By: Sean Crose
“I can’t remember exactly when,” John Scully tells me after I ask him when exactly it was that he started leading the fight to help boxers in need. “What I do remember is, I saw that Wilfred Benitez was in a bit of trouble, and I saw his sister taking care of him every day.” Benitez had been a fighter of enormous note. Known as the “Bible of Boxing,” he became the youngest champion in history at the age of 17 before moving on to face such luminaries as Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Tommy Hearns (all fights were competitive, and he bested Duran). Seeing that an old hero of his was in trouble, Scully, a noted amateur star, professional light heavyweight force, broadcaster, and trainer, found himself wanting to help.
“I’ve always had a lot of different memorabilia I’ve collected from different times,” he says. “I always wanted to sell it for myself.” Yet the charitable part of his nature took hold, and the Connecticut native found himself selling his possessions to help Benitez. The rest, as they say, is history. “It just kind of snowballed from there,” he claims. By using his countless contacts within the sport, Scully has become boxing’s unofficial go to guy for fighters in need of a helping hand, a man who can bring in big names to aid fighters who have fallen on hard times. “I can have a guy in five minutes sign a picture for me that can turn over to fifty bucks,” he states. Those fifty dollar pics add up, thanks to the regular generosity of known fighters…known fighters who Scully says are always eager to help. “They’ve been no trouble (to receive help from),” Scully says of his ring peers. “Roy Jones. Iran Barkley. Mark Breland.” These men, along with others, have been more than willing to do their part.
At the moment, Scully is trying to help such individuals as Benitez, Gerald McClellan, Prichard Colon, and even Michael Nunn, who is experiencing being released from prison and, as Scully puts it, is “trying to regroup.” No easy task. “I have a card collection,” Scully says. “I had like six or seven Michael Nunn cards.” By having Nunn sign those cards, 100 percent of the proceeds can then go back to the former middleweight powerhouse. “It’s amazing to me,” Scully says, “how the internet brings the world together.” He talks of how, not all that long ago, one had to actually had to request a signature through the mail. “ Now,” Scully says, “it’s almost instant.”
Of course, there’s more than just online sales. Scully has also been behind such events as a major 2017 New York City based affair to raise money for McClellan who, like Benitez, is being cared for by his sister. “I don’t pat myself on the back,” Scully says, “only because I really like it.” An engaging conversationalist, Scully admits he hasn’t thought of how much time he has put in to helping his peers. An active trainer of note – he’s soon to be back to work with WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beiterbiev – Scully is just happy to keep on his current path. “I’m lucky that I’m in this position,” he says, “ (that) I’m able to work it.”
“I think it’s going to get bigger,” he predicts of the work he’s begun. “It’s like a movement.”