Boxingtalk's Fire With Kevin Kelly

By Jose Aguirre


Boxingtalk's Fire With Kevin Kelly

Jose Aguirre: You're a former New York Golden Gloves champion. tell us about that experience.

Kevin Kelly:"I think that was the first process as an amateur. I kind of wanted to be the best in the gym first. I felt to become the best in the gym first and the best in the city then the best in the state. Once you're the best in the state you become the best in the country. From there you become the best in the world. It was just a beginning process. I had got Pat Sullivan who became the first guy from our gym to win the Golden Gloves. I sparred with him and got him ready for the Golden Gloves in eighty four. When he won the Golden Gloves I figured if I sparred him for every single fight and he won every single fight then I should be able win the Golden Gloves too. He won the Gloves and I got him ready and I was just as good as he was so I felt that i could win the Golden Gloves too. The following year I joined the Golden Gloves and I was correct and I won. Pat Sullivan is now an amateur referee today. The first guy from our gym the P.A.L 110th in Flushing, Queens."

JA:  How did you get the name "Flushing Flash"?

KK: "I got the name because Ed Darian who was the ring announcer for the Garden at the time used to always mess up. Alot of athletes make where they're from a public thing in their career. If I say Pomona you think Shane, if I say Pensicola you think Roy. Pretty much Flushing was only known for Shea Stadium and the US Open. Ed Darian, as my career went on, always messed up where I was from. He would say Flushing, Long Island. Flushing upstate New York. Kevin Kelly from Flushing whatever and he'd mess it up. One time I could see him about to mess it up, I was about 24 and 0 and he goes "Kevin Kelly from Flushing Flash" cause he couldn't figure it out. He wanted to get it right for a change. The next day in the paper it came out "Professor Flash wins again". My father is an electrician so it actually worked out hand in hand. I don't believe a fighter should name himself because you hav to live up to it. So I like when other people name you because then that's what they think of you. Like Iron Mike Tyson, he didn't name himself Iron but everybody calls him Iron. You get a nickname from the public more than give it to yourself. I guess everybody thought I was real fast and flashy so the name Flushing Flash suited me. Being from Flushing, Queens it designated where I was from. Flash resembled my hand speed and my leg speed. I'm just a fast person. I talk fast, I punch fast, I move fast. The Flash is what entails what i am."

JA: How was the transition for you going from the amateurs to the professional ranks?

KK: "Everything is an experiment for me. I didn't have alot of amateur experience. I started boxing in '84 then turned pro in '88. It was always about having fun. It was very difficult in the beginning. Once I got out of the first fight everything was uphill at that point. To this day I still feel like I'm forgetting something. When I get ready for a fight I bring my cup, I bring my shorts and the stuff I need but because I don't have the headgear or t shirt anymore it feels like I'm leaving something behind to this day. I'm so used to packing the headgear and t shirt and I don't think that will ever leave me."

JA: What was it like winning your first world title?

KK: "I was different than most fighters. I was so stressed out. So frustrated. Winning my first world title was a difficult thing because I waited so long to fight for a world title. I didn't fight for the title until I was 36 and 0. I was the first featherweight with 25 years on HBO. It was so frustrating because I did so much and by the time I felt I was ready for the world title I couldn't get the shot and had to wait another five or six years. Actually when I won the world title I felt relieved in one way but I felt stressed out. If you watched me on tv I wasn't jumping up and down, I wasn't happy, I wasn' smiling because I felt so stressed. Here comes more drama. When I won the title I already felt I was champ of the world because Goyo Vargas got a shot at the title and he wasn't even rated. How did this guy get a title shot before me? I just felt relieved and I felt justified I finally became world champion but I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed my second title."

JA: How do you feel about what you've brought into the game of boxing?

KK: "I didn't set out to do what I did. I created to whole Boxing after Dark program with Lou DiBella and them guys. Putting Junior Jones on, Shane and everybody on. The reason everybody's on tv is because of me. I didn't set out to do that. I just set out to put other guys on, adversaries because when I got on HBO in '93 there were no other light weights on HBO. But in order for me to make money I needed adversaries. I need other guys to fight. So I put Junior (Jones) on and Tracy (Patterson). They were in their own weight classes and I always felt that we could meet up somewhere and make money together but it never happened, never materialized. I just want the younger generation to not forget I didn't set out to do this but  I accomplished it. The first lighter weight fight on tv and now all guys are making money. The legacy of what I've done in the past has now taken form and i would like to be a part of it in some form or fashion. I feel my accomplishments and my broadcasting is a way for me to give back what I've started."

JA: How's the broadcasting coming along and how is it different from being in the ring?

KK: "I'm always in the ring. People always think I retire for some starnge reason. I never retired. I will always take breaks when the commentating picks up because I'm always trying to look for that opportunity in broadcasting that would push me away from boxing in the ring. This is what we do. People always want to know why fighters continue boxing? That's wha we're good at. It's the best thing we're good at and we make good money doing it. Commentating I love as much as boxing and I'm very hungry to commentate. I just did a show on Thursday, a world title fight. My commentating is lenghty. I have fifteen years of broadcasting experience. I've done every tv show except for Fox Sports. I would like to be the first fighter in history to get a boxing hall of fame ring and a commentator hall of fame ring. Defy the art to do things that people have not done yet. My motto is I dare to be different. I always try to be a pioneer, not a follower. Make the sport better. Make people more excited to see it. I felt that when I came along it was a great time in the nineties for me to bring the game up and bring up the featherweight and lightweight fighters to the forefront of the sport. I felt the lighter weight fighters were the better fighters. We were going to get the money, the exposure and the attention. I felt I did that. I was competing with heavyweights like Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe. My ratings were just as high as theirs if not higher. I proved that and it's evident today because you see Mayweather on tv. You see Shane on tv, you see Morales, Barrera. The best feeling I get is when they remind me of that. When Floyd said "Kevin if it wasn't for you I would not be here". Those things make my day. Those things make me realize that it wasn't wasting my time."

JA: Which was your toughest fight and why?

KK: "I would say my hardest fight ever was Troy Dorsey because I'm always in a spot I never try to put myself into but I wind up there anyway. It was the first time ever done that two number one fighters fought at the same time. He didn't need me and I didn't need him to fight for a world title but we fought. He fought for my title and he had just lost his IBF world title so I was really fighting a world champion. I was on the upswing  and he was right at ground level. The fight was hard because it was the first time I ever fought someone that I could punch and they don't react to it.When you're up and coming and knocking everybody out, you have new profound power because you're fighting with eight ounce gloves and everybody is falling down and you're fighting opponents pretty much some times. Now here is a guy who was a world champion caliber fighter. Not only in boxing but in kickboxing too. It was a rude awakening. What do you do when you get to the fifth round and the guy is not getting hurt or laying down. It didn't look like he would be knocked out. I told Phil (Borgia) in the corner after the fourth round, what do I have to do to knock this guy out? Phil told me "Kevin you're not going to knock him out. Just punch him until his face falls off." And that's exactly what I had to do. I consider boxing an education. It teaches you alot about yourself. A fighter doesn't know what he has until he's in there, he never knows. When a fighter tells you I'm going to do this and that, he's lying. The Kevin Kelly that boxes in the ring, I don't know that Kevin. I really don't. I'm just amazed as the people who watch me boxing. That Kevin kelly amazes me too because i don't believe I can do that. In my normal state of mind I think it's as crazy as the next man. How can I fight with one eye closed, cramped legs? Last year I beat Humberto Soto with one arm. I don't even know how I did that but I did it and those accomplishments are great. I'm just glad that I will be remembered . I was able to persevere and live my life and commentate. That's why I'm glad the fight world looks up to me and what I've done."

JA: When can we expect to see you in the ring?

KK: "Pretty much I say in January. Defenitely fight for a world title if I'm able to do that. I've made some changes As you get older you have to make changes. I'm learning more and more about myself which entitles me to commentate better because I'm learning how to change things up. I could commentate Bernard (Hopkins) now.  I'm older so I'm able to do things that I couldn't do before. I took my speed for granted and my punching power for granted and I've been doing alot of things different in the gym now. Alot."

JA: Is there anything you want to say in closing?

KK: "I'm glad that they really enjoy what I do. The reason I do what I do is because of the fans. Mainly because of them. It's not over. I want to fight for the thirty pound title before I retire and win that. It's only a matter of opportunity. I've been sparing Wayne McCullough, Stevie Forbes and Diego Corrales and they tell me I could easily go at the title I just need the opportunity. I didn't see the Morales-Barrera fight but what is bad is when I fought both men they would not fight me at one thirty. The Morales fight I really don't care simply because I fought him on eleven days notice and lost twelve pounds. And the Barrera fight I fought with a rib injury. I never fought those men with my health being at it's peak. I would defenitely like to challenge either one at one thirty. I think Barrera is a great fighter. I think Morales is ok but Barrera is phenominal. The best I've seen out of Mexico in years. Very little weaknesses."


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