Part five, the final part of CALM’s chat with top UK boxing promoter Frank Maloney about his life and experiences, ups and downs, covers retirement, the enigmatic Don King, Muhammad Ali and politics. Frank is at his best reliving anecdotes and shooting the breeze, his telling of his interesting life is engaging and if you missed our other four parts, please go to these links.
PART ONE “Too small to box”
PART TWO “I nearly had everything, and now everything’s gone”
PART THREE “I thought one of us in the camp had to be brave”
PART FOUR “I had a heart attack at ringside”
(From Part Four) Frank Maloney: Well I think you’ve got to think that you can’t get beat, that you can’t get beat when you step in the ring.
CALM: But I mean outside the ring as well.
Frank Maloney: Outside the ring. It’s like Frank Bruno, look at Frank Bruno, I mean I’m not saying he fell from grace but he got in trouble with drugs and suffered depression and everything else. If you’re on that pedestal and people hold you on a pedestal like that, and all off a sudden you fall off that pedestal and it’s not there no more. George Best, Paul Gasgoine. I think it’s very hard if you’ve been at a certain level and people have admired you and people have held you in great esteem and done things for you then all of a sudden you’re just ordinary Joe, Joe Bloggs. It’s a very hard adjustment. You know probably one of the reasons I don’t want to retire is because you know I quite like it when I go out and people recognise who you are, want to chat to you talk to you, you’re never lonely. When you retire you move in to oblivion don’t you?
CALM: #Lost for words 27 year old with no concept of retirement#
FM: And I think that’s the same for sportsmen they feel the same way. A few haven’t, I mean Lennox Lewis has retired and he’s doing very well.
CALM: There seems to be a certain element of loss to all of it. You have something that’s important to you taken away, or you feel like it has been taken away?
“Oh trust me Lennox can party!”
FM: Yeah it’s very hard to adjust to it. Look at Audley Harrison now I mean he’s on Strictly Come Dancing, Joe Calzaghe went on Strictly Come Dancing, they still crave for that limelight, for that recognition. Chris Eubank; he comes out with the most stupid statements sometimes just to get noticed. It’s just a certain thing, I don’t know, maybe it’s just part of the territory who knows.
CALM: On a more positive note, one of the highs, when Lewis won the title, what was it like after that? Did you have a few drinks?
FM: Yeah it was alright!
CALM: He doesn’t strike me as the partying type Lennox.
FM: Oh trust me Lennox can party! Lennox’s idea was to get as many of his team drunk after big fights. You’d have to drink with him and you know what I got drunk very quick being so small compared to his height. He could drink a lot of brandy’s and champagnes or cocktails where I could only drink a certain amount. After about three I’d be gone and he’d be carrying me around the rest of the night. So that’s you know it was an unbelievable lifestyle you know it was twelve years of living in a fantasy world.
CALM: What was it like with Don King, was it all for show?
FM: No don King is very good at what he does. He’s a master of what he does. He’s 80 now and he’s still going strong. Don King made me, going to America I was a nobody with Lennox Lewis but Don King put a letter under everybody’s door calling me the mental midget, the pugilistic pigmy and totally insulted me. If it was in this country I could have sued him and cleaned him out but in America you can do what you like if you’re a public figure. But, he made me a superstar in America as well. I remember at the press conference we everyone was saying King was really insulting me and then they said, “We now hand you over to Lennox Lewis and Frank Maloney” and I just said, “Mr King I would like to thank you for making me a superstar” and he just looked at me and he couldn’t take it because he was so used to people taking it wrong and…
“Tyson intimidated people, before he even got in the ring I mean he was an intimidating person”
CALM: Getting riled by it?
FM: Yeah. Don said to the press people, “I can’t understand that Frank Maloney. I’ve been insulting him. I’ve been doing everything, I’ve been kicking his white ass! But he’s thanking me! I think he’s mad!” And I’ve had a good relationship with Don King ever since.
CALM: Ali used to do it. With Joe Frazier passing away there’s been a lot of the stuff about how Ali used to do it.
FM: They were good. When Ali fought Sonny Liston the first time he turned up outside his house with a bear trap and called out the bear. Called Liston a bear. None of them do it as good as Ali done it. You could tell Ali and Frazier and Ali and Sonny, you could tell they meant it. Today it’s gimmicky, the fighters they don’t know how to do it. Tyson, I mean Tyson intimidated people, before he even got in the ring I mean he was an intimidating person. He intimidated my fighter Julius Francis. But, you know, that’s boxing.
CALM: So moving on a little bit, you’ve done politics…
FM: I stood for UKIP in the 2004 Mayoral elections…
CALM: Were you not independent?
FM: No I was UKIP.
CALM: Are you still UKIP?
FM: I believe in their policies, I’m not active at the moment. I decided to step down because I didn’t like the way they were going and I think politicians are the biggest crooks in the world. They con the public, but I blame the public because the public vote for them so you get what you vote for. I can gladly say I’ve never voted for the Tories or for Labour, so I’m ok!
CALM: So what do you want now, another world title fighter?
FM: Yeah I’d like to take David Price to the world heavyweight title. I’d like to take a couple more young fighters, I’ve got a reasonable stable.
CALM: Are you looking at anyone at the Olympics?
FM: It depends on how boxing goes in the future. We are not now the sport that we used to be because we haven’t got the stars or the big names like we had, we need a big fighter. David Haye had the chance to do it but unfortunately didn’t.
CALM: You mean in England?
FM: Or America. America and England have to have the main boxers because they are the main fan base. We’ve got the Klitschkos based in Germany, but the Americans don’t even show them, and they’re very good fighters, but I suppose they don’t like seeing their own fighters get bashed up by them. At least we show them in Britain.
CALM: I always watch them, but it feels like a public execution.
FM: You get bored watching them. There’s no excitement. You need excitement, it’s like Scottish football you have Rangers and they win everything. At least in the Premiership it’s a bit more exciting.
CALM: Your team’s Millwall isn’t it?
FM: Yeah Millwall. We never get any excitement. We get excitement in the crowd and that’s about it!
Frank’s new prospect, heavyweight David Price from Liverpool is unbeaten, newly crowned British and Commonwealth champion. Frank may well be reliving those Don King meetings and nights out in Vegas…
By Adam Laudus Thorn