What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My manager, Cus D’Amato, said we should try our best to be humble in life. Because if you’re not humble in this world, this world will serve humbleness upon you. I would have been in a lot of trouble without Cus. He told me, “The reason why you did well as a fighter is because I got a hold of your mind early. If a teacher would have gotten a hold of your mind, you would have been a good teacher. It’s just that I got a hold of you when you were very young, and I’m a fight man.”
What was it like to be the most feared man on the planet?
I realized that was something a little boy wanted. I was scared of society, so that’s why I wanted people to be afraid of me. I’m not afraid of society now; that’s why all I want is for people to respect me. That’s why I give people respect.
Do you regret getting in the fight game?
I don’t know. That’s all I ever knew as a kid. Anybody can be a good fighter, but the same qualities of becoming a good fighter are what you’re going to need to be good at anything in life – discipline, self-sacrifice, and the ability to absorb some punishment – mental, physical, emotional.
You have a book, ‘Undisputed Truth,’ a one-man show, and a new DVD of your show on the way. Why now?
When I saw Chazz Palminteri’s performance in ‘A Bronx Tale’ on Broadway, it inspired me. And I said to my wife, “Baby, I think I could do that.” I believe this is what I’m born to do – to entertain people.
How should a man handle loss?
Oh, man. That’s very difficult. You could easily follow the road to self-destruction, but you have to try and be better for the people you lost. I’ve lost a lot of people: my mother, friends, my sister, my daughter. I’ve been dealing with the painful quagmires in life. Loss has made me a very interesting person. I won’t say a better person, but interesting.
How did you survive your time in prison?
They locked me up and kept me away from the rest of the inmates, and that made me feel bad about myself. That alone made me want to be a model prisoner. Because I didn’t want them to think I was the lowest of the low. So I conducted myself as a gentleman, even in a bad situation, and I discovered I could be a respectable member of society – in or out of prison.
Why do so many boxers get in trouble with money or drugs post-career?
Because they expected they’d have all this money and never have to work again, but a lot about this boxing game turns out to be a lie. You believe you’re the baddest man on the planet, then come to realize you’re just a schmuck, a thickhead. You have to be tough and suck it up, come up with a new way of living.
How should a man best face his fears?
The best way he possibly can. We all feel so sorry for ourselves, but we shouldn’t. We have to fight that feeling and know that life is hard, but it’s fair. People say life is not fair, but I believe that it is fair – it’s just so damn hard.
How should a man take a punch?
I can’t teach someone how to take a punch. That’s about internal fortitude. You have it or you don’t.
What’s the best way to intimidate other men?
To love them. Some people can’t accept being loved. They can accept being hated but not being loved. That’s the real deal.