PK: So you have decided to the return to the ring, how do you feel, are you in shape?
TW: I am not in full shape right now; I am trying to gather help with sponsors and other people who are interested. I stopped working during the day so I can concentrate on training. I’ve been training with the guys that I teach since I retired. I have gained some pounds but I have been active hitting the bags and such 3 to 4 days out of the week so I haven’t been just sitting around.
PK: You said you want to go the Bo Jackson route doing the boxing and also some promoting. How do you plan on pulling that off?
TW: Well I don’t have all the problems in my head now and have the time to think back on the things I didn’t capitalize on in my career. Things sit on my head real easy these days.
PK: I take it you have a lot of ideas.
TW: Oh yeah, like training guys now is the last thing on my mind because it is so easy to me. Some trainers get all panicked and it is hard work for them. And I’m talking the big trainers like the McGirt’s and Mayweather’s and all. Teaching is easy to me and I love to recruit. I want to see a boxer go in the right direction; hook them up with a sponsor or investor who will take care of them. I think boxing needs a person that fighters can trust.
PK: What specifically do you have going on?
TW: I have been setting up companies. I have one in England called Big Bash. Dennis Hopson Sr. is my partner over there. I go from England to Ireland to different parts of Europe trying to recruit fighters. The only problem right now is that I lack sponsors. I have been talking to people in this area (Philly) and we will gradually pick it up and put it together. Once we get moving we will be big in the Philly, New Jersey and New York area with fighters from all over the world.
PK: As a promoter, what would like to change or make different from what the guys right now are doing?
TW: Right now there are a lot of guys with money trying to promote but they don’t know who the right guy to be with is. Like when I was with Fingerman, when you walk with me, you know who you are with and know there ain’t no shaky stuff going on.
PK: What happened with that? The final product Fingerspoon put together was a very good night of boxing.
TW: I think I helped him a lot, being the former world champ, not to brag or nothing but I know a lot of people. So when he was walking with me people had to realize he ain’t a bad dude because Tim ain’t getting into no dumb shit. I met Mike at a Racquetball club in Newtown. I just came back from England looking for investors. Mike was interested but it didn’t seem like he trusted me but trusted other people. I was trying to get him involved and hooking him up with important people but I don’ t think I got the full return. I think he wanted to do it on his own. He has the money and I have know how and it could have worked. I feel like he wanted someone to help him then for him to go on his own as I was looking for someone to help build fighters.
PK: How would Tim Witherspoon build a fighter?
TW: I would like to start with the amateurs. A lot of people don’t want to deal with amateurs and I think that is wrong. Most people want a guy who is 10 – 0, 9 – 1. I am ready to sweat at the bottom. I would allocate some money for the amateurs and allocate some for the professionals. You can’t just come along and steal people’s products. You have to grow your own and look towards the future. Everyone wants to jump right in and be the next Don King or Bob Arum.
PK: Speaking of Don King, you were with him during your title run. What is your take on King?
TW: Yeah he was my promoter back then. With King you will get a title shot and he will put you in the right situation if you are in shape. The negative publicity we had was a positive for me in the long run. I stood up to Don King, and people loved what I did. I have stood up to various promoters in my day. For that I had to take less money and suffered.
PK: Would you consider yourself a fighter’s fighter?
TW: You have guys who will take that money and not care about the next man. They don’t worry about it and people get hurt. I can’t live with that.
J.A.B. is a union in New York with the Kane brothers along with Eddie Mustapha. They asked me to join them and offered to pay a good amount of money to be the union president. I couldn’t accept at the time but I think it was offered because of my reputation.
PK: How did you get into boxing in the first place?
TW: I played football and got injured. I was a tight end with a football scholarship. But I got hurt, I wasn’t very motivated for school which I should have been. But I came home, got a job, but I said naw sports in my thing. I need to find something in sports. At the time a lot of my buddies were boxing. Penny Reese, Buster Drayton, Earl Hargrove, my brother Anthony, Clinton Barnes, I might have missed some more but we were all from South Philly.
Before long just boxing with one guy, Saad Muhammad, that was paying me $500 for two days where as my job was only made me $150 for a whole week. Gerry Cooney paid me $750 a week so you add it up! I gave good work to Michael Spinks, Trevor Borbick, Muhammad Ali, Eddie Mustapha Muhammad, Greg Page. I went on to beat Greg Page, Tony Tubbs.
PK: I guess that explains how you were able to get a title shot against Larry Holmes even though you were only 15 – 0.
TW: Yeah dudes like Holyfield and Mike Tyson had to wait until they had around 30 fights before they got a shot where I only had 15. They knew I was ready though just like they knew Holyfield or Tyson wasn’t ready at 14 fights. They were mean but they weren’t ready. I don’t think I ever reached my full potential. If I didn’t have a lot of obstacles in the way I think I would have had a much longer run.
PK: Ok, so give me one of your good ideas.
TW: I would like to see a reality show for trainers. If they had a reality show with trainers on it, I know I would come out on top. I know how to get away from punches and know how to work. These young guys are strong but don’t have the skills of when I came up with Ali and Holmes and them. We had the old school stuff, the old school teachers are falling off. We had Slim Jim Robinson, Georgie Benton is ill now; my trainer was one of the last to teach the slick and smart stuff.
Teddy Atlas is a good friend of mine and he be analyzing but I can see what he is doing wrong! I also like Wladimir Klitschko but I don’t think Emmanuel Stewart will take him to that next level. A lot of these guys are making it but they need someone to show them a better defense. Emmanuel can’t do it, I don’t know if Buddy can do it, Freddy Roach. I am not trying to bad talk these guys, a lot of them are my friends but if we had that reality show I would eat them all alive!
PK: That’s an interesting idea and something I would definitely watch. So if you are the best, why isn’t Kassim Ouma with you anymore?
TW: With Ouma, it wasn’t about me teaching him, it was about loyalty with him. I was Kassim’s friend and still am I think. I met his manager Jimmy Rohan while in Poland while I was fighting Andrew Golata. Jimmy offered to bring to me Florida to train him.
So we are down there with James Luwamba who was an undefeated light heavyweight and Kassim’s friend. We were working out every day and he became like my little brother.
Now Tom Moran is my manager at the time who I knew for like 20 years. He was a so called movie producer but said he wanted to help fighters. Turns out he is an opportunist looking to make money and learn the boxing game.
We were in it together going around the world, making money together, right. Then he left me, like Tim I’m fed up with it and got a job with Lou Duva recruiting people. He went over to England and bumped into a guy named Ron Boddie. He was still kicking my name around like I’m Tim Witherspoon’s manager, this and that because he knew they wouldn’t talk to him. Long story short, I asked Tom to come back and he did. Soon after we were to form a new company with myself, Tom, Jimmy Rohan and Ron Boddie who ran amature sports for the BBC. My job was to bring in the fighters for our company.
I got Kassim, it took me like 7 – 8 months to get Kassim to join us and every day Tom is calling me about him, like “what is he doing”. They were worried he might be off doing something bad but I’m like don’t worry. Every day bugging me, so I finally gave Kassim Tom’s number, Tom Kassim’s number, basically I put them together.
Don’t you know like a month after that Tom started acting like he didn’t know me and then Kassim started acting funny. They stabbed me right in the back. Tom Moran was my manager for 18 years and turned his back on me once I got him Kassim. Everyone in Philly knew what happened and knew it was wrong. Even after that I tried to talk Kassim out of signing with Russell Peltz but he needed the money. He was my boy, I took him to my mom’s treated him like my little brother. I’d give him some money. You don’t forget about the people who helped you that’s cold blooded.
PK: Then why is Chazz with Tom Moran? Don’t you worry about that? Tom seems like he helps a lot of fighters.
TW: Chazz situation is different in that he is an experiment but I hooked him up with Tom beforehand. I hooked him up and a guy Darrell Richardson. Now I am going to make sure people go to the right guys and get assurance that everything is cool.
PK: Anything you want to add in closing?
TW: Hopefully I can fight on a main event and hype it up which will also help the younger fighters get some hype. They are using my line in the Rocky movie, the two-time Philly heavyweight champion! I am the real champion. We need to still use some of the older fighters, who have knowledge. Maybe they want to deal more fiction than they do truth. We will see.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can email Philly Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to www.phillykeith.com for up to the minute info on the Philly boxing scene