Lamont Peterson: "Even if I knock Ramos out or go the whole ten, it's gonna be a good show"
INTERVIEW By Coyote Duran (April 28, 2006)
Whenever my children complain that life isn't fair, my response is always "Life isn't fair from the gate. It's your job to make it fair."
Photo © Tom Casino/SHOWTIME
See, as you all know, life is a real bitch. At birth, we don't get the choice of who to be, where to be born or what social environment to emerge from. Sometimes, fairness and fortune are in the eye of he or she who perceives them. Being born in America means the world to many. Living poor and scared in America is a whole different world altogether.
For much of his young life, Lamont Peterson knew the latter world all to well. Peterson, 16-0 (7), and his brother, undefeated welterweight prospect Anthony Peterson lived a dreadful life of uncertainty after being turned out into the world when their father succumbed to drug addiction, losing everything they held dear. Sleeping in abandoned buildings and cars became the norm and meagerly sustaining themselves in the rare occasions that food was present couldn’t quell the hunger that grew so much every day.
Enter Barry Hunter. A man who saw a spark in young Lamont took both boys under his wing and showed them that in order to fight your way out of poverty and every negative demon that grips at your soul, sometimes fighting is the only way to do it.
By 2003, the Peterson brothers were established amateurs and Anthony secured the National Golden Gloves at 132. In 2004, both men competed in the Olympic trials only to leave disappointed, coming out on the short end. But merely getting to the dance is a long far journey from a dark childhood.
Now, the Petersons are making a splash in the professional ranks and are making their premium cable network debut on the Showtime network’s “ShoBox: the New Generation” tonight, live from 4 Bear’s Casino in New Town, North Dakota (broadcast at 11 PM ET/10 PM Central). Anthony, 16-0 (12), will square off against fellow undefeated junior welterweight Jermaine “Too Sweet” White, 13-0 (6), and in the main event, Lamont defends his brand new WBC United States Super Lightweight title against Mario Jose Ramos, 16-2-1 (3), a tough cat who’s challenged the likes of Cosme Rivera (UD 10) and Demetrius Hopkins (UD 12). Sharing such an important card is par for the course with these two, because they’ve shared the main stage in the biggest fights of their lives: growing up. But now the stage is getting bigger, the lights are getting brighter and the show is getting better.
Unfortunately, I had missed the opportunity to chat with Anthony before he departed to North Dakota but got to rap with Lamont for a bit. What I got in return was a conversation with a polite, intelligent, engaging young man who, like anyone normal, is probably still haunted by the ghosts of the past, but doesn’t let it eat away at him. Instead, he relishes his good fortune and, side by side with his brother, looks forward to a great future. Lamont briefly filled me in on how he felt about the Ramos challenge, how he met trainer Barry Hunter and how living in a hometown today seemingly wrought with catatonia differs so much from the city who happily took in both brothers.
Fairness vs. the unfairness of life. The ultimate two-sided coin, which is the metaphor for so many things, absorbs these two factions, without prejudice. The good and the bad. It seems without one or the other, life…and boxing…would cease to be. Read on, Howlers.
Coyote Duran: How has your training been for Mario Ramos, Lamont?
Lamont Peterson: Training went well! We just got out the gym not too long ago. You know, working real light but we're just focusing in on what we really wanna do in the fight. My weight's good and I'm just ready to go!
CD: just sharpening up the ends a bit, huh?
LP: Yeah, that's it!
CD: What did you and your coach Barry Hunter focus on necessarily for this fight since it's your big ShoBox debut?
LP: Well, Mario, he's a southpaw so of course, we're tried to adjust to that with throwing a lot of right hands and certain little combinations that we think will work against him. And that's all we've really worked with late.
CD: What does starring on this main stage mean to you, showing the world your skills, especially alongside your brother, Anthony, on one of the biggest premium cable networks in the world?
LP: Oh, it feels great! It's like a dream come true. This is what we worked hard for. The whole time we've been in the gym, ever since we were little, we've always wanted to fight on Showtime and this is our chance! So, of course, we're gonna give it our all.
CD: Lamont, we've heard of yours and Anthony's stories about your struggles and how life was for you at a very young age. Now that you're fighting on a huge network and, at the same time, sporting the WBC United States Super Lightweight title, in respect to how things were, is everything you're doing and achieved now so much more surreal to you? Do you ever find yourself in disbelief that life has turned out so much for the better?
LP: Yeah. A lot of times, like especially after a fight, I always have to sit back and tell myself that this is real because a lot of times, you'll just be going through the motions and you really don't realize what you're doing and what's coming up…Like the fact that we're fighting on Showtime, you know, things like that. A lot of times, it'll catch you off guard.
CD: How did you and Anthony first meet Barry Hunter? What drew him to you guys as children? It seems like a meeting that was absolutely supposed to happen.
LP: My brother-in-law, Patrick Harris, he always used to see me fight on the street and stuff like that and he just asked me if I wanted to fight, to box. I was like, "Yeah." And he took me up to a gym. I met Barry there and I liked him and he liked me. He always said there was something about me and he always picked me up but one day, I was telling Ant about Barry right before Barry picked me up. Ant ran downstairs and told him he could fight too! He (Barry) was like "Yeah? Throw some punches." Ant started throwing little punches and did the "Ali Shuffle." Barry said to Ant, "You can go!" and Ant came ever since then.
CD: Lamont, were you familiar with the sport as a young kid and who did you look to as your influences and who's your all-time favorite fighter?
LP: Oh, yeah, I always wanted to box. That's why when Barry asked me, I said, "Yeah!" real fast! It was something I always wanted to do. Back then, who always fought on TV, was Pernell Whitaker, (Felix) Trinidad and (Evander) Holyfield. My favorite all-time fighter is Ray Robinson.
CD: And being that you and Anthony are still very young men, that wasn't that long ago!
CD: How does it feel to be guided, management-wise, by Shelly Finkel, a guy who has moved the careers of the likes of Mike Tyson and Fernando Vargas?
LP: Oh, it's a privilege. You know, he had fighters like Pernell Whitaker, Holyfield. You know, he had all those fighters. Mark Breland, he had a whole bunch of 'em! There's a long list of 'em! It's a privilege knowing that you've got somebody like this in the game who knows the game and he can get you in the positions that you want.
CD: Memphis, Tennessee is kind of an adopted hometown for you and Anthony, Lamont. Tell me about the Memphis experience and do you stay there often?
LP: No, I live in (Washington) D.C. currently but Memphis is like home because of all our fights there. They show a lot of support, a lot of love when we're down there. The people are just great down there! We stay down there a whole bunch, training and things like that. You know, it's great down there.
CD: This fight coming up against Ramos is your seventeenth fight. Where do you see yourself going in the welterweight division within the next year?
LP: Well, through this whole year, we just wanna finish out with strong solid fights, keep stepping our competition up. I'd say about four or five fights for the rest of this year and next year, hopefully, we'll crack the top ten and start calling the big names out.
CD: And you were spotlighted in The Ring Magazine as a "New Face" in the October 2005 issue.
LP: Yeah, it was great, man! I didn't even know I was gonna be in there. My coach called me when the book was about to be done and the guy (Mike Greenhill) wanted to do the interview. He did and when I saw it in there, man, I felt good, man, knowing that…Ring Magazine's been out a long time. A lot of great fighters have been in there and just to have my name in there…I felt good!
CD: Have you and Anthony had much contact with your other siblings and family members and if so, how do they feel about your successes?
LP: Well, uh…we keep in touch here and there. You know, we talk to them a lot…But we never really see each other…Don't spend too much time together. We never really got a chance to be close, you know, through everything.
CD: I understand.
LP: Everything's cool. I guess they're happy for us. At least they seem like that.
CD: Washington D.C.'s always been a socially dodgy area, High crime and such. Seeing how you and your brother represent D.C., has the community embraced you and do they see you fellas as a positive influence, being that you both have done so many fantastic things with your lives?
LP: It really don't make a difference to me. It's hard to explain. It's like nothing. You know, that's like in Memphis. That's why we love it so much down there. It means something to them, you know? If somebody's doing something positive, they're (Memphis) happy for them. Around here, man, it's not the same…I don't know how they see us, man.
CD: That's a terrible bummer. I'm surprised and sorry to hear that.
LP: Yeah, but that's the way it is. I mean, but of course, you've got some who've been with us for a long time who've been happy for us but I can't say the same for the rest.
CD: Damn, that's really mind-blowing. I can't wrap my head around the fact that the nation's capital has two, young stand-up cats who've gone to the Olympic trials and the Golden Gloves representing it and have gotten past so many obstacles to get where they are now and…man, that bugs the hell outta me.
LP: Yeah, it's crazy out here, man.
CD: Talk to me about your experience in the Olympic trials, Lamont.
LP: Well, my dream was to go all the way to the Olympics and win the gold medal, but I fell short of that. Now that I'm looking back on it, I'm proud of myself for making it that far but it was a big letdown for me because I really wanted to win and I really trained hard. I don't like to say this but….it is what it is. I didn't get a fair shake in the tournament (against Rock Allen) and I felt letdown. I let myself down. I really didn't feel good at the time, but now, it's alright now that I'm in the pros and, you know, I'm winning. I'd kind of like to put it behind me.
CD: Any prediction on how the Mario Ramos fight'll end?
LP: Uh, I don't like to make predictions but, I'll tell you, it's gonna be a good show even if I knock him out or go the whole ten. It's gonna be a good show.
CD: Thank you, man. It's been an absolute pleasure to talk to you, Lamont, and best of luck on the 28th on your very first ShoBox. Here's to good things up ahead for you and Anthony.
LP: Alright! No problem!
Thanks so much to Lamont Peterson for taking the time to rap with Doghouse Boxing.com so close to the fight and a side order of thanks to Barry Hunter for helping arrange a great talk. Please make sure to tune in to Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" tonight, April 28, at 11 PM ET/10 PM Central to see a great doubleheader featuring Lamont and Anthony Peterson.
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2006