Up close and personal with trainer Asim Hanif

     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 

       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 

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 

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 

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 

Brad Berkwitt