Discussion in 'Classic Boxing Forum' started by mr. magoo, Oct 1, 2023.
Magoo sir, the above is your answer.
Great points JT. As usual.
I met Gerry at a fight at Barclays in Brooklyn a few years ago. I was walking in with a friend and Cooney was right in front of us. My friend knows boxing casually and when I said ‘that’s Gerry Cooney,’ my friend responded, ‘I didn’t know who he was, but I knew he was somebody,’ referring to his size and build.
A minute later Cooney turned around and said hello and shook our hands and introduced himself. We chatted for a few minutes and he couldn’t have been nicer. Not a shred of ‘big-shot’ in him in our encounter. He came off like a huge fan of boxing and a guy who is really enjoying his life.
Every interview I've seen of him, and I'm going
back before the Holmes fight he's always seemed
to be a genuine good man.
The sad thing is that he probably was, if he had stayed on the straight and narrow.
There was plenty of low hanging fruit in that era, if you wanted to pick up a strap.
I also think him being taught to fight orthodox worked against him. Imagine him fighting in his natural southpaw stance. He would have a huge advantage on most guys not named Tyson.
I find his friendship with Larry Holmes to be one of the most genuine and touching things in boxing. Two guys go into a fight with a very, very ugly build not knowing each other and thinking the other guy is pushing the racist angle that was used to market it and they come out and find out the other hated it as much as they did … and become lifelong friends.
Their families have hung out (and I think even vacationed) together. Larry and Gerry both say the first thing they do when they get asked to do a charity event is call the other and the answer is always ‘tell me when and where’ so they go together and help raise more money.
The Ring did a Larry Holmes tribute/retrospective issue last year or the year before and Cooney wrote the intro. He wrote about how after all the ugly build to their fight, when they went out for referee instructions and touched gloves, Larry said one thing to him: “Let’s have a good fight.” That, Gerry said, was the root of what became a great friendship — not ‘I’m going to kick your ass’ or ‘You’re in for it now’ … just, hey, we’re here in front of all these people fighting for the biggest prize in sports, let’s have a good fight.
He said Larry called him several times when Gerry’s career was on hiatus to encourage him and check up on him. That he ever since has always been there as a friend, and that Gerry says he always tries to do the same.
It’s a shining example of everything good and right about boxing … which has plenty bad and wrong about it.
Gerry had potential. Unfortunately his management brought him along disgracefully. Feeding his record with low graded fighters and past it veterans then all of a sudden thrown into the Lion's Den after a year's inactivity with Larry Holmes was incompetence personified! What should have happened after Gerry beat Ken Norton was to put him in with young contenders such as Trevor Berbick,Renaldo Snipes or Greg Page. Providing Cooney came through succesfully the next port of call should have been with the WBA holder of the time - Mike Weaver,MIchael Dokes or Gerrie Coetzee. Provided he kept healthy and focused these fights would have been winnable for him. Then the logical step would have been a title unificatrion bout with Holmes. Not saying Cooney would win but he would have stood a better chance than in their actual fight.
Possible he just made the big bucks waaaaayyyy too early.
I still wonder if, in reality, Gerry deserved that title shot. Look at his activity over the course of the preceeding what, year and a half? Sure the Norton, Lyle, and Young victories were pretty impressive, but to me Weaver deserved a shot at unifying the title by that time. Instead Mike got robbed in that first fight vs. a similarly undeserving Dokes (who ended up being a pretty lame "champ" compared to Weaver's reign).
Just my opinion.
exactamundo. Should have signed with DKP and had a different road to the title and optimal opponents and opportunities. Guys like Leon Spinks. Tate. and then step it up against the WBA champs. He also could have waited for when holmes was stripped of the WBC title and certainly King would have had him in that title picture. Who knows what the newly formed IBF would have done if he was undefeated and with DKP?
Lots of roads to have taken other than the one he chose.
Prime Cooney was a beast
Got to remember the times... Different era, most fighters were orthodox,,,, or converted to orthodox.
I think that's what hurt him the most. The racial aspect of the fight. The weight of " Great White Hope". Which he wanted nothing to do with, but was bestowed on him by the media , and the president of the USA who had a phone placed in his locker room for his expected win ( Holmes didn't have one placed in his locker and was angry about it. Rightfully so, an obvious slap in the face for the man who was the champ)
And when he lost.... The media and fans that built him up crucified him.
Pressure breaks pipes......
It broke him. Carrying the weight of the majority of America. And failing.
I think that the Gerry Cooney story turned out exactly like it was supposed to, and in the best way possible.
You can say he lacked mental strength but he did something that the vast majority of the population doesn't have the balls to do just by fighting, be that in the ring or in life. He put himself in a position to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world against a very good champion and didn't embarrass himself with his effort, not in the least. All of that while trying to prove something to somebody by pursuing the most difficult activity known to man- where dying while performing is always on the table- when his heart was never in it.
You can say that his management moved him poorly but he made a ton of money, fought for the title and still lives well 30 or more years after his last fight. Not too many fighters have been moved as well. People have said that his trainer was too protective of him- I have said it myself, though I no longer believe it. I have come to understand that Victor Valle knew Gerry very well and understood that he didn't really want to be a fighter and knew his other struggles and cared about the fighter.
And Gerry may have 'lacked' mental strength but he beat his demons, made peace with his past and, by all accounts, has always been a gentleman and kind to other people. I'm not sure what else he should have done.
And if he'd lost, he'd likely not have had the opportunity to earn crazy money for being the latest great white hope.
In terms of making him the best fighter he could be, yeah, his management was perhaps not ideal. But as far as using boxing to set him up for life, they did an A+ job. He earned 10mm in 1982, which is around 21mm today.