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Interview with Jimmy Burchfield: Part 2 of 3

November 11, 2008

By: Scott Ploof
Photography by Emily Harney
- FightWireImages.com


On September 27th, 2008, Classic Entertainment and Sports president Jimmy Burchfield was presented by the Italo-American Club of Rhode Island its prestigious “Man of the Year” award for his dedication to humanitarian causes and for his contributions to the community.  ESPN boxing analyst, Teddy Atlas served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening which featured a who’s who of the sport as they had a chance to speak about the “Man of the Year.”  To view the video highlights of the event, please click here.

In part two of this three-part interview, we discuss his winning the award, his relationship with Vinny Paz, and his other CES fighters and about his contributions to the state of Rhode Island.

In the first part of our interview, we had a chance to speak about some of the charitable organizations that you have assisted over the years.  First, congratulations on receiving the “Man of the Year” award from the Italo-American Club of Rhode Island.  What did receiving this award mean to you personally?

Well it means an awful lot to me because the prestige of the award and the people that they have honored in the past.  It is the oldest Italian-American club in the United States and it just has some good, good people in that organization.  There have been judges and top politicians, and just about everybody who has done an awful lot in their life.  I have been honored in this association, so I was indebted to them in picking me as their Man of the Year.

The ceremony was a true tribute to you, not only your contributions to the sport of boxing, but to your contributions to your community.  How do you find the time to give back to the community like you have, while at the same time, support all of the full time obligations you have of being a national boxing promoter?

Well I think again that you cannot forget where you have come from.  A busy man or a busy person always finds time to get things done.  Listen, I love nothing better than being in the community.  Whether it be feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving as I have done with Vinny Paz, and many others including Matt Godfrey, who actually is destined to become a world champion in the near future also.  You have got to find the time to help the people out there that need help. 

To have ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas say, “I know Jimmy Burchfield’s fighters are his friends long after they are done fighting and that’s why I am here as the Master of Ceremonies. He is a man who understands the responsibilities to handle fighters. They call him the hardest working promoter in fighting.”  For someone of his stature in the sport to call you the hardest working promoter then it must be a reality.   So how do you do it?

I think those words that Teddy was saying brought chills in my body because sometimes you are doing things and sometimes you got to step back because you do not really realize sometimes what you are doing in life.  The steps forward that you are taking.  How many people did you affect in the course of a day?  Teddy loves boxing and Teddy as you know is one of the top analysts in the sport of boxing, but he is a real person.

I think the other thing is that I relate to Teddy very well because I think our makeup of our life, our standards, and our morals are very close.  We don’t tell you that something is going to happen and it doesn’t happen.  The best deals that I have ever done have been done by a handshake.  You don’t need a fifty page contract, but you do need people who are going to be people of their word. 

But those words from Teddy, I think Teddy can analyze as he can looking at a fighter knowing, hey this kid does have talent.  I mean he is a handicapper in boxing believe me.  He will know whether you’re a real fighter or your not.  Then I look at Teddy beyond that and look at what he has done with his charity, the Dr. Teddy Atlas charity that he works so hard for.  This was the first time that I got the chance to meet his lovely wife.  It was good breaking bread, and not only that but for him to take time out of his busy schedule to travel out to Providence and spend the entire evening with us.  It was just an honor.  His words that he said up there, I will never forget them for the rest of my life.

Many of the fighters both past and present all spoke fondly about you as they each noted that in many respects you are a father figure and friend to those that you have promoted and worked with in the past.  Of course for you it started with Cranston’s own Vinny Paz.  Your relationship with Vinny is truly a great story. 

Well one of the things Vinny said when he spoke at the Man of the Year award was that there were two people that he tremendously respected throughout his life, one of them was Muhammad Ali and the other was Jimmy Burchfield.  I think that says it all.

Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini also attended and came in from Los Angeles.  A flight was delayed.  He was locked in Philadelphia and there was no plane to come to Providence.  He was willing to rent a car and drive from Philadelphia all the way to Providence.  He could have got back in a plane and went back to Los Angeles.  Instead he went out of his way to be there for me, and for that I am so very grateful to my dear friend.

Matt Godfrey says to me, ‘Jim, will you come with me to my school?  They asked me to speak at my school and I would like for you to come with me.’  I went to his school and he was speaking to about twenty or twenty-five of the students there.  He was talking about life and making the right choices.  You know do not make the choices of doing drugs or getting arrested.  I lived in the Chad Brown projects and I have had at least ten or fifteen of my friends that are either in prison, dead, or on rehab for drugs, so you have got to make the right choices.  So he then looks back at me and I am sitting behind him, and he says one of the best choices and the right choice that I have made in my life is the man sitting behind me, my promoter.  That says it all, what more could you want?

At the ceremony Vinny said about you, “He’s one of my role models. I’ve never told him this but I have two role models in my whole life, that’s all. I looked up to two people. One of them was Mohammad Ali, and two, without a doubt is Jimmy Burchfield. He lives his life like I fought in the ring – I laid it all out on the line.”  What were your thoughts when you heard Vinny say this about you?

It was amazing.  I know what we think of each other.  People who really do not know Vinny, you have got to sit down with him for five minutes.  It is like watching a politician sometimes on television.  You may not relate to him, you may not like him, but when you get the opportunity of meeting that person, then your perception changes. 

Vinny is such a unique individual.  You know the fights that he has had fifty-six or fifty-seven fights and a long extensive amateur career.  You look at some of the bad in boxing and you sit with this young man.  He is an unbelievable motivational speaker.  You know you have a company and you have a corporation and you want this guy to come in and speak and bring some enthusiasm into your company.  Just look at him when he broke his neck.  The doctor said to him, Vinny, you are never going to fight again.  And he looked up at the doctor as he lay on the table, unable to move, and he said, ‘doctor I am Vinny Pazienza, I will fight again.’  To relate me along with a Muhammad Ali to say that these are the two people in his life that he has looked up to, I mean what more of a tribute that night could I have possibly gotten, then those words. 

You also received many wellwishes from the over 1100 people in attendance at the ceremony including boxing legend Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, and many past and present CES fighters including “The Pride of Providence” Peter Manfredo Jr., Matt Godfrey, and “Baby” Joe Mesi among others.  What was it like to hear how appreciative all of your fighters and friends are of the work that you do for them?

I think at the end of the day, when you put in an honest days work in, and you go home and take a shower.  You sit on the couch and you feel good about yourself and you say, wow I did some good things today and some good things happened.  It was a successful day.  I made some people happy.  You know you don’t realize sometimes what your doing everyday, every week, every month, every year, but sometimes you just sit there and listen to people that you are working with. 

You know there was no phony baloney there when “Baby Joe Mesi said, ‘you are my promoter, but one thing that I have never had from no one else in boxing, you are my friend.’  You know he just had an election as a Senator.  He just got nipped out of winning. He worked hard for it.  I mean it was just one thing after another. 

Sugar Ray Leonard and his message, saying that Jimmy and I had a friendship for thirty years and how badly that he wanted to be there and took the time of sending a message by satellite.  So it was just one good thing after another.

As we spoke about in Part 1 of our interview, at the November 13th “Tough and Tested” fight card, money will be raised for the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  The plan is to hold a “pink-out” type of event. Can you tell us about that?  What will be on sale the night of the event?

Well first of all there will be pink t-shirts that will be on-sale the night of the event for five dollars and that entire five dollars goes directly to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation fund. 

Also, every ticket that is purchased, a portion of the ticket will also go to the foundation as well.  We have a young girl that is about thirty-two years old and she has recovered from breast cancer and her name is Dana Politiano.  She is on our poster and she is our champion of the night because of what she has been through with having a young child and going through what she did.  Now she is able to stand on her own two feet and be a survivor.  We are just hoping that the dollars we raise on November 13th, and hopefully we can make a few more stories like Dana’s happen, and I would be completely satisfied.

Another special congratulations to you is in order as on November 28th at the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame, you will be receiving a special achievement award for your promoting of boxing in the state of Connecticut.  First congratulations on the achievement, and if you could please tell us what this honor means to you?

I think it is a great honor because we have two of the greatest and best casinos in the world right in the state of Connecticut, being Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, both of whom I am very dear friends with.  They both have got beautiful facilities and Foxwoods is teaming up with the MGM Grand. 

The state of Connecticut, I have found another home spot for us in Hartford, Connecticut, one of the original homes of boxing in the old days.  We were the mecca of boxing, well you have to stand up and be counted.  Well you have to fill up the arena.  We went to Hartford and boxing hasn’t been there in years.  We brought some shows to the beautiful Hartford Convention Center there and the people have just been terrific.  We will continue to bring shows there. 

There have been many great promoters that have worked in the state of Connecticut and for me to have been selected by a great organization, the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame.  I am flattered with it. 

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Please look tomorrow for Part 3 of this exclusive interview with Classic Entertainment and Sports president Jimmy Burchfield as we will discuss this Thursday’s “Tough and Tested” fight card which will be televised nationally on the Versus network, how CES has been building champions within their organization, and why many amateur boxing stars should look to CES to jump start their pro-careers.

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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 www.cesboxing.com. Tickets will also be on sale through www.Ticketmaster.com, 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 www.cesboxing.com, www.tournamentofcontenders.com or www.dunkindonutscenter.com. Doors open at 5:30 PM/ET, first bout 6:30 PM/ET.

 



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