Now and again when I interview fighters, especially the vets, I engage in a bit of fact checking.
Your Wikipedia page, I will say, it has some pretty spicy stuff on there. Is it all true?
I did that during a recent chat with Hasim Rahman, the 46-year-old ex-heavyweight who snagged title belts on two occasions, one coming when he shocked Planet Boxing by dropping and stopping the pugilist-specialist Lennox Lewis in South Africa.
Rahman, while indulging me in my Wiki fact check, actually offered me some fairly fascinating insight into his fighting life. Rahman, according to Wiki, “once survived a shooting where five bullets entered his body.”
Wow, OK, that says something about your toughness, am I right?
The ex-hitter — who took up boxing at age 20 and had just 10 amateur bouts before making his pro debut in 1994 — surprised me.
”I think that was a blessing and a curse for me, because I felt like if I was able to come through all that, then I was never worried about one man,” he said. “So, for me, how I prepared for some of my fights — I just never really had a fear problem, that’s the problem. I think the fear turned into a lack of respect, I think the lack of fear turned into lack of respect. My ‘no fear’ turned into ‘no respect.’”
Good insight, and that came out time and again in a chat with one of the very best boxers Baltimore has turned out. He told me that he’s always been pretty handy with logic and I heard that, repeateldy.
“So I didn’t always prepare,” said the fighter, who went 50-9. He admitted, in fact, that at times he ponders how it would have been good if he had the wisdom that came from aging a bit when he was in his 20s. But, all in all, he said, it was what it was.
He has three sons who box, he said, so some of that widsom should be coming in handy, just a bit later than he sometimes would hope.
His own entry to fighting came when he was 20, and he was play fighting an ex-pro. Whoa, the guy said, come with me to the gym, learn, and you will make oodles of cash. He knew he could crack, he said, he’d do one-hitta-quittas, one-punch KOs, on the street. And then he realized that when he fought against people with tutoring under their belt, it wouldn’t go that easy route.
You can hear more about Rahman’s ascent — which came about because he knew he was headed to the pen, or a dirt nap, a bad end — here. Boxing would be a smarter path, and he had a kid when he was 18, and he knew he’d want to be able to provide for the lad.
Check out his take on the ride up, fights on Cedric Kushner’s Heavyweight Explosions, and then step-up fights against David Tua (in 1998), Oleg Maskaev (1999) and then the Brit, Lennox Lewis.
On April 22, 2001, “Rock” was seen as a someone who’d provide a good bang for the buck, but more than likely take an L against Lewis. Lewis entered at 38-1-1, hugely respected as a master of the inside the ropes domain. Rahman had stepped up, and not been able to get over the hump. But, he said, he knew he was dialed in, and was a severe threat to get the victory in South Africa.
This, even though he had just 10 amateur fights, and snagged a bunch of one-round stoppages on the ladder-rise.
He said all swell sparring didn’t prepare him for something like this: in a 1996 fight, Trevor Berbick psyched him out, by making him question himself. “That’s all you got, kid?”
Get more insights from a thoughtful guy, who has been there, done that, and pondered why things went as they did.