Have Gloves, Will Travel, Will Fight - Exclusive Interview With Dave Jaco: The Heavyweight Who Fought ĎEm All!
By James Slater: During a 13-year pro career, Toledoís Dave Jaco never got as far as winning any title - regional, world or otherwise. However the tough, proud 6í6Ē approx 220-pounder fought so many men who did at one time or another hold a major title, it is impossible not to admire him.
Article posted on 17.08.2011
Jaco, who retired with a modest at best 24-25-1(19) ledger, not only fought the top names, he also fought them all over the world - literally. Travelling anywhere from to Brazil to China, from the U.K to South Africa, from Germany to Cameroon, Jaco wound up being the ultimate journeyman fighter.
Today aged 54, Jaco has finished writing his autobiography and he is seeking out a movie deal. A ďReal-Life RockyĒ in more ways than one, Dave sure has some fascinating story to tell.
Here is what the fearless heavyweight battler had to say to me over the phone from his home earlier today:
James Slater: Itís great to be able to speak with one of the sportís genuine tough guys!
Dave Jaco: Okay, anything I can help you with.
J.S: Going right back to the start, how did you first get into boxing?
D.J: Well, back in 1980, it was tough in Ohio; they were tough times. The job I worked at from 1973 to Ď79, they closed their doors and my father and my uncle were also made out of work. There was a recession, like there is now. So I went to the gym and took up boxing. I had fast hands and I was 6í6,Ē so I tried it. Also, I won a tough-man tournament; I KOíd four out of five guys and thatís how I won it. People told me I should try pro boxing and thatís what happened. I went pro to make some money.
J.S: You are known as a warrior who simply fought them all!
D.J: Yeah. I had no amateur experience and I turned pro in 1981. I won my first 12 fights, against club fighters, and then I fought Carl ďThe TruthĒ Williams in Atlantic City in June of 1983. Anyway, I got my ribs broke in sparring four days before that fight and I shouldíve pulled out. But I needed the money. He knocked me down, I got up, and then the ref stopped it. I wasnít knocked out, but I was stopped.
J.S: You managed to bounce back and defeat one Donovan ďRazorĒ Ruddock in 1985. The biggest win of your career, Iím sure youíll agree? What are your memories of that fight - your 8th-round TKO win?
D.J: He underestimated me. Itís as simple as that. He didnít do his homework ahead of the fight. I played possum for the first 4 or 5-rounds, using lots of movement. He caught me with a goods shot in the 4th, and I took an 8-count. But then he lost his steam and I could feel his punches were not as hard. And then I beat his ass in the 6th and 7th and he never came out for the 8th. He actually said, ĎI donít want no more of that skinny white boy!í It was only the ropes that were keeping him up in the 7th; his legs really buckled.
J.S: I remember reading, back when Ruddock became a big name, that he had an asthma attack in the corner, and thatís why he never came out for the 8th? Is that true or just B.S?
D.J: Oh, thatís B.S! He got his ass whupped. Isnít it true that every fighter who loses has an excuse? They never said or reported anything about him having asthma before the fight.
J.S: Did some decent offers for fights come in after that win?
D.J: Well, what happened was, I had married a Hungarian woman, from Budapest, and I was trying to repair our relationship. She liked to party a bit, and so did I. But I was missing my boys, my two sons. She took them and I was a sparring partner for Tim Witherspoon at that time. Then they offered me a fight with a Michael Gerard Tyson, in New York, for $5,000. I took that fight on a five day notice. I was knocked down three times in the 1st-round and the referee stopped it on the three-knockdown rule. I told the ref he was full of shit! I mean, you donít count how many times you go down when youíre fighting for your life! Anyway, after that I tried to train and manage myself. That just doesnít happen, and I fell into palookaville! I took fights on a day or twoís notice, and they took advantage of me. Tommy Morrison, I fought after a dayís notice.
J.S: You would change a whole lot if you could re-do your boxing career?
D.J: I would get the right manager, the right trainer, and I would make a million. I should have made millions, no doubt. But I took short cuts and I didnít have the right people around me. But even though I never made millions and never fought for the title, I did what I wanted to do in my life. I got custody of my two boys in 1988 - theyíre both doing great now, each of them runs a boxing gym in Saratoga. And I have four daughters from my second marriage. This is all in my book. My story of a man raising his kids and doing whatís right. You know, a lot of people are down right now, and they need to know that you can get back up - as I did. My book is a great read, an uplifting read; with behind-the-scenes, personal stuff in there, not just boxing. Right now Iím trying to get a movie deal made out of the book. Iíve been in touch with Sylvester Stalloneís attorney and also Sam Bourie Studios. My story will make a great movie. I have all the stories and all the moving elements that ROCKY and THE FIGHTER have.
J.S: Iím sure it will be a great read. What is the title of the book and where can fans get a copy?
D.J: Itís a great read, not very long, but a great read - straight to the point. Itís called ďSPONTNANEUOS PALOOKA And Mr. Mom: The Story Of A Manís Love For His Children And Prize Fighting.Ē Fans can get a copy at my official web site: www.davidleejaco.com. Itís $13.00 including shipping in the U.S. Honestly, Iíve had nothing but praise from people who have read it. Iíve sent copies to David Letterman and to Jay Leno. I want to get it put out there on T.V.
J.S: You really do have some story to tell. As we know, you fought practically every big-name heavyweight from that period: Tyson, Foreman, Mason, Ruddock, Douglas, McCall, Weaver, Morrison. Who hit the hardest, Dave?
D.J: Well, Tommy Morrison caught me with a left hook to the jaw and I woke up when I hit the canvas. Foreman hit me real hard, but he was a dirty fighter. He hit me in the middle of my back; it was just like being hit with a baseball bat. It was a cheap shot and when I got back up I lost the most important part of my body. You know what the most important part of the body is? Your head. I was so mad! I went out and traded with him and he came back at me like a windmill - he knocked me down four times. Nobody could trade with Foreman. That fight was my biggest ever payday; I got $10,000. I like George, but he was dirty. To this day I have lower back trouble.
J.S: And in your last fight you spent time with Muhammad Ali?
D.J: Yes. My last fight, at the age of 39, in China - I spent two weeks with the greatest ever: Ali. I have photos of him with his arm around me, one of him bowling. Itís all in my book.
J.S: Thatís priceless stuff! How many photos are in your book?
D.J: There are 14. There is me and Floyd Patterson, me and Marvin Hagler, Ali, and lots of family photos. Hey, whatís your name again? James Slater?
D.J: (laughing) My best man at my first wedding was called James Slater! I grew up with him in Toledo, near Lake Erie. Thatís some coincidence.
J.S: It sure is! Dave, itís been a great pleasure speaking with you. Iím sure your book is a great read!
D.J: Do yourself a favour and buy a copy!
J.S: I intend to, Dave! And I hope the fans who read this article will, too.
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