Interview: Murad Muhammad Speaks Out, Part One
08.01.04 - By Keith Terceira: As events began to evolve in the disagreement between Freddie Roach and Murad Muhammad it started to appear that it may involve more than a percentage being owed to Roach. Boxingscene staff writer Ronnie Nathanielsz broke a story regarding a company Ten Count Productions Inc. a Nevada based corporation offering Manny a contract listed in that contract are Nick Khan and none other than Freddie Roach as managers. Without getting fully into the reported contract it stuck me funny that during my interview Freddie Roach admitted that Murad Muhammad had an exclusive contract with the Pacquiao camp. We discussed Freddie, Manny and other items with Murad at length.
Article posted on 07.01.2004
Keith; Manny has disclosed to us that he understood the terms of the contract for the Barrera bout and is pleased with the money he received. Basically he wanted $500,000 for the fight with Barrera and you made that possible isnít that correct?
Murad; Let me talk about the Manny Pacquiao entire situation. First of all I want you to know that I traveled the world with Mohammad Ali for 12 years and I learned the athletes from within, before I became a boxing promoter. I know how they think, I know how they sleep, how they walk, how they talk, when they are down, and when they are up. I couldnít have learned from a better man. When I came into this industry, I felt knowing King and Arum from being around Ali, that the industry needed an alternative to those two, and I became the third promoter in America. No other promoter existed but the well named Madison Square Garden. But the Garden had four walls and they couldnít go outside them. Thatís why Arum, King, and myself were able to do things that the Garden was not able to do. I thought there was a place in boxing because there was no honesty, no integrity, no loyalty, and when I say that I mean continuity in those fields. I felt that if I came in and I was clean, upright, and did the job that I would make it. My father said to me that a good name is better than gold, and when I was a youngster I always wanted to know why he used the word gold, and I realized that the country is backed by gold, based on gold. So what he was saying is that all the gold in this country is not more valuable than a good name. So the name Mohammad you will never see on the ring for people to step on, it always stands high hanging somewhere.
I believe that after thirty years of honesty and integrity, what your readers donít understand is that boxing was investigated by the federal government. The federal government saw fifteen Caucasians men, to give you those names I forget, but they turned states evidence. There was an African American named Bob Lee that was indicted and found guilty, his son was given a banishment for life, a Latino also was looked for and never found, who he is I donít know. The point is that being one of the top five promoters, and I believe I am one of the top five. Three of the major promoters out of the top five admitted under oath to fraud. One was accused but he didnít admit to anything. So the old saying walk like a duck, quake like a duck, itís a duck.
Keith; Murad how did you come out in those hearings?
Murad; I was a little upset because, the Senate was calling all those people in and they were speaking on TV and I said ďMy God why donít they call me.Ē hey finally called me and they said they wanted to speak to Roy Jones Jr and I was a little upset, so I say ďIím one of the top promoters in the country, I know boxing in and out, I canít understand why you guys havenít called me to speak.Ē So they say can you speak on Friday. I said ok Iíll speak on Friday. They tell they will call me back. They never called me.
Keith; Was that the last you heard from them?
Murad: No, In Mississippi, a gentleman approached me and he flashed his badge and says Iím the FBI. I say what can I do for you. He says he would like to come to my fights. He asked for a seat next to me and so I asked why next to me and he tells me because, I was the cleanest guy that the FBI had found in the industry. That was why I had never got a call to speak at the Senate because they never had anything on me to call me forward. When he went into retirement, I made him an offer. His name is Warren Flagg. He has been with me now for four years. He would never, ever be a part of a crook.
In the state of New Jersey, Iím the first African American that ever had a Casino Control License. That is the most difficult license that you can ever receive. They used to walk in my office come behind my desk and read my love letters from my wife. They check out your bank accounts and all your associates.
Keith: When did you get the Casino Control Board License?
Murad; In 1980-81 I received that license. Then I was told that I wasnít doing enough business in New Jersey so I could let the license lapse, and then when I decide to come back, I could renew them. I decided to come back. I was doing boxing in the casinos, so I went down with my attorney to meet with the Control people. I said what can I do for you gentlemen. They tell me I need a Character reference letter. I asked them if they wanted a letter from my mother that I could come out to play. I said to them ďyou know Mohammad Ali said to me ďWhen you was a little promoter you was a little nigger, now that you a big promoter you a bigger niggerĒ I said what did he mean when he said that. Meaning when are they going to perceive you other than a nigger. I said right now I feel that I fall under the umbrella of what Mohammad Ali said. They told me that I shouldnít take it that way. I said I have and I left their office.
Warren Flagg called an said ďMurad, you didnít bring me on your team not to investigate what you should and shouldnít do, and Iím telling you, you have to give them that letter because they are not investigating you about organized crime, they are not investigating you about anything you have done wrong, this is just the new rules. If they let you gat away with it then every other promoter will want to get away with it.Ē I thought about it and said if they want a letter Iím going to give them a letter. Well, I gave them 1000 Letters, I gave them letters from judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, directors of police departments, directors of the PALís throughout the whole country, doctors, lawyers, I gave them senators, governors, councilmen, I gave them school teachers, I even gave them signatures of children through-out the city of Newark with whom I had spoken during the duration of my career. I even gave them a letter from my children and my wife saying what kind of father and husband I was. I gave it to them in a nice little book. Now I have a letter saying they will never question my credibility again and hereís your license. Six months ago I got my license for the second time with the Casino Control Board. The state of New Jersey has unlimited resources to investigate my name and my dealings, the federal has unbelievable funds, and I have come thru the acid tests. You mean to tell me here is a trainer, gets this kind of publicity and he calls me a liar, a cheater, a crook. He may have well took a gun and fired a bullet and if he missed me I still wouldnít be as angry as I am now. This man tried to muddy and dirty my good name, Murad Muhammad.
Keith; What do you think got problem started Murad?
Murad; For the first time in the history of HBO they released on the air what a promoter received, they didnít mention my name, they used the idea that their was $700,000 for Manny Pacquiao and he went home with $300,000. I got three calls of threats on my life the last call Flagg was in my suite. With another gentleman who is an ex-sheriff. We came to the conclusion that it was someone who may have lost his house betting on Barrera, and thatís the way we took it. Then Iím sitting watching the football game, probably the Jets. We get a call, they say Murad did you hear what Lampley said. Heís got you taking $400,000 out of the seven. Flag man says I want to confiscate that tape, now this is serious, he says we need to send this to the FBI. Someone out there is thinking that you robbed this kid. It is serious Flagg says.
Keith; Fill in the details of the Pacquiao purse for us.
Murad; Let me give you how this all came about, Iím giving you things that I have not given anybody because you did call me the day after Roach threatened to quit, you did attempt to get both sides of the story at the same time, I just thought it would blow over. Manny Pacquiao was knocked out as a world champion, and therefore Nazario was campaigning in America for two years, trying to find a promoter for Manny. Everybody turned him down. In his frustration time getting ready to go home, I heard about Manny Pacquiao so I flew to San Francisco. I got there around eleven oíclock, the manager didnít see me till about nine that evening because he thought it was a waste of time. I had the chance to put in the tapes and watch Manny. Manny was fighting and the opponent would just fall, and it looked like they were taking dives. I kept playing the tape over and over again, going in slow motion and I realized that he was hitting them with a body shot. I said this is my Champ. I meet with the manager and he said why should I sign with you when everybody has turned me down, Iím disgusted, what makes you think you can do a good job for Manny Pacquiao. I said because I make miracles . That shocked him. We signed a deal.
Keith; What was the amount of the first contract you signed Pacquiao to Murad?
Murad; I gave him a ten thousand dollar minimum and we signed a deal for one year. The reason I signed for one year, I didnít know if I wanted to be with those guys. Character is everything to me. Mike Tyson is my brother, I love him, but I never tried to promote Mike after he come out of jail, because the things he was doing, I canít be associated with. When he gets rid of whatís bothering him, he is going to be a great individual, and probably a great champion. I donít chose these fighters based on just money. I had Bernard Hopkins, but Bernard was such a headache that I gave him back his contract. I told him may God be with you son, I think you are going to go on to be Champion and a good Champion but I donít like confusion. We are still brothers and friends, I give him advice now and then. Now back to Manny, when I offered him a year and ten thousand minimum that was on a Friday, around Wednesday or Thursday the following week, I called the manager (Nazario), I said how would you like to fight for a world title, Nazario says my God you do pull miracles. Thatís when we fought Ledwaba, no one gave us a chance. Smoke Gainer was sitting next to me and picked the African, I told Smoke we would tear him up and we did. Lou DiBella was running around ringside telling everybody that this was the worse match in the history of boxing prior to the fight. He was telling people that he did not want to be a part of it. Matter of fact he was so strong in his statements against Manny that the bookies took the odds off the board. Pac-man ate him up, you couldnít even see the punch. In our first title defense even with that dirty fighter Pito Sanchez, Manny worked had and we got the draw because of a head butt. You would think I would have got credit, no everyone said I got $500,000, again I donĎt know how they get these numbers. They said I paid Manny $125,000 and Sanchez $60,000 and I went home with all the money. Until they called John Jackson, who normally didnít release numbers but in this case he did, I paid the $250,000 out of the $500,000 and I paid my own boxers. No one went back and backtracked and told the truth, no they left it out there, like I stole in that fight.
Keith; If the figures that HBO released were correct, then they paid you $700,000, you in turn paid Manny a total of $500,000, that makes you gross to you and your company less than 30%. Thatís without your expenses correct?
Murad; I do look at it like this, Letís put it in perspective first of all Manny wasnít worth $500,000, it was my ingenuity, my capability to pull teeth and get to where Iíve got. This is the way it went . Let me tell you something else it was Golden Boy that negotiated with me, I didnít want to bring his name in but I will this time. When we promoters negotiate, and I say to the promoter hereís a dollar, in that dollar he has got to pay himself, the fighter, and all expenses, but he has to agree that he has to deliver for that fight. So when Richard called me he offered me $350,000, It was more than we ever got out of HBO.
So I told him I wasnít taking $350,000 to fight Barrera. I went back to Manny and his management team and said they hit me low, I canít make any money, and I didnít think it was enough but you guys got to tell me how much you want. When they said $500,000 that was shocking. I want and said Iím not taking $350,000. The second offer was for $450,000, I called Manny and asked if they would take a cut and Manny said no. I went back and did my job and got more. Instead of giving me credit, Smoke Gainer, Bernard Hopkins with 17 title defenses, Marquez, none of them have made this kind of money. They all just got through fighting. This is unbelievable money for an unknown kid that everyone didnít even give a chance to beat Barrera. The star wasnít born until after the fight, but prior to the fight, I got him tremendous compensation, not counting the money that I lost prior, not counting my staff who I have to pay, not counting the cost of flying Manny and his people into the country. All that comes out of the promoters side of he money. Then I give him $60,000 bonus prior to the fight for more incentive.
Part Two, to follow, as Murad Muhammad gives us the full run down of the purse and what he considers some shady dealings by Roach.
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