While boxing is called the sweet science, it can also at times be brutal. The sport has been around since before the turn of the 20th century and while some fighters leave the ring without much damage, others leave permanently reminded of their time in the sport. Former 3 time light middleweight champion and boxing Hall of Famer “Terrible” Terry Norris knows all to well the impact the sport can have, but much like his career he is fighting back like the true champion that he is.
In this “On The Ropes” Classics interview, I had a chance to catch up with Terry Norris and talk with him about what he has been doing since he retired from boxing in 1998. Terry also discusses many of the great moments from his boxing career, such as his one round destruction of John “The Beast” Mugabi to win his first world title and his dominant one sided victory over boxing legend ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard. Norris also gives his views on some of the stars of today and how he feels they would do boxing in his era. Here is what “Terrible” Terry Norris has to say.
JENNA J: Welcome to “On The Ropes” Terry, how’s everything going?
TERRY NORRIS: Everything is going good.
JENNA J: Well that’s great to hear. I’d like to open things up and ask what you’ve been doing since your retirement, Terry?
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 J: Terry, what’s been the biggest adjustment for you in your life after your retirement from boxing?
TERRY 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 J: 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?
TERRY 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 J: Okay, now you were also a very good baseball player. What made you decide to choose boxing over baseball?
TERRY 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 J: When you were first gaining interest in boxing, were there any particular boxers that you admired and looked up to?
TERRY 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.
JENNA J: During your career you had a trademark nickname, that being “Terrible” Terry Norris. Where did that name come from?
TERRY 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 J: 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 as a pro?
TERRY 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.
JENNA J: You had a very illustrious career, of all the great moments you experienced, what is the one that makes you the proudest?
TERRY 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.
JENNA J: Let’s talk about your first world title fight, can you tell me what that fight was like and what you remember feeling going into it?
TERRY 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.
JENNA J: Alright Terry, there is one particular fight that sticks out above the rest because it was the biggest name you ever fought, that being Sugar Ray Leonard. You got a chance to meet with him in the ring in 1991. What did you think of that fight?
TERRY 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 J: How did you feel when you knocked him down in the second round?
TERRY 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 J: 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?
TERRY 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 J: 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 J: 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 me why you think you were able to do that?
TERRY 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 J: 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?
TERRY 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.
JENNA J: Terry, moving away from your career for a second, when you look at the long reigning stars of this era, guys like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao what do you think of those guys?
TERRY 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.
JENNA J: Now you said you think you could beat Floyd. In your opinion what do you think is the key to defeating him?
TERRY 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.
JENNA J: They say styles make fights, and people still want to see Floyd with Manny Pacquiao. Could you ever see a scenario where Pacquiao could defeat Floyd?
TERRY 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 J: There were so many great fighters when you fought Terry. Was there any particular one that you wished you could have gotten in the ring with that you didn’t?
TERRY 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 J: 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?
TERRY 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 J: 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?
TERRY 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 J: Terry, looking back on your career, if there was something that you could change or do differently, what would it be?
TERRY 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. Just because of the things I’m going through now from boxing.
JENNA J: Well Terry I just have a couple of more questions for you. 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?
TERRY NORRIS: My best advice would be don’t start too early boxing, and don’t end too late.
JENNA J: 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?
TERRY 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 J: Well I definitely look forward to that “Lady and the Champ” reality show. 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.
TERRY NORRIS: Alright. Thanks a lot.