John Scully Interview
By Sam Gregory: John “ICEMAN” Scully is known to many boxing fans around the world for his colorful fight commentary on ESPN classic alongside Joe Tessitore. John “Iceman” Scully graduated from Windsor High School in Connecticut in 1985. He began his amateur career in 1982 at the amateur middleweight limit of 165 pounds.
Scully won several championships at that division including the 1987 Ohio State Fair in Columbus, Ohio where he defeated future heavyweight contender Melvin Foster, the 1987 National PAL (Police Athletic League) in Jacksonville, Florida and the 1988 Eastern U.S. Olympic Trials in Fayetteville, North Carolina where he defeated World middleweight amateur champion Darin Allen.
Scully also won Outstanding Boxer awards at the 1987 Western Massachusetts Golden Gloves and the 1988 Eastern U.S. Olympic Trials tournaments. In February of 1988 Scully was named to the all-time team for the WM Golden Gloves in Holyoke, Massachusetts where he joined all time great fighters Mike Tyson and Marlon Starling.
ICEMAN John Scully’s professional career as a boxer started in 1988 and he ended his career in 2001 with a record of 38-11 with 21 knockouts.
The 1980’s was a big part of Scully’s life and some of the fighters of that era left a big impression on him as a young fighter making his way in the sport. “I distinctly remember (Mike) Tyson fighting a good fighter in Pinklon Thomas back in the summer of 1987. I was at a team USA training camp in Lake Placid, New York on a team with Riddick Bowe, Michael Moore, Andrew Maynard and several other guys. We didn’t have cable at the sports complex so I walked myself a few miles down into the center of town to watch the fight at a sports bar there and walking back afterwards at about midnight I remember thinking to myself how crazy it was, how Mike Tyson is an unstoppable force and he is never going to lose a fight. That was the feeling at that time for a lot of people, definitely.”
In 1996 ICE fought for the IBF light heavyweight championship in Leipzig, Germany where he lost a 12 round decision to unbeaten light heavyweight champion Henry Maske. On December 8, 1995 ICE lost a disputed and controversial 12 round decision on ESPN to two-time world champion Michael Nunn.
During his fighting career Scully frequently served as sparring partner for Vinny Pazienza, Roy Jones Jr and James Toney.
Scully trained several standout amateurs while he was pursuing his own boxing career, including 1997 National Junior Olympic Champion Sammy Vega, 1995 Ohio State Fair Champion Greg Cuyler, 1998 National PAL Champion Dwayne Hairston and 2000 U.S. Armed Forces Champion Orlando Cordova.
I asked ICE at what point in his career he decided he might like to try training fighters or did he always think training was where he’d eventually end up. ICE said, “I have always seemed to have a knack for training guys, for relating to boxers, even back when I was still a teenager I had a group of kids I worked with in Hartford. Later on as a pro, even when I was fighting Michael Nunn and those guys, in between all that I was traveling to amateur tournaments around the country with my squad. I fought 12 rounds with Michael Nunn on ESPN in early December of 1995 and just a few weeks later I was sleeping on the floor of a motel room in upstate New York while I was there with my kids at the Silver Gloves tournament. So to eventually become a trainer in the pros was as natural to me as breathing.”
ICE has a fight coming up on September 11th for the super bantamweight he’s training Mike Oliver. Oliver will be facing Castullo Gonzalez for the third time. The last fight was stopped due to an unintentional clash of heads. In their first fight Oliver stopped Gonzalez in nine rounds. It’s been written that there is some animosity between the two camps. In fact, the last fight was described as a “grudge match.” ICE doesn’t think that will carry over into this fight. “I don’t think there is nearly as much animosity as the first time they fought because of the decisive way Mike (Oliver) stopped him but when you get two teams together in that atmosphere then you never know what might happen. What happened the first time they fought was that their whole team showed up with matching team jackets and uniforms and they all came in together all amped up. On our side it was just me, Mike-Mike and Sammy Vega. And one day I was upstairs in the hotel and Mike-Mike was alone in the lobby and they said a few things to him about what was going to happen to him on fight night. Then it was a thing where at the weigh-in Castulo got up on the scale and was really over doing it, flexing his ab muscles for the cameras. I mean, granted, he really did have an impressive six pack but unless he was going to bomb Mike over the head with one of those abs of steel I knew it didn’t mean much.”
ICE continued, “Then when they showed up at the hotel and saw us all walking through the parking lot Sammy heard them talking in Spanish about how ‘there goes the guy Castulo is going to knockout tonight.’
“So when the first fight ended it was a very emotional thing because Mike-Mike had just come off the death of Johnny Duke, the guy who started Mike boxing when he was just a little kid, and I think back to all the things they said to Mike when I was upstairs in the hotel, and I ran up into the ring and over to their corner and I started saying, ‘Who said something?!? Who said something? What do you say now?’
“For me, ICE said, “After that it was squashed in my mind; it was just something that happened. I don’t think there will be any problems this time around. But…you never know.”
Looking at Gonzalez’ record, 9-8 and the fact that he’s been stopped 3 times in those 8 loses might look to some trainers like they’re in for an easy night; I mean, you gotta like your chances with this guy right?
ICE said, “I would never underestimate anyone because a guy can always punch and land shots on a given day. Also, no matter how things have went recently for him, I know that Mike-Mike represents something to Castulo and he has motivation to beat this particular person. No one wants to lose a fight but everyone has certain people that they really, really don’t want to lose to.”
On September 11,supr bantamweight southpaw Mike Oliver 21-2 with 7 KO’s will face Castulo Gonzalez 9-8 with 3 KO’s in a scheduled 12 round bout for the EBA super bantamweight title at Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts.