John Scully Interview: From ranking contender to championship trainer
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 12, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
John Scully
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: They say that to feel fulfilled in life a person needs to find their passion.
“Iceman” John Scully has spent most of his 44 years pursuing his passion for boxing. Scully laced up the leather for the first time at 12-years old. It was love at first sweat. By the time he was 15, Scully was boxing locally in amateur tournaments. In 1987, he captured two amateur titles in the middleweight division. In 1988, he was named the outstanding fighter at both the Golden Gloves and the U.S. Olympic Trials tournaments. Scully won the New England Golden Gloves titles three consecutive years (1986–1988).
He turned professional in 1988. He won his first thirteen fights, scoring ten knockouts.

 The “Iceman” had arrived.

 Scully won the New England USA middleweight title and World Boxing Federation title in 1992. He also fought for the USBA and WBO super middleweight titles. He concluded his career in 2001 with a record of 38 wins (21 knockouts) and 11 losses.

 In 1997, Scully began to train other fighters.  He soon moved to full time trainer and the second coming of the “Iceman” was on its way.  Scully's verbal ability and boxing experience gave him an advantage over other trainers.  Liz Mueller, Jose Antonio Rivera and Mike Oliver have all won world titles under the Iceman's guidance.     

  In 2004, he began working with future IBF and WBC champion Chad Dawson. Last summer the two reunited prior to Dawson ’s fight with Bernard Hopkins.    

Recently I spoke with the Iceman to get his take on his past, present, and future in boxing. 
John J. Raspanti: So tell me h
ow did a young Scully discover boxing?  
John Scully: All while I was growing up, my father had a stash of sports books and among them were autobiographies by Muhammad Ali, Willie Pep, and Sugar Ray Robinson. I reach of them numerous times each and all three of them caught my attention enough that all these years later, I still have them and I still read through them from time to time.  

  My father and I used to watch the free fights on network TV every weekend and I used to often get on the bed after the fights and box in the mirror, pretending I was whoever we had just watched on TV that day.

JJR: Whom were your favorite fighters growing up?
JSI always loved Muhammad Ali and he is actually the boxer who really influenced me the most in the ring and out. I also watched all those free fights on network TV on Saturday afternoons so I was exposed to a lot of great guys to watch, from Hearns, Leonard, Duran, and Hagler to Donald Curry, Nino La Rocca, Greg Page, and Tyrone "The Butterfly" Crawley . I tried to take so many little things from each of those guys, from Crawley 's lead right hand to Curry's shell defense and everything in between. 

JJR: You had a very successful amateur career.  In 1988 you turned pro. What's the biggest difference between the professional ranks and the amateurs?

JS: For me it is definitely the fact that the whole vibe is different. From the way the fans treat you to the way friends and critics treat you all the way to the way people react when you suffer a loss. If you lose in an amateur tournament everyone tells you that there nothing to worry about, you'll get them next time. But as a pro losses affect your future in a much bigger way. In the amateurs everyone is afforded the same opportunities but in the pros its a thing where you have to win and you have to be connected to the right people to move your career. One is essentially a sport and the other is essentially a business.

JJR: You fought a number of good fighters (Michael Nunn, Henry Maske, Graciano Rocchigiani) in your career. Who do you believe was the best?    JS: I'd have to say it's a close call between Nunn and Maske. Both of those guys were special fighters and among the elite. 

  JJR: Do you feel you reached your full potential as a boxer?
JS: I always kick myself when I think back on my career because there were so many things I could have and should have done differently. There's a lot to it but I restricted myself and was restricted by others in different ways. Many fighters are, really. Hindsight is always 20/20. If I knew more about nutrition and about losing weight I could have been a lot stronger ands a lot more confident going into fights. Too many times, I was worried more about conserving energy in fights than I was about inflicting damage on my opponents and on doing what I had to do to win. You handcuff yourself when you spent more time trying to not get tired than you do on not thinking at all about getting tired. 
JJR: Any regrets?  

    JS: The main thing is that I didn't always have myself in a state of mind and body where I could let it all hang out and just fight up to my potential and ability. I wish I could go back and do many things over, yeah.
JJR: Most people don’t know you started training fighters years ago.

JS: I actually stated training boxers back in the mid 1980's when I was still an amateur boxer myself. I was only 18 year’s old training at the Stowe Village Gym in Hartford , Connecticut and I had a group of kids I worked with and helped out in the gym. That was my first exposure to helping someone with their boxing. A few years later I was training at another gym in Hartford and I started working with a young kid by the name of Dwayne Hairston. He was only four years old at the time but we connected at the Bellevue Square Boys Club in late 1988 and ten years later, he beat Anthony Petersen in the finals of the 1998 National P.A.L. tournament at Disneyworld . 
JJR: Do you think more fighters tend to respect and listen to trainers that once boxed?

    JS: I definitely believe that. I know that for sure. I know I did. The thing is, a guy can be a top trainer without having been a boxer before, that's a fact, I know this. But it is also a fact that every fighter deep down has more respect for a guy who has walked in his shoes. I've talked with many, many fighters who feel this way.
JJR: How does being a trainer compare to your own boxing career? Like one more than the other?
JS: I love both, definitely. I love what I do now and wouldn't want to do anything else with my life but you know what? NOTHING compares to being a fighter. A lot of people walk out to the ring on fight night but only one guy among them knows he may not walk back out afterwards. It's hard to get that feeling anywhere else in sports.
JJR: Chad Dawson was recently involved in a controversial no-decision with Bernard Hopkins. Will Dawson and Hopkins fight again?
    JS: I definitely hope so. It makes perfect sense to me. The way the first fight ended; I wouldn't want to see either guy have to go through the rest of his life wondering who would have actually come out on top that night.
  JJR: Give your opinion super middleweight champion Andre Ward. Ward is considering moving up to the light heavyweight division.
JS:  That guy is a special fighter, definitely. Inside and outside, slugging or boxing, he's a real champ. I have a lot of respect for that guy. He's what a champion should be. He'll fight anyone, he always comes to fight in great condition, and he doesn't talk a bunch of trash. He lets his skills do the talking. I have to say, though, looking to the future with all things considered, I don't think he would beat Chad Dawson, though.

    JJR: Who does the Iceman think is best fighter on the planet?
JS: Love him or hate him, you have to say that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the man right now. Too many people let their dislike of him and his mouth cloud their words and judgement. Based on what he does in the ring every time out, you have to give him his credit. He backs up every word from his mouth.  

    JJR: You’ve been working on a book on your boxing exploits (appropriately titled, THE ICEMAN DIARES) for a few years now.  Do you a have publication date?  
JS: I have been working on it off and on for just about ten years and as of this moment I plan to have it on sale for the first time this coming June at the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canastota, New York. I already bought a table at the memorabilia show so I kind of put extra pressure on myself to get it done.    

  I want to thank “Iceman” John Scully for taking the time to answer my questions. He represents his sport with class, dignity, and honesty.

    Thanks Iceman.

Recent work from Raspanti:
"The Last Great Prizefight", by Steven Frederick - A Review John J. Raspanti
David Rodriguez: "I thank God I’m alive" - "The blood was squirting out like a sprinkler" John J. Raspanti

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