When a true boxing fan mentions the name Earnie Shavers the first thing out of his mouth is hands down the hardest puncher in boxing history. Well, this is a true statement but I want to tell you about the man and not the many ring accomplishments or the legendary power. The only way I can say the following is from the heart. Earnie is one of the warmest, interesting and decent men I have ever had the pleasure to meet in boxing and out. Earnie absolutely defines the saying, CLASS ACT! Two interviews that I have sought from the first time I put my thoughts to paper have been Aaron "The Hawk" Pryor and Earnie "The Acorn" Shavers. Well, today, this writer has the honor to have interviewed both of these great men. Both warriors in their respected weight divisions who gave the fans their hearts and souls in the ring. If Earnie ever comes to your town, take the time to meet him at any of his speaking engagements or countless charity fundraisers he does. You will find out for yourself what I mean when I say he defines the saying A CLASS ACT! The following is our interview:
Interview by: Brad Berkwitt Brad: I can't tell you how many of my readers and fans of boxing I know that always bring your name up when we talk about boxing. They are always talking about your power and the question most asked of me is, what are you doing today? Earnie: I am a speaker. I travel all over the world making appearances. In fact, I just returned from one with Gerry Cooney out in San Diego. I am going to be at a big engagement with Gerry Cooney, Joe Frazier, Kenny Norton, Larry Holmes and a few other guys down in Antigua. We are gonna appear I think at the Tim Witherspoon fight. Brad: How did you wind up in England? Earnie: I had a young fan here that I came to see and met his Aunt. Brad the day I met her I knew I was going to marry this woman. I did and now enjoy living in England. I travel back and forth to the states about twice a month. Brad: I have always been a fan of yours and I am so happy to see you getting the credit you have deserved since your heyday in the ring. Do you feel you got the proper credit you deserved when you were fighting? Earnie: No not really. I am getting it now. I was chosen as the hardest puncher of the 20th Century. I think I may be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year in both California and Canastota New York. Brad: I have followed boxing since 1975, but the fight that sticks in my mind the most up until 1980 in the heavyweight ranks is your first round destruction of Kenny Norton. Going into that fight, what did you think would happen? Earnie: Well Brad, I knew Kenny was afraid of my punching power. I really beat Kenny six weeks before the fight. We had a press conference in California with Don King. Don King and Kenny Norton were talking about the return match with Larry Holmes. I turned to Don King and said you forgot about me. Don said oh yeah and brought me up on the stage. I turned to Kenny and said, "Kenny I am going to Destroy You!" Kenny said Earnie we are going to both make a lot of money. I told Kenny I am the only guy who is going to remember that. I put the fear of GOD into him and he never got over it. I figured in three rounds I would have him out of there. My corner told me to go to him because he can't fight going backwards. I did just that backed him up and knocked him out. Brad: In your second attempt at the Heavyweight Title vs Larry Holmes you had him down and what many thought out. Somehow he was able to get up from that murderous punch and pull out the win. In hindsight, what would you have done to pull out the win? Earnie: Well one problem for me was in the third round I got thumbed. I really couldn't see Larry properly. In fact, I saw three Larry Holmes and swung at the wrong one. Larry told me that out of all the guys he ever fought that I was the greatest puncher. He said you hit me so hard in the seventh round that all I saw was like a flash from a camera. Next thing I know I was hitting the floor which woke me up. Larry ended by saying if you had cut back on your punching power, I would still be there today! I didn't realize at the time that I was punching so hard and wearing down. I must tell you Brad that Larry Holmes had the best recovery time I have ever seen. I must also say that Muhammad Ali did as well. You know Brad the fight game has been very good to me. Those two fights with Holmes and Ali has opened up so many doors for me especially now. I am getting calls everyday and getting paid about $5000.00 minimum for personal appearances. (Earnie deserves every penny he gets for all the wars he has been in over the years and mostly because he gave his fans his ALL.) Brad: Who was your toughest challenger and why? Earnie: My toughest challenger was a guy named Roy "Tiger" Williams out of Philadelphia. When I first turned pro back on November 6, 1969, I trained upstate New York with some of the Philadelphia fighters. They would tell me all about this guy and say Earnie this guy is tough. You guys will meet and it will be a life and death fight. So get all the money you possibly can for the fight because it is going to be a tough one. From then on, I never forgot that name. So what happened was when I was trying to get a fight with Muhammad Ali whom at the time had Roy Williams as a sparring partner and fired him because he was so tough. Ali than told me if you beat Roy I will give you a title fight. Brad I didn't want nothing to do with Roy in fact I didn't even want to go past Philly because I might run into him. I really had no other choice but to fight him so I could get my first title fight. See I had Roy as a sparring partner too and after a week, my trainer fired him because every day in sparring was a war. My trainer told me you can't have these kinds of wars every day because you're leaving the fight in the gym. Brad: What was the outcome of the Roy "Tiger" Williams" fight? Earnie: I knocked him out in the 10th round. The first eight rounds were very close. I was ahead on points and Roy decided to comeback in the 9th and 10th rounds to make up for the first eight. He literally had me out in those two rounds. Brad I watch the fight now and still get afraid. Brad: I feel that the current heavyweight division today lacks the excitement and the characters of your era. What do you think of the current heavyweight ranks? Earnie: I feel the same way. During the 1970s, it was the toughest era in the history of the heavyweight division. In fact, it was known as the Golden Era for heavyweights. There were so many great guys out there and great trainers too. We were so competitive back than. We did not want any fighte to get an edge on us so we did whatever we had to do to stay on top. Brad: I have always heard a rumor but want to clear it up. True or false? You used to knock the heavybag off the chain? Earnie: True! I use to break the speedbag too. Earnie than said, "I had a little punching power." (I replied to his statement by saying a little? That's like saying Donald Trump has a little bit of money.) Brad: Talking about your power. Where did it come from? Earnie: Well Brad, I grew up on a farm and use to throw bales of hay, carried bags of wheat, and chopped down big trees. This gave me power in the back of my leg muscles. So when I turned professional, Archie Moore and those other guys would have me chop down trees to keep my punching power going. Everytime I chopped for a fight, I could tell the difference. In fact, when I chopped, I punched 25% harder than when I didn't for a fight. Brad: What do you think of females in boxing? Earnie: I really don't care for it. Boxing is a tough sport and in the long run they are going to get hurt. Women's bodies are not built to take punches and a mans body is not built to take punches either. Look at us guys and see what is has done. I just don't like to see that for women. Brad: Do you favor a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers to pay into once they turn professional? Earnie: I totally agree with you 100% from day one you should start putting something away. Take me for example I did not make that much money in the ring but boxing gave me a name that now has allowed me to make and put money away that I wish I would have done when I was fighting. Brad: If you could have chosen any other profession besides for boxing, what would it have been? Earnie: First of all I am an outdoors person so it would have to be an outdoors job. Probably something like construction because I enjoy hard work because it keeps you in shape and makes you stronger. Like I said construction or maybe a builder. Brad: How did you get into boxing? Earnie: Since the age of 12, I knew I wanted to be an athlete. So I started taking care of myself. My brothers friend who was a highschool football player told me what I had to do and other guys as well growing up. I never smoked, drank or did drugs my whole entire life. I dedicated my whole life to being an athlete. I got into the fight game at 22 and thank God for me starting late because I was more mature, stronger than most guys and well conditioned. Brad: What would your advice be to the young man that is just turning professional? Earnie: You must eat, sleep and live boxing 24 hours a day. Listen to fighters that came before you and the trainers that can tell you good, bad and what not to do. Brad: With all the hype and big bucks the fighters are getting today. How do you feel they would fair against the boxers of your era? Earnie: I am glad the guys today are getting big money but the would not fair well against the guys from my day. We just had better competition back then. Brad: Do you have any funny stories of any stuff that happened before a fight or after that you were involved in. Earnie: Yes. I use to tell guys something I learned a long time ago about doing. You start to tell an opponent a little story but you don't finish it. By doing this you get the guys mind messed up. You find out something bad about your opponent but you wouldn't tell him the whole story. You tell him just enough to make him think and worry. I did this when I fought Howard Smith. See Howard use to be one of my sparring partners. I used to knock him out in the gym everyday with the big gloves on. At the weigh- in, I said Howard remember the old times. He turned to his trainer and told him, "I am not ready for this guy." I will tell you another story about Jimmy Ellis. Ali told me how to fight Jimmy. Ali knew Jimmy who by the way is a wonderful guy. Ali told me if Jimmy boxes you he is going to beat you because he has more experience than you. You have to make him try and out punch you. So Archie Moore went to Jimmy and told him, about a week before our fight, that he cannot punch. Jimmy and Angelo Dundee had the plan to outbox me. Well, after hearing that, Jimmy tried to outpunch me. He hit me with a good right-hand in the first round, but forgot to move. I threw a right uppercut and caught him. Bingo, Ballgame is over. If he would have just boxed me, he would have probably beaten me. The whole key to the fightgame is to be in good condition and learn how to con your opponent. I had a problem with Ali and Larry Holmes. I tried to con those guys and they just stared right back at me. I said to myself it's going to be a long night. Brad I have to tell you one more funny story. When I fought Jeff Sims in Nassau. Well, before I fought him they called me and I was in retirement at the time. They offered me $50,000 to fight my grandmother meaning basically an opponent I could beat. My people told me that you know that they are going to switch opponents on you before the fight. So fight time naturally he got hurt. So when I got to Nassau some guy asked me who I was going to fight and I said Jeff Sims. He said oh my God. He punches almost as hard as you and that's him over there. I looked over him and he looked like a gorilla. I went over to him and said Jeff, is so and so your manager? He said yes and I said you are nothing but one of his Negro's. He isn't even here. I bet he will be here in time to cut up the money though. Jeff said that's right. See I got him going. I than said look Jeff don't get hurt. So in the first round, he had me down. I got up and said hey Jeff, slow it down we have ten rounds to go. He said OK. So I went to work on him in about the third or fourth round and knocked him out in like the 5th or 6th round. Jeff told me, man you told me to slow it down. You tricked me! I told him you bought it, welcome to the BIGTIME! Brad: Why did Ali nickname you "The Acorn"? Earnie: Because I had a shaved head that looked like an acorn. When the fight was over, he said, "Earnie, you're a hard nut to crack!" Brad: Have you stayed friendly with any of the fighters from your generation? Earnie: Every last one of them. There is not one guy in the fightgame I do not like. There is not one of them who have turned me down for any request I have ever asked of them. Brad: I have reviewed your fight record and it's quite impressive at give or take, 73 wins, 14 losses, and one draw. I noticed that if it went to a decision, you came up on the short end of the stick almost every time. Why do you think that is so? Earnie: I usually tensed up in a fight and it took me a long time to learn to relax in there. If you don't relax in there you burn yourself out. So if the fight went more than five rounds, I would burn myself out from being so tense. I learned to relax at the end of my career. They told me you never learn the fight game till your fight game is over. Brad: I have many of your tapes and noticed you were interviewed by the legendary Howard Cosell. What was it like be interviewed by him? Earnie: Howard was OK. He was your friend as long as you were there in front of him. When you turned and walked away he got you. I guess that was part of his job. Brad: Finally, what would you like your fans to remember you for when they mention the name Earnie Shavers? Earnie: That I gave them their money's worth when I fought win, lose or draw. People paid their hard earned cash and they want to see a good fight which I think I gave them. I have been asked many times on how to purchase Earnie Shavers memorabilia. Also, how to get him to do a speaking engagement at different events which he truly is a speaker that puts fans on the edge of their seats when they hear about the Golden Era of the Heavyweights. The following information is provided: For Grand Openings and After Dinner Speaking engagements the fee of $5000.00 plus traveling expenses. For something really special for the diehard boxing collector Earnie has: An Original Poster by Leroy Neiman of Larry Holmes vs Earnie Shavers Championship Fight on September 28, 1979, in Las Vegas, Nevada. These posters are selling for $5000.00 dollars each at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, "unsigned" by Neiman, Holmes and Shavers. The fight poster that Earnie is offering are personally autographed by Leroy Neiman, Larry Holmes and Earnie with pictures of all three signing the poster. In addition, the poster comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. The bidding on these starts at a minimum bid of $2500.00 Dollars. These posters and bookings for Earnie can be done through: Mr. Jerry Haack C/O NEWPORT MARKETING IN 416½ Acacia Avenue Corona del Mar CA. 92625 Phone (949) 673-7045 Fax (949) 673-7458 When contacting Earnie, tell the them Brad sent you. As always fight fans, keep reaching for the stars and all your dreams can be fulfilled.