the mainstream? TT - The MMA or UFC do a good job of
promoting their sport....boxing should take at look at how prize
fighting is being promoted and do a better job of selling the sport to
the public....the downtrend in popularity of the sport has been well
documented. The many sanctioning bodies are continuing to cut deeply
into the heart of boxing. For many, many, years there were only eight
champions in boxing. Competing for those eight belts were thousands and
thousands of prize fighters. New York and California had over 10,000
licensed boxers in each state. It boggles the mind to think how tough a
fighter had to be....both mentally and physically....just to make the
top ten in his weight division. What a sense of pride the champions must
have obtained from winning the world championship. Today we have 85
champions with a few hundred boxers competing for those belts. It would
appear that you would have to try very hard not to be a champion in
boxing today! Even with all that being said... I believe that boxing
will come back and last until the end of the world. That's because I
love the sport, it my passion.
DT - Tony, thank you for sharing your wealth of boxing knowledge with our readers...let's stay in touch and do this again. TT - It's been my honor to discuss these
great champions of the past and help preserve their memories. David,
Keep punching, your chin down & your ass off the canvas.
Readers - Thank you for visiting doghouse boxing and reading this
interview. Take a few minutes out of your day and Wikipedia just a few
of the legendary boxers that Tony mentions in the interview. All have a
fascinating and colorful history.
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:firstname.lastname@example.org