Tom Schreck Interviews John 'ICEMAN' Scully
Originally posted on Tom Schreck's Facebook page.
Good stuff from ICE re: fear, pain, misconceptions, Heart and Soul and the love of boxing.
Tom is a pro judge, the author of three fantastic novels and a damn cool guy.
Imagine fighting people who are considered the very best fighters in the world.
Imagine beating some of them.
Imagine getting hit in the head by people who do it better than anyone else.
Imagine making your career fighting, teaching others to the fight analyzing fighting and writing about fighting.
Meet John "The Iceman Scully".
Scully went from being a top rated amateur fighter into being one of pro boxing's top contenders. Along the way he fought Henry Maske and Michael Nunn and was chief sparring partner for Roy jones Jr. and worked with James "Lights out" Toney.
If you don't know boxing let me translate it into baseball terms. If those guys were baseball infielders they'd be A-Rod, Jeter, Pedroia and Youkalis. In other words, they were the very best.
Today John is a world class trainer of his own fighters, a fight commentator and an author working on "The Ice Man Diaries," a collection of stories from inside the world of boxing.
John's one of the more fascinating guys in the sport and I could've interviewed hims strictly on his career. Instead I wanted to know what boxing FELT like at the highest level, what it feels like to him now and why it is important.
Just like when he fought his performance here didn't disappoint.
Check out John on Facebook and on www.icemanjohnscully.com
TOM SCHRECK--Not a lot of people have ever gotten in a ring and then there's ham and egger wannabe's like me--what's it like being world class and being in with the very best in the world? What would surprise people about the experience?
ICE: It might surprise people that all fighters experience a certain degree of apprehension, fear and anxiety before and during their fights. Fighters are some of the greatest con men the world has ever seen. No matter what happens in there the fighter will generally not show as much pain or discomfort as he is actually feeling. It's like I tell all my boxers now. If you do a forward somersault and land on your head right in the middle of the ring I want you to get right up and act like that is exactly what you wanted to happen.
TS- How would you describe a fighter's relationship with pain--is it something you get used to, enjoy a little bit or still avoid at all costs?
ICE: It's like jumping into a pool that's filled with what at first feels like cold water. The boxer gets used to dealing with pain after a while. He knows the risks but he jumps in anyway because that's what he does. Boxers generally react better to painful situations better than regular people do. It's like I always say. When an actor is feeling run down and dehydrated and confused and has a ton of anxiety they will often check into rehab or a spa for a week to rest and relax and regroup. A boxer will go home, drink some water and go to bed. Then he'll get up the next day and go head first back into the grind of his career.
TS- How about fear? You've been in with the likes of Nunn, Jones Jr...and other of boxing's kings...were those nights a little more scary?
ICE: I think that the times I boxed either in the gym or in real fights with the likes of Michael Nunn, James Toney and Roy Jones it was a thing where the excitement of boxing someone of that stature and caliber made it even less scary than exciting. Even before I got to know those guys I felt familiar with them because I had seen them and read about them before I boxed with them. The excitement of matching up with a great fighter overruled the fear. You generally get into boxing because you want to match up with those guys. That's your goal. You're not afraid of it, you look forward to it. They paid me a weekly salary to spar with Roy but I would have honestly done it for free if they asked me to. A real baseball player wouldn't ever turn down the chance to hit off of Roger Clemems or pitch to Manny Ramirez, I am sure. Same thing here.
TS- Do you have any residual pains/head stuff from years in the game?
ICE: I have some visible facial scars, that's about it. No lingering headaches or anything like that. No slurred speech, no troubles at all. Mind still as sharp as a tack I believe.
TS- What doesn't the average guy get about fighting?
ICE: They would be surprised at how tiring it is to box another man. They would be amazed to know how deep the boxing game gets into a person's soul. When you see these fighters continue boxing into their forties and you say it's because of the money, well, George Foreman had more money than 1000 boxers combined but he stayed in it almost to fifty. He certainly didn't need the money. People fight and box because the feeling it gives them to know they are "the boxer" and the feeling it gives them to know that other people know they are "the boxer" is something that not many people get to ever feel.
TS-What do writers get wrong about fighting/fighters?
ICE: Writers, announcers and critics get a lot wrong about fighters. It to me is like when someone who has never experienced what you have experienced says, "I know how you feel." But how can they? Can a person who has never been in outer space really fathom it accurately? Can a person who didn't experience living through Vietnam in the trenches really feel what those guys felt? No way, no how.
There is something special about being in a boxing match in front of people under those lights that is reserved especially and only for those who have went through it. It's a fraternity of people who have done it and when people who never did it before are overly critical of the men and women who do, well, sometimes that just doesn't sit well with us. You want to comment and critique to a certain degree? That's fine. But to actually try and say what you "would have done in there" if that was you? Bullspit! You don't know what you would have done because trying to imagine it in your mind doesn't equal the experience, believe me. You can't know anything until it happens.
TS-Were you better or worse angry?
ICE: I used to look up to a guy I used to spar with quite a bit, former world champ Vinny Pazienza. Vinny didn't exactly fight with anger but he fought in the gym and in real fights with desire and heart. He called it Heart and Soul. I wish I would have taken more of that emotional type of approach to my own boxing career sometimes. Any time I really got into it and used emotion it was beneficial to me but too often I held back from that. I tried to never let myself get too out of control in there and, really, sometimes it calls for that to win. It's a lesson learned.
TS-- You still spar...why? Will you ever quit?
ICE: I still spar because I love to box and that hasn't changed just because I don't fight for money anymore. I always loved to spar and still do. I love the fact that I can go and box anytime I want with anyone I want on a moments notice. There are boxers all over the area just waiting to get work in the gym. I'm in the greatest situation as a guy who loves to box can be in. I can box anytime I want with whoever I want. No wins, no losses, no newspaper or TV critics. The pressure is all on whoever I box, none on me.
TS--Boxing has a real spiritual element to it...how would you explain it to someone who didn't do it or believe in it.
ICE: I would let them know that boxing has shown more kids how to stand up for themselves and how to compete and face fears and learn about themselves than any other sport in the world. Anyone who has ever boxed for any real length of time will tell you that they learned more about themselves in a boxing ring than they ever did in a classroom or on their jobs or in their relationships with other people. You learn things about yourself -some good, some not so good- that you may not have ever been able to do in any other setting. I always say it. All your truths and all your lies as a person will come flooding out into the light inside the boxing ring.