Published: January 15, 2005
Thanks to IRONMIKEFAN for submission.
‘Iron’ Mike Tyson has the best curve ball in the sport of boxing. Weeks
after telling the press that he no longer has an interest in fighting
and that he may never step foot in the ring again, the former two-time
heavyweight champ has hired James ‘Buddy’ McGirt to train him and has
spent the week at McGirt’s gym in Vero Beach – all amid rumors and statements
from the legendary Roberto Duran that he was pegged to take over the role
as Tyson’s new trainer.
Initially, the 38 year old Tyson sought McGirt’s services prior to
his fight with Clifford Etienne in 2003. When McGirt declined, the highly
respected Freddie Roach was brought in for Tyson’s fights with Etienne
and then Danny Williams last July.
Fightnews spoke to McGirt.
Are you now officially Mike Tyson’s new trainer?
Yep. We’ve been working together all this week. Mike is going to take
Saturday and Sunday off and we go back to the gym again on Monday. Let
me tell ya, working with Mike has been really exciting for me AND it’s
a great learning experience. It’s made me realize that every coach has
their masterpiece… and Mike Tyson is Cus D’Amato’s masterpiece. What
Cus taught him… what Cus did with him… is truly amazing. I don’t
think Cus could have gotten the same results with of any other fighter.
I always thought Cus’ system was all about the peek-a-boo style. But
it’s not. It’s about positioning yourself to throw punches… and Mike
does it VERY well. Mike is extremely gifted and it’s incredible to watch
him. The other day Mike and I were walking down the street and I told
him ‘Man, you know… you’re Cus D’Amato’s masterpiece!’ Mike agreed
with me, and told me that Cus told him that he’s one fighter that he
never would have to protect.
What is your game plan for training Mike?
At this point in time, you can’t have Mike try anything different. You
have to get him back to what he used to do and what he knows best. There’s
no other way. The important thing now, is that Mike understands that.
What is you opinion on Mike’s last fight with Danny Williams?
If Mike didn’t injure his knee, I think he would have knocked Williams
out. Once his knee went… that was it. Anyone could see that Mike injured
his knee, because he grabbed it the minute it happened. Williams knew
he had a hurt man in front of him and he took advantage of it.
How has Mike’s knee been holding up during your training with
So far… his knee is looking good. He’s been working out and it hasn’t
been giving him any problems.
What is Mike’s training regimen like?
He’s been working out three times a day! He does his running, conditioning
and then boxing. But every day is different. He switches up and changes
his routine around. But the important thing is that he is training.
In the gym, he’s working on trying to do the things he used to do, and
to go back to the style that he used to have. He wants to get away from
relying on one punch. He’s focusing on a lot on combinations.
Do you feel that Mike has a renewed interest in fighting? Does
he seem to enjoy or look forward to his training?
Yes. Absolutely! I can tell just by the way he talks and the things
he works on in the gym. For instance, he’ll keep working on something
until we both feel that it’s right. If I tell him his balance is off,
he’ll keep working until his balance isn’t off. In other words, he’ll
keep doing something until he gets it done the right way. It’s interesting,
but most importantly… it’s a lot of fun.
Mike has long been the object of much scuttlebutt. Yet a few months
ago, a vicious rumor was purposely circulated that he was ‘depressed’
and involving himself heavily with ‘cocaine.’ In your time with Mike,
has his persona or athletic performance indicated as such?
Not at all. Seeing the way that Mike has been working in the gym, the
interest that he’s been showing and all the running that he’s been doing,
it’s hard for me to believe that he was doing all that stuff. People
will always talk about other people, no matter what. Especially about
Mike. If people don’t know what he’s doing, they’ll take something small
and make something big out of it.
I’m hearing that Mike’s entourage consists of only himself. There are
no more hangers-on and he’s re-dedicated himself. Is this true?
Absolutely true. And… there’s no music in the gym while he’s training
either! Mike was down here doing roadwork on his own. When he came to
me (last weekend), he told me what he wanted to do. I told him: ‘I’m
here baby, when you’re ready… let me know!’ The next morning at 6:30,
my phone rings. It’s Mike. He tells me: ‘Lets Go!’ I said: ‘I’ll see
you at the gym in a few minutes!’ Ever since that day, I’ve been waking
up at 4:30 and 5:00 o’clock in the morning… just so I’m ready to go
to the gym! (Laughing).
You have a huge stable of fighters and many have upcoming bouts,
namely Arturo Gatti. How is it going with Tyson now in the mix?
In the times that Mike has decided to do his gym work in the afternoons,
he’ll work out a little bit and leave when he sees Arturo (or others)
getting ready to train. He’ll say ‘Buddy, I’ll be back when they’re
done.’ And… Mike comes back! I don’t have to look for him or nothing!
Mike is good friends with Arturo and he knows that Arturo has a big
fight coming up.
In 2003, Mike asked you to train him for his fight against Clifford
Etienne but you declined. What were the circumstances behind your decision
to instead train Clifford?
I had just made a commitment to Clifford. Then, the next day Mike called
me. I couldn’t break my word to Clifford. But after that fight, Mike
told me that he understood why I did what I did and that he respected
me for it. It was the first thing he said when he hugged me right after
the fight. Now, when Clifford and Mike see each other in the gym, they
joke around with each other about that fight.
You’ve known Mike since his amateur days. What did you think
when you first saw him fight?
The first time I saw Mike fight was in 1983 at Grossingers. He was sparring
with Frank Bruno. He was 16 years old and kicking the shit out of Frank!
I thought: ‘This guy is a KILLER!’ Kevin Rooney put him in there with
no head gear… well, it was a little head gear , but it looked like
NO head gear to me! Mike was 16 years old and ran Frank Bruno right
out of the ring! I thought ‘DAMN!’ Then, Al Certo leaned over to me
and said ‘You’re looking at the next greatest heavyweight champion.’
Then in 1985 or 1986, we fought on the same card together.
Any word on when Tyson will be fighting next?
I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything. I’m just waitin’… that’s it.
What is your ‘wish list’ of opponents for Tyson? Who would you
like to see him fight and in what order?
Honestly? It really doesn’t make a difference. There’s no one out there
who can beat him. I know that! When his mind is right, there’s no stopping
Mike. Right now, he’s got the right attitude. And, with that attitude…
all I can say is that I’m glad that I’m in his corner! (Laughing)