I did this interview with Brad Gilbert a few years ago at the U.S. Open and then the boxing magazine that ran the feature discontinued it. Check it out, there are some interesting insights about Agassi, Butterbean and the 1988 Olympics…
Introduction to boxing: My grandfather who drove a cab in San Francisco for 50 years loved boxing. And when I was a kid, boxing was huge. It wasn’t huge, it was Wide World Of Sports and it was Ali and it seemed like it was a very visible sport. And besides tennis, it’s one on one.
Favorite Boxers To Watch: One of my favorites, for sure, George Foreman. Loved to watch George Foreman. Another one, obviously I like Ali, loved Frazier too – for a little guy he was tough. I like Tyson when he was young. I loved Roy Jones Jr. Saw him fight in the Olympics and get robbed. Liked De La Hoya. And probably my two favorites ever – Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. And Lennox Lewis. I loved his craftmanship. Tactician. Very technical fighter. I liked him a lot. I saw him fight at the ’88 Olympics. But I did not see him beat (Riddick) Bowe (for the gold medal). I go to local fights occasionally in San Rafael, like at the Civic Auditorium. And it’s great to watch a club fight, it’s great. Guys laying it on the line. I used to see Irish Pat Lawlor fight. Some of the boxers I like today…I like this guy Ricky Hatton. Floyd Mayweather. Prince Naseem Hamed. I liked him too. Showman.
First Ringside Memory: I went to a bunch with Andre (Agassi). He’s a big boxing fan. I know he loves boxing like I do. And going to a fight in Vegas is just incredible. Because you gotta wear a tuxedo, your wife’s gotta dress to kill. And it’s just a great atmosphere. It’s a show. My fondest memory was going to a closed circuit, seeing Leonard-Hearns. And then Hagler-Leonard. I think that really got me into boxing, like, I gotta go see a big fight. I saw Tyson fight a couple of times, saw him crush somebody. Saw De La Hoya fight three times. I saw De La Hoya-Trinidad. I saw Michael Moorer fight. I think I saw maybe ten fights in Las Vegas.
Greatest Boxing Moment: Probably Thrilla In Manila. I think I saw that like 20 times. Great fight.”
Most Painful Boxing Moment: Seeing Roy Jones get cheated in the 88 Olympics. Biggest farce in boxing history. I was ringside. Biggest farce in ring history. It was a joke. They scored it 5-0 for the Korean guy. He was a tomato can. He got crushed, it was embarrassing. So embarrassing that they named Roy Jones the most outstanding fighter of the Olympics.
Favorite Boxing Movie: Raging Bull, without a doubt. Best sports movie of all time.
Did Boxing Help Your Tennis: When I was 18-19 I used to hit the heavy bag all the time. I used to tape my knuckles up. And it’s hard to hold your hands up for three minutes. I was hitting the heavy bag for about two years. I really enjoyed it and it’s kind of a good way to let out your frustrations.
Ringside Memory: My funniest ringside memory, without question, I went to all the fights beforehand for the Trinidad-De La Hoya fight. The very first fight, Butterbean knocks the guy out. And then about an hour later, honest to God, he’s sitting next to me, eating two hot dogs, drinking a Big Gulp soda, watching the fight. It was one of the funniest things. My wife was looking at him, Weren’t you just out there? Yeah, I want to watch the fight!’