"Victor is a great man, and I don't even know if he'll mind me saying this, but at the same time, I felt that he has one flaw and I feel that his flaw is his desire for attention, and his desire to be revered in the media exceeded and superceeded logic in this situation...I admire him, but like I said, he has that one flaw that I hope he and I have an opportunity over the next few days to sit down and talk about. I don't know if he'll be upset about it, but he needs to understand that I was upset how he went about putting my kid out there like that, who had done absolutely nothing to him and he was the first athlete to ever work with him. I was very upset about that. It was uncalled for. And again, it was all because of his desire to be in the headlines, and I hope that's something he overcomes because he has a lot to offer," stated world-class trainer Virgil Hunter, who had a lot to say about he and Andre Ward's history with Victor Conte. In this exclusive interview, Hunter gets in-depth about their prior relationshp with Conte and how that impacted their decision not to participate in VADA testing in his last bout. Check out what else he had to say!
BT: When Edwin Rodriguez first mentioned the idea of VADA testing at the initial press conference, it seemed like certain members of the media tried to zero in on that and turn it into a major headline. Considering that the issue of drug testing was never brought up during negotiations, were you surprised to hear him mention it after the contracts were already signed?
VH: Well, I wasn't. I had spoken to Victor Conte about the possibility of Andre testing at some point, but I never assured him that he would begin testing this fight. I think what people have to understand is that I felt, and first of all, this is not a bash on Victor; I consider him a friend, I consider him a man who's done and is continuing to do great things, but when you look at Edwin in his past fights, in Monaco and things like that, the VADA testing was never brought up to these opponents, so it definitely, by me talking to Victor personally, me letting him know that, number one, if Andre decides that he's going to test, he's going to do it under his own time, he's going to do it under his own rules, and I requested to talk to Margaret Goodman at that point, but she had a death in the family and she couldn't do it at the moment, but later on, she came back and said that she would sponsor the two fighters. But I specifically told Victor that Andre would decide who he's going to go with and when he's going to go with [them] when he's ready to do it, because he and I had discussed that before, long before this issue even came up.
But, look, Victor is a great man, and I don't even know if he'll mind me saying this, but at the same time, I felt that he has one flaw and I feel that his flaw is his desire for attention, and his desire to be revered in the media exceeded and superceeded logic in this situation. I mean, you should want to get the top athletes in your program, which strengthens the program, but you have to be very, very astute on how you go about doing it. For instance, Provodnikov is testing VADA now and Alvarado declined, but if you notice, wasn't any backlash or anything, no prologue or afterwards, anything written about Alvarado's refusal or nobody even took time to find out why he didn't do it. We had the Marquez situation [Juan Manuel Marquez refused to be tested by VADA in his bout with Timothy Bradley], so there's a lot of situations that contradict itself. I have a lot of athletes with Victor, but he's only sponsoring the ones that's going to bring the publicity. That's Amir Khan and that's Andre Ward, who he attempted to sponsor. I have Brandon Gonzalez that wore a SNAC shirt, a SNAC hat in the ring. I have Alfredo Angulo. I have several athletes that represent SNAC in a very dignified way, but not one time have they ever been approached about VADA sponsorship. Why? Because the cameras are not there and the media is not there, so I'm very disappointed in the fact.
What people need to understand is Andre was Victor's first boxer and I took Andre personally, me, to Victor because I believed in his nutrition. I believed that he was a man that had acknowledged his wrongs and that he was on the right track. I admired the way he looked after Remi Korchemny, who I felt in that BALCO case was thrown under the bus; he looked after Remi, who I really, really think is just one of the top guys when it comes to speed work, and he's very effective. So trust me, he has a lot of qualities that I admire and I hope to continue to work with him with my athletes, but I'm not at all bashful about saying that he has to realize that it's okay to do good behind the scenes. Now I took Andre to Victor, and at that time , anybody with any common sense would know that it would be backlash if this was brought out. I specifically, we offered to pay so that's okay. We offered to pay for the services, from the work with Remi to the nutrition, the whole bit, because we told him, "Listen, let's just ease into this slow. There's no need to publicize it. There's no need to go out and things like that because the only person that's going to get negative feedback is Andre. Let's give it a period of time. We're not trying to be and live in this big world of secrecy or anything else like that, but it's a matter of the right timing. And we want to work with you. We have forgiven you; as Christian people, we have forgiven you." There was no need to publicize the work. There are a lot of personal trainers that have athletes that have no need for the publicity.
But some kind of way, it got out and what happened was Andre took a lot of negative backlash. He saw through it. He was disappointed because, you know, it forced him to look at the motives, particularly after we agreed that let's just take our time, let's ease into it. We said specifically, "We will pay for this. We're not trying to keep you some sort of big secret or anything, but, you know, we want to make sure we're going into this right and everything because you're not going to suffer, he is." And that's exactly what happened, so he lost Andre. But at the same time, Andre, when other athletes came to him, because Victor would continue to use his name with other athletes, so when they would come to him, he gave Victor a flying-color review. Each athlete, from Nonito, and I know Victor would dispute this, but it was Andre who let Nito know that, "Hey, this is a good situation. This is not for me right now, but it could be for you." And, you know, the nutrition and his knowledge and everything, I mean, that's why he's with him. Andre Berto, the same thing. So he never held anything against Victor, even though it's portrayed that way, and you have some people who are wanting to report it based on hearing it from one side and never taking time to investigate both sides; who just basically, you know, went on a little smear campaign trying to belittle and trying to defame Andre's name and also slander his characther, which really is unfortunate because, you know, they didn't take time to know anything about it, they didn't take time to talk to him, they didn't take time to do anything. They just sort of went on what they were told.
So in that respect, that's why he didn't do VADA. He knew instantly when Edwin brought this up why it was brought up. He knew instantly what was behind it. And look, I know Victor very well. He and I have a close relationship. We talk. He's a brilliant man. I've learned a lot from him. I mean, I admire him, but like I said, he has that one flaw that I hope he and I have an opportunity over the next few days to sit down and talk about. I don't know if he'll be upset about it, but he needs to understand that I was upset how he went about putting my kid out there like that, who had done absolutely nothing to him and he was the first athlete to ever work with him. I was very upset about that. It was uncalled for. And again, it was all because of his desire to be in the headlines, and I hope that's something he overcomes because he has a lot to offer.
BT: I don't really know Victor Conte's relationship with VADA, but do you think that's something he's doing on purpose in hopes of drawing more attention and more press, whether it be good or bad, to the organization?
VH: Well, look, it's like I said Ben, I know Victor very well. He and I have had some very, very private conversations and I know quite a bit about that situation. I don't feel like I should go into it to the point where I'm coming down crossing t's and dotting i's because these conversations were strictly between he and I. The main thing and the most important thing is that he knows and I know what the truth is and what the real deal is. But saying that is to say that he has done a lot of good. He has helped a lot of people who couldn't get those services anywhere else because they cost. A lot of guys that work with him are not able to afford these things. And again, it would be easy to dissect it and easy to put it on the straight and narrow if all the atheletes were offered sponsorships. They all do the same training. They all get hit in the head. PED use is just as problematic in the lower ranks as it is in the higher ranks. People who are trying to climb the ladders are more apt to use it than people who have made it to the top, so if you're going to do one, do 'em all. Don't discriminate and do the ones where the cameras are going to be at the press conference, where the media is going to be at the press conference. Offer sponsorships to the ones that are still fighting in the ballrooms and the fairgrounds, with the thousands in attendance and maybe one writer covering it. Offer it to them. They're representing you, they're wearing the SNAC shirt; they're word of mouth of your expertise, they're word of mouth of your kindness, so offer it to them also. Don't pick and choose.
Like I said, out of my whole stable, only Amir Khan and Andre Ward are those who seem to be the most important when it comes to VADA sponsorship. I have Brandon Gonzales ranked in the top 10 now. I think he deserves the same thing, you know. I have Alfredo Angulo just fought Erislandy Lara in a tough fight. He's at a level where he could come up against someone on PEDs. I think he deserves that same opportunity. Don't discriminate because it's a bigger showing. And that's my message about the situation. And then when it doesn't go your way, don't manipulate your mouthpieces in telling them just your side of the story. And your mouthpieces should be professional enough to, before they print anything, that's their journalistic duty to find both sides of the story; otherwise it's reckless and it's irresponsible. With all these things going on, I'm more disappointed in the professionalism, I'm more disappointed in the motives, I'm more disappointed in the initiatives than anything else because look, these are people I know, these are people I have embraced over the years, these are people that I know a lot of intimate things about, so it's very disappointing. It's a big letdown because it didn't have to go this way, but when you try to slander or hurt my kid, you know, I'm not going to stand for it.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 1 - VIRGIL HUNTER ON ANDRE WARD'S PERFORMANCE: "I WAS QUITE PLEASED...I DIDN'T WANT ANDRE TO KO EDWIN...I WANTED HIM TO BEAT HIM UP"
CLICK HERE FOR PART 3 - VIRGIL HUNTER SPEAKS OUT ON MEDIA CRITICISM OF ANDRE WARD: "YOU'RE OUT OF LINE"