The BIOFILE Chris Byrd

19.03.05 - By Scoop Malinowski /
Status: IBF Heavyweight champion.
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 220
Born On: August 15, 1970 In: Flint, Michigan

Childhood Heroes: "Sugar Ray Leonard - when I was six I met him a month after the Montreal Olympics. He was at a fight card in Flint. I still got the picture. Milton McCrory. Tommy Hearns. Barry Sanders. My brothers, Ronnie, Patrick."

Nicknames: "You know, I never had any. Never in nothing. In sandlot football I should've had some, 'cause I was so good. Oh wait, one...Rubber Band Man. From my amateur coach. 'Cause I got a springy waist, he said."

Childhood Dream: "Just making the Olympic team. After meeting Sugar Ray Leonard in 1976. That was my dream. Never thought it would actually come true but it did."

Favorite Movies: "The Five Heartbeats, The Green Mile, Coming To America, Imitation of Life, Titanic."

Favorite TV Shows: "Sanford & Son, Good Times, Happy Days."

Musical Tastes: "Christian music, The Winans, Bob Carlisle, Annoint It."

Early Boxing Memory: "When I was 11, the Silver Gloves. I stopped everybody. I was a power puncher back then. Like a Tyson, making kids cry. The last two fights the kids were afraid of me. They must've thought I was a killer then [smiles]."

Pre-Fight Feeling: "Calm. (Think about) I gotta get off, do something to my opponent. Always said, If I get nervous before, that means I'm gonna perform well. So I gotta get nervous. In the dressing room, I'm so calm people think I'm not nervous. I'm cracking jokes. I do that because I don't want people asking me, How do you feel? I hate that. Hate worrying about the fight. When I walk to the ring, I look for my wife. I don't think of the fight till I get to the ring. (Do you look at the opponent when you get to the ring?) Never look, never stare down...'cause I might start laughing [smiles]. Some people say I'm too nice, I need to get a killer instinct. But almost every blow I throw, I'm trying to take him out."

Favorite Meal: "Burger and fries, pizza or buffalo wings. I'm a regular guy."

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: "Raisin Bran - eat it all the time."

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Praline pecan."

Favorite Boxers To Watch: "Pure boxers. I always like the slicksters, like Roy Jones, Oscar, the top guys. Vernon Forrest is a friend of mine. I pick up things from him. Like how to keep your range. He don't just throw his punches, he sets up his right hand. To knock you out with it. Keeps his range. I know I'm not a tall fighter but at the same time I can still keep my range. Like Kostya Tszyu. I love watching him fight. I always loved watching him fight in the amateurs. He's a short guy who fights mostly tall guys, but he knows how to keep his range too. He's got that range-finder out there [Byrd demonsrates a popping jab], searching for that right spot. Boom! His legs are good. A lot of things people don't notice in boxers, he's got a good stance. He plants his feet. He's got good movement going in and out. Legs are real good. The smart guys I can really pick up on. So many good boxers. Like Sven Ottke for instance (the recently retired long-time super middleweight champion). The guy only had like 5 KO's. I fought him in the amateurs. So I know this guy can fight. He's a good boxer, but he can maneuver around punchers. The art of boxing, in my opinion. I lost a 2-1 decision to him in Florida. I thought I lost, my wife (Tracy) - girlfriend at the time - thought I won. I felt I lost. I felt I should have done more, after the fight. The guy could fight. I can see why he was undefeated. The guy can box for 25 rounds."

Favorite Fights: "Oh my goodness, Holyfield-Tyson I. Hagler-Mugabi. Unexpected great fights. Pryor-Arguello I. Leonard-Hearns I. Duran-Davey Moore. These are fights I watched live."

First Job: "Summer job tutor for first and second graders (age 14)."

First Car: "1988 gray Chevy S10 low rider truck. Shared payments with my brother Patrick."

Greatest Sports Moment(s): "Up to now, winning the silver medal in the Barcelona Olympics and winning the IBF Heavyweight title."

Most Painful Moment: "Losing at the '92 Olympics. I was so cocky at the time. Nobody expected me to do anything. As I was winning, I was getting cockier and cockier. Right before me, I saw Oscar win the gold. So I thought I was gonna do it too. I lost to the Cuban (Ariel Hernandez in the final). Close fight. I thought I won and a lot of people thought I won. And I was really crushed. Till I saw George Foreman on the way to the dressing room. He knew how hurt I was. I cried after this fight. I never cried before at any of my other fights. He said, Keep your head up. Think about what you've done. You've won a silver medal in the Olympics. That was very encouraging to me. I went back to the locker room. The more I thought about what George said, it was a great help for me. Actually, Vernon Forrest wanted to console me too. He's like, Look at you! I lost my first fight, you won a silver medal! Nobody expected me to win anything. It was a great moment in my amateur career."

Worst Injury: "My knuckle. Tore tendons in the middle finger knuckle of my left hand, against Phil Jackson. Tore it up and it still bothers me now and then. Gotta fight through the pain."

Funny Boxing Memory: "I ripped my shorts in a fight. In the second round against Nathaniel Fitch. I stopped him in the seventh. And I never knew my shorts were ripped. And my family at ringside was laughing. They were all in the front row. When I went back to the corner, they kept laughing. And they were ripped badly too. Till my underwear were showing badly. That was funny and embarrassing at the same time."

Pre-Fight Meal: "Mostly pasta. A lot of times I find myself eating - I don't know why - a club sandwich with a pickle. I don't know why. My father (Joe) says make sure I get pasta in my system."

Favorite Non-Boxing Athletes To Watch: "Michael Jordan. Monica Seles. I liked her for a long time. When I play tennis, I try to grunt like her. I mean, when I try to play tennis [smiles]."

People Qualities Most Admired: "People with good morals. I admire good, clean honest people. I don't have many friends outside of boxing. My friends are church people, Christians who love the Lord."

Note: This Biofile interview was conducted in early 2004. You can read more Biofile interviews like this one at

Article posted on 18.03.2005

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