by James Slater – How timely! Having just read on Boxing News Magazine’s official website that unbeaten British heavyweight hope Tyson Fury wants and is in search of a new trainer – An American-based one if possible – do I submit this article in which Harold “The Shadow” Knight talks about his desire to work with the 20-year-old. Read on, and that includes you, too, Tyson! (should he be an ESB reader, that is).
The name Harold “The Shadow” Knight will almost certainly be familiar to fight fans; most likely due to his long working relationship with former world heavyweight king Lennox Lewis. Knight., who also made a name for himself as a top-ranked, 19-1(15) super-featherweight in the late 1980s, saw his own promising fighting career come to an end after he failed a brain scan in 1988, shortly after he’d lost on points over 15-rounds to reigning IBF super-featherweight champ Rocky Lockridge.
However, in starting a new career as a boxing trainer, Knight made a bigger name for himself in working, most famously, with Lewis. Today, though he still follows boxing and reads up on all the current movers and shakers, Knight, aged 45, wants to do more and is itching to get back into full time training of fighters. One boxer “The Shadow” has a particular eye on right now is unbeaten 20-year-old heavyweight prospect Tyson Fury.
As Harold told me while speaking to him over the phone from his home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Fury is a young fighter he would very much like to train and “help mould into a champion.”
Knight began by telling me about how he started working with all-time great Lewis. Ironically, as the position he eventually took gave him his greatest fame, Harold initially turned down the offer to become one of Lewis’ assistants.
“After I was forced to retire from boxing, the opportunity came to work with Lennox,” Harold told me. “I still wanted to box and took further medical tests in the U.K, but they also came back as not right. I couldn’t believe something like this had happened to me! Anyway, around that time the late John Davenport, my trainer and mentor, was working with Lewis and he took me to meet Frank Maloney. At first I was pissed. I was so angry, I wanted nothing more to do with boxing and I turned down the offer to be a trainer.”
Maloney had around ten fighters, Knight told me, when he offered him his job as training assistant. Changing his mind and coming back to the U.K full-time in January of 1990 (after a brief stint working as a security guard) Knight was to remain with Lewis right until the Vitali Klitschko fight.
“I got on board the Lennox Lewis train on January 10th, 1990, and I got off at the very last stop, in June of 2003. I’ll never forget it! I was with Lennox when he was fighting in small halls in Sheffield, and to go right to the top of the mountain with him was just a great thing.”
Today, Harold works as a correctional officer in the state prison in Pennsylvania. However, he also continues to train fighters, in two nearby gyms.
“I’ve been working as a prison officer for two-and-a-half years now, but I’m still involved in boxing. Not as much as I could be and should be, but I work with the young kids in two gyms over in Plainville. I still speak with Lennox and Emanuel Steward from time to time, and still follow the game. I know who’s doing what.”
Like a number of other former pros, Harold does not feel boxing today is the sport it once was.
“I love boxing, it’s in my blood, but I have to say I watch it rarely these days. It’s just not what it used to be, the heavyweight division especially. Fighters are not made the same today, not in America anyway. The European scene is really taking over now, because the fighters in Germany and Ukraine and so forth are hungry – in fact they’re starving. And this shows. These guys, like Arthur Abraham and the Klitschkos, they dominate now.”
Harold, who holds his USBA title-winning effort against the classy Kenny Baysmore as his finest win, would love to train another promising fighter all the way to the very top. Enter the aforementioned Tyson Fury – a fighter Harold sees real potential in.
“I’ve really been seeing and hearing a lot about Tyson Fury. He’s a guy who is, shall we say, still wet behind the ears. I’d love to be a part of helping in taking him to the top. There is nothing more satisfying than helping to mould a fighter right from the start. If any of these young guys and their managers want to get in touch, all they have to do is contact me (Harold gave me permission to give out his e-mail address – firstname.lastname@example.org).
“We have excellent facilities and top sparring just a few miles from where I live. We have the Pocono Mountains, which was Lennox’s base when he fought. Or I’d even consider coming back to the U.K to train a young up-and-comer. I feel I have a lot more to offer the sport. I’m still so passionate about boxing and I need to do this.
“I don’t want to have my time wasted, and I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time. I only want to work with a guy who is willing to put full effort into training and making it to the top. I see the weight is slowly coming off Tyson Fury, he is getting more and more solid with each fight he has. He’s what, 6-0 now, with six KO’s? He’s a huge guy, with fast hands and a long reach. I really think I could help him get to where he’s going.”
What Team-Fury will think if and when they read about Knight’s offer is intriguing to say the least. But with his track record of working so well for so long with not only Lennox but guys like Monte Barrett, they could do a lot worse than to at least have a serious think about taking Harold on board – even if it’s only in an advisory role.
As we talked, Knight seemed almost desperate to get the chance to work with another young, up-and-coming fighter. Maybe he will wind up working with the man who was named after another great heavyweight champion. As many fighters have said in the past, you can never learn enough in the sport of boxing. What could Tyson Fury learn from the experienced Harold Knight?
One other fighter Harold is excited about is David Haye. Having known about Haye from years back, Knight is impressed with him. However, he does not go as far as to say Haye will beat Wladimir Klitschko when he challenges him on June 20th in Germany.
“I think Haye and his trainer Adam Booth have done an excellent job, but I think it’s a little too early for him to fight Klitschko. Still, I saw his fight with Monte Barrett, who I trained for four fights, and I was impressed. I think he’s gotten better now that he’s a heavyweight. But Klitschko, who is trained by Emanuel Steward, reminds me so much of Lennox. It’s amazing, he’s like a carbon copy of Lewis. We laid down the blueprint as far as the style Lewis used when he fought, and now Wladimir has adopted it under Emanuel.
“Haye has a puncher’s chance, but I think Wladimir Klitschko is just too big and too good.”