Where Are They Now? Boone Kirkman

By Shawn M. Murphy – Born Daniel Victor Kirkman, “Boone” was a 1965 National AAU Heavyweight Champion. Kirkman turned pro in 1966 under Jack Hurley. Kirkman was always a huge draw and crowd-pleaser in the Seattle area. Although he would never fight for the heavyweight title, Kirkman beat many notables during his twelve year career including Eddie Machen, Doug Jones, Ron Stander and Jimmy Ellis. Kirkman retired in 1978 with a final record of 36-6 with 25 KO’S..

(SM) You were born Daniel Kirkman, where did Boone come from?

(BK) Your right Daniel is my real name. I would go out hunting with my Dad and I could never keep up. He would tell me “come on Daniel Boone”, and the name just stuck.

(SM) So what have you been doing since you retired in 1978?

(BK) Well I drove a beer truck for awhile and got into the Teamsters which I am still in. For the past several years I have been driving for Boeing. I’ve done a lot of hiking also, keeps me in good shape. Climbed up Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helen’s, Mount Si, a few others. Also rode bicycles for awhile. Broke several bones in crashes though and quit. I guess that was more dangerous than boxing was. (laughing)

(SM) So Boone how did you get started in boxing?

(BK) I was pretty little at the time, got into a few scrapes in the street and my Dad told me if I wanted to fight then he would take me down to the gym. It just went from there. I used to take the bus downtown after school to the Cherry Street Gym. I quit for awhile and then started back up about sixteen or so. I really wanted to box and ended up in the Tacoma Golden Gloves. I broke my thumb in the second fight but won in the finals.

(SM) Who would you say was your first big name opponent?

(BK) Probably Doug Jones. I fought Jones in 1967 and he shut my eye in the fifth round and they stopped it in the seventh round. I had him up against the ropes and was really giving it to him when they stopped the fight. Everyone thought they were going to raise my hand but they raised his. I guess because my eye was cut and shut. I fought him a couple months later and got him in the sixth.

(SM) What was the difference in those two fights?

(BK) The cut was the difference. I was beating him and was ahead on points the whole first fight. He was a pretty crafty fighter. I saw him fight Ali and I think he should have won that fight.

(SM) What kind of fight did you train for against George Foreman?

(BK) My plan was to beat him. That’s where Jack Hurley and I differed. I wanted to work out with good sparring partners and he had guys that weren’t that competitive for me. When I went back to New York City, Terry Brenner, the promoter of the Garden offered two real good sparring partners and Hurley turned it down. Foreman then picked them up. Hurley and I differed in a few things. He wanted me to be more of a counterpuncher.

(SM) How tough was the Jimmy Ellis fight?

(BK) I trained really hard for that fight. Hurley and I had split up after the Foreman fight. I told him I wanted more activity before my fights. I just wanted to keep real sharp. Ellis was tough; he knocked me down in the third round with a good left hook. He had a good jab as well. Towards the end of the fight I was out-jabbing him. I beat him in the same round he knocked me down. Yea he was tough.

(SM) You fought a guy named Memphis Al Jones in 1974 who was 6-21, what happened in that loss?

(BK) That was the nightmare of my career! I went down there and the promoter, Sean O’Grady’s dad said I would have good sparring partners when I got there. I went down about two weeks before the fight and had no sparring partners at all, no one to work out with. I had him down twice in the first round and twice in the second round. When he got up after the fourth knockdown all I had to do was hit him on the back of the head and it would have been over. I was just too nice a guy I guess. When I went out for the third round he caught me with a good shot. After the fight I went to his dressing room and told them I wanted a rematch. They wanted outrageous money for it. Most people knew it was a fluke anyway.

(SM) Did you break Ken Norton’s ribs in your fight?

(BK) Yea, he had to even postpone that movie, Mandingo, for six months. I broke Foreman’s ribs too in that first fight at the Garden. I might have hung up the gloves after the Foreman fight but for Hurley. I always felt I was cheated out. I was in good boxing shape but not in good fighting shape, there’s a difference. You can ask any good pro, they’ll tell you that.

(SM) Between your loss to Randy Neuman in 1975 and your win over Jose Roman in 1977 you didn’t fight?

(BK) I fought Randy Neuman and lost that decision, I was just not there. I was just not on that night. I think if the fight was held two days later I would have won. It’s like a basketball team, some nights you just don’t have it. He was a good boxer though, but he choked me with one hand and punched me with the other so I kicked him. During that period I was always training but just never fought.

(SM) After a 1978 win over Charles Atlas you retired at just thirty-three, why?

(BK) The offers were too ridiculous. Nobody wanted to give me a good fight. They offered me five thousand to fight Larry Holmes in Manila. You know where I told them to take that? They wanted me to fight Coetzee over in South Africa for ten thousand. I would have had to go all the way over there and leave my job, it just wasn’t worth it. It was a lot of politics too. I tried to call Don King too see if I could fight for him but he never did call me back.

(SM) Any thoughts about ever making a comeback?

(BK) No, I broke my shoulder a couple of times and I just decided to say no. I got a plate in there before the Foreman fight. I had twenty-two fights with that in there.

(SM) Why did you never get a shot at the title when men of less caliber did?

(BK) I don’t know, maybe it’s the luck of the draw or something. That was always my dream, to get a shot at the title but you know as you get older it kind of fades away. You know looking back my career I can say I didn’t get hurt real bad so I think I did pretty well.

(SM) Any regrets looking back now?

(BK) No, well maybe some. Hurley told me one time; don’t get married until you’re done fighting. I was married a couple of times. I think you focus more when your not married.

(SM) Who would you say was your toughest opponent?

(BK) Bill McMurray was the toughest fight, Foreman was the toughest opponent. For McMurray I had the flu. The guy came out in great shape, an ex-decathlon guy. It was the hardest fight I ever had but I beat him in ten.

(SM) Other than probably Ali, any other fighters you would have liked to fight?

(BK) Too Tall Jones, the football player. If I got on the football field with him I would have no chance. But in the ring it would be a different story. I really thought about fighting him at one point. Jerry Quarry, we made an offer to him but he turned it down. He got a fight with Norton instead.

(SM) You still watch any boxing these days?

(BK) I watch the big fights, guys like De La Hoya and Hopkins.

(SM) How do you like the heavyweight division today compared to when you fought?

(BK) You know, people say they’re not as good as when we fought but there all good. They train hard; they’re much bigger than we were. Look at that Russian, he’s like 330 and over seven foot. When we fought though, you knew who the champion was. It was Frazier, Foreman, Ali and Ellis. Now there are four champions in each division.

(SM) Boone anything else you want to say in closing?

(BK) Just that fans in the Northwest have been great and always supported me. My Dad told me after I won the Seattle Golden Gloves that I didn’t have to go any further. He was very proud of that. I was rated number seven in the world a couple times. I had a pretty good career.

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