"Boxing is what it is and if you can deal with it, deal with it and if you can't, then don't deal with it. You do what you gotta do and that's just the way boxing is...They can point fingers at whoever they want to point fingers at, but if they all agreed to what they were supposed to do and they do it, then the fight's on and if they don't, then it aint. So what are you going to do? There are no negotiations if the terms aren't agreed to. Who can say who is right and who is wrong; it's a matter of opinion...I do know this, it's gonna happen. It's inevitable to happen. It's just a matter of when and at whose terms. Boxing is all about whose terms and who is feeling comfortable with where they are at. It's all about jockeying for position. Me, myself, I don't get involved with the politics of it; never have and never will. I'm the guy that wants to see it. Show me," stated former heavyweight title challenger and trainer Ron Lyle as he shared his thoughts on whether or not the mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will ever happen. You don't want to miss what else this legend of the sport had to say as Lyle talks more about his own career, what it was like coming up through the rankings and much more. Check it out!
PC: It's been awhile my man. How have you been?
RL: It's going pretty good man. It's going slow, but it's going, you know what I mean?
PC: No doubt. I know you're working with some of the younger talent in Colorado. What kind of talent are you working with?
RL: We got some good talent out here. I got 3 pros now and I'm getting some more. They steady coming. My program is starting to evolve now, so I'm turning them pro.
PC: You work with a lot of younger talents. Do any of them really know your history and the success you've had in the sport of boxing?
RL: Once they get into the game and they start listening and looking at film and looking me up, they see when I was at the top and how hard it was to get to the top. I think that's when the reality of it hits them like, "Whoa, this guy had to be pretty good." When they first start out though, they don't have a clue. The longer they are in it and the more they do, then they realize how much it takes to get to the top.
PC: When you see fighters like Bernard Hopkins, James Toney and Evander Holyfield still competing in this game, what does it take to have that kind of longevity?
RL: It takes a commitment. You gotta be committed to do this. You just can't do it for the money or do it just to do it. It is a commitment. This is what you commit to and that's why they have success over a long period of time. I believe that's why the fighters back in the day, the old fighters like Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and Sugar Ray Robinson, the great fighters were committed to what they were doing. It couldn't have been about the money because the money wasn't there, so it had to be about commitment and what you set out to do. Those guys didn't let nothing distract them or deter them.
PC: These young kids today have everything in front of them, and that's not to say there wasn't any mischief or things to side track you guys, but it is different now. How do you keep these kids in the gym and out of the streets?
RL: The focusing is no different than it was when I was a kid. It's all about a choice. If you make the choice and this is what you want, trust me, nothing or nobody can deter you. If you don't make the choice or the commitment, trust me, you're wasting your time. It's not going to happen. It's all about commitment, choice and doing the right things while staying focused. That's what boxing is about.
PC: Were you a fan of boxing before you went to prison or did you find it in prison?
RL: I picked it up when I was in prison. When I was out in the streets as a kid growing up, I was playing basketball, running and having fun like all the rest of the kids, right? Boxing, I used to see it, but I never could see myself doing it. Then I went to the reform school and while I was there, I got introduced to it. I kind of liked it. I kind of liked the respect that they got from their peers. I liked the respect that the fighters got and that stuck with me, so when I went to Canyon and the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it and I look back now and I'm glad I did. I think that that was the best choice that I ever came to make in my life. I was in prison when I made it, but I made it. I know that if you commit yourself, can't nothing deter you, but it's gotta be a commitment.
PC: You told me before you don't live with regrets, but do you ever think about if you were one of these fighters that got their start in the game at 4 or 5 years old, how good you would have been?
RL: Ah man...but you know, I look back at that, right, and I look back at my life as a child growing up and being rebellious and not listening to my parents and all kids go through it. Some of us get away with it and some of us don't, but when you wake up to the reality of it and you do something about yourself and you try to make a change within yourself, that's when everything good happens. You have to make the change. Your mother can't make it, or your father or brother, but you have to make the change. And when you make the necessary changes, good things happen and good things come.
PC: Maybe it was your wake up call to learn boxing in prison as opposed to in the streets before you went in.
RL: That was my wake up call. God has a way of waking us all up. It's just a matter of when he gives us the opportunity, do we take advantage of it? I was one of the fortunate ones and I was in a position where I had no choice. It was either do the right thing or go further into the system, you know what I mean? And I did not like the system. I did not like anyone telling me what to eat, what to where, when to come, when to go to bed, when to wake up or go to work. I couldn't adjust to that, so I had to adjust to doing the right thing. I had to get a job and get into the system of society as opposed to the prison system. Once I got out of the system and became responsible for my actions, everything happened for me. This is the main thing I tell these kids man. It's about you and the choices you make. If you don't make the right ones, you pay and if you do, then you become successful. Being successful doesn't mean it's easy. It's going to be a little harder, but you make the right choices.
PC: Anything that's fast doesn't last, for sure.
RL: Thank you. Anything hard works.
PC: You said on "Facing Ali" that you were doing 1,000 pushups in an hour in jail off of a bowl of spinach. What was it like when you were released from prison and walked into a boxing gym where you could really train boxing?
RL: Ah man, my whole world changed, dog. All of my dreams and the things I used to sit up and think about in prison when I was in my cell and daydream about, knocking dudes out and getting knocked down and getting back up, all came true. I remember the first time I got knocked down. I remember a guy that was in the joint said, "If you ever get knocked down, what are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going to get up." I got knocked down and that's what I did; I got up. That's because that's what I told myself. That's how I brainwashed myself. It wasn't automatic, but I had to prove it, 'cause to show is to tell, right?
PC: No doubt. The easiest thing would have been to stay down, but we just talked about taking the easy route and taking the hard route.
RL: Yeah man and I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time in my life I ever got knocked down, Earnie Shavers knocked me down and I pulled my...I didn't even know I did this until I watched it on TV the next day, but I pulled myself up on the ropes and stood up and leaned back on the ropes and I remember looking in his eyes like, "Yeah, I ain't going nowhere!" (Laughing) But those are the changes that a young fighter goes through when he brainwashes himself and says, "I'm going to get up." When he gets knocked down and he's told himself he's going to get up, trust me, he's going to pull himself up. Ain't nothing going to keep him down there.
PC: I just spoke to James Tillis and he said Earnie Shavers was the baddest thing he's ever fought and talked about how hard that guy could hit.
RL: (Laughing) Hey man, that's the hardest I've ever been hit in my life. And George Foreman could punch, right, but none of them could hit like Earnie Shavers did. When he hit you, the lights went out. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it wasn't funny.
PC: During the fight with Foreman, did you ever think, "What is it going to take to keep this guy down?"
RL: Naw, I never thought that. When I look at that, I say to myself, "I wish I could have got a rematch." I could have corrected that mistake I made. I lost that fight with George because when it was time for me to take my break after I knocked him down, I kept the same pace. If I take a break, you feel me? I perhaps could have stopped him in that next round, but I put it all on the line right there. When I look at that film, and no discredit to George Foreman because he did his job, he fought back and he fought back to win, but like I say, if I would have took my break like I was supposed to, I think I would have got him out of there in the next round or two.
PC: When I look at your career, you would have thought you would get a rematch with Ali and Foreman and neither ever happened. Why is that?
RL: Well, that's boxing. Boxing is what it is and if you can deal with it, deal with it and if you can't, then don't deal with it. You do what you gotta do and that's just the way boxing is. That's just my opinion.
PC: I think eventually we will get Mayweather-Pacquiao, but for now, they have gone in different directions. What are your thoughts on drug testing and this fight not happening?
RL: I think drug testing is going to be around. It was there when I was there and it's going to be there until it's over, so you either gotta abide by the rules, and if you can't abide by the rules, ain't nothing going to happen. I don't know who doesn't want to be tested or not, but it doesn't matter who is not willing to take the drug test because at the end of the day, if they don't, the fight aint gonna happen. They can point fingers at whoever they want to point fingers at, but if they all agreed to what they were supposed to do and they do it, then the fight's on and if they don't, then it aint. So what are you going to do? There are no negotiations if the terms aren't agreed to. Who can say who is right and who is wrong; it's a matter of opinion. Let's just put it on the line and take the drug test. Hell, all of them can take it, trainers, the refs the judges. Hell, everybody take it and if they come up clean, it's cool.
PC: That's a lot of money my man.
RL: That's a lot of paper. I don't know, but I do know this, it's gonna happen. It's inevitable to happen. It's just a matter of when and at whose terms. Boxing is all about whose terms and who is feeling comfortable with where they are at. It's all about jockeying for position. Me, myself, I don't get involved with the politics of it; never have and never will. I'm the guy that wants to see it. Show me!
PC: Who do you get excited to watch these days?
RL: All of them man. I like to watch all of these youngsters coming up, man, because they got good skills. They are all students of the game. The young men that are in the top 20 had to be students of the game to even get to that point. I like to see them display their talents because that's what it's all about. I like to watch the youngsters do what they gotta do. There is no other sport like boxing because everything else is just a sport and boxing is a game. You gotta know the fight game to understand the game and to compete in the game, you gotta be willing to accept the game. If you can't do none of that, you can't be a part of it.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]