By: Sean Crose
“I’ve been doing these events for seven or eight years now,” says trainer of note John Scully. He’s speaking of amateur boxer reunions, where former ring successes such as himself, Marlon Starling, and Michael Olajide gather to reminisce and generally have a good time among their peers. The fifty-four year old Scully is known for the many hats he wears. Former world title challenger, broadcaster, tireless proponent of boxers fallen on hard times – the Connecticut native is all of these. He’s also a man who genuinely loves the sport of boxing, who knows it through and through. Not just in regards to inside the ring action, but to the personalities, eras and even places that make up boxing’s rich legacy.
One place Scully has been particularly keen on for years has been Muhammad Ali’s training camp at Deer Lake, in Pennsylvania. “I’ve been reading about it since I was a kid,” he says. After successfully helping light heavyweight unified titlist Artur Beterbiev dispense of the popular Joe Smith in grand fashion back in June, Scully ran one of his amateur reunions last weekend on the very grounds where “The Greatest” trained to face the likes of Joe Frazier, George Foreman, and others. “I know Mike Madden, whose John Madden’s son, who owns Deer Lake,” says Scully. “Mike was all for it.”
Those who gathered with Scully last weekend got to spend several days at the place where Ali worked his way to fighting shape both physically and emotionally. As the Deer Lake website reads: “Muhammad Ali’s training sessions were open to the public, and many people have fond memories of the Champ’s generosity and accessibility. One on one with people, he was rather quiet and soft spoken, not the loud and boisterous figure that flashed across America’s TV screens.” Its the sense of authenticity, as well as it’s connection to the past, that no doubt drew Scully and up to a hundred others to Deer Lake for the reunion.
So impressed is Scully with Deer Lake that he once wanted a protégé of note to prep there. “I wanted to train there when Chad fought Hopkins the first time,” Scully says, referring to former light heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson, who he trained. Unfortunately for Scully, his fighter had other ideas. “Chad was more of a modern guy,” says Scully. Perhaps Artur Beterbiev would be more receptive to the idea of training in the camp of a legend.
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