Interview with DaVarryl Williamson
08.11.06 - By Vanessa McConnell: When he came into the professional boxing arena with an amateur record of 120-17-1, 103 KO’s, there was no doubt that DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson was made for boxing. Don King calls him a “thinking fighting” man and didn’t hesitate signing him to a contract with Don King Productions in Dec. 2004. Now the heavyweight from Aurora, CO stands at 6’4”, weighing 220 lbs with a professional record of 23-4, 19 KOs and proud to be self managed and training with George Durbin..
Article posted on 08.11.2006
Ranked top amateur in U.S.A. “Pound for Pound” for over three years and 10 time National Amateur Boxing Champion, DaVarryl was first alternate on the 1996 USA Olympic Team, 1998 Goodwill Games Silver Medalist, US National Champion from 1996 to 1998 and was the National Golden Gloves Champion in 96’ and 99’. In 95’, 96’ and 99’ DaVarryl was the American Boxing Classic Champion and in 95’ he was the National Police Athletic League Champion and won the Olympic Festival Champion title in 1995. During his first year of fighting pro, DaVarryl won the Arizona State Champion title in 1993.
Not only is DaVarryl noted as a training partner for IBF Heavyweight Champion Chris Byrd but he also is one of the top pick sparring partners for boxing greats like Hasim Rahman as he prepared for his bout with Lennox Lewis, Lawrence Clay-Bey, Chris Byrd, Lance Whitaker, Paea Wolfgramm and recently Calvin Brock. I caught up with DaVarryl just as he returned from sparring with Brock for his upcoming fight this weekend at Madison Square Gardens in New York. Although busy getting ready for the Shannon Briggs and Sergei Laikhovich fight, but he gave me plenty time to meet the man behind the mighty fists. For more of information on DaVarryl visit www.tosboxing.com.
VM: Who gave you the nickname “Touch of Sleep” and why?
TOS: Lawrence Clay-Bey gave me that nickname. He was on the 1996 Super Heavyweight Team U.S.A. I was having some enormous sparring sessions and I use to call myself “DJ” or “Dangerous Jabs.” He laughed at me and said you should call yourself “Touch of Sleep” because each hand has enormous power to knock someone out. That was back in 1995
VM: What do you enjoy most about sparring?
TOS: The competitiveness. Rahman, Clay-Bey and Byrd are all competitive fighters and I get a chance to use a lot of things in sparring, but not everything, that you can’t do in the ring. Sparring is like practice, sort of simulating the fight. There are times in sparring when you can let go and even predict the fight and you really learn a lot too. You can push yourself over the edge in a workout before sparring; you got your heavy weighted gloves on and a lot of clothes on. I’ll put it to you like this; the fight is a lot easier than sparring. You can really push yourself over the edge and come out with a good fight and success!
VM: How do you feel about sparring with fighters that you know you will face in the ring?
TOS: Sometimes you just don’t know Vanessa… (Pause) Bryd’s son asked him in 2001 or was it 2002 when we first began sparring together, he said, “Dad do you think you’ll ever fight him?” Byrd was already set in the boxing game and I was still coming up back then. He told him “I don’t know.” His son knew that I was competition and felt that I would be a good match for his dad. Low and behold, it was one of those things that happened. I’ve been in the ring with many fighters and when you spar with them you sort reacquaint yourself with the fighter as I did with Brock. I fought him 4 times as an amateur and I had a chance to reacquaint myself with him recently as he gets ready for this fight coming up. I am so honored that his camp showed me a lot of love and respect by inviting me to spar with Brock.
VM: Unlike your friendship with Chris Byrd, has there ever been an instance where you have sparred or trained with a fighter, got in the ring and ended up at odds with each other?
TOS: No (pause) we understand that business is business. We have to restrain from that because my wife and kids got to eat and his wife and kids got to eat. I haven’t run across that yet in my career. Not unless it’s for a lot of money. If you’re my friend and you have a chance to put me on a fight card that can make me $500K and you can make $800K what kind of friend would you be if you won’t help me make that? $500K and $800k is a good friendship. It’s all about what fight the fans want to see. If they hear about a good match coming up in December they’re going to buy their tickets tomorrow.
VM: How many years has the gym at Tortilla’s Mexico been open? What’s your biggest contribution to the gym and what do you respect most about the gym?
TOS: The gym because of me and my success with boxing. Some other people came on board, some other fighters and they would come out and train for their fights out of the gym. The gym was opened in Aug or Sept of 1999. Jose Rangel is the owner and we had a really good relationship. He felt it would be good for me and his son to put a gym in his warehouse. It pays for itself. Rangel was like an angel that fell out of the sky. I am very grateful for what he has done for me with the gym. I have contributed to the gym by continually bringing notoriety to the establishment. When I do well and these different entities like the WBC, IBO and IBF come out to interview me they interview me at the gym. The local news and television brings a positive media to the gym also. I am just very thankful for the gym and have been loyal with it for the last seven years.
VM: Most impressive year was 2002 (in my opinion) when knocked out some of the biggest and toughest fighters (Corey ‘T-Rex’ Sanders, Abdul Muhaymin, Ed ‘The Giant’ White), what do you think is your most prize fight or year of your entire career was and why?
TOS: A successful year for me was in 2002. I did make a big splash that year. I wound up loosing my father Oct. 12 that year. It stuck out on my mind while I was on the road that year, because we knew he was sick. In October I had to pause the Castillo fight because I had to go home for 30 days (Washington, D.C.). Nothing can replace that. I had a chance to be with him, I knew he was sick so I had to be there. He was my best man, my best friend. He is responsible for a major part of my life. There would be no good story that you would want to write about. I remember in May that year, he came to see me fight Crow in Vegas with my uncle Keith Caine. I knocked Crow down and my father moved so fast to the center of the ring. He was like sitting in the 24th row or something, but when he seen Crow go down he rushed to the ring fast and was so happy. I actually knocked him down 5 times before I put him out. No one could bring Crow down like I did. So 2002 was definitely my coming out year. I have to agree with you Vanessa.
VM: What was your most challenging bout or opponent to date and why?
TOS: Antuan Shazell, we were both 8-1 with 7 KO’s, he’s a 6’4” brother with cornrows in his hair about 250lbs. Shazell is nice but he’s very competitive. He gave me a good two rounds before I had to turn the heat up and knock him out. I hit him with about 3 jabs and he went to my corner like ‘who’s this guy?’ In my fight with Bryd I was hurt. (Because of the elbow injury and surgery) I felt like I couldn’t throw and it seemed like I was barely punching. Klitchko was one of my toughest fights but I would win ten out of ten times that we fight.
VM: What do you like most about working with Don King Promotions?
TOS: Don gets things done! He can give you an opportunity for great things with one fight. With other promoters you have to get three or four fights get a shot. But with Don King’s persuasion he can get above the red tape and get you a shot in one or two fights. In Oct. 2005 I signed a contract and had an opportunity already, even though I lost, I still got a chance. With anyone else it would have taken me more fights. Like with the Mike Motto fight I just fought. People said that we were too good of friends to fight, that’s not true. It’s like if I was playing a basketball game with my friends. I remember one time I was playing so hard with some friends I had rode over in the same car with. They said it was like we were strangers; I was playing them that hard. It’s more competitive when you’re playing with friends. You have to see them again and hear the stories, an in a way your playing for bragging rights.
VM: Who would you like to spar or train with that you have not worked with already?
TOS: I don’t think there is anyone that I can say at this time. I’ve worked with everybody. Maybe Lennox Lewis but that opportunity is gone. I’ve worked with so many different coaches, trainers and fighters and I have to say, I’m different. A lot of people don’t know that I started at the age of 25 and I’ve accomplished a lot in my amateur and professional career. I feel like a nice car. I’m still going strong in second gear, not fourth or fifth. I’m just getting revved up and I belong here. When you get in the locker room or in the ring you bite down on that mouth piece, get on your knees and pray. You hope that the man above smile on you with grace that night.
VM: What do you want your fans to remember the most about you?
TOS: Most that I was much more than just a boxer. I am very family oriented; I’ve tried football and basketball. That I’m a unique guy and it don’t stem or end from boxing. I’ve been very busy with my life and successful; I’ve even taken pride in education and at one time was even a mascot. I want people to know I am a legacy that will live on through my kids and my kid’s friends and so on. I coach a little league football team “Spartans” in Colorado. My son plays on the team and we are ‘going’ to win the little league superbowl. In the meantime, right now, I’m just waiting for something meaningful (hint about next big shot???)
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