Over the course of the last six months, I have had the ultimate pleasure of meeting and becoming involved with some great talents in the Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland areas. These talents are not just fighters, but trainers, writers, promoters, managers, fight doctors, judges, announcers, gym owners and matchmakers. Each one is adding something that I feel will have long lasting positive effects on the sport of boxing. Once such person is Asim Hanif, currently the trainer for Crusierweight Dangerous Dana Dunston who you saw featured in my column a couple of months back. I have watched Asim with Dana as well as, some other fighters that he trains that you will be hearing about very soon in boxing circles. One thing that I admire about him, is that he takes the time with each of his fighters teaching them vice telling them things to do. This is a great attribute for a trainer to have and will no doubt take Asim to the top of his craft in the years to come. The following is our interview:
Interview by: Brad Berkwitt Brad: How did you first become involved in professional boxing? Asim: I had a man in my life who was like my grandfather named Connie Bryant. He owned a gym located in Harlem called the Knights Gym. He trained Hector Camacho and Iran Barkley back in the day, to name just a few. At that time, I had kick boxers training there. They thought I was just a karate guy and they were curious about me which led to questions on my background. Once they found out, they would ask me about conditioning tips and so on. This was around 1991 timeframe. Brad: Who are some of the fighters that you have worked with that the readers would be familiar with? Asim: Lou Del Valle and Saul Mamby. I didn't train these guys but advised them on conditioning. I took Derek Amos from small clubs to big arenas. He performed very well and only lost to fighters like Chris Byrd and Danny Williams to name a few. It showed me what I could do when I had a fighter with talent to train. Currently, I train Crusierweight Dana Dunston. I truly feel that Dana has the size, intelligence, skills, heart and determination to become a World Champion. Brad: Being from New York, do you see a difference in the style of fighters from there vice here in the Capitol Area? Asim: I feel that that the New York fighters are more punchers/boxers, while this area produces more boxers/punchers. I do feel however that fighters like Sharmba Mitchell and William Joppy are going to change that trend here. Brad: What do you think the state of boxing is in? Asim: I think it's healthy and getting really better right now. The networks are really starting to pick it up again which can only help it. Brad: If you could play a key role in revamping the ranking systems, what changes would you make? Asim: I think that you really have to look at the level of competition that a fighter faces when ranking them. You can't just go by how many wins, a gold medal, and media attention they have gotten. You must look at their level of competition and if they lost, who too? So many organizations it seems place every thing on an undefeated record. I feel the IBF Trial and a subsequent action is going to clean this up. Brad: Do you favor a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers and if so, how would you like to see it done? Asim: I do feel there should be a mandatory retirement fund and the commissions should have something similar to a 401K. I would also like to see a mandatory retirement age instituted as well. Bottom line: I think if the promoters as well as the fighters, should pay in and it should be a percentage match by both parties. Brad: Who are your three favorite fighters of all-time and why? Asim: First of all, Sugar Ray Robinson. He had so much finesse and power which he showed in several weight classes. Roberto Duran. He was so furious when he was a lightweight. He defined the word fighter. Finally, Marvin Hagler. He was the consummate professional who always came in there to fight. Brad: What is the greatest fight you have ever seen and why? Asim: Ron Lyle vs George Foreman. They both took a huge beating in there and both came back with Foreman finally pulling it out. Brad: If you could have any fighter in the history of boxing to train, who would it be and why? Asim: Alexis Arguello. He was a very smart boxer. He always sized up an opponent and made the necessary adjustments to win the fight. Brad: Do you emulate any trainer that you have seen over the years and if so, what attributes do you take from them? Asim: I would have to say two names. The late Victor Valle who worked with Gerry Cooney in his heyday. He taught me a lot about the theory in boxing. Secondly, Hidy Ochiai. He taught me you can never control another man but, you can control yourself. This is so true in boxing in which I feel is 90% mental. Also, this saying is true in life. Brad: If you could choose the era in which you could train fighters which would you pick and why? Asim: I love this era right here because I feel fighters are all around better athletes today. Brad: When you finally retire from training, how would you like to be remembered in boxing circles? Asim: I would like the people to remember that I did a good job with whatever I had to work with. Whether a fighter was high level or one that never becomes a big star, but gave the sport his all. Brad: Finally, what is the saying you live your life by? Asim: "You cannot control what another man does, but you can always control yourself." Asim wanted to add the following to this interview: I really feel that I am where I should be at this time in my life. My discipline comes from an early age of being trained in classical musical. It took a lot of hard work and that work ethic stuck with me over the years. I love working with people bringing the best out of them in the ring and in life. Writers final notes: Look for great things from Asim and his current prospect, Dana Dunston. I really feel that Dana with the guidance of Asim, is destined for greatness, which you can say you read about it in my column first. As always fight fans, keep reaching for the stars and all your dreams can be fulfilled.