by James Slater: Back in 1969, a young fighter who had managed to capture an Olympic gold medal was not assured the million dollar contracts that abound for such talent today. No, the sport was different to young talent such as Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier and George Foreman – to mention three Olympic gold medallists from the swinging sixties. Back then, a young Foreman was paid a few hundred bucks (if that) for his debut – far, far less than guys and gals like Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams, Katie Taylor and Jose Ramirez (who failed to win a medal) can look to pocket should they go pro.
“In every Tyson fight you could feel the electricity in the air” – Tom Casino
Exclusive Interview by Geoffrey Ciani – I recently had the opportunity to have a very nice discussion with one of the best boxing photographers in the business, Tom Casino (pictured alongside Mike Tyson circa 1985). A master of his craft, Casino has captured the imagination of boxing fans for almost thirty years, bringing the action up close and personal while freezing single moments that shall forever live on in the annals of boxing history. Casino spoke about his experiences as a photographer and also shared some of his views as a fan. At the conclusion of the transcript, Tom has provided readers with an inside look of some of his work over the years, including images of Mike Tyson, Arturo Gatti, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman, Carl Froch, James Toney, and more! Here is a complete transcript from the interview.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello everyone. This is Geoffrey Ciani from East Side Boxing, and I am joined here today by one of the elite photographers in all of professional boxing, Tom Casino. How’s everything going today, Tom?
TOM CASINO: Very nice Geoff, thank you, and I appreciate that introduction. It was very nice of you.
by Geoffrey Ciani – Over the course of a sixteen month period beginning in June 2009, I conducted a series of surveys that all began with a very simple question: Who are the ten best heavyweights of all time? While contemplating my own list of top heavyweight pugilists, I decided gathering the input of others might help display a more accurate portrayal of what a ‘true’ top 10 list should look like. Now of course this is not an exact science by any means. In fact, quite the opposite, it is an extremely subjective topic that is often skewed by personal bias, differences of opinion, individual tastes and preferences, and most importantly the absence of a universally agreed upon criteria with which to judge past fighters. Even with these inherent obstacles playing their natural role, however, we can still establish some degree of consensus.
The guidelines were simple. I had every person who voluntarily participated in each survey provide me with a chronological list of who they considered to be the ten best (heavyweights, middleweights, etc) in boxing history. Ties were not permitted, just a straight-forward list from one to ten. I then used a weighted-points system to assign values to fighters based on where they appeared on each individual’s list. First place votes received 25 points. Second place votes were worth 15 points, third place votes were 12, and fourth and fifth place votes were worth 10 and 8 points respectively. After that, the point differential was constant, with sixth place votes getting 5 points, seventh place votes getting 4, eighth getting 3, ninth place 2, and tenth place 1.