Henry Maske steps into the Dog House: Winning Olympic Gold to Owning the Golden Arches, IBF Light Heavyweight Champ “Gentleman” is Quite an Achiever!
By Ken Hissner, Dog House Boxing (Nov 25, 2014)
“Gentleman” Henry Maske
Below Image: Henry Maske victory (fight Maske vs. Hill).
I first saw “Gentleman” Henry Maske fight when he represented East Germany in the 1988 Olympics. He was a 6:04 southpaw who in 1989 won the European Amateur Championships in Athens and the World Amateur Championships in Moscow.
In 1990 with the reunification of East and West Germany Maske was able to turn professional in the UK scoring a first round knockout in May. By the end of the year he was fighting eight round’s and had compiled eight wins with three knockouts. Half a dozen fights were in Germany and the other two in the UK. In 1991 he had his only bout in the US defeating Salim Muhammad, 7-6-1, in Hollywood, FL. In his sixth fight he defeated Sean Mannion, 38-11-1.
In Maske’s fifteenth fight he defeated the former WBA champion Leslie Stewart, 29-8. In his twentieth fight he won the IBF light heavyweight title defeating “Prince” Charles Williams, 33-4-2, who was making his ninth title defense in March of 1993. “I thought I won the fight. I hurt my right hand in training and the promoter (Kushner) sold me out,” said Williams. Scores for Maske were 118-110 and 116-111 twice.
In Maske’s first defense he defeated former 1988 Olympian Anthony Hembrick, 27-3-1, over twelve rounds. Maske defeated the USBA champion Ernesto Magdaleno, 18-0-1, stopping him in the ninth round in March of 1994 in his third defense. Unfortunately Magdaleno would die in an auto accident the end of the following year. In October of 1994 Maske defeated former IBF super middle and WBA light heavy champion Iran “The Blade” Barkley, 33-9, who didn’t come out for the tenth round.
Maske opened up 1995 in a rematch with Egerton Marcus, 14-0, whom he defeated for the Olympic Gold Medal in 1988, winning easily over twelve rounds. He followed this up with back to back wins over another German and former IBF super middleweight champion, and southpaw Graciano Rocchigiani, 37-1-1, in May and October of 1995.
In 1996 Maske defeated little known Jamaican then living out of FL, Duran Williams, 16-0-1, over twelve rounds. Just three months later American John “Ice” Scully, 36-5 was brought over with the same results over twelve rounds.
“Henry was very difficult for me to fight because he was so tall and he knew how to use all of that height. My only chance was to get inside and work there but literally every time I got inside with him he would hold me and wait for the ref to break us. He’d get the fight back outside and he’d start using his long jab again. It was very smart and very frustrating”, said Scully.
At the end of 1996 Maske was making his eleventh defense in Munich in trying to unify titles with WBA champion Virgil “Quicksilver” Hill, 42-1, a former Silver medalist in the Olympics of 1984. Maske announced prior to this fight it would be his last. He lost a split decision with Hill who was suffering from a cut over his left eye in the eleventh round. He chased Hill but couldn’t catch up to him. In Hill’s next fight he lost to WBO champion Darius Michalczewski, 33-0 in Germany.
Maske retired with a 30-1 (11), record after the Hill fight in November of 1996. It would be ten and a half years when he came out of retirement to fight Hill again. Hill had just won the vacant WBA cruiserweight title defeating Russian Valery Brudov, 30-0. Though both fighters would come in within the cruiserweight limit it was a non-title bout since Maske was not ranked.
Hill was now 50-5 when they met in Munich at the same Olympiahalle where they fought the first time. Maske would come away with the win this time and retire. Scores were 117-110 twice and 116-113. In 2008 I interviewed Hill the year after he lost to Maske. He then lost his title back in Germany against Firat Arslan, 27-3-1. He said the only thing that would get him out of retirement would be a rematch with Maske or Michalczewski.
As of 2010, Maske owns ten McDonalds franchises in Germany. He also works as a boxing commentator (ARD). He turned fifty in January.
Thanks to NJ boxing judge Joe Pasquale who was working the Klitschko-Pulev fight in Germany who made the contact with Maske.
KEN HISSNER: You’re achievements in and out of the ring are quite amazing. You’re winning Olympic Gold, IBF title, reversing the only loss eleven years later, owner of numerous McDonalds and now a TV commentator. What do you owe all this too?
Maske - Winner at the Bambi-Award
HENRY MASKE: I had very early found the sport captivating and inspiring me. I accompanied this wonderful people. Much of what I learned during and through my sport helps me to cope with life. I am very grateful for many experiences.
KEN HISSNER: Going back to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul you represented East Germany. You had four wins at 5-0 and a Walk Over. In 1989 the Berlin Wall was taken down. Were you still as honored for all of Germany as you were for East Germany?
HENRY MASKE: 1988 and also 1998, I’ve competed for the GDR. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 it turned out for each GDR citizen a completely new and unexpected situation. My coach Manfred Wolke and I, we decided very quickly to switch to the professionals. In retrospect, it was a very good decision.
KEN HISSNER: I see you turned professional in the UK returned there in your fifth fight. How did that come about?
HENRY MASKE: If I remember correctly today, it had at that time not of great importance.
KEN HISSNER: You’re one fight in the US was in your eighth fight. Did you ever have another opportunity to return to the US?
HENRY MASKE: The Box Business developed in Germany very quickly and chess.
KEN HISSNER: In your fifteenth fight you knocked out former WBA champion Leslie Stewart. You were 1 year away from a title fight at this time. Did you have the confidence at this time you had what it took to be a world champion?
HENRY MASKE: I had won as an amateur all the major tournaments. I can still very well remember the fight against Leslie Stewart. It was time for me to get even as a professional a great fight. I learned the difference about the amateurs.
KEN HISSNER: In March of 1993 you defeated “Prince” Charles Williams for his IBF title in your twentieth fight. Comparing that to winning the Olympic Gold medal which was greater?
HENRY MASKE: Nothing can be greater than an Olympic victory. Though against Prince Charles Williams was very significant. That was the start of a new professional boxing in Germany.
KEN HISSNER: In your first defense you defeat another 1988 Olympian Anthony Hembrick winning every round. Was there any trash talking prior to the bout by Hembrick?
HENRY MASKE: It was of course exciting to meet someone that you would five years ago as an amateur during the Olympic tournament. But Hembrick missed the bus.
KEN HISSNER: In your fifth defense in 1994 you defeat Italian Andrea Magi who in his previous fight lost a narrow decision for the WBO title against Leeonzer Barber. Was there any chance for a unification bout at that time with Leeonzer Barber who three months later would come to Germany and lose his title to Dariusz Michalzewski?
HENRY MASKE: The fight against a world champion as Leeonzer Barber would be a wonderful alternative, a unification. But as far as we looked it was not at that time.
KEN HISSNER: Why did you give Graciano Rocchigiani a rematch in your next fight?
HENRY MASKE: My performance in the first fight against Graze was not convincing. I made mistakes I want to correct. The second match in my view very confident. On the other hand it was it for the German boxing fans a very interesting match. We had almost 60% market share of the audience.
KEN HISSNER: Did you ever seek a fight with the WBO champion Darius Michalczewski who defeated Hill in the latter’s first defense?
HENRY MASKE: Darius called me again and again. In mid 1994 we made him an offer. He refused on the grounds he had another plan. After that I decided not to make a new offer. He tried with my name in public.
KEN HISSNER: You announced prior to fighting IBF champion Virgil Hill that this will be your last fight. You lose a split decision. What did you think of the decision?
HENRY MASKE: I have never regretted it before the fight from my end to announce. I was angry about myself, because I did not hire to me things that unfortunately is our business.
KEN HISSNER: You don’t fight again for ten and a half years and get a rematch with Hill who is now the IBF Cruiserweight champion. Even though you both make weight you are not rated due to not having fought in such a long time. You defeat Hill and retire again. What was the difference in fighting Hill in 1996 and 2007?
HENRY MASKE: Virgil and I, we both act strongly controlled by the head. We are strategic boxers. This time he follows my strategy. That to feel during the fight was for me a pleasure. 55 weeks of hard training, largest privations, plenty of pain, unequitable public discussions, to bear it all was worth it.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer all of my questions. I know you must have a busy schedule.
HENRY MASKE: I say thank you too and good luck for the comeback.
Please send all questions and comments to Ken Hissner at: Kenhissner@gmail.com
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