John Scully Interview: From ranking contender to championship trainer By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 12, 2012) Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: They say that to feel fulfilled in life a person needs to find their passion.
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
Recently I spoke with the Iceman to get his take on his past, present, and future in boxing. John J. Raspanti: So tell me how 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? JS: I
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
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.