John Scully’s Fight To Help Former Boxers In Need
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.”
John Scully To Host Fundraiser For Gerald McClellan August 5th
By: Sean Crose
If you were a boxing fan in or around Springfield, Massachusetts in the late 80s-early 90s, you knew exactly who John Scully was. Hailing from right down the road, across the Connecticut border, Scully was known to train in Springfield and was the shining star of the area scene. Scully wasn’t just a local fighter, he was a local fighter with a bright future. Back then, such things meant something – just as they do now. Sure enough, Scully went on to quite the successful career at light heavyweight. Nowadays, Scully, also known as “Iceman,” is a trainer of high note, yet he’s also known for something that’s perhaps even more important…helping out former fighters in need.
On August 5th, Scully will be hosting a benefit for Gerald McClellan, an amazing middleweight champion from the 90s who suffered permanent brain damage after a brutal fight with Britain’s Nigel Benn in 1995. “Gerald and I were amateurs together back in the 80s,” says Scully. “I’ve been in touch with his sister(s) and they take care of him at home all on their own.” Sure enough, McClellan’s siblings have taken responsibility for their bother’s well being. Needless to say, such an endeavor can be quite costly.
Hall of Fame Broadcaster Steve Farhood puts it succinctly: there’s no financial safety nets in boxing. “In team sports,” Farhood points out, “there are pensions.” Unfortunately, there are no pensions for fighters. Farhood rightly argues that short term memories can make things all the more unacceptable. “There’s an initial outcry,” he states, referring to times when fighters get severely hurt – or even killed. Yet “the person’s problems and issues don’t fade.” Farhood also adds that “there are financial concerns, as well.”
Cue Scully and the fundraiser he’s hosting for McClellan on August 5th at Moniques Lounge 108 in New York City. The event is free to the public and will feature “raffles and signatures of gloves.” To Scully, the whole thing has come about organically. “Basically I’ve always done these amateur boxing reunions,” he says. “I have former amateur boxers get together and hang out.” To Scully, using these events to help out former peers like McClellan only made sense. “It’s come to that – where I can raise money and help these guys out,” he says. “I decided to do a fundraiser for him (McClellan) in conjunction with a reunion.”
Stories like McClellan’s have been of great personal interest to Farhood, who is quick to praise Scully for his charitable work. “John is great,” says the popular Showtime analyst. For Farhood, who; as an expert, has witnessed more than his fair share of ring related tragedies, the case of McClellan has been something of a personal crusade over the years. “I didn’t know him well,” he says of the former champ, admitting that he was inspired by famed fight photographer Teddy Blackburn to help McClellan and his family out. “Blackburn,” says Farhood, “championed the cause early.”
Boxing is the greatest sport on earth, not only for the brilliance that can be seen regularly in the ring, but oftentimes for what transpires outside of it. Thanks to men like Scully, fans will be able to take part in some of the brilliance that takes place outside of it this summer. The Fundraiser on the fifth of August won’t only be fun, it will be for an absolutely terrific cause.
Here’s the info:
Fundraiser for Gerald McClellan
Hosted by John “Iceman” Scully
August 5th, 2017
Monique’s Lounge 108
181 East 108th St.
Spanish Harlem, NYC
Doors open at 1 PM
Private donations may be sent to:
Gerald McClellan Trust
839 E. Wyandotte