Unveiling Boxing’s Miracle Man: An Exclusive with William Dettloff | Ring Talk with Lou Eisen
EPISODE: Episode 1
Join us on this riveting episode of Ring Talk with Lou Eisen as we sit down with revered boxing author William Dettloff to discuss his latest work – Matthew Saad Muhammad: Boxing’s Miracle Man. Dive into the dramatic life and legendary career of the former undisputed light-heavyweight world champion, widely known as “Miracle Matthew.”
Dettloff, a boxing literature luminary, served as the senior editor at Ring Magazine for 15 years, and since 2017, has taken the reins as editor-in-chief of the widely-read Ringside Seat. With a wealth of boxing knowledge and history, he brings deep insights to this episode of Ring Talk.
Learn how Matthew Saad Muhammad rose from the gritty streets of Philadelphia, surviving orphanages, gangs, and prison, to become an enduring icon in the Golden Age of Boxing. His electrifying bouts, including the unforgettable WBC Light Heavyweight Championship against Marvin Johnson, remain etched in the annals of boxing history.
In this candid conversation, we unravel the compelling tale of a man who fought tirelessly, not just for wealth and fame, but to unearth his true identity. This episode promises an enlightening dialogue you wouldn’t want to miss!
Tune in this Sunday at 2 PM on Ring Talk with Lou Eisen.
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[, Music, ] foreign boxing historian and writer, and today we have a special treat.
We have one of the top boxing writers on the planet for the last over 20 years: uh Mr William detloff and uh Williams, written a magnificent new book, Matthew, sod, Muhammad uh, boxing’s Miracle Man and develop on Amazon.
I’M going to ask Bill in a couple of seconds where else it’s available, but this is a wonderful book if you’re my vintage and even if you’re, not my vintage, just as a must read, because there was no one like Matthew, sad Muhammad in boxing he had Tremendous Charisma, he could take tremendous shots uh.
He had an incredible life abandoned at the age of four and left to roam the streets of Philadelphia, the Mean Streets of Philadelphia and still Rose to become the best light heavyweight uh on the planet.
And I just wanted to say a couple things about bills.
So um, so people know that he was the senior editor at Ring magazine for over 15 years and since 217, he’s been the editor-in-chief of the best Boxing Magazine on the planet or inside seat.
He’S also written many articles for HBO, ESPN and hundreds of other places, and he has uh other books out, in particular the edge of Charles book and the former World Heavyweight Champion, which is also a magnificent book and we’re very pleased and privileged to have Mr William Detloff here today welcome to the show, sir.
Well thanks Lou, I appreciate it was a wonderful intro that was, I appreciate it very much.
Oh my pleasure, you deserve it, um we’re glad to have you.
The first question I wanted to ask you is because there was so that was a golden era of light heavyweights Marvin Mike Rossman, Jackie Lopez, Richie case galindez.
Why do a book on sod Muhammad? Is it because of your personal connection with him uh? Well, I like them a lot uh when he was fighting, of course, because who didn’t right, everybody I’ll love them, but really uh uh as much as his uh in the ring heroics.
It was really his personal story, uh that attracted me to writing uh the book on him, uh and frankly, I’ve always been amazed that uh not only hadn’t, anybody done a book on it before that it wasn’t a I’m.
Sorry could be his family.
I’M sorry uh that uh, not nobody, had written a book on them before, but also that it wasn’t a Hollywood movie by this time right, everybody knows uh or everybody at the time knew his story and that uh, all this time had gone by 40 years, had Gone by and and nobody had expanded it and researched it and made it a motion picture at least it was just amazing to me um and that’s really the Genesis of uh.
Why I wanted to write about him number one because of his personal story, which was just amazing to me, and also because of us, his enduring the heroics uh.
What was interesting, also uh to me, is that even I found out while researching the book that, even while he was champion, even though he was a world champion, he was shopping around his personal story to authors and Hollywood Studios and nobody bit on it at all.
Uh, that sounds good yeah.
It is, and I have a theory as to why uh that is, I think, um it’s possible that it was because America wasn’t, or somebody decided at least, that America wasn’t really ready for uh another Muslim hero right right.
We had Muhammad Ali right and I think uh and he became a hero grudgingly right and it took a long time and people forget that now right how hated he was, how despised he was yeah.
He was a pride in the 60s, absolutely absolutely largely because of his conversion to Islam, right and uh, and so I have no proof of this.
Nobody said it to me and it’s a conjecture, but I think that people were recognized the American culture and said uh.
Maybe if he was Matt Franklin still, we might be interested and even more so maybe if he was a white guy.
Absolutely that might have helped also, but I think the the main impediment was that nobody was going to uh, spend a lot of money and a lot of effort to promote the story of an American Muslim man at that time in the 1980s yeah.
That’S you know.
That’S sad, but it’s not surprising, I mean there’s a story about the promoter, Marc Jacobs when asked why it won’t give Sugar Ray Robinson, a title shot at the Welterweight Title back then, and he just said: there’s too many n-words already in the sport.
We don’t want to drive the fans away and our thinking hasn’t changed a lot.
I mean it’s different today, obviously, but what you’re saying with with uh Saad Muhammad? You know that’s just sad, because it was it’s a story.
Your book should be a movie and it’s a it’s.
A triumphant story of someone yeah overcame an in background that no one else could overcome and rise to be the best on Earth at what he did yeah.
It’S interesting uh, I’m in line with the thought that he overcame a lot to become what he was uh, but I’m also of the mind that his circumstances contributed to him becoming what he was right.
We all fight boxes, all fight for different reasons, right and um.
There’S a lot that goes into what makes a fighter successful, but a really hard uh, arduous uh childhood and a Longing To Belong and to succeed.
It accounts for a lot right as to whether he or she will succeed and to come from what he came from.
I imagine he had that in in Spades right and I never left him even after he lost a title right.
He still refused to be beat in his mind right exactly right now.
One question I wanted to ask you is: why is, is it these circumstances? Are this? Is this the reason this is a teeny bit off topic? Why Philadelphia, since the 1870s has produced so many magnificent Fighters? You know going back to Luke Taylor before him Owen Ziegler in the 1890s yeah Benny Briscoe uh, Cyclone heart, Boogaloo, Watts yeah.
You know uh just fantastic world champions, Buster Drayton, hundreds of them.
What is it about Phil? I mean they’ve produced almost as many as New York or or Mexico, or any other place and places combined.
Why why Philadelphia is specifically yeah? It’S a good question.
Uh Lou! I think uh part of it is explained by uh uh, the history of the city that I present in the book right following the Great Migration and the concentration uh of uh poor uh black people.
That uh were really packed in Sardi, like sardines, in Philadelphia and in ghettos and uh.
We all know that ghettos produce Fighters, because there’s not a lot of opportunity for guys who become great right right, but there was a Confluence of uh things that occurred at that time, and I think I touch on it in the book when I list all the Boxing gyms, that were there uh, there’s a there’s, a just a couple of pages where I talk about uh or write about um, all the fight gyms uh that were available to guys in those times, and they were just everywhere in Philadelphia everywhere in Philadelphia and they Weren’T um, I don’t want to be one of those in in my days or the old days kind of guys but uh they weren’t Fitness Gyms right.
They weren’t fitness gyms with a cage in them or uh an octagon or something or uh a heavy bag or two.
These are real flight James located in real poor neighborhoods, and there were just dozens of them just dozens of them in Philadelphia and right over the river in New Jersey and uh.
You could throw a rock in any direction and hit a real fight gym, and there were so many poor kids who needed stuff to do and they just they all seem to happen.
Uh uh to the at these gyms around the same time, this Confluence of uh, the prevalence of gems and all these great young athletes uh in that period in in the early 70s.
It’S a really um a miracle of nature that uh, so many great boxers came out at that time.
Well, you showed that I mean you.
It was so great the way you showed all those gems and all those great Fighters and and past Fighters uh, who became great trainers, Georgie Benton and so many of them.
Angela Dundee came from Philadelphia that went back to help these kids Angela used to say to me: there’s tough they’re super tough and there’s Philadelphia, tough.
There you go and that’s good, and he said that in those gym he said many of the fights I mean you know this better than anyone on the planet, but the fights that took place in the gym were better than actual fights.
You paid money for to see anywhere else in the world, sure sure I would give anything to say: uh the sparring matches between uh Matthew and uh, Michael Spanx, unbelievable Michael Spinks and Dwight Muhammad Cowie or Dwight Braxton at the time.
Can you imagine that the sparring match that took place then scoring match between Joe Frazier and Jimmy young? Just I’d give anything to see those scoring matches.
Sure – and you know, Mildred Taylor came from there and just so many and I love the fact I I was struck by the fact when you mentioned that is his uh family originally came up from Aiken North Carolina, which is the home of Paul, The Punisher Williams.
That’S right and um, just the the racism, the endemic racism that they had to endure, uh just to get a menial job there and then to get paid.
What you promised and then in that City to you know to fight which leads me to my next question.
I mean Blinky Palermo of the mob was from there were some of Matthew’s fights that he lost in Philadelphia where he actually won.
Do you think those were mob influence fights or were they or were they just bad stations yeah? I don’t think well the couple of fight study lost early on.
I don’t think there were.
Let me say this: the mob was everything everywhere in Philadelphia at the time it ended in the fight game and there’s a criminal element in boxing then and there’s a criminal element.
Now there always has been.
We just can’t separate them, but we can talk a little more about that later.
I found some interesting things in the book that I uh that I hadn’t known before, but uh his early loss to uh Wayne McGee was certainly not uh.
It was certainly not mob influence.
I talked to uh Russell Peltz about that fight and he just got beat by a guy whose style he couldn’t handle right and he drew with him later, which there’s evidence further.
That he’s couldn’t handle that particular fighter in that particular style um.
I don’t think any of it was a model of influenced, but certainly um.
That was all around at the time right.
You know it’s it uh and speaking.
I spoke with um, a Canadian former Canadian lightweight or Junior welterweight Nikki forlano Nikki’s, okay, yeah yeah and Nikki fought, Aaron Pryor and the joke was people would come up to Nikki and say well I saw that fight and you won and he said well, if you Think if you think I’d be there in Prior, then you weren’t at the fight there’s no way.
I won that fight yeah, but he said I would watch fights with Nikki and he would say what you just said.
It comes down to Styles.
You can have a great day and someone else just has a style yeah.
It happens all the time yeah you know so the other one.
The one thing I want to ask you too, is sad, sad, Muhammad’s, Muhammad’s background.
I mean he was much want TV.
You know absolutely remember, people would say hey, I can’t go and play baseball.
I can’t so I had mohammed’s fighting today and is is his background.
I know it shaped him uh personally, but did it shape his ring DNA too, because he started out like Gotti as a technical boxer and then morphed into more of a slugger when he could have won a lot of his fights just with his jab and straight Right hand yeah: it was the uh Eddie, Mustafa Muhammad fight or Eddie Gregory at the time uh he he boxed uh and moved against Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and lost a close decision and uh.
He decided at that point.
I’M not going to buy be a boxer anymore.
Uh, against the wishes of my uh trainer, Nick belfior and my manager, I’m going to be a slugger and he uh that’s what he became for the rest of his career and, importantly, just like happened with Gaddy uh.
He became much more popular as a result.
He became must see TV and I suppose uh Gaddy is a good core layer for Matt, in that he was just again, like you just said, must see TV as God he was um, but this is, and what I’m about to say is not that denigrade or Toro at all, he was who was a wonderful fighter, but he wasn’t on him.
They were corollary, but Matt was a much better fighter and a championship caliber fighter and and uh for a period the best light heavyweight in the world when the light heavyweight division was the best it has ever been.
That’S in my opinion, there’s never been a class of light heavyweights that was better and more willing to fight one another repeatedly than the light heavyweight division, uh that we got in the uh early 1980s yeah.
Absolutely that goes back a couple hundred years.
It’S never been here.
Absolutely, I think the early class that comes close to it is these class that uh as a Charles fought in as a light heavy braid right, yeah exactly yeah.
Otherwise, I don’t think another heavyweight class uh since then, or before then touches the early 1980s.
Let heavyweight division.
No, I agree, I think you could put them in any era and they would still be the best I agree, and each flight was a competitive.
Each fight was a fantastic fight and you didn’t walk away from each fight.
Like you do some fight saying go with that.
Loma Haney was a good fight.
Some people were disappointed.
Others weren’t, but regardless of the outcome of those light heavyweight fights, unless you were in love with Muhammad, like I was you, you know they were all magnificent fights.
You got you more than you agree completely and the guys like Yankee Lopez and Richard Cates would have been easily world champions.
Not only today right but in other eras as well.
Right well did Matthew.
He fought a lot yeah and Fighters that slug, you know Angela say they put asses in the seats and that’s what it comes down to sure you know so many guys, as you know, say I should be getting this kind of money and I should be getting That kind of money, but people aren’t paying to see you, so you don’t get it knockout artists get it.
But right do you think that Matthew and the time he held the title? Did he defend his title too often? Did he did he not take enough breaks in between you know? In other words, did he wear himself down yeah that many defenses? I don’t think so.
I think uh because fighter – and you know this as a historian Fighters uh prior to the 1980s – fought very frequently yes right – sure we got Robinson and those guys in the 40s and 50s who would fight three times a month.
You know for for 10 or 15 years right and uh.
I think there’s an advantage to that right, as I’m sure you do, because the more you do anything the better you get at it and when you fight that frequently you’re always in the ring, you don’t ever get out of shape, right, uh and so when I Think in the 70s and it’s gotten uh progressively uh more applicable now is because guys don’t fight as often so they have to have these Long training camps and blah blah stay in the ring.
Just stay in the ring.
You’Ll never get out of shape, but anyway, back to your question uh, I don’t think the problem.
I don’t think we’re shortened his career because he was essentially done by the age of 28 right right.
I don’t think what shortened his career was.
Uh the frequency with which he fought, but the number of uh all-out Wars he had, which is kind of what you’re getting to also somebody back and forth slugfest that uh there’s a quote later in the book that he’s uh from.
I think Wesley moves on that.
He never should have been in not many wars like he could have been really uh special, more special than he was if he hadn’t been in so many wars that he was in.
Why did he didn’t he didn’t? He inherently understand that he had the technical.
He had the skill off his jab.
He was really a great technical boxer, like you say who could have beat these guys just on on boxing skill and technique alone, but was it because of losing to McGee and to then Eddie Muhammad right yeah that he thought? I’M not going to leave it in their hands anymore yeah! Well, I think that’s part of it, but also uh.
You know, Fighters fight for more than just money and Prestige and titles right they fight because uh what it, what the crowds give them and what their fans give them right.
And you said it before that the punchers put asses in seats sure he could have won a lot more fights by boxing and moving uh.
But would he have become the legend, the living legend that he was if he had made that kind of career? Probably not we’re talking about him now because of the style that he fought in and how exciting he was and uh how many people fell in love with him on free afternoon television watching him go to war with these guys and uh walking that tightrope.
As I write in the book over and over again and you’re thinking, this guy can’t come back from this this time and he did, and it was all about seeing if he could come back uh one more time, just like Gaddy, again Gotti uh.
He so fondly remembered now he wouldn’t be if he was just if he stayed a stick and move guy or a box of puncher type and – and I think the same thing with sad Muhammad we’re talking about him now because of the memories he created when he Was fighting on those afternoon uh fights yeah, you could see the yeah.
You could see the German Guardian when he knocked out Wilson Rodriguez when he was losing yep and someone said something clicked like everyone can keep doing this right.
You know I I mean yeah.
Now you wouldn’t have gotten that HBO contract.
If he hadn’t right, that’s right now, uh your book is available.
We’Re not ending.
I’M just want to make sure the frequently during the show sure your book is available on Amazon right.
It is available on Amazon, uh and Barnes and Noble and all the uh book websites uh.
It’S also uh available directly from the publisher, uh, mcfarlanebooks.
com, publisher, right right and also from me uh.
I can send out uh sign books for anybody who wants them if they want to send me uh a request on Twitter or Facebook or uh at the ringside seat.
I can respond there and I can get a signed book out to anybody who wants one.
It’S interesting you’re, one of the most accessible, well-known great boxing writers, whereas back in the day, Jimmy Cannon Dan Parker.
All these guys, weren’t really accessible to the public.
But it’s sort of a new world in which summer could go on the internet and actually speak to you, one of, if not the top guy in the sport.
He writes about it and thank you for putting me in that league.
But it’s it’s embarrassing to me that you do because those guys were just guys and it’s just a different world.
Now, like Jimmy Cannon, was a you know, such a well-known sports writer right just a legend in journalism and yeah.
It’S a much different world than what it just is, but yeah I’m open to anybody who wants to talk or uh or buy a book or to talk boxing or anything is um.
Now getting back to your great books with anyone Assad Muhammad’s life, because you mentioned about the Rolls-Royce that he bought, and so many athletes do this boxers do this, you know, spend the money on the piano at the hall of fame.
Several when Lennox Lewis was getting inducted, he gave a speech and Andre burner was beside him and he’s he mentioned.
He said, and I guess Lennox is big enough.
He could mention it.
He said uh Andrew birdle showed me his thirty thousand dollar watch the diamond watch and I just wanted to say to you on Andre.
That may be one of the.
If not the most stupid thing, I’ve ever seen good for him.
It keeps depreciating, and if you hurt your eye, you think you’re invincible and you can continues that watch is worthless to you, but you should get a bank person that you know and start investing it in gics, which you don’t know what they are and annuities.
So you don’t have to come back when you cruise over was there anyone to that, could curb Matthew, Franklin or Matt Muhammad’s physical or was it just yeah or was it just yeah, I’m poor? And now I have a chance, I’m Gon na Take It well.
There are a few things uh, a few caveats to mention, I think not only uh was there nobody to protect him.
It was the opposite.
Everybody was happy to steal from him and enjoy the ride as it always is, as it always is.
With the fighters and uh you mentioned, I wrote a book about as a Charles and his situation was the same way.
You know the times were different and and the father is Born Into bling it so much right.
There were no thirty thousand dollar watches, but they they spend because they just figure it’s never going to end.
I thought this will fight again and get a million dollar paycheck or another eight hundred thousand dollar paycheck, and they never see the end coming and it ends and it’s that’s it and there’s nothing after that, and then there they’ve they haven’t planned for that at all, Which I get, I completely understand that and plus they’re coming from very poor backgrounds, mostly and their family and friends are still in those areas and so they’re they’re sharing some of that wealth uh to try to help the people that are important to them.
But it’s a story is always the same: almost always the same and 99 of Fighters who go from Rags to Riches, end up on iraqs again at the end and um Matt’s personality was such that he was a fairly naive in these areas and just you know, Like every, like, I said, uh uh, like I wrote some several times in the book.
He just thinks the party’s never going to end.
They need to keep spending and people keep taking and and uh.
There’S plenty of blame to go around uh for him.
Uh ending up financially the way he did uh in his personal life end his career uh.
There were people around him who not only weren’t protecting him, but who were doing the opposite and uh.
By the same token, I’m not sure he would have listened anyway to somebody trying to protect him right.
It’S just the way it is you know, Fighters.
I I bled all over the ring for this money.
You’Re not gon na tell me I can’t take my 20 grand out of the bank and spend it on this girl or that guy that car or whatever right so it’s very difficult but uh it’s Universal.
It happens all the time right, yeah, it’s Universal! All sports rocket Ismail used to play football here in Canada, yeah um, who went down to the States ended up broke and people were wondering.
How do you end up broke? It was his Sports Illustrated an article about boxers, baseball players, football players and when they’re broke, because of these bloodsuckers family friends and finally, someone in Dallas.
Apparently some lawyer started a thing where he said to the athlete.
You don’t have to pay me.
But when anyone wants money you send it to me and then he sends them.
How much do you want specifically, what is each penny for and what’s your plan to repay it, but that doesn’t exist in boxing? Is there any way to stop that from continuing to happen? No, it is no! No because here’s, the other part guys will show up and say that’s their job and before you know it uh two years go by and that guy’s gone with no forwarding address or number and he’s got all your money right, yeah so uh they don’t boxers the Boxers aren’t businessmen no right and there are a lot of times they’re just trusting in in that sense, and I just figure okay, this person will do me right, but it’s it’s very difficult.
I you know it frustrates me too.
When I see Fighters that are broke at the end, a guy like Evander Holyfield, who made 300 million dollars over his career, it just drives me crazy, yeah that you could blow that much money, but I can see it being very difficult.
These guys are not most of the times are not terribly educated, they’re trusting and they say: okay, this guy’s gon na do the right thing.
I think of the case of Fernando Vargas, right or uh uh Peter Manfredi, guys, who, like thought they were investing in real estate and investing in safe uh Avenues and the people they entrusted to invest their money.
Just took off with the money.
You know and that’s terrible and so, and so you can say they should do this and they should do that.
But it’s it’s going to be very difficult for these guys and it’s not it’s frustrating from from our end to see them do this, but guys are just out there to to rip them off left and right and um, and in Matthew’s case it was on it, Was in his personal life again, possibly and also his uh professional uh management uh, depending on who one asks, but I think there’s plenty of blame to go around right.
I know from the you know from the carpanche Dempsey fight up until the 60s.
It was the people that ripped them off were mostly the mob.
Right, too sure, Mike Williams ended up with nothing exactly now that money, and so many of them did um.
You know what I was wondering about.
Matthew is uh.
I was comparing them to Jake LaMotta.
I asked LaMotta at Kennestone once you know how I was mentioning, how we lie on the ropes and take shots and then even come off, play possum and then bounce off the ropes.
And that, and I said why’d you take so many shots and he said because I’m a bad person I felt I deserved it.
Is there an element of that you think of Matthew getting caught in the ropes or was that? Is that just me overthinking is? It? Is it was, it was just the way the fight turned out.
I think it’s possible that he um and I I couldn’t get in his head, obviously, but I think it’s in line with someone who who’s really deepest thoughts might be I’m not worth anything.
So why don’t I just I’ll just take these shots and that wouldn’t be uncommon.
I think, for a person to feel after he’d been abandoned.
The way he had been uh when he was a kid and spent time again in orphanages and some foster homes but um.
I think that’s possible.
He never expressed that.
I’M not sure he he would express it even if he knew it right right.
It’S possible that he that he felt that way and didn’t know it uh, but he never expressed it, but it’s conjecture, but I think it’s.
It’S possible because whenever he was asked you know how he was doing in your book.
He’S always saying I’m fine, great everything’s, okay, but it seemed like he didn’t completely.
You never got close with the family that abandoned him, and you can understand why yeah he didn’t, and that was a particularly interesting part of the book uh to write uh.
As I noted in there in a footnote or a chapter note somewhere, that uh his birth family uh wasn’t interested in participating uh in in the making of the book and didn’t want to really speak to me, uh, which I guess is understandable right if the.
If the story is as it has been told and portrayed uh, then they don’t come off well right right.
So I understand in fact, that the brief conversation I had with one of his sisters, uh, she said to me uh when I told her what I was doing.
She said what gives you the right, who gave you permission to write this, and I said I don’t need permission, but I I wanted them to participate um, so they could maybe do something to erase or change some of the negative connotation that goes along with knowing His story right right and I tried to do that myself, a little bit when I described uh in the book that the father was just gone and and they were just left at their devices.
You know what I’m saying and when people found out how it went down years later, everybody had a judgment about.
Oh, how could you do that? But where was the father right? Where was his father uh, so I I wanted them to participate uh, not only because, of course, I wanted more information for the book more authentic information uh, but also because I wanted the chance to be one of the um them to have the chance to tell It from their side, but they weren’t interested so uh.
I forgot uh what your question was.
I’M sorry, that’s all right! One of the most poignant parts of your book is when he meets his brother who abandoned.
Oh, that’s right right and you said it’s either.
It was either me or you right exactly right and uh.
He did what he had to do.
Uh and again, it’s it’s interesting.
Also, this this part kind of touched me also um.
It was quoted pardon.
I was in tears reading that, were you uh? Well, that’s good! That’S good! Everybody likes to hear that is uh his story that he’s telling is affecting people in some way but um.
I found interesting that uh Matthew was quoted as saying uh.
It worked out to his benefit that he was that he was fortunate, that it worked out that way for him, because the people in his family in his birth, family, weren’t doing very well right.
Rodney had just a quote Matthew, just a little bit of a job and wasn’t doing well, and I don’t I don’t know what his uh birth sisters were doing at the time um but uh to get back to your and now I recall your original question.
They never got close uh because a lot of times it doesn’t happen that way right things.
Just don’t think that in those situations when somebody the long-lost child, shows up and has a big hug – and you know sometimes it happens that way, sometimes it doesn’t and complicating things, of course, was Matthew.
Had all this money and fame and uh whether there is a a a long lost relative uh, a piece of it or not, when one person gets famous and Rich, everybody shows up with their hands out right and, and my information was that there was some of That going on with his birth family, so it made things difficult, but several people, as I wrote In the book uh told me that he kind of after all that um wishing to find his family, his biological family.
In the end, he kind of wished that he never had yeah.
That must have been really unbelievably sad to find them and then think they just want money from you yeah.
I imagine it was yeah um.
You mentioned that his wife, the wife that was from Alaska.
I believe um when they broke up after he had no money, but then they opened up uh businesses.
They end up a lot of money.
You sort of referred that they.
You know, I mean it’s happened so many times before.
I have friends in stand-up who lost money to Ex-Wives, I mean wives that literally took it when they weren’t looking the the she taped Matthew’s money without his permission and give it to her family.
I don’t know that.
I I can’t say that that was the case right.
What I did in this section, you’re referring to uh Lou, is um.
Note that around the same time that he was declaring bankruptcy, her parents were uh breaking ground on an office building.
That was worth a million dollars uh and it was no secret at the time that um she had very expensive tastes right.
Okay, so I’ll say – and those were, those were indisputable facts right.
So I don’t.
I don’t have proof that she was taking his money or stealing his money or giving it to her parents or any of that.
But those two things that I just mentioned or are indisputable, that she had expensive tastes and a member of uh.
His Camp told me, as I write in the book, that it wasn’t a calmer for them to go on a shopping spree in New York and spend ten thousand, and it wasn’t all math you spending ten thousand right so and those things happen.
Those things happen, and also there’s something else that goes along with that too uh.
You know when a when an athlete, a professional athlete who’s, making lots of money.
Uh gets married or gets in a close relationship with a woman uh.
She thinks the manager is stealing right, the manager thinks yeah, the manager thinks she’s, stealing and so they’re like this, and that was the case here.
Bilal Mohammed uh, Matthew’s business manager didn’t trust her and she didn’t trust him uh, and so that made things difficult as well, but in the middle is Matthew making this money with literally his blood right and and watching it go here and there and here and there And then you know one day later, he’s broken homeless and saying what the hell happened.
Right yeah, I mean same thing with um, Robin Givens and Mike Tyson, and I know yeah Angela said that uh with Muhammad uh with regards to his money taken by the Nation of Islam and his lives and infidelities, he said I just said to him at the Beginning I train him in the gym.
It ends there yeah I’ll, do everything else.
You want me to do I’ll, try to protect you from the mob, but I’m not getting involved in your money.
I’M not getting involved in all these things.
You can’t blame them.
Who wants those headaches right? No you’re right and, interestingly, I didn’t uh.
I don’t think I included this in in the book uh, but you notice that I I’m sure you noted uh a little given your given your relationship with Angelo that on at least two occasions uh the Lao tried to get Angelo to train Matthew.
I saw that yeah right and uh.
I think the quote that was told to me by Tony Green who uh was close to Angelo right.
He moves his original manager.
Uh was he didn’t want those headaches? He had enough of the circus with Muhammad Ali right, and that was that was the.
That was the word that Tony used uh when speaking with me and that he he was, he wasn’t into that circus anymore.
I yeah, I know several.
That makes sense.
There was I’m not going to mention, but there was a Canadian fighter up here who, who was doing really well uh uh.
I believe a cruiserly went down to visit Angelo with his wife and his wife made all these demands, and I said thank you, but no thank you yeah and he gets me once the wife gets involved.
He said I just said to her: how many world champions have you trained right and her? He said.
Well, how come he doesn’t get a signing bonus of a million.
You know gold medal at the Olympics, I’m not Bob arum.
There you go, and, and after he just I mean he turned down as many fighters as he took um so and on Matthew’s fights you mentioned in the book, how he would come in five pounds.
Overweight three pounds was that a lack of discipline or Focus or was that I think for yeah – I think for a long time, especially when he was young, he just figured.
I can make this up in two seconds.
You know when you’re 22, you can take off three pounds in an hour right.
It doesn’t matter when you’re 25, even or maybe even you know – 26 27.
uh, but it finally caught up to him.
In the the first White Muhammad cat we found when he came in seven pounds but yeah he came in it wasn’t done.
It wasn’t unusual, as I uh outlined in the book, that for him to come in a couple pounds, overweight and uh.
He was a training fanatic, he was always running and always in the gym and that’s why.
Another reason by the way, uh like he taped that kind of punishment, because he was always in great shape, but I think he just wasn’t as careful with his weight as he wanted to be, but he knew he could get away with it until he couldn’t uh Again, which was in the book, which is what happened in in the first count, we fight right now, one of the great things when you’re mentioning his him as a youngster teenager.
I guess and he’s getting to all these street fights gang fights.
Um did the discipline of boxing curb his desire after that, to get into the game fights or was that an element of him that was still alive in him that he expressed in the ring? Or I don’t you know, I don’t think so.
I I think he got they were.
He had like an epiphany when he was in prison at 18 or 17.
, and it just said this is not.
I got ta stop this.
I have to find something else to do and he decided I’m always fighting anyway and that seed had been planted, uh by a teacher or two uh over the uh some years earlier, since you’re always fighting.
Why don’t you get paid for it and uh that seat have been planted some years earlier and when he was in prison? The last time he just said.
I got ta snap out of this and do something else and I think when he left prison, that time he’d already decided that those days are over for him and he went to uh.
He started uh working out at the gym shortly thereafter with the intention of uh just being a fighter full-time, but he worked a couple jobs of course during that period and and I can’t say that he was um entirely uh rehabilitated at that point.
There’S some evidence here and there that, even while he was fighting as an amateur, he was doing some.
There were some illegal things on assault or a robbery Euro there uh.
But again I think he said he had decided uh during his last prison study that uh that he was going to box and that would be his ticket out sort of like Bernard Hopkins, of course, right right yeah, because someone used, I think, someone I might have Read it in a Nike role, but someone said that Bernard Hopkins, why don’t you try? You know improvising or trying this, and he said the last time I did that I ended up in jail for 10 years yeah exactly right.
It’S it’s funny that you bring up Bernard and we’re talking about boxers in prison because I’ll take this opportunity to plug uh a new issue of ringside seat Mac.
If you don’t mind, which is a great issue, it’s got all the best writers on the planet, yeah and uh.
One of the features I can’t wait to get uh out.
There is written by uh Hall of Famer uh Bernard Fernandez, Philadelphia, yeah right, yes, his first yeah his first piece uh for our magazine, glad to have Bernard aboard and uh.
He wrote a piece at my request about uh the demise of uh prison, boxing programs and um and again we’re talking about Matthew, sad Muhammad.
Of course, it was in prison and Dwight Mohamed Cowie Tyson, but these guys some guys in those days benefited and Hopkins is one of them, of course, a great example of one who benefits from prison boxing program.
James Scott is kind of a different story, though he’s in here we’re talking about, but Sonny Liston, of course learned a box while he was in prison and uh largely those those prison boxing programs don’t exist anymore.
So, there’s a feature by the wonderful Bernard Fernandez about that that quotes um Bernard Hopkins uh, pretty liberally uh in the upcoming issue of ringside seat mag that uh I’m eager to get out there.
When is it available, uh, probably in about two to three weeks, uh a little later than normal, but two to three weeks now, it’ll be out there and we’ll be posting it everywhere.
Well I love it.
I mean it’s the best magazine on the planet, so thank you.
I appreciate that people want to read about what’s going on and the history of the sport, but what’s going on today, you got ta, get it now.
It’S interesting, you mentioned um, listen! This is off topic of it, but uh when I I was able to speak with, he wasn’t very talkative.
As you know Chris Dundee he did.
You know I was a young kid.
I don’t have time for young kids but sure I mentioned Liston and he showed he had a poster of Lisbon from the 30s.
I think it was from the late 30s sailor boy Sunny listing sailor boy, Sonny Liston, and he said that he showed me a poster.
It I I don’t know it, I don’t know if it was listed or not.
I couldn’t tell if I’m looking at it, but he said that he promoted him in the late 30s.
So he said that would have made him late.
Maybe early 50s, when you find that lead, but I I said I don’t know because you see pictures of listing in the late 50s.
He still looks very young yeah.
You know so I I have a hard time, believing I’m not going to tell him he’s lying, but I mean yeah, of course, right that might be a bit of a stretch.
I don’t know yeah, it’s just fascinating, but the the point we make about the boxing program in prison in a way it’s showing that you it’s a way for these prison.
I don’t have to tell you this, but it’s a way for these prisoners to Channel The Rage, your energy and just doing something positive with their life and Foreman went into the job court and that saved his life yeah exactly right because they started boxing there.
What’S interesting to me about what you just said: uh Lou, about uh that saved his life is a lot of these a lot of the things.
Here’S, here’s! What it looks like in my experience, happens.
So much of the time like in uh uh, like prisoners uh will learn uh how to be an electrician, that’s right in the Job Corps or prison or how to do carpentry or something and then they’re released.
Then they go back into the same environment.
They left and those jobs don’t exist right, that’s what happened with foreman, right and and with Matthew.
I think he studied uh electrician work or something, but they go on into that same uh where they came from and those jobs don’t exist.
So then, what are they going to do right and that accounts for a high rate of recidivism? But the point is: if they learn to box while they’re in there, they can do that anywhere.
In fact, when they go back to their to their hometowns, that’s an option.
At least it was still in the 70s.
I don’t know how much it is now, with the way that gyms are disappearing, but uh.
I’M not saying that uh that uh things like the Job Corps or or things like uh job training programs shouldn’t exist for uh people in that situation.
Uh, but certainly a boxing uh wouldn’t hurt either.
You know in some prisons in the U.
S uh they’re not even allowed to lift weights anymore because crazy politicians say oh, they come out of uh prison, all beefed up and stronger and I’m making better criminals.
That’S just the kind of stupid thinking that exists.
Yeah yeah! It’S ridiculous: it’s also a a lot of racism in that right.
Exactly you know.
The interesting Foreman said something once um about listen, and it applies to a lot of these Fighters that we’re discussing.
I think fona said that up to the age of 15 or 16 17, you couldn’t read, he couldn’t read already and when my mom died.
I was five, so my father had a nervous breakdown, so my sister and I moved all over and I couldn’t read until I was about nine years old until an aunt took me and it was a school teacher and Simon said not being able to read when He went to Job Corps and he started reading at the kindergarten level and then went up and up and up he said being able to read was not going from a dark room into a Lightroom and he said: listen, never learned how to read.
That’S a very good point: yeah there’s so many of these guys, the city members – and I think you know the story where he’s driving somewhere in California and foreign where’s, the gym he said left so Foreman turns left enlisted his Maximus says no, the other left yeah, Meaning right – and he said, none of these guys could read – they lived in a dark world right and they had no other option other than to fight right right and what you just described.
It occurs to me that that’s good for boxing right, but not good, for life right, because those kind of men make great Fighters, but for a terrible society and and uh a terrible life.
Uh – and that’s that’s absolutely true.
Interestingly, as a trials also didn’t learn to uh, read and so much later in life, because he came up, he grew up in a town where there was no really no school right and in fact I just it’s funny that we’re talking about this, because I just Posted on the ringside seat account on Twitter uh that he was still in high school, the first time he beat Charlie Burley wow, and I got all kinds of pushbacks saying he was 21 years old.
How could he be in 21? Well, he started school late because there was no real school where he grew up, so he typically the Tweet was correct, but he didn’t read it.
He just start reading and told them much later when it got to this when he got to uh Cincinnati.
So a lot of these guys uh you’re, absolutely right – they live in a dark place and uh coming from a dark place, is good for boxing right, but uh not good for a society or for people, but fortunately for boxing uh.
The world is full of dark places like that right right I mean, I guess yeah when you look at the questions, always ask: why do so many of these guys in the 50s 60s and even later, up to now a lot of them go into crime? Organized crime well they’re one disposable skills, beating the hell out of someone.
So where else can you do that sure exactly right? You know others yep.
What do you think before we came on air? I was watching the second fight with Lopez in the eighth round and um I mean they would have stopped it today, but absolutely right and the fact that he came back and my heart bleeds for Yaki Lopez who deserved to be world champion yep, but just couldn’t Get there Richard Kate to beat the lindez and then the incredibly stop it for half an hour right right to screw him, but right what was, in your expert opinion? What was Assad Muhammad’s shiny moment, the best fight? Was it the first fight with Martin Johnson? You know what I was thinking about this.
It’S a good question.
I think his who he was at his absolute best and I enjoyed watching him most against Richie Cates in the Richard Cates fight uh, because Richard Cates was very skilled.
Okay, he’s a very skilled boxer, puncher, yeah and Matt on that night was matching him skill for skill right move for move which showed what a brilliant boxer puncher he could be were powering him over tough over and over how tough at him, I should say right Because you knocked Matthew down and Matthew got up, and so he used his innate toughness and courage and heart and all the stuff we love about him to win.
But up to that point he was matching him skill for skill.
The first Marvin Johnson fight, which is just an unbelievable fight, um and uh, which Nigel Collins uh observed, was the only fight he ever watched that he thought where we thought both guys might die right, which is the best quote in the book.
I think one of the best quotes ever yeah yeah.
It really is, and it’s accurate too, because there were just the way they were hitting each other was unbelievable in that that’s my second choice and it’s second because um he just outtuffed, Marvin Johnson, right, Marvin, Johnson people, don’t uh recognize.
I think today what a badass Marvin Johnson was well, he knocked Linda’s across the ring.
We did a bad performance right hand, yeah, Marvin Johnson was something else, and you don’t get a real appreciation until you watch his fights with Matthew, because the shots he was hitting Matthew with would have knocked 99 of the rest of the population out.
He was, he was a hell of a fighter.
He was a real badass um, but the reason that’s my second favorite uh Matthew is because again he just outmanned him out.
Toughed him um, and it was just tougher than Marvin Johnson – knew how to deal with right because it what he did would have gotten rid of anybody else, but it wouldn’t get rid of Matthew and that’s great, but I prefer the skill level.
He showed against Richie case in addition to the toughness, but there are so many great fights the the skill he showed in the first Yankee Lopez fight that essentially unboxed him.
You know we talk about.
You know he made this transition from boxer puncher to puncher, because uh of the Eddie Mustafa Muhammad fight, there were still fights after that, where he boxed on occasion, and he was always having the struggle.
Should I box, or should I punch uh, he boxed the hell out of Yaki Lopez in that first fight, and it was just beautiful: it’s a beautiful performance and in the second one he outtuffed him it just.
He knew that there was nothing Yankee Lopez could do to hurt him, so he let him shoot his whole load and then just took him out.
You know, but one of the one of my uh one of my favorite quotes in the book is from Tony Green Matthew’s friend and sparring partner, who said uh Yaki really put a beating on Matthew in that fight, Matthew one but Yaki kicked his ass and and Tony stayed with uh Matthew for a week because he was worried about uh his condition after the Aki Lopez fight did Matthew.
You think fully recovered from that, or did that stable for me uh? I think it.
I think it’d probably stay with him, but I think all those beatings did yeah.
You know, I think again.
He was essentially finished by the time he was 28.
You know so uh, but look what but again this is like.
This is a trade-off right.
You know you might be dumb by the time you’re 28, but look what you look.
What you gave us up until that point right, because that’s why we’re still talking about him all this time later old as a fighter but but yeah? That’S that’s I mean that’s the story.
I mean that’s something Thomas Houser said about ali.
If someone said to him, here’s the deal because they said what chance would he have had exactly you know in the south being African-American barely getting through high school, and so someone says to him: listen, you can be the most famous man on Earth and made hundreds Of millions, but you can have Parkinson’s disease or you can be perfectly fine but live in the south and not be famous, and you would have chosen obviously to be the most famous man on earth right.
That’S absolutely right and this question about boxing and what it does to people and why Fighters do it really fascinates me the quote I read that Ali gave was when somebody when he had Parkinson’s somebody said: do you have any regrets and just to, as you just Said Louie his his answer was, I don’t have any regress because I saw the world and if I hadn’t boxed, I would have been painting signs uh in uh in Kentucky like my father in Louisville, and they were never would have gotten out of Louisville.
So while the world looks at Ali or looked at him before, he died with pity with opinion.
Oh what what? What did boxing do to this man? He rolled the dice and come? It came up big.
He was a huge winner.
You want a very long life or do you want a shorter life? That’S absolutely unbelievable! For me, yeah absolutely I mean growing up.
I I mean I got to meet Muhammad several times, because my friendship evangelo, but right the first time I met him.
I was 14 13 when he brought Jose Napoli’s to Toronto, to fight Clyde gray for the Welterweight Title and the first time I met Muhammad.
I was crying because I was so in awe of him right.
I couldn’t believe it and he just he hugged me and brushed your teeth always and stay in school and don’t do drugs and – and next you know I I saw him throughout the years of times and he came to visit with his helpers on the set of Cinderella, Man, which I was in and Angela called me to his trailer.
Her name is Muhammad and I started to cry again and you know I’m in my 40s at the time and he looked at me and, and he said uh getting any.
You know you’re getting any undefined and I I my jaw dropped.
I looked it up, so Atlanta was laughing and he’s I said Muhammad, I’m not I’m I’m happily married, and he said I didn’t ask you that so uh yeah, you know he.
He was incredible with with Matthew.
Is it fair to say you can take the man out of Philadelphia, but you can’t take the Philadelphia out of the man that he, wherever he lived, I mean he longed to be in Philadelphia.
I don’t know that’s a good question.
I don’t know, I don’t know if he well, he he moved to Jenkintown and and uh.
That was his home right um.
But I didn’t, I didn’t see evidence that he that he identified uh a great deal with Philadelphia, any more than an average person does with the town in which he or she is born.
I don’t know, I don’t know the answer, but he didn’t there was.
There was no evidence that I saw that being a Philadelphia person was especially important to him.
Well, one thing I found remarkable and I I don’t know why I’ve always found this remarkable, but I was told years ago that it’s common that 99 of the time with boxers, it’s not personal, did he rely on them? Oh, I don’t think it relied on them because we’re all pretty much in the same boat but yeah he had any Mustafa Muhammad.
They were great Rivals and you know they both looked forward to fighting one another for the payday would bring them and it was going to be a unification fight uh and they talked a lot of crap about each other uh toward building up such a fight.
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