Exclusive Interview with Hall of Fame Trainer Jesse Reid
Exclusive Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (August 16, 2005)
World class, highly regarded, legendary, Hall of Fame, these are titles linked with this name, with thirty plus years of experience in the ‘sweet science’, twenty world champions and thirty-six world rated fighters at one time or another under his tutelage and countless prospects, this guy is still going strong. Just call him old school, or better yet Jesse Reid, the highly regarded world class legendary Hall of Fame trainer who just prefers to be called, Jesse.
Jessie Reid with Heavyweigh Champ Lamon Brewster
This veteran has been around the block a time or two and has the ingredients to build a successful fighter, just ask his former students Roger Mayweather, Johnny Tapia, Gaby and Orlando Canizales, Reggie Johnson and Bruce Curry, all guided by Reid’s wisdom and all world champions. From watching boxing with his father as a child, to becoming a well rounded athlete and fighting as an amateur boxer winning several titles in the Navy all the way to his legendary status Reid has developed great wisdom and earned countless accolades and gained the respect of many throughout his walk in the pugilistic lifestyle.
Reid recently took on the reigns of the WBO champion Lamon Brewster and in their debut together back in May Brewster along with Reid and the gang marched into Chicago and blasted the hometown banger Andrew Golota in fifty-three seconds, a situation Reid has been in more times than one. And once again the two will find themselves on their opponents turf when they travel to Germany in September and face the WBO number one mandatory Luan Krasniqi when Brewster makes his third title defense. With Brewster providing the skill, will and power and Reid offering up a fight plan and bringing his years of expertise there certainly can be another upset for the hometown crowd in the making.
In this exclusive interview the Doghouse conducted with Reid, Jesse talks about his inspirations for the sport, the fighters he has helped along the way, Lamon’s beat down over Golota, his next title defense as well as Reid’s other fighters and future, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: What inspired you to want to get into the sport of boxing?
Jesse Reid: Well actually the military got me into boxing but when I was a kid I used to watch the Gillette fights with my Father, I watched Emile Griffith and Kid Paret and all these different fighters, I just grew up with Madison Square Garden Friday Night Fights. I never dreamed that I would be an athlete it just made me excited to see a man against a man and I thought it was a real challenge. I got a heavy bag because I loved being around boxing but I never really went to the fights live because we couldn’t afford it and I fooled around with it just for exercise. I did play sports in school but no boxing and when I got into the service they had a special program and they saw that I had played ball in Jr. College so they asked me if I wanted to play football for the Navy. I asked them what it would do for me and they said they would keep me out of combat for seven months and I was on my way to Vietnam and I was definitely scared to death with all these war stories so I said hell I would rather play football then go to Vietnam at this moment so I said yeah. After the season was over I was going to head back out, but they wanted to keep me there so I asked them what else they had for me and they said wrestling and boxing and if I could make one of the teams I could train and be in special services all year around, and that was how I got into boxing. I won the All-Service and the All-Navy a couple of times and I was also a runner up in the nationals and I won the Canadian belt and Golden Gloves. I boxed in the Olympic trials in 1968 and I was a runner up but boxing was boycotted from Mexico so there was no box off. I did go pro but I was having trouble getting fights and I wasn’t making any money so I asked Jackie McCoy if he thought I could win a world title and he told me he didn’t think I could be a world champion so I quit and I was going to go back to school but Jackie begged me to help him train fighters, so I stayed and that was where it began.
BH: Who were some of the men that have been influential throughout your career?
JR: Well I got to say that the fighters themselves are the inspiration for me, and they are my influence.
BH: Looking back on your thirty years in the boxing business what is your most unforgettable moment, and what have you learned about the business that you could share with others as far as good advice?
JR: There have been a lot of times that were great moments in my life, I felt like maybe ten times in my life that I went and beat a country or a state, just beating the odds. They those things only happen once in your life I have had them happen quite a bit. I think it is special and I want it to happen some more, I like being the underdog, I like being the guy that everybody thinks they can whip. Because when you win in one of those situations you have won something very special and it stays with you the rest of your life, it makes you respect that moment that you strive to do it over and over again. I don’t know if that will happen to me anymore but they have happened quite a bit of times. When Reggie Johnson beat William Guthrie, Guthrie was knocking everybody out and Reggie Johnson was a boxer. I had a game plan, I told him to go to that body for four rounds to get this guys heart rate up and that big puncher is going to be tired and your going to knock him out. I remember when I took Hector Camacho to fight “Sugar” Ray Leonard when he was off for five years. I told him that he wasn’t going to box that guy, he has been gone for five years and you are going to jump right on him and you’re going to knock him out. Camacho wasn’t supposed to be a puncher I made him more aggressive. You get your guys to fight their opponent to the limit, test their heart. That’s what we did to Golota; we took the bully, and bullied him, and the bully collapsed, he didn’t even remember the fight. Those are thoughts that I have, if I read about a guy who is beating up women and having trouble financially, drinking and smoking and screwing around at night that’s the guy I want to fight. If I hear about a quiet little kid who is the youngest brother of four and grew up the hard way that S.O.B. is a tough bastard. You got to look underneath the lines of who people are, a guy who has eighteen losses like Freddie Pendleton and ended winning the world title, why, because at a young age he found out that he isn’t a bad person and he is a good fighter, he has fought all the top guys and went the distance with them and he ended up later on in his life getting through that and winning the world title. There is nothing that anybody can tell you that you can’t do, to be a good fighter you have to have struggles in your life, and to be a long running money fighter you have to understand that you have to work harder all the time, you can’t relax because who is younger is coming after you. There is a lot of different little things that I picked up from some older guys, smart guys, guys that people wouldn’t even think knew that game, people from I might have met on the street, maybe a bum maybe not a bum. I have had my ears open and I am willing to listen. That is the most important thing in our life; realize that we are not better than anybody else.
BH: In 2004 you were inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, what was going through your mind when you got the news you were going to be inducted?
JR: The man that I yelled at so many times for whatever reason called me and said Jesse I got good news and bad news which do you want to hear, I told him that I wanted to hear the good news. He responded by saying that I got my insurance with Geicko, (laughs) I said ok what is the bad news and he told me that I made the Hall of Fame, which was Lou Filippo. To get him to call him and tell me that I got the Hall of Fame was like winning the world title because I never thought that he would ever vote for me. It meant so much to know that I had a very high vote from all these people to be in the Hall of Fame, I never dreamed of being in the Hall of Fame, let alone boxing. It’s an honor for me and I feel really good about it.
BH: You are currently working with the WBO Heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster, your first fight together was his massive beat down over Andrew Golota were Lamon came out like a bullet and went straight after Golota, that was something the fight fans haven’t seen from Lamon. What did you do or say to him to bring out that aggression?
JR: I think it was a combination of things, I think the day I told him that he was a great boxer, but he wasn’t a great fighter, I told him he was only a great fighter when he got hurt and that is dangerous, that is walking on a tight rope. I told him that he had to be a fighter first and then use boxing when you can’t win with fighting and I said that would make him a great fighter that will make people realize how good you are because you have a lot of talent Lamon but you out think yourself, you try to be to good and you try to be too good, you are to pleasing. I told him don’t worry about how your punches look, just go out there and show these people who you are, go out there and be Lamon, don’t wait to get hurt to be yourself. That’s what I told him and that’s what I preached.
BH: What are your thoughts on your next venture when Brewster travels to Germany to defend his title against their countryman on Max Schmeling’s birthday?
JR: Well I think it is just another step at making him that much better of a fighter, even though I don’t really like it I think Lamon should be able to stop this guy and do well, I don’t think this will go to the judges. I have seen his opponent quit in a fight all though he is a good fighter. But I think Lamon now has come into this came in pretty good shape, his minds right and I think he is going to do extremely well.
BH: What do you know stylistically about this guy?
JR: Well he is typical European fighter with pretty good hand speed but I don’t think he is as tall as they try to say he is. But I think his height is on our favor, I think Lamon fights tall guys real well and I like the fact that this guy has his head up in the air and he makes a lot of mistakes. He has never been hit as hard as he is going to get hit by Lamon Brewster. The guy who made him quit was not that great of a fighter and I think the pressure is something he can’t take well. I am extremely happy about the fight even though I don’t like the idea of fighting in a foreign land where they can cheat you, I think it will show that Lamon can travel and do well and Luan has the right type of style for him.
BH: As far as Lamon traveling to this bout what do you think it says about him when there are other guys out there that doesn’t seem so reluctant to travel as he is?
JR: I think it will bring more respect for Lamon and it will bring his price tag up even more. Like I said I think it is the right type pf fight for him. His training camp has been fantastic and it is better than last time. He has gained a lot of experience and I think he gained a lot of confidence from that last fight; I am excited about the fight.
BH: Who else at this time are you working with?
JR: Actually I have a lot of great fighters and my son helps me, I have kid by the name of Preston Hartzog who also helped Lamon in his training, I have David Rodriguez a 19-0 heavyweight, I have five heavyweights actually. I have a lightweight out of Canada that I am real high on by the name of Sean Plessis, I also have a guy by the name of Aaron Williams who is a nine time national amateur champion who I am real high on also, I’ve got All Gonzales. All these fighters are mine but I also have help with them. I am a very busy guy but I am able to handle it.
BH: In your opinion, what is the main ingredient that makes a successful fighter?
JR: I think it is speed; power and then you need a great determination and be dedicated. You definitely got to have heart.
BH: With all your experience you know the fight world, so if a young fighter came directly to you and asked for advice what would be the most important information you could possibly give him?
JR: Keep an open mind and listen to everybody, not that you have to take everything in but listen. And do some research before you decide to train with anybody.
BH: Is there anything you would like to say in closing?
JR: Well, just that every once and a while you come up with this idea or a thought and all of a sudden it magnifies like a diamond is the rough and that was what happened with Lamon. I came up with a game plan and everybody believed in me and I got the chance to do it and the results were tremendous. Words can’t describe it and it is hard to explain. I’m extremely happy.
I would like to thank all who made this interview possible, and a very special thanks goes out to Jesse Reid for his time and thoughts.
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