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Talkin’ Boxing with John E. Oden, Author of “Life In The Ring”


Who has had Emanuel Steward in his corner and had Business Week cover one of his boxing matches? Well, it’s John E. Oden, the hudge funder and white collar boxer who also is an author who writes about the sport in his free time. Oden’s second boxing book is titled “Life In The Ring: Lessons & Inspiration From The Sport Of Boxing.” Oden takes a perspective that illustrates how boxers such as Jack Dempsey, Wladimir Klitschko, Muhammad Ali, Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya can supply people with lessons, examples and inspirations to apply to their own lives.

Oden, born in Pecos, TX and now living in New York City, obviously has an extraordinary passion for boxing. Interestingly, he took it upon himself to learn to box as an adult – competing in 20 boxing matches from 1992-2004. And now Oden expresses that passion by writing about it. Oden recently talked boxing with BoxingInsider.com, via an e-mail interview set up with Rubenstein Public Relations, about the sport and his compelling new book…

BoxingInsider.com: What inspired you to do this project “Life In The Ring”?

John Oden: I was a competitive white collar boxer for 13 years. It was a great experience and I learned a lot of practical lessons that I felt carried over to life itself. I kept formulating these thoughts over this entire period, plus I have continued to box for exercise and fun since then–I just no longer compete–but the same principles apply. I finally just had to put it down on paper.

BoxingInsider: What were some of the most difficult parts and obstacles for you to do it?

John Oden: I have a regular full time job. However, I was able to organize myself by getting up very early in the morning – between 4 and 4:30 a.m. for several months. The other thing was deciding which principles I wanted to describe and which boxers I wanted to use to illustrate the points I was going to make.

BoxingInsider: Who are some of your favorite boxing writers and favorite boxing books?

John Oden: I enjoy the writings of Bert Sugar. His book Boxing’s Greatest Fighters is one of the best ever written that describes and ranks the top fighters through the last century. I also like Tom Hauser, and think his book Black Lights gives some real insight into the world of professional boxing. My favorite of all is Joyce Carol Oates, and her book On Boxing is a classic in its interpretation of the sport and its not-so-obvious meanings–it was a partial inspiration for my book Life in the Ring.

BoxingInsider: What was the best compliment you got for this second book so far?

John Oden: Two messages from the same person: The first message was after my book launch party. (here is exact message) “Last Tuesday evening’s reception for your new book was an exciting and inspiring event and a great tribute to your accomplishments, both inside and outside the ring. I was honored to be there as one of your many friends. I read the first few chapters on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday morning (through Amazon) I sent a copy to my son in Rhode Island, who is presently training for an Iron Man triathalon in November and is bringing the kind of discipline to his training that helped to make the personalities in your book the champions that they became. (second message) John- I just spoke to my son (to whom, as I mentioned below, I sent a copy of your book as inspiration for his IronMan training). He told me that he has finished the book, loved it, and is now reading it with his 8 year old son at his son’s bed time! Truly the gift that keeps on giving!”

BoxingInsider: The sport is said to be struggling in popularity, losing the younger generations to MMA, too many paper titles and PPV’s, etc. do you agree? Do you love the sport any less now than before? What mistakes are the current powers that be making that you would like to see corrected?

John Oden: All the sport needs is an applealing personality of a champion and talented athlete, like a Muhammad Ali, who can bring the sport back to where it belongs in the lineup. It is possible that the success of Manny Pacquiao will go a long way to do this, and a fight between him and Floyd Mayweather could restore some luster to the sport. The demand is there from the public–it just needs the personality and the talent. I was in Las Vegas for the fight between Pacquaio and Cotto, and witnessed first hand how powerful the sport can be when everything comes together. And that fight will be nothing compared to Pacquaio/Mayweather. Boxing has been controversial since time began, but the draw and appeal is there when the right combination of factors comes into play.

BoxingInsider: What have been some of your greatest experiences involving/relating to the sport of boxing?

John Oden: In 2004, I fought in a black tie fundraiser in London called Hedge Fund Fight Night. It was a glamorous gathering of the hedge fund community in London. With me in my corner was Emanuel Steward, probably the most accomplished trainer in the sport today. It was a great experience, and I was able to score two knockdowns in a dramatic fight that ranks as one of my proudest moments. Business Week did a two page article on the fight and white collar boxing.

BoxingInsider: Knowing some of the great characters of the sport like Bert Sugar and Emanuel Steward, can you share any memorable anecdotes about them?

John Oden: I am very luck to have such distinguished friends as Bert and Emanuel. When we have an interview, I’ll tell a couple of stories on them.

BoxingInsider: No author stops at two. Any ideas on your next boxing book project?

John Oden: None at the moment–want to help make this one a success first.

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