Terry Norris: “Boxing has gotten soft. If you put Floyd Mayweather in my era, I know a number of guys that were in my weight division that would beat him, including me!”
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - The 146th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured exclusive interviews with former three-time world champion “Terrible” Terry Norris (47-9, 31 KOs). Norris spoke about his Hall of Fame career and also shared some opinions and insight on the current boxing landscape. Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
Article posted on 19.10.2011
JENNA J: Well since we’ve been speaking about Hall of Famers, I’m proud to announce a guest that a lot of our fans have been dying to have us get on the show. He’s our ninth Hall of Fame guest making his debut to On the Ropes Boxing Radio. We’re joined by former three-time world champion, “Terrible” Terry Norris. How’s everything going today Terry?
TERRY NORRIS: Everything is going good.
JENNA: Well that’s great to hear. Boxing fans have often suggested you as a guest for our show. You’re a guy that a lot of fans wanted to hear from. So I’d like to open things up and ask what you’ve been doing since your retirement, Terry?
NORRIS: Since my retirement I’ve done a number of things. One of the first things here is I’ve been trying to start a boxing foundation. It’s called “The Final Fight”. Also I’m writing a book with Bob Halloran. He wrote the book about the movie The Fighter.
JENNA: Terry, what’s been the biggest adjustment for you since you did retire in your life after boxing?
NORRIS: Well I guess it’s just pretty much every day life. You know you go out in the real world and just doing everyday things is kind of difficult at first. But then I kind of caught on to it, and I figured out how to do everything and then everything was good.
JENNA: Well for all the fans out there and for some of the fans who maybe aren’t as familiar with you, maybe you can tell them a little bit about how you got into the sport of boxing?
NORRIS: I started boxing when I was nine years old. My Mom put me in boxing just to keep me off the streets, and she did her best.
JENNA: Okay now you were also a very good baseball player. What made you decide to choose boxing over baseball?
NORRIS: Boxing was paying the bills, so boxing kind of took over for baseball because baseball wasn’t making me any money, so I had to go to what was making me a lot of money.
JENNA: Alright now Terry you actually had an extraordinary amateur career. You racked up 291 wins and had only 4 defeats. Can you tell us how that success helped you develop as a fighter?
NORRIS: Well it started when I was a kid boxing and beating a lot of guys. I didn’t think too much of it, but then I just kind of started liking boxing and it just kind of took off from there.
JENNA: Let’s talk a little bit about your expectations going into your professional career. After having the success in the amateurs, how far did you think you were going to go?
NORRIS: Well I really didn’t know. Me and my brother, my brother was the cruiserweight champion of the world, Orlin Norris—we both wanted to become world champions and we both got there, but it was a long road.
JENN: Okay, well great Terry. We’re also on the line with my Co-Host Geoff Ciani.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Terry. It’s a great pleasure to have you on the show.
NORRIS: How are you doing?
CIANI: I’m doing very well, thank you. Terry, when you look back on your career if there was one thing that you could change or do differently what would you have done differently?
NORRIS: What would I do different? It’s kind of hard to say what I would do, but I truly don’t think boxing would have been my first pick. I think I would have picked baseball.
CIANI: So you think you would have chosen baseball over boxing?
NORRIS: Yeah, just because of the things I’m going through now from boxing.
CIANI: Understood. Now on the other side, when you look back at the extraordinary boxing career that you did have, is there one particular moment or one particular fight that you are most proud of?
NORRIS: I guess the most proud was when I won that first world title, the first WBC world title. That was probably the happiest moment of my life. You know I had finally accomplished something that my Dad had wanted from years back. So I became a world champion for my Dad.
CIANI: Now when you won your first world title, can you tell us a little bit more about that fight and what it was like going into it?
NORRIS: Well that was against John “The Beast” Mugabi, and I was nervous. Everybody was telling me how hard John “The Beast” hit, so I was nervous. When I went in that fight I was confident that I was going to do everything I could to keep from being beat. It just so happened I hit John with a good right and hand a good left hook and that kind of ended the fight.
CIANI: Terry, changing things up here a little bit, one of the questions I like to ask the guests we have on our show is the story behind how they first started using their boxing nickname. In your case, I’m wondering if you could tell all of our fans out there how you first started using the nickname “Terrible” Terry Norris?
NORRIS: Well that came from my Mom too, back when I was just a terrible little kid just running around, and fighting and everything, and being a little bully. In my hometown I got the name “Terrible” Terry, and it just kind of stuck with me.
JENNA: Alright Terry well let’s switch things back to your boxing career, and one particular fight that sticks out above the rest because it was the biggest name you ever fought—Sugar Ray Leonard. You got a chance to meet with him in the ring in 1991. What did you think of that fight?
NORRIS: The fight with Ray was scary at first, because I’m fighting my idol. It was somebody that I kind of worshiped at one time, and it was also a guy that showed me a lot and taught me a lot. So it was a really nervous scary feeling stepping in that ring.
JENNA: How did you feel when you knocked him down in the second round?
NORRIS: That first knockdown when I hit Ray with that left hook and dropped him, I just couldn’t believe it. I was just so happy. From that point right there Ray didn’t win another round. After the second round he didn’t win one round.
JENNA: Now that fight with Sugar Ray Leonard was kind of a springboard for your career. A lot more people got to know you and you had more notoriety from it, and you also had a lot of success after it. You had a long title reign. Can you tell us what that run was like for you?
NORRIS: You know that was quite a long run I had as champion. It was a great feeling. You know I had fun doing it. Right now I still can’t believe it. I accomplished a lot of things.
JENNA: Yeah. You certainly did accomplish a lot of things, and one thing throughout your career is you had a few unusual defeats. You had three disqualification losses. Can you tell the fans about how those losses happened to you?
NORRIS: With those three disqualifications, I think that was just me being a little over anxious and I just wasn’t paying attention to what was going on. It wasn’t like I lost my head or lost my mind. It was just total mistakes.
JENNA: Alright Terry, well one thing that sets you apart from a lot of the other former champions out there was your success in rematches. When you got a second opportunity at an opponent you beat them. Can you tell us why you think you were able to do that?
NORRIS: The Simon Brown defeat, that fight with the first fight we had kind of shocked me. He came out and just tried to run over me. He threw a bunch of power punches and just knocked me down and hit me in the back of my head. So he used a lot of cheesy tactics and kind of took me out of my game. So I lost that first fight, but then the second fight was a whole different story. I was in the best shape of my life and I could dance for twelve rounds and I knew it. Then that fight I outboxed Simon Brown for twelve rounds just moving, and stepping, and jabs, 1-2’s. It was a great fight.
JENNA: Now what about the Luis Santana fight? The fact that you got disqualified the first two times, what were you feeling going in the third time?
NORRIS: Well the third time I was just like, “Terry, don’t make any mistakes!” I knew I was going to beat him. Luis Santana wasn’t that good of a fighter. I knew I would beat him, but I just didn’t want to get careless and do something stupid. That’s a fight though where I learned a big lesson and I was just able to move on.
CIANI: Terry, going back to when you first started becoming interested in boxing, who were some of the boxers that you looked up to and most admired at that time?
NORRIS: The most admired was Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali. Those were my idols, and of course I watched Joe Frazier, and Marvin Hagler. I watched everybody.
CIANI: When you look at the stars in boxing today, the two big names we have right now are Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Junior, and I was wondering if you could tell the fans out there what you think of those guys?
NORRIS: You know I really don’t think too much of those guys. If they were back in my era they wouldn’t be champions. Boxing has gotten soft. If you put Floyd Mayweather in my era, I know a number of guys that were in my weight division that would beat him, including me! I don’t think that much of boxing today.
CIANI: Now you said you think you could beat Floyd. I’m curious Terry, a lot of fans tune in to Floyd hoping to watch him lose. In your view, what would be the key to beating him?
NORRIS: The key to beating Floyd is somebody that’s going to go in there and mix it up with Floyd. Not box him, but go at him, bang Floyd, push Floyd around, and hit him with uppercuts and hit him with things that he’s just not expecting to be hit with. You need somebody strong, somebody bold, and somebody that’s real aggressive and just throws a lot of punches, and goes in there in the best shape of their life and ready to go.
CIANI: Now given the description you just gave there, do you think if they ever fought that Manny Pacquiao could beat him?
NORRIS: No. Manny Pacquiao can’t beat him. There is no way Pacquiao can beat Mayweather! He comes forward, but he’s not that strong. He’s not like a real power puncher. He’s not as fast as Floyd, so Floyd will be able to outmaneuver him, throw different combinations, use his speed, and outmaneuver him. I believe that right there would be a very easy fight for Floyd.
JENNA: Okay now Terry, you mentioned before that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Junior wouldn’t do so good in your era. I’m wondering, there were so many great fighters when you fought, was there any particular one that you wished you could have gotten in the ring with that you didn’t?
NORRIS: Not really. When I was fighting, I wanted to fight everybody but now that I’m not fighting I really don’t care. Back then I would have loved to have fought De La Hoya. I would have loved to have been able to fight Floyd. I would have loved to have been able to prove that Floyd is not the best fighter in the world, and I know I could have beaten him.
JENNA: Now you mentioned De La Hoya, you actually almost had an opportunity to fight him. I think that you were close to having a deal in place to fight him after the Keith Mullings fight, but you got upset. Do you at all regret not getting that fight?
NORRIS: Well you know I did for awhile, but it wasn’t in to my life. Ideally I did want that fight, but I guess God didn’t want it that way.
JENNA: Alright well Terry, let’s talk about your decision to retire from boxing. You had three straight losses to end your career. What made you finally decide this was the end?
NORRIS: Well losing those three fights, I should have quit long before that. I was having problems in those fights and even before those fights. So that’s when maybe I believe had my Parkinson’s syndrome.
JENNA: Well Terry I just have a couple of more questions before we let you off the line. You mentioned some of the difficulties you’re having today. What’s the best advice that you could give to a young and upcoming fighter?
NORRIS: My best advice would be don’t start too early boxing, and don’t end too late.
JENNA: Okay and finally Terry, you have a lot of boxing fans out there, people who follow you on Facebook, people that have followed you ever since your career started until now. Is there anything you want to say to them?
NORRIS: I would like to just say to everyone that I’m okay. I have Parkinson’s syndrome, which I’ve had for awhile. I take very good care of myself, and my wife is the best ever! Also I’m coming out with a reality show. It’s called “Lady and the Champ”, and you can see all about the champ and what’s going on in my life.
JENNA: Well I definitely look forward to that “Lady and the Champ” reality show. You heard it out there. Terry, it was a pleasure having you on the show. I do wish you all the best, and it’s just great to hear that you’re out there and letting the fans know what’s up with you and everything that’s going on with your life.
NORRIS: Thank you.
CIANI: Thank you very much, Terry. Best of luck!
NORRIS: Alright. Thanks a lot.
To learn more about “Terrible” Terry Norris and his Foundation:
For those interested in listening to the Terry Norris interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and nine minutes into the program.
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