Eddie Mustafa Muhammad

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad is a rare man, indeed. Few fighters ever wear a world championship belt and few trainers get their men to the top of this game. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad has done both. Today, he views his fighters as extensions of himself, not carbon copies, but extensions of his knowledge, experience and innate sense of what this game demands. I was luckily enough to tap into Eddie's unique experience as a fighter and a trainer for this Boxingwise series on boxing's best trainers.

The Cornerman: First of all Eddie, who are you working with right now?

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad: Let me see, Shannon Briggs, Jimmy Thunder, Arthur Williams, 
                        James Crayton, Danell Nicholson.

The Cornerman: Geez, you're a busy man.

Eddie: I have to pay college tuitions, mortgages......

The Cornerman: That keeps you inspired, huh?

Eddie: Exactly.

The Cornerman: Eddie you are one of the few great fighters who has made the 
               transition to being a great trainer. Why don't more fighters make 
               great trainers?

Eddie: It is very simple. I believe in some form or fashion fighters are extensions 
       of trainers. I would not allow my fighter to fight like I can or did. Some
       things are for some people, some things are not. Some people can do some 
       things others can not. Some fighters can move their heads a bit faster, 
       some can slip a punch better. They say I was great defensive fighter and
       also a good offensive fighter. What I do is take an individual and build
       on what he has. Where we go from there, well, the sky's the limit.

The Cornerman: Eddie if you were going to design the perfect fighter, what would 
               you look for in that fighter psychologically?

Eddie: First of all, I want him to have the attitude that he can't be beat, if he's 
       done the right things in preparation for the fight. 

The Cornerman: Have you ever worked with a fighter who struggled doing that, maybe 
               an athlete who was nervous or unsure of himself?

Eddie: I've never encountered that because he would be in the wrong game. You can't 
       have the slightest bit of fear. I teach my fighters to fear what you can't 
       see. If you can see it,then you are able to deal with it.

The Cornerman: What do you look for physically in an ideal fighter?

Eddie: Physically, balance. We all get up and when we walk, we all step with our 
       left foot. There has to be perfect balance and with that we start building 
       the perfect stance.... to the perfect jab.... double, triple.... and then 
       we go to the head movement. It is all part of what we build on.

The Cornerman: Do you think power is something you can teach or is it something
               we are born with?

Eddie: We are born with one punch knockout power. Some guys can sting you a bit
       but there are born punchers. I don't think you can make a puncher. You can 
       show him how to throw the correct punch but you can't make him a puncher.

The Cornerman: How do you explain the power in guys with out a lot size, guys 
               like Tommy Hearns or even today, Oscar DeLaHoya?

Eddie: Very simple, they have the leverage. I teach fighters how to maneuver, bend 
       their body and get the maximum leverage in to their punch. They can be 
       skinny as a rail, like Bob Foster, he had the maximum leverage.

The Cornerman: Can you train a fighter to use the maximum leverage?

Eddie: No question, it is the leverage and the snap on the edge of the punch. It 
       is that simple.

The Cornerman: Tell me what how you structure your training camp?

Eddie: I like to get a guy into camp about 5 weeks before the fight. We start with 
       the basics. Get up at 5 in the morning and run 5 miles every other day. 
       Five good miles at an even pace, no speed demon stuff. That's what I used 
       to do. Then after breakfast I want them to lay down and recuperate from 
       that five mile run. Then they are to be in the gymnasium at 2 o'clock in 
       the afternoon. We loosen up with five rounds in the ring and if we're not 
       boxing that day, we get at least 6 rounds on the heavy bag, 3 rounds on the 
       speed bag, 3 rounds on the skip rope and various exercises. Then I would
       incorporate hand pads that I do myself. Basically exercise.

The Cornerman: How much sparring work do you do?

Eddie: I like to have my fighter work three rounds every other day and build it 
       up as my fighter gets in condition. Then, midway through camp we get up to 
       six or seven rounds. I might have them do ten or twelve rounds one time to 
       give them the confidence that they can go the distance.

The Cornerman: Other trainers and fighters prefer to do many more rounds, some
               times 10-12 per day. What are your thoughts about doing more rounds?

Eddie: I would think that it is too much but every fighter is different. Every 
       fighter's body is different. Sometimes your body will call for more rest.
       You'll know when you're tired because you're body will let you know.

The Cornerman: How can you tell when one of your fighter's is over trained?

Eddie: When he's not throwing the correct punches. When it takes him time to even 
       deliver the punches. When he's missing, when he's lackadaisical in the ring.

The Cornerman: How do you tailor training differently for fighters of different

Eddie: You have to break it up according to the individual. With the older guys 
       there's not much you can teach them but you can remind them of what kind 
       of fighter they once were. You don't train them hard to kill them. We would 
       do a lot running, a lot of walking.

The Cornerman: Switching gears a bit Eddie, who do you pick as your best pound 
               for pound fighters today?

Eddie: Number one, Roy Jones…number two, Oscar DeLaHoya…number three, Felix 
       Trinidad.... and this next one will surprise you, James Toney. James Toney 
       is a great fighter, he's a throwback to the old days. I just think he has 
       a lot of personal problems but he is a great fighter.

The Cornerman: I don't think I 've seen anyone who was more relaxed in the ring.

Eddie: That's what it is all about. That's why he can go all those rounds without 
       getting tired. 

The Cornerman: Does he have the power at the higher weight?

Eddie: He doesn't have the one punch knockout power but he can hit you enough times 
       to make you want to get up out of there. Let me explain something. If he
       can get his head right he can become cruiserweight champion. If he gets his 
       head right and does the right things. There's no doubt about it. When I had 
       him we were doing remarkable things. It is just when he goes to the right
       on me and we couldn't see eye to eye on anything.

The Cornerman: Speaking of James Toney, how do you approach the science of getting 
               fighters to the right weight?

Eddie: They have to realize one thing, fighting is a job. If you are a full time 
       fighter then you treat yourself as a full time fighter. You know what you're 
       correct weight is. You work at it. When you are not fighting, when you don't 
       have a fight scheduled you shouldn't be no more than 7 or 8 pounds above 
       your fighting weight.

The Cornerman: What are you looking for in the future with your fighters?

Eddie: With Danell he may be fighting for the WBO or IBF heavyweight title, with 
       Klitschco who beat Herbie Hide, we may have to go over there. Then I have 
       Arthur Williams who lost his cruiserweight title to Jirov. We're going to 
       get a rematch soon. Arthur's going to fight October 1st. Then I have James 
       Crayton, who fought Ivan Robinson the other day. I thought we won, a lot
       of other people thought we won, the announcers thought we won but that 
       raises his stock up. So, I'm expecting some great things out of James 

The Cornerman: How do you go about getting good sparring for everybody?

Eddie: I can pick up the phone and call different guys. Sometimes they are already 
       in the gymnasium and I can just put them on a salary for top guys. Then 
       were off and running.

The Cornerman: It really is an investment to develop a prospect isn't it?

Eddie: No question. Life is an investment. Life is what you make it. Fighters are 
       what you make them. You get what you pay for. If you want an "A" trainer 
       you pay. If you want a "B" trainer you pay for a "B" trainer.

The Cornerman: Are you a real disciplinarian in the gym?

Eddie: I can only tell a fighter how it is. I can break it down for him, let him 
       know what are the rewards. They know what it takes to become champion, 
       either you want to live in poverty or you want to upgrade yourself. That's 
       up to the individual.

The Cornerman: Which do you like better, fighting yourself or training?

Eddie: I've been a winner in every facet of life that I competed in. I miss the
       actual fighting, no question about it. I love teaching guys how to fight.
       That gives me an extension of myself to my fighters. That there, makes me 
       feel good, when I see my guys put a belt around their waist. That makes me 
       feel ecstatic. If you haven't heard, me and Larry Holmes are supposed to
       be fighting. We are debating over the money aspects of the game. I saw 
       Larry's last fight with Bonecrusher Smith and I wouldn't take the fight if 
       I didn't think I could knock Larry out. I'm taking this fight knowing I 
       could knock Larry out. I'm only interested in two fights, Larry and George. 
       I'm not going to make it a career.

     That's right, Eddie is looking to head back inside the ropes to compete 
in boxing's ad hoc Masters' division. Whether or not that is something you are
interested in seeing is uncertain. The fact that Eddie Mustafa Muhammad will 
continue at the top of the "A" list of the game's trainers is a much greater