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Celebrity Boxing Fan: Brian Kilmeade of Fox News

Posted on 03/01/2009

“I talked to Tyson a few years ago in Arizona. Tremendous. He was great. Very humble. Asks you a lot of questions. If he was an actor, he deserves an Oscar.”

You may already know that Brian Kilmeade of Fox News Network is one of the best in the news reporting business. What you may find as a surprise is that Kilmeade is also a lifetime boxing buff who reveres Evander Holyfield and the inspirational powers of the sport.

Like a boxer, Kilmeade, 44, has paid his dues. He learned the ropes of the news reporting business at WLIG in New York, KHSC in Ontario, CA, XTRA-AM all sports radio network, etc. Then he earned an opportunity from the undisputed leader of cable news, The Fox News Channel in 1997. Since then, Kilmeade’s career has ascended.

Today, the Long Island University grad performs a variety of roles for Fox. He’s a host on Fox & Friends, the network sports anchor who covers the latest in sports updates and national events, and he also interviews world figures like Colin Powell. He’s also written two books: “The Games Do Count” and “It’s How You Play The Game.” recently had the chance to talk boxing with Kilmeade in New York where he explains why he admires Holyfield, what sparked his boxing interest, which infamous heavyweight title fight he enjoyed from ringside, and more:

Introduction to boxing: “Muhammad Ali, to me, was as popular as the Mets and Yankees growing up. I remember seeing him getting his jaw broken against Ken Norton. Seeing the hoopla around it. From that moment on, I was sucked in. Also, Ali’s antics outside the ring is what first got me interested in sports, period.”

Favorite boxers to watch: “Evander Holyfield and De La Hoya. I love to watch both of those guys even though Evander should have retired by now. Holyfield’s a guy I probably looked up to in sports more than anybody else. Because he’s over-achieved his whole life. He’s always over-worked for everything he’s ever gotten. He stayed humble. He’s stayed out of trouble. And I think he treats his opponents with the same respect after the fight as before the fight. I’m a little bit tired of people putting each other down, talking trash. He just won’t do it. It’s not in his blood.”

“I think Oscar stood up and dealt with a lot of personal pressure. I think his dad put a ton of pressure on him. I think he was told he couldn’t lose. That’s the way he approached all his fights. I think he realized the sport needs people like him and he was willing to be the charismatic guy. Because it’s not enough to just get in the ring.”

Appeal of boxing: “It’s fundamental sports. It’s what sports is all about. Then they came up with the other stuff. What do you do to be a boxer? You’ve got to work hard, you gotta train, you gotta go in the ring – with nobody else around you. You gotta perform. If you don’t perform, guess what? You lose. That to me is what sports is about. And often times, the class that wants to be successful – they had to use boxing. Whether it’s the Irish, African Americans, Mexicans or Puerto Ricans. They worked their way up. You – literally, in boxing – watch yourself work your way up the ladder. Are you the number one contender or the champ? Or you’re fighting for the title or are you gonna go get it back? To me that’s what it’s about. Courage.”

Greatest boxing moment: “I think Holyfield’s knockout against Tyson. Also his round against Riddick Bowe (’92). The middle rounds, where he was out, then he had Bowe out. Fantastic. It’s amazing to watch it.”

Worst boxing moment: “Ali-Holmes. To see Ali helpless. It didn’t benefit anybody, not Larry Holmes, the audience or his legacy.”

Ringside memory: “Fan Man. I was there, on the other side. Nothing’s gonna match that. Being on the other side of the ring, watching these guys fight throughout the rounds, which was almost something out of ROCKY. And to see the hang-glider come in from the other side. Personally, I think it saved Bowe. Bowe thinks it saved Holyfield. I think Bowe was ready to go. It was good to know Fan Man, now dead (from an apparent suicide a few years ago), could take a punch. Because he got the crap beat out of him.”

Favorite fighters to interview: “Sugar Ray Leonard. George Foreman. Michael Olajide was great. Love talking to Thomas Hearns. Mike Tyson. I talked to Tyson a few years ago in Arizona. Tremendous. He was great. Very humble. Asks you a lot of questions. If he was an actor, he deserves an Oscar. Because I really believe the last ten years have been an act and I thought I caught the real guy. I think he’s relieved to be broke.”

Favorite boxing movies: “ROCKY III. I still don’t know how it really ends, each time I’m not really sure he’s gonna win [smiles]. Also, The Champ.”

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