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Interview with Jimmy Burchfield: Part 1 of 3

November 11, 2008

By: Scott Ploof
Photography by Emily Harney

Classic Entertainment and Sports president Jimmy Burchfield Sr. has done it all in the sport of professional boxing. In addition to being a referee, a trainer, and an international boxing judge, he has been successfully promoting fights for over twenty years.
In part one of this three part interview, Jimmy Burchfield Sr. speaks about a number of different topics including his history in the business, how promoting fights is different today than it was in the past, as well as why it is important for promoters to put together compelling fights for the good of the sport.

Not many people realize this but growing up you were once a very good baseball player. Can you tell our readers about that?

Yes, I was a switch-hitting short stop that could hit with power from both sides, and could throw you out behind third base. I don’t care how quick you were. I went on to play some semi-pro ball.
My family was very blue collar and did not have much money. I had to make a decision of going to work and trying to help and support my family, so that took me away from going to a higher level that I would have hoped to do.

You have been an integral part of professional boxing for well over thirty years, and a lot of fight fans do not realize the steps that you had to take to get to where you are in the sport today.

Well yes, I did just about everything that you could possibly do in boxing. As a youngster, I was trained and boxed myself. I was trained by a man named Phil Addison, who was one of the better trainers around New England and a really good, good guy.

The thing was that every night that I went to the gym, I would have to sneak my gym stuff out because my mom did not to have anything to do with boxing. Well at one of the events I ended up with a broken nose. I had a deviated septum that had to be operated on. It was a situation when I did take my gym clothes home one night. They were full of blood and my mother caught them. That just about ended my boxing career as a boxer.
I have done just about everything as a judge, a regional type judge around New England and a referee. I had a little bit of touch of training a couple of fighters. Then I went on to become an international boxing judge. I had the pleasure of judging some world championship fights.

When I would go and travel all around, and even as a regional judge, I would see the different promoters. I would see some of them do a fair job and I would see some of them do a terrible job. I have rarely seen anyone do a terrific job, and I said, Jesus, I think that I can do a good job in being a promoter.
As much as I was climbing the charts as an international boxing judge, I really wanted to continue that. I really had to make a decision because of a conflict of interests, I had to relinquish my boxing judge position and I started promoting fights.

Growing up in the Federal Hill district of Providence, Rhode Island , you first learned at a very young age how to become a successful business man. Can you tell us about that experience?

Actually, I went through a lot of different phases in my life, but always on the back-burner was boxing. No matter what I did, I, always as you know, most people involved in boxing, it isn’t about the money, it’s about the love of the sport. No matter how successful I was in business, and I have been in business my entire life, I still found time to be involved in boxing.

In one phase of my life, I went to work for one of the largest building material companies in New England called C.J. Coutu Lumber. I began at an entry level actually and in a very short amount of years, I became the general manager of the entire operation. I had 50 or 60 people working under me and we were a very, very successful building material company. One of the mentors of my life was the owner there and his name was Clarence Coutu. He was a tremendous businessman and he just had the knack of knowing how to run a business. Under his guidance, I worked with him. I remember one of the first responsibilities climbing up the ladder at the company was that I was the manager of the paint department. This was before I became general manager. I thought I was doing a great job. A salesman talked me into buying outside paint that you would paint your house with, and every gallon I bought I got one free. So I ordered two trailer loads of this paint, but the only problem was that it was the beginning of November in New England, and it’s kind of hard to sell an exterior paint in November and December in New England with these weather conditions.

So as I was unloading this trailer of hundreds and hundreds of gallons of paint, Clarence Coutu walked in and said to us ‘what are you doing?’ I said, ‘oh we got a great deal on this paint and were going to make a lot of money with this’ and he let me continue talking through everything then called me into his office. He said I am going to tell you what. It is now the first week of November and you have hundreds of gallons of exterior paint. I am going to give you about two weeks to get rid of it and sell it, or else you are not going to be working here anymore. I don’t know how I did it but I did get rid of it. It was a great, great experience.
After about thirteen or fourteen years of working in the building material trade, we sort have did so many things. Not only did we merchandise building materials, but we also did a lot of construction work, remodeling, building of apartment buildings. Really before that was the in-thing to do, we were doing it. I got a well rounded experience in that business because of that time in my life.

As I was going through that phase, there was a little broken down men’s barroom in North Providence , Rhode Island that was called Artie’s Tap and Grill. It is funny because this was the first place that I went to ever have a cocktail when I was old enough to go and have a drink.

A guy by the name of Artie Iacci owned it. He became a very, very good friend of mine. He was a very neat and organized kind of guy. If you ordered a drink, and he put the drink on a coaster, and you then took that drink and placed it on the bar because his bar was shined it was polished, he would throw you out.
He became ill and his wife came to see me one night as I was working as the general manager at the lumber yard. She said, ‘my husband said there would be only one person to ever come and see if I ever ran into a problem and it is you.’ He had taken a stroke so he couldn’t really speak or anything.
She said, ‘I don’t know what to do. I got the business running but its losing money. I don’t know anything about the business and my husband will most certainly never be able to go back to it, so would you take it over?’

I said, ‘Mrs. Iacci, I respect your husband and I will do anything in the world, but I have a very successful business I am running. I am very happy. So I basically told her I promised her I would see what is going on and report to her, which I did. I told her that she needed to close the business the way its being run, you are going to keep losing money. She said, ‘I promised my husband that I wouldn’t close the business, he made me make that promise.’ Now in this interval of us speaking, Artie dies. She came to see me again and said listen I will give you a heck of a deal, I would like you to take over the business. In one way I felt obligated in one factor because of my loyalty and friendship to Artie Iacci but I went in and the place was pretty run down. I took a couple of friends of mine there.

What happened is they placed some people in there while Artie was sick and there was absentee ownership. They just ran the place completely ragged, took the money, and never did anything. One of my dearest friends in life, I took him there and I said what do you think. He told me that if I ever took the place over, that he would get a gun and shoot me. He said no possible way you should do this.
Well I analyzed everything and I went over to Mrs. Iacci and asked her how much a month does she want to pay her for rent, and with a handshake, no lease or written agreement. Now we have a broken down old filthy men’s barroom. With my experience in construction in remodeling and building material, I spent some money and fixed the place all up.

I never left my job at the time. Anyone that knows me or has worked with me knows that I do things only the right way, the best way, and keep everybody as happy as I can. My God did we turn that place around! I had my mother and my wife running it during the day, while I was running the lumber yard. I would come home and I would change, eat, and then go and work at the restaurant at night. I did that for almost two years and to this day I do not know how I did that. I think it is called perseverance.

Not many people realize that the first business you started was the opening of your own restaurant which was appropriately called “Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Restaurant.” Was managing and operating your own restaurant always a passion of yours?

I love to make people happy, I really do. I try to do that everyday of my life and the hospitality business gives you that opportunity. People coming in they may be celebrating a birthday or an anniversary.

Way before the computer age, at my restaurant that I owned, we worked it from a broken down old men’s barroom, and within four or five years, every two years I had to buy property next door, tear it down and put an addition. I mean we just kept growing and growing until we made this restaurant the place to be.

I mean it wasn’t only one of the very best restaurants in Rhode Island ; it was one of the best restaurants anywhere. Anyone who was anyone came to the Classic Restaurant.

How long did it take for you to take Artie’s Pub into the successful business that was known as the “Classic Restaurant?”

Well Artie’s Pub when I turned it into the Classic, I changed the name. To get a picture of this, it was like a little red checkerboard Italian restaurant. Mom and pop Italian restaurant, all we had was spaghetti and meatballs. Spaghetti and sausage, meatball sandwiches and food like that.

As we were growing for example on a Friday night we would put out seafood delicacies where by the week by the month, even as a checkerboard style Italian restaurant, you could not get in there because it was always packed.

It came to a time where it was way beyond my wife and my mother to run the restaurant because it was too busy during the day. It was probably about the fourth or fifth year of the infancy of the restaurant that I had to make a decision to leave working for the lumber yard and begin working at the restaurant full-time.It was a very tough decision because Clarence was so good to me, and I built my house. I didn’t want to have a big mortgage and getting towards the end maybe I had about fifteen thousand dollars left in material and carpets and stuff. I asked Mr. Coutu if I could pay that so much a month because I didn’t want to get a bigger mortgage.

I did it for maybe five or six months on that balance and then one day I walked in and he has all of these invoices on my desk. He showed them to me and said that they were all paid and said that they were his house gift to me. It had to be something like twenty thousand in bills and he wiped them away. He said what you have done for this company and what you have done for my family that is our gratis to you.

Just like you have done in the sport of boxing, your restaurant turned very successful and was the place to be when visiting Providence , Rhode Island , so much that many celebrities began to frequent your establishment. Can you tell us about some of your more famous memories about the restaurant?

I can think of two off the top of my head. There wasn’t only boxing but there were other celebrities. I was the founder and the past president of the National Foundation of Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. The office of which is in Chicago . They have about thirty different chapters in thirty different states. What we did is that all the monies that were raised went to scholarships. Some were fifteen thousand and twenty thousand dollar worth of scholarships a year. One of the first celebrities that we took in as I founded the Rhode Island chapter and assisted with the Boston chapter was former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

It was a fond memory because when Dan came in because we had approved that we were going to fly him in first class and pay for the tickets, the cost of the hotel, food, and everything. When Dan did come in, we had a dinner for the scholarship children and we had over a thousand people there. At the end of the night he came to me, and I gave him a check and it was something like around two thousand dollars. He got the check and handed it back to me. He said to me ‘what I want you to do for me is take this money and put it in a scholarship, I don’t want this money.’

When we went back to the Classic Restaurant, Dan in person is a much bigger statue in person then when you see him on television. He is just a very big man. While we were at the Classic and the place was wall to wall people, whenever Dan Marino walked into the Classic, the place just went crazy. Dan said to me Jimmy and I will never forget this, Jimmy, tomorrow is my grandfather’s birthday and if I am not back, I believe he and his family are all from Pittsburgh if I am not mistaken, my father will kill me.

I had a friend of mine that had MS and he was a big, big fan of Dan Marino. I asked him if he could do one thing for me. I said that I know it was late and he is probably sleeping and he is in a wheelchair, but this would just be unbelievable. So he says let’s go there. So off we went and when we got there my friend comes out in his pajamas in his wheelchair with his wife at two in the morning and says to me, ‘hey Jimmy what’s the matter, what’s wrong?’ I said I have a surprise for you and out from behind me comes Dan Marino. At this point he says ‘I am dreaming, I am dreaming.’ Before Dan left he even had him sign the wallpaper in his kitchen.

Another memory from the boxing side has to be from my dear friend Sugar Ray Leonard, who is my dear friend and will always be my dear friend. We got together when he got out of the Olympics, he basically fought in every big little city and he came to Providence and went to Maine .
Every time Angelo Dundee, who is a very dear friend of mine, came to the restaurant, that they loved it so much. So every time that they either came in to Boston or into Connecticut , they would call me up and say Jimmy, if you pick me up and take me to your restaurant and then bring me into Boston , I would like to come to your restaurant. He sent me four ringside gold seats to every one of his fights.
I have another funny story with him is I had a friend of mine that had an African-American bar and his name was Heywood Ross. It was maybe twenty minutes or so from my restaurant. So I pickup Ray at the airport one day because Heywood would keep saying ‘Jimmy whenever Sugar Ray is in town, please bring him to my restaurant.’ I said well I can’t promise you but I can try to make that happen.
So I pickup Ray at the airport and I says Ray, I have a brother that would go just completely out of his mind, can we please stop by there before we go to the Classic? He says to me is he your friend? I said yes. He says lets go.

Heywood Ross was pouring beer behind the bar and I walk in with Sugar Ray Leonard, and the guy actually feinted. I had to actually run behind the bar and pick him up. Ray was playing pool. I don’t know how the word got out but there had to be at least a thousand people outside of the bar within a span of ten minutes surrounding this place. Ray signed everybody’s autograph and took pictures with everyone. It was just amazing!

Isn’t it true that on one occasion the legendary Muhammad Ali actually got behind the bar and began serving drinks one night? Can you tell us about that night?

It was actually crazy. Muhammad Ali came in and we were having a dinner and there was kind of an exclusive area at the Classic; not that everyone wasn’t a VIP because everyone basically was. It was roped off and he said hey Jim, and he was looking at the people down below. He said, ‘hey Jim, are these people your customer’s?’ I said, yeah, and he said then let them up here then. He spoke with everybody. He did this thing where he rubbed everyone’s hair and it acted like a magnet with the static electricity and all, it was a funny thing he did.

So then he says I want to get behind the bar and bartend tonight, and I said to him that’s great! He goes behind the bar and one of our waitresses comes in and it was funny, she was one of his biggest fans ever. She loved him. Now she doesn’t know he is there. She sits at the bar and here he comes up to her and says, ‘can I help you?’ She says, ‘oh my god, oh my god, its Muhammad.’ She turned white as a ghost.

So then Muhammad says to me, ‘take me to my people. Jimmy you have to take me to where my people are, you have to take me to the worst place in Providence where my people are.’ So I took him to this bar near the Rhode Island hospital, and we walk in. Everyone is kind of drunk and have their heads down. It is not far from a homeless place but everybody was just in that kind of a situation. It took maybe ten minutes for them to realize who he was. Do you realize he sat down with each and every one of them and gave each and every one of them fifty dollars? He gave everyone in that barroom fifty dollars.

There was also another night when the former president, John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline came in for dinner before he was president. I could just go on and on because there were just so many unbelievable people that I have met at the Classic.

Not many fight fans realize that you also have served as a referee, a corner man, and an international boxing judge prior to starting your own promotional company. Besides your passion for the sport of boxing, what made you decide to become a referee and later on a ringside judge?

Well I just had a passion, I really, really deeply in my heart I wanted to fight all my life. I wanted to box. I think if I could have gotten by my mother’s wishes of not boxing. Her concern was of me getting hurt. So that passion was always there, so I said that if I can’t box, then let me try to do the other things that go along with it. I wanted to learn every single aspect of the fight game.

I knew in the back of my head, I knew that I wanted to be a promoter. Because as you know in boxing you have got managers, you have trainers, and you have promoters. There is no certificate of education that you need to do this job. These people you see them come out of the woodwork everyday. They think they got degrees but they surely don’t.

I said you know what? I want to see everything. I want to see what it feels like to carry a water bucket. I want to see what happens in a dressing room. Who is the best person that wraps hands for the fighter because there are so many injuries? Most of the injuries that occur to a boxer is on their hands. I just wanted to be down in the ditches and learn everything that I could learn.

I donated my services on the amateur level. I did officiating on that level before I began officiating on the professional level. I think it was that ambition and that perseverance and maybe foresight that I said the only way that I can be good at this is if I do this the same way I have done everything else in my life, to study it, be a good listener, get a good education in that field and to be the best at what you are doing.

It was actually through your restaurant that you first met someone who became not only became very close to you personally but also later on became your first world champion, Vinny Pazienza. What were your thoughts when you first met Vinny Paz?

I think it was Lake Placid . He had won a pretty prestigious amateur title and I can’t think of it, it might have been a national title. Our local paper here maybe had an eighth of an inch of a sentence on it and television had nothing. I said look at this kid from Rhode Island won this and nobody is even acknowledging it and I didn’t even know how to find Vinny at the time. I didn’t know what to do, but I searched and I went to the gym and I met Angelo his dad, and Vinny wasn’t there at first. When I told him who I was and why I came there to honor Vinny, he got on the phone with Vinny and said in broken English, you have to come down here right away, there is a special person here to meet you.

Well Vinny did come right away and I said listen, maybe nobody else as acknowledged what you just did, but I want to invite you, your mom and dad, and whoever else you would like to my restaurant and I want you to have dinner on me as a tribute to how proud we are of you of what you just done. We actually did, we broke bread and had a wonderful dinner and the rest is history.
We have been inseparable. He is a five time world champion. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t call me or that we do not speak.

Was it at that time that you created your promotional company, Classic Entertainment and Sports? What was the experience of promoting your first professional fight card like?

Basically still on a part time level because I was still involved with the restaurant and everything. The first show I did was at a place that is no longer in business anymore, but it was a place known as Rocky Point Park in Rhode Island . The first show I did I lost about $18,000 - $20,000 on the promotion.
The morning of the fight, three of the fighters on the card got into a car accident on their way to the show so we lost three fights. It was a good learning experience because it prepared me for the things that sometimes can happen in the boxing business.

What first got you interested in promoting fighters and building future world champions?

I think when I was travelling around the world with the international boxing and before that, it was watching some of the promotions and watching some of the fighters, and seeing some of the mistakes that were being made. I kept a diary of everything and said when the time was right.
Don’t get me wrong there were some promoters that were doing good jobs and doing good things, but there were always some things that weren’t being done or could have been done or how they could have been done better.

It is because of my experiences that I have had in boxing that basically made me realize that I know I can do this job, have my own fighters, and create this promotional company.

So in the early 80’s you began your own promotional company called Classic Entertainment and Sports and you have been promoting world class fights for over twenty years. This may be a loaded question but what are your fondest memories from your guidance of Vinny Paz throughout his five world championships?

I remember it was probably the second or third Greg Haugen fight that Vinny was so dehydrated the day of the fight that his dad and I, we were staying at the hotel next to the Providence Civic Center, and we never thought that he was going to be able to fight that night. He went out and the actual night of the fight, what he did was completely amazing. It was unbelievable that if people ever knew that four or five hours how sick he was, and then went out and was amazing.

The other fondest memory I have was that we were working with Dan Duva, may God rest his soul, passed away, they wanted Vinny to fight in Atlantic City, but television would not step up to the plate with Vinny. He said Jimmy you won’t put a thousand people at home and I said look we are going to fight at the Providence Civic Center . He said we don’t have the television and I said I don’t care about the television because we have got the right opponent; it was Joe Frazier, Jr. We fought on a Thursday night and we had fifteen thousand people inside the Providence Civic Center , a thousand standing room only, and another thousand that could not get in. Vinny just did an unbelievable job.

It was a great, great fight. I remember Joe Frazier, Sr. coming to me after the fight back to the Classic. He said to me, ‘Jimmy we made a mistake.’ I asked him why and he said, ‘Do you realize the money we could have made on this fight if we knew what we could do?’ (laughs) And if you know Joey, he doesn’t fly he drives so that is the fondest memory of Vinny because his dad and I, we really seen that New England and boxing is alive and what we did that night. I invited some of the directors of sports marketing for the networks if you remember when ABC and NBC was covering boxing, and when they seen we had a fighter that could fill up the arena, that is when big things started happening.

In speaking with many of your current and former fighters, they have always said that “Jimmy B.” is like a father figure to them in many ways both inside and outside of the ring. Not only is that a huge compliment but speaks volumes to the way in which you conduct your business. How has your loyalty not only to your fighters but to the sport of professional boxing affected your company, CES?

Well I was brought up that you have to live by certain things. You have to know what morals mean. You have to know what respect means. You have to know what basically what your word means. Basically in boxing we get a lot of bad things thrown at us, but there are a lot of people out there that deserve a lot of bad things.
There are a lot of good things in boxing also. Everyone that signs under the CES brand, they become one of my children. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

I don’t look for them to basically be like were going to put up some money and put them in something that is way over their head, were going to get them killed and get our money back. It is a situation where you have to care for what your doing and you have to care for basically how you are working.
For every fighter that fights under the CES label really realizes that we do our job from how we can get them into the ratings, how we can get them and bring them to world title fights. What I tell my fighters is that you have to only worry about one thing, you be ready to fight when you get in the ring. The only thing I cannot do for you is fight for you when you get in that ring. But it is important to see what their morals are. I think it’s important that if I can go out and work out every single day which I do, and if they are supposed to do fifty sit-ups I expect them to do sixty.

I know at the age we are in, in 2008, for an athlete to be the best, they need to be surrounded by a lot of good people besides a boxing trainer, but also strength and conditioning coach.

We also have one of the best hand surgeons in the world and thank God he is a big boxing fan, Dr. Steven Margles. He has operated on Vinny Paz’s hands, Mickey Ward’s hands, and Paulie Malignaggi’s hands and many others. If one of our fighters gets cut, he doesn’t have to go to the hospital; Dr. Margles takes care of it.
We have seminars. We show how to properly wrap hands. We try to give the effort that it takes.

The fighter has to know that they have to be marketable. Corporate America is dying, dying to get a fighter that they can relate to. I mean just as well as what is happening with the economy, is what is happening to the boxing industry too. A lot of people are going to go by the wayside. You have to got to pay attention and be creative in this day and age.

What are the biggest lessons that you have learned since then in promoting and making compelling fights for the fans?

I think one thing that really disgusts me is a promoter, see most people don’t realize who the promoter is, they have no idea. So what happens is they go to a fight and they know that the “A” side is going to win and the “B” side are the opponents and they are going to lose.

They are going to have ballerina dances where somebody doesn’t get hit by a punch and gets knocked out. They are going to have a guy with seven or eight losses fighting a kid that is (4-0) or undefeated and it doesn’t make any sense.

What they are doing is destroying the game. You have to give the fans competitive fights. What I want to see each of our fighters as they are coming up is that every single fight just like Sugar Ray Leonard did on his way up, that every single fight you get a lesson from it. You fight a tall left hander that can’t punch, a short left hander that can punch; they have to learn a lesson.

There can’t be an end before the fight start that is called cheating. The entertainment dollar is so scarce that if you don’t put good fights together, let me ask you a question. If you have a person that has never been to a live boxing match, and this person comes to the live boxing match for the first time, and you give them six or seven good competitive fights, they are a new boxing fan. And that is what a good promoter will do. Give the customer who is paying for the entertainment, and entertain them.

Financially how difficult is promoting boxing shows today from when you first started out?

If you are not in the level of HBO or Showtime, then it is extremely, extremely different. What is happening now is even the major casinos where they would pay site dollars and stuff, they are tightening up their belts, and it all boils down right now that if you have fighters and you cannot fill up arenas, then you are not going to be in business long.

Not many people realize that you promoted Peter Manfredo Jr. to an undefeated record of (22-0) as quickly as you did, before allowing him to go and be a part of the first season of, “The Contender.” At the time you took a risk as a promoter, but nonetheless you wanted what was best for your fighter, Peter Manfredo Jr. What were your thoughts going into that decision?

It was probably one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made in my boxing life. Because what happened was one, my five time former champion, Vinny Paz had a wish when he was around 45 or 46 wins, he said ‘Jimmy I want to have fifty wins and end my career.’ I said to him, ‘If you promise me you will never, ever attempt to come back you will end up with fifty wins, you just listen to me. I will make the decisions and you just get in the ring and you will get your fifty wins.’ And we got his fifty wins and that was it.

As we were building up Peter and a couple of fights before I had gotten him to the NABO championship and he was #3 in the world and we had a ceremony honoring both fighters. Peter coming up and Vinny ending his career, Vinny passed an actual torch to Peter. It would have brought tears to your eyes with what they were saying that night in the ring.
Now Peter was our franchise, he was putting four and five thousand people in the arenas. Vinny was done now, and we had a lot of other fighters but they were all younger. That is when I got a call from Frank Stallone actually. He was asking us if we had any fighters that they were starting this tournament and this reality show. Peter was the first fighter that came to my mind.
I hadn’t really study what the whole thing was, and Peter went to be interviewed and stuff, and when “The Contender” people, who we have a great relationship with and I think that the reality series has been great for boxing. I think that the first year that they did it with Peter and then what happened with Peter, then he finally came back once he was voted back on. It was a great story how is wife and young daughter were on the show.

The bottom line is I had just signed a new three year contract at the time then this opportunity came about with “The Contender” and I signed over part of the contract over to “The Contender.”

Obviously that risk has paid off for Peter Manfredo Jr. and CES as you now co-promote him with the Tournament of Contenders, your partners in the upcoming November 13th “Tough and Tested” fight card at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence , RI .
“The Pride of Providence ” Peter Manfredo Jr. (31-5, 16 KOs) will take on Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika (26-3-2, 16 KOs ) in the main event for the IBO super middleweight title. What does it mean to have such an important title fight in his hometown of Providence , RI ?

Well I put Vinny Paz together with Peter, in fact they are going to do a television interview tomorrow and letting Vinny say, hey it’s been seventeen years since the last major world title fight in Providence .
When the fighter walks up those three stairs to get into the ring, he has nobody in the ring once he gets inside the ropes. It is only him and his opponent. It is not like other sports like football where you have other people to block for you or basketball where they throw the pass to you, or whatever team sport you play.
In boxing it is you and your opponent in a very dangerous sport. When you are fighting at home, the fans are your teammates. Hopefully there will be thousands of people that will come and watch this fight this coming Thursday and it means an awful lot.

I have never seen Peter so hungry, so physically and mentally determined. He knows he had a couple of opportunities that went by the wayside, and he knows what this means. He knows that Bika is coming here to win. He is coming here to take Peter’s head off. He wants to take that home field advantage away. He wants to come and knock Peter out. Bika himself has never been knocked out. It is going to be a great, great fight.
Peter is very excited about having the opportunity to fight for a world title in his hometown.

It is not really spoken about much but you have done a tremendous amount of charity work over your career. Can you tell us a little about that?

I have raised over two million dollars for different charities. It is something that I thought was very important at a young age that I would do. You know I came from a very poor beginning; I have lived in the projects. There were times where I did not have enough food on the table to eat. I just want to give back.

One of the charities that I have worked very hard for is the National Foundation for Ileitis and Colitis (NFIC). My oldest son came down with Colitis when he was in college and nobody knew what caused it, or can it be corrected. What I did was when I had the Classic; I started a road race that initially raised thee to four thousand dollars. By the eighth year we had over four thousand runners in the race.

It was something that is very important in life is that you give back. If you can do something to help and do research to assist in the cure of these different diseases, then I think you can go to bed and sleep good at night.

During the “Tough and Tested” fight card, which will be televised nationally on the Versus Network, you will be raising money for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation, can you tell us a little about that?

The Gemma brothers are very dear friends of mine, and their mother died of breast cancer at the age of 54 years old, and they started the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 100% of all of the money and donations go directly to the charity in supporting the search for cures, and different schools to learn about the latest in cancer research. I am hoping that on November 13th that everyone will be wearing pink and that we will raise a lot of dollars for breast cancer research. For more information, please visit their website at


Please check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this interview with Classic Entertainment and Sports President Jimmy Burchfield as we will discuss his recent achievement of winning the Italo-American Club of Rhode Island’s “Man of the Year” award in addition to him being recognized by the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame for his achievements in promoting numerous fights in the state of Connecticut.


Tickets, priced at $18.00, $23.00, $58.00, $79.00, $107.00 and $222.00, are on sale at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Box Office (401.331.6700) or through CES Boxing at 401.724.2253/2254 or Tickets will also be on sale through, at all local Ticketmaster outlets by calling Ticketmaster direct at 401.331.2211 or 617.931.2000, as well as Manfredo’s Gym in Pawtucket (401.723.1359), 401 Gym in Cranston (401.261.9800), Balletto’s Gym in Providence (401.641.9994), Elite Mixed Martial Arts (401.728.1356), and Ultimate Fitness in Bristol (401.253.3539). Each paid ticket holder will receive a complimentary Dave & Buster’s $10.00 Power Card ($12 value) upon entry.

For more information call 401.724.2253/2254 or go online to, or Doors open at 5:30 PM/ET, first bout 6:30 PM/ET.


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