Where Are They Now?
By Shawn M. Murphy
Recently I had the pleasure to speak with former WBA Heavyweight Champion James “Bonecrusher” Smith. Smith turned pro in 1981 at the age of 28. With a win over England’s Frank Bruno in 1984, Smith qualified for a title shot with undefeated Larry Holmes. Smith rocked Holmes several times, but Holmes came out on top after the fight was stopped in the 12th round due to a bad cut. In 1986, Smith would get his second title shot, this time against WBA Champion Tim Witherspoon. Smith came out fast in the first round, knocking Witherspoon down three times and taking his title in shocking manner. In 1987 Smith met Mike Tyson in a unification bout, losing his title on a wide point’s decision. Smith continued to fight off and on until 1999, and after losing to Larry Holmes, Smith finally decided to hang up the gloves for good.
BoxingInsider.com: “Bonecrusher”, it’s a pleasure to talk with you.
Bonecruncher Smoth: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to talk to fans out there.
BoxingInsider.com: How did you get the nickname “Bonecrusher”?
Bonecruncher Smoth: I gave myself the name actually. I was one hard hitting heavyweight.
BoxingInsider.com: You didn’t start boxing professionally until age 28, why the late start?
Bonecruncher Smoth: Basically it was a fear of loss. A lot of my family and friends said that I would get hurt with a dangerous sport like boxing. I guess I probably believed some of that myself.
BoxingInsider.com: How do you think your career would have been different had you started at say 20 or 21 years old?
Bonecruncher Smoth: I think that getting a late start in my career, at 28, was kind of an advantage to me in a way. If I had started at say 18, that would have been 10 additional years of trauma to my brain. Many fighters can’t function properly in society today because they so long.
BoxingInsider.com: You fought Larry Holmes in 1984 for the IBF title. Holmes was 45-0 and had 18 title fights. How do you prepare and motivate yourself for a fighter like that?
Bonecruncher Smoth: The fight before Holmes was with Frank Bruno in England. He was 21-0 with 21 KO’S! With Holmes I was mentally and physically prepared for it and gave it everything.
BoxingInsider.com: In 1986 you got your second title opportunity against “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon.
How much advance notice did you get for that fight?
Bonecruncher Smoth: I only had seven days to prepare for it, but I was in the best condition of my career
and ready to go.
BoxingInsider.com: You shocked Witherspoon in the first round by knocking him out, was that your
plan going in?
Bonecruncher Smoth: I knew going in that Witherspoon gets stronger as the rounds go on so the plan
was to get it done early.
BoxingInsider.com: Tell me what the good is and bad about being the Heavyweight Champ?
Bonecruncher Smoth: The good things are the money, recognition and respect. On the opposite side
It’s the ill-fated advisors.
BoxingInsider.com: In 1987 you fought Mike Tyson in a unification bout. You took him the distance but lost almost every round. Looking back what would you do different in that fight?
Bonecruncher Smoth: I think I would have prepared for a short fight, three rounds at most, keep up a very
BoxingInsider.com: What’s your opinion of the Heavyweight division today and boxing in general?
Bonecruncher Smoth: I think very soft. I wish I was younger.
BoxingInsider.com: Any regrets about your career looking back?\
Bonecruncher Smoth: No regrets, I had a great career.
BoxingInsider.com: After your boxing career I know you became an ordained minister and started
working with youth. You started the “Champion For Kids” organization, what is it?
Bonecruncher Smoth: It was started to help raise funds and provide scholarships for high school students.I mentor kids about making good choices in life.
BoxingInsider.com: What else are you involved in?
Bonecruncher Smoth: I also mentor adults as well in establishing home based businesses with travel and
vacation. I am a referring travel agent with YTB-YourTravelBiz. I have over 2000
agents in my organization and want to expand in a city near you!
BoxingInsider.com: And finally “Bonecrusher” is there anything you would like to tell your fans out
Bonecruncher Smoth: Just to visit www.championforkids.org or www.bonecrushertravel.com to see what
I am doing or to call me at 910-658-3408 if they are interested in a personal visit to a
City near them.