Kevin Rooney

  • April 11th, 2008
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Status: Trainer.

Born On: May 4, 1956 In: Bronx, NY

Childhood Heroes: “Mickey Mantle, Walt Frazier, Joe DiMaggio, Willis Reed, Rod Gilbert, Joe Frazier – his aggressiveness. He used to play with the left hook. I followed Joe. I liked Joe. Jerry Quarry.”

Hobbies/Interests: “Now? I really don’t have any now. Maybe playing cards, working with kids, going to sporting events.”

Early Boxing Memory: “When Tyson turned pro. March 6, 1985. Albany, New York. Knocked out Hector Mercedes in the first round with a body shot. I worked Mike’s corner, then another corner, then came out and won the main event.”

Favorite Movies: “Godfather, Raging Bull, A Few Good Men.”

Musical Tastes: “Rock, jazz, Rolling Stones, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra.”

Favorite TV Show: “I always liked the Honeymooners. Better today than then.”

Tyson Memory: “Mike used to knock out guys in sparring. So we had to get good sparring partners. We brought in a big guy, like 6-4, to spar with Mike. He was a pro fighter. This one guy, he climbs into the ring. First round, Mike just explodes on the guy with combinations, head shots, body shots. The guy threw up his hands, HOOOOOOOO! Climbed out of the ropes, took off his gloves and just went right out the door. We would have given him like $100 too!”

Favorite Meal: “Hah, hah! I like fried calamari, a side dish of angel hair pasta with white clam sauce and a nice filet mignon. I eat everything.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Coffee.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Winning the 1975 Golden Gloves championship in Madison Square Garden (age 19). 20,000 people there. I beat a West Point cadet. I put him down twice. I knew I won but I was nervous. When they announced my name, I jumped in the air. You asking me now makes me think of it. Gives me a good feeling. The biggest high in my life up to that point. That set me on my course. My shining moment. My friend got in touch with Cus D’Amato.”

Most Painful Moment: “Me personally? When I lost to Alexis Arguello. I was an up and rising star. If I had beat Arguello, I was on the road. I was 15-0 and I fought Davey Moore on national TV. And I got (robbed). I was 19-1 and I fought Arguello and I got starched.”

Hardest Punchers: “Alexis Arguello. He cleaned my clock with that straight right hand. Never saw it coming. He’s the only one who put me down and out. Roberto Duran. I sparred with him before the first Sugar Ray Leonard fight in 1980. He had heavy hands. Very heavy hands. Charlie Weir. From Africa.”

Closest Boxing Friends: “Vinny Pazienza. Angelo Dundee. Emanuel Steward. Mike Tyson – when he was with me. All my fighters I love. I’m a fighter. There’s a brotherhood.”

Funniest Boxing People: “Angelo Dundee – a good guy. The promoters – all funny. Jorge Paez. Tyson – when he was with me, he had the right personality. He was on the right track.”

People Most Admired: “Cus D’Amato. A man of principle. I admire people who stand on principle, who don’t blow with the wind. Honest people. Straight shooters. That means you’re with someone you can trust. Who will help you. For friendship. Someone you can feel safe with. What we need more of.”

Interesting Fact: “Cus tricked me into going to college. To get me to kill time between training. I was taking a communications course at Columbia Green Community College in Catskill, NY. And the teacher said she wanted me to play a part in the play. She saw me as the part. So I played ‘Stanley Kowalski’ in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ And the teacher said I’d be a better actor than a fighter! I enjoyed that a lot.”

On Tyson: “The thing that bothers me is that the guy could have been the greatest heavyweight ever. After he beat Spinks, I started telling him we had to think about breaking Rocky’s record. Hell, he could have gone 100-0. I tried to say something to keep him interested, to keep him motivated. Because after he did what he did to Spinks, he was head and shoulders above everyone else. It wasn’t close. He easily could have gone 60-0, 70-0, with no problems. Don King ruined the guy. Since he left us, Mike has been on a fast track to hell, in terms of his boxing. I haven’t spoken to him for a long time, but I don’t hold any animosity toward him or hate him. I still care about him. But it makes me sick to think of all he threw away. I could throw up when I really think about it. It’s sad. It’s just sad.”

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