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
Tony Triem
A 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 the doghouse.

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 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 Greb.

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 the World.

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 respect me.

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'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' disputes.

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:

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