Angelo Dundee Speaks

18.07.08 - Interview By Raymond Markarian: His Excellency is back to reveal the secrets that made him arguably the most respected trainer in boxing history. Angelo Dundee candidly speaks of the true story behind Ali vs. Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonardís emotional mistake against Roberto Duran, Marvelous Marvin Haglerís weak hand, and heís favorite fighter, Kelly Pavlik..

RM: So youíre flying to Houston tomorrow to train Hector Macho Camacho for his comeback fight correct?

AD: Oh yes, Camacho is fighting on Friday and the weigh in is on Thursday.

RM: How long has Camacho been training?

AD: Oh Camacho has been training for months. Itís remarkable because he is cutting weight and Iíll tell you he looks like a 25 year old. Heís still got the juice. He loves to train, he loves to run. I told him he had to cut down on the running because he was trying to run about eight or nine miles. But I cut him down to three because heís not a marathon runner. Fighters donít have to run that much. All they have to do is tune up their legs. Itís only three minute rounds; they donít have to worry about distance running.

RM: Camacho was telling me that he wants to fight Oscar De la Hoya or Mayweather next. Do you think he would be ready?

AD: Well he can talk that way. But the point is, letís see what he (Camacho) looks like in the ring. Donít jump the gun. I have had too many experiences where everything looked good but it was empty inside. That is what happened to Muhammad when he fought Larry Holmes. Muhammad was in tremendous condition, the best shape in his life. But I didnít know that the doctor was giving him thyroid pills. He was losing weight but the zest wasnít there.

RM: So, your saying that Aliís doctor was giving him thyroid pills before his fight with Holmes?

AD: Yep, I thought the doctor was giving him vitamins.

RM: Were you shocked when you knew Ali was receiving thyroid pills?

AD: These things happen. You look back and you say: shoulda, coulda, woulda, but, it happened so whatís the difference.

RM: How did you know Ali wasnít himself against Holmes?

AD: Muhammad was always able to suck it up and comeback. You know, he would get hit with some shots and he would retaliate. But, he wasnít fighting back in that fight with Holmes. So, I knew something was wrong because he didnít have the zip.

RM: Donít you think that part of the reason why Ali wasnít the same against Holmes was because it was later in his career?

AD: Well listen, I will put it to you this way, there is always a guy out there that can beat the other guy. It was Larryís night you know. God Bless him. Ali and I had a lot of great nights. So you take them as they come.

RM: How do you keep a fighter motivated after a loss?

AD: Motivation is a misused word. Fighters are great professionals. They prepare themselves to not let a loss happen again. Theyíll try to improve on whatever they did before. Sometimes, a loss is a win because you learn something from it. That is the important thing.

RM: So your idea is to get out of a fighterís way after a loss?

AD: Fighters are all winded up differently you know. There are no two alike in this profession. Some guys you can grind. With some guys, you have to make them feel like itís their innovation not yours. Fighters are very intriguing kids. Otherwise they wouldnít be fighters. I mean, I am even talking about a four round kid. You have to be something special to be a fighter. There has to be something special inside of you to get in that ring to prove that youíre the man. So I respect all fighters and I get along with them for that reason.

RM: Was Muhammad Ali your favorite fighter to work with or did you have someone else in mind?

AD: Well, Muhammad was the easiest guy to work with thatís for sure. He was the first one to enter the gym and the last one to leave. Training was second nature for Muhammad. So that made life easier for me. You know, I canít beat this to death to you too much; you never work with the same guy twice. They were all different. Thank God for the difference because you can blend with them.

RM: That is a testament to the trainer as well if you can relate to different types of fighters.

AD: Well, you got to know your guy. You got to know your people. To get the ultimate out of them is the way to do it. A good trainer does not point at a fighter to show how well you do. You point at the job that you do. There are a lot of fighters that I have worked with that people never saw and I was really pleased with myself without any recognition.

RM: Is there any boxer in particular that comes to mind?

AD: I had a bantamweight kid by the name of Arthur Johnson and he fought a fighter from Thailand named Pichit. This guy Pichit was an undefeated champion and Arthur Johnson beat him, he should have won the title but they didnít give the win to him. Johnson did everything but knock the guy out. I donít know what those judges were looking at. It was criminal that they didnít give that kid (Johnson) the title. But, he was a great fighter; Arthur Johnson was the nicest kid that you could know. I learned a lot from him. A few years later, he fought Johnny Tapia and I was jumping all over him. We were in the corner in between rounds and I remember saying an off color word. Johnson responded very calmly by saying ďMr. Dundee, you know you shouldnít say that. I didnít realize that the kid was a weekend preacher. (Dundee laughs)Ö You know you try a variety of things to juice up a fighter every which way. You try to get the best out of them because they have talent galore. But you got to get it out of them.

RM: So what is the most important part about training a fighter?

AD: You have to get along with the fighter. I donít mean live with the fighter because that is the wrong way to go about it. Just be his trainer. You know there has been a big question about fathers training their sons. I think it is an extra special situation because
Outside of the ring youíre a loving father but inside the gym youíre a mean rat. Fathers that train their sons constantly have to change their stripes and you canít do that. It is very difficult for a father to be a trainer and be a father to his son.

RM: Ok well, tell me about your time working with Sugar Ray Leonard.

AD: Oh we had a ball. Ray was beautiful. He had so much talent and that made it a joy. Letís face it; youíre only as good as the guy on the stool. He is the one that is putting it out. I had a great time with Ray Leonard. We grew together from the Hearns fights to the Hagler fight, which were all tremendous fights.

RM: What about the Duran fights?

AD: Well there you go. Duran psychologically psyched my guy out by abusing him in front of his wife. Ray and I were walking down the street in Montreal, Canada and Duran walked up to Leonard wife saying: ďI am going to get him. And when I am through with him, I am going to get you.Ē Ray wanted to beat him up right then and there but I said ďHey if you hit him here we ainít going to get paid.Ē So the mental part of the fight pretty much started right there. We were very well prepared for the first Duran fight. You see, I had an insider on Duran that people didnít realize. He used to train in my gym. There was a little lightweight there named Doug Vailoant. Vailoant used to lick Duran everyday in the gym by out boxing him. Vailoant wasnít a superior boxer than Leonard. So all Ray had to do was outbox him in that first fight. Duran was completely baffled in the second fight. I prepared Leonard to box him that way. We used the same plan in both fights. Another thing about the first fight was that we were in Montreal, Canada. I learned a great lesson that Canadians love tough guys. There is a great history of them in Canada; Durrell, and Johnny Greco, all of those tough guys up there. Duran was a tough guy and every fan in that arena was rooting for him. It was amazing how the entire crowd turned on Ray because he is such a good kid. You know, you learn something new everyday of your life.

RM: So, you used the same strategy to train Leonard in both fights. But Leonard lost the first Duran fight because he got emotional.

AD: Yea, he got emotional because of the way Duran insulted his wife. Let me tell you, if Duran spoke English, he was as big a psyche job as Muhammad, the guy psychic Leonard out.

RM: Sugar Ray returned the favor in the second fight.

AD: Oh yea, the second fight was a different ballgame because Ray knew what he had to do. He just beat him the way he was supposed to beat him in the first fight. So, one fight makes another fight, right.

RM: Exactly, letís talk about the Hagler fight. What were your feelings going into the Leonard vs. Hagler fight?

AD: I was always sure Ray could beat Hagler. The reason being, as great a fighter as Hagler was, he had a thing about him where he would step forward with his right foot and then punch. So I told Ray, every time he steps forward, hit him or move away. So Ray would hit him with a jab before Haglerís punch was coming. Leonard beat him to the punch or he would move over. If you view the tape of the fight, I had a guy yelling ďwatch the stepĒ so Leonard would be aware of Haglerís right hand. You see, Hagler was a right-handed fighter turned southpaw. I knew Hagler was right handed before the fight because I had a kid go get an autograph from him and Hagler signed it with his right hand. So I knew right there, that Haglerís strength was from the right side not from his left hand. I told people before the fight that this would happen.

RM: I didnít know that about Hagler.

AD: Well, a lot of people didnít know. That is the job of the trainer; you have to find these things out. You have to give yourself an edge.

RM: So, you would do things like that? You would ask young kids get autographs from the other fighters to find out their strong hands?

AD: Well, Iíve got friends all over the world thank God. You find these things out by traveling and meeting people. I just like what I do as a trainer and that was a part of it.

RM: Beautiful, and you still have a desire to keep training fighters?

AD: Thatís right man, its all about having fun. You have to have fun doing what you do. I have fun everyday of my life.

RM: Well what fights are you looking forward to this year?

AD: I am looking forward to Cotto vs. Margarito and Calzaghe vs. Jones.

RM: What do you think of the purposed Kelly Pavlik vs. Paul Williams fight?

AD: That is a great fight. Williams is usually much taller than his opponents so I think that will be interesting to see how he reacts. Pavlik is a wonderful fighter he will do nothing but get better.

RM: Enzo Calzaghe made a few statements about Pavlik recently. He said that Pavlik is easy to expose because all he does is come forward and throw the jab followed by the cross.

AD: Yea but that is just his opinion. What if Pavlik comes out throwing the one, two, three, four, five, six? Pavlik throws a lot of punches and he is beautiful to watch. He is a credit to boxing because he excites people. We need the Calzagheís, we need the Pavlikís, we need the Cottoís, and Margaritoís, we need those guys because they excite people.

RM: Cotto and Margarito is going to be a great fight.

AD: Tremendous fight! This is going to prove to me how good Cotto is. But I donít know if he could beat Margarito. Margarito is a tough guy that keeps coming forward.

RM: Who do you like in Calzaghe vs. Jones?

AD: I like Calzaghe because he throws a lot of shots. Do you remember that Glenn Johnson fight against Jones? This is going to be the same type of fight. I think Calzaghe is a little better boxer than that guy Johnson. But, you never know, fighters make fights.

Contact: Editor of

Article posted on 19.07.2008

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