Q&A: Colonel Bob Sheridan

By Ray Wheatley — World of Boxing
Photo: Dave Cameron

Legendary boxing broadcaster Colonel Bob Sheridan talks to about the fights he has called including “The Rumble in the Jungle” and “The Thrilla in Manila” and says the Larry Holmes vs. Ken Norton bout was the best he has seen and Larry Holmes is the best heavyweight. The Colonel also discusses reasons why he has been overlooked by the International Boxing Hall of Fame and why his health has dramatically improved.

Fightnews: You have called fights for 46 years and your massive audience is to countries outside the USA.. How does your audience compare with HBO and Showtime numbers?

Colonel: My audience would be 10-20 times larger than any fights on HBO or Showtime ppv depending on the magnitude of the fight. the bigger the event, the more countries buy the fight. as far back as 1974 the Ali-Foreman fight telecast that I anchored topped 1 billion people worldwide….

Fightnews: The Boxing Writers of America presented you with a special award in 1998. Can you give details?

Colonel: In 1998 Mr Ed Brophy came to Miami to present me a special award for doing my 600th world title fight that night. The Boxing Writers of America presented me with the Sam Taub award in New York City as boxing commentator of the year.

Fightnews: The third bout between Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier aka the “Thrilla in Manila” is regarded by many as the greatest heavyweight battle in boxing history. You called this fight. Your thoughts?

Colonel: That fight was voted by Ring Magazine as the Fight of the Century, however, in my opinion while the fight was sensational; both Ali and Joe were well past their peak. The magnitude of their names, the fact that Ali had just won the title back in October in “The Rumble in the Jungle,” coupled with the fact they almost killed each other in the “Thrilla in Manila” is why this fight is considered so high in the history of boxing. it’s my opinion that the first fight in New York was actually a bigger and better fight.

Fightnews: The Muhammad Ali v George Foreman heavyweight title bout was broadcast globally. Was the biggest fight you called. Your thoughts?

The 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali v George Foreman or “The Rumble in the Jungle” reaching an audience of over one billion fans was certainly my biggest and best call at the time,and one of my most memorable fights. However, you must remember some of the other great fights I called during the Hearns, Leonard, Hagler and Duran era were sensational. Calling the Julio Ceasar Chavez vs. Greg Haugen fight before 130 thousand plus live fans in Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Foreman’s disposal of Norton in Venezuela with Muhammad Ali doing color on the telecast, coming out of the hospitlal following a heart attack the night before to call the Tyson vs. Holyfield “ear biting fight” in Las Vegas, calling the sensational rise and fall of nearly all of Mike Tyson’s fights including the upset of the century when Buster Douglas beat Tyson in Tokyo, then there was the seven knockdown fight between Ron Lyle and George Foreman that had me screaming, broadcasting nearly all of the fights of the sensational careers of Ricardo “Finito” Lopez, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Oscar de la Hoya, Salvador Sanchez, Manny Pacquiao, the Klitschko brothers and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are just some of the highlights. If you want me to tell you what I think the best fight I ever saw and had the pleasure of calling was, I would have to say the WBC world heavyweight championship fight in 1978 between Larry Holmes and Ken Norton. It is not only my best call of a championship fight, but is also perhaps the best fight I ever saw…

Fightnews: Who is the best heavyweight you have ever seen?

Colonel: When I’m out speaking and I’m asked who I thought was the best heavyweight of my 46 years of calling championship fights, when I answer Larry Holmes I usually get boo’d and everybody starts chanting, Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali, then when I start to explain that Larry Holmes had the greatest heart of any heavyweight of all time. I tell my audience that Larry Holmes did one thing that no other heavyweight champion from Joe Louis to Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Holyfield, Lennox Lewis to the Klitschkos was ever able to do. I saw and called fights in which Larry Holnes was actually knocked out, but came off the canvas to win heavyweight championship fights. The most impressive time was in Pittsburgh when Reynaldo Snipes dropped Larry right in front of me,and I could see Holmes eyes rolling back in his head and his right foot quivering at the count of three, he got off the canvas and eventually stopped Snipes. He did the same thing twice more, against Ernie Shavers and Mike Weaver on my birthday of June 22nd in Madison Square Garden. No other heavyweight suffered these kinds of bone crushing knock downs as was able to come back. When I finish this story, there are no more Ali chants and the crowd always begins to murmer.

Fightnews: You have been recognised by World Boxing Hall of Fame, the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, the Canada Boxing Hall of Fame and honored by the Australian Boxing Hall of Fame, but you have not been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Your thoughts?

Colonel: All I can say is I hope it happens some day, but in all honesty I don’t feel that most of the nominating members of the IBHOF are aware of the magnitude of my international telecasts. I’m not seen on local television, except for the ESPN Classics and a few fights on the Fox Sports Network. I have many, many people who would love to see me get the ultimate honor, but in all honesty most of the people on the election committee, are just not aware of my international work, or my longevity in the sport. It’s kind of ironic since it is, the ‘International Boxing Hall of Fame.’ Dan Rafael of ESPN keeps track of my world championship fight telecasts and now that I am closing in on 1000 world title broadcasts. I just keep my fingers crossed that some day it will happen before I die.

Fightnews: In 2010 you spent six months in hospital suffering with health problems. You have lost over 100 pounds and have regained your health. What do you attribute this to?

Colonel: My health problems are under control thanks to the “Product B” longevity formula natural pills I take twice a day which has improved my heart function, knocked out diabetes and coupled with 130 pounds in weight loss over the past two years, I feel I can keep calling fights for another 20 years.

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