Don't Quit: The Wayne "Pocket Rocket" McCullough Story

Book Review and Interview by Darren Nichols


Don't Quit: The Wayne "Pocket Rocket" McCullough Story

Autobiography available at and

BoxingTalk:  Wayne, what was it like for you to write your autobiography Don’t Quit at this point in your career?

Wayne McCullough:  I had someone else who was supposed to do the book, but after reading the first couple chapters I wanted to do it myself.  I started last July, a week after my last fight against Oscar Larios.  Cheryl typed for 10 to 15 hours each day for 10 days.  Cheryl’s mom was here to look after my daughter Wynona.  At the end, we had written 95,000 words, and cut it down to 90,000.

BoxingTalk:  Was there anything in the book that you included that you hesitated to put in, but decided to go with it anyways?

Wayne McCullough:  When I talked about making weight when I was a bantamweight.  There are so many people with eating disorders, but no body talks about that in boxing.  I heard about a guy who was in the hospital who read my book and was motivated after reading it.  And then, of course, you have the time when I tried to kill myself.  I was not thinking about suicide, I was actually going to do it.  Cheryl helped me get through it, and I’ve never thought about it again.  The book has really helped people who have had thoughts about suicide. 

BoxingTalk:  In your book, you spoke in detail about training in Germany with your Olympic team in a flea-ridden room.  You even jeopardized your shot at Olympic gold by going home to get away from such conditions.  Were the conditions really that bad?

Wayne McCullough:  Before I went to camp the people around me thought I would at least get a bronze medal, but believe me, the conditions were atrocious.  We had one shower to share amongst 10 to 15 people.  We were training in 100 degree heat with no air condition and no water.  We only had coke and other soft drinks to drink after our workouts.  When I asked for my ticket home I knew I was on my own and that this was not a team thing.  It wasn’t until the Olympic Commission came in and saw how bad things were that they moved us out of that situation.  My team never said thanks for getting them home.

BoxingTalk:  In the Finals of the ’92 Olympics you faced Joel Casamayor in a fight that had you bleeding out of your eye entering the last round.  Even though you took the Silver Medal, do you feel that was a victory for you just to be able to finish the fight?

Wayne McCullough:  We took so much out of each other, When Casyamoyr hit me in the 2nd round I thought I was hit with electricity.  I still don’t have feeling in that area of my face where he hit me.  Blood came out of my eye because the nerve was busted.  I went out and won the third round.  When Casamayor won the Olympic gold, his country of Cuba gave him a bicycle, and he told me later on that he had to sell it for a pig to feed his family.  I was the first silver medallist since 1952 to win a medal from Belfast but I didn’t get anything for my silver medal.  I was unemployed for quite a while afterwards.

BoxingTalk:  When you faced Naseem Hamed and broke his record of 18 consecutive knockouts and Erik Morales’ record of 9 consecutive knockouts.  Do you feel these were these victories inside of losses for you?

Wayne McCullough:  No I don’t.  The HBO commentating team said it was a moral victory for me, but I feel I won the fight with Hamed.  I was landing way more shots than he was.  I have a problem with the CompuBox system, and I’ve proven the punch stats wrong, maybe I’m too fast for them to count all my punches.

BoxingTalk:  You spoke in detail in your book about the MRI scare that you may not only fight again, but your life may be cut short.  How did going through that whole ordeal change you as a fighter and a person?

Wayne McCullough:  That was the hardest part of my book.  That was the only day we were only able to do 5,000 words.  It all came back to me that day.  Why did the different commissions and medical boards waste two years of my career?  They never apologized to me.  I’m on good terms with them now, but the doctor who started this all never changed what he wrote, but they denied me of a license for 27 months.  I actually got help afterwards because I was continually living that day over and over again.

BoxingTalk:  Do you feel that Scott Harrison is the strongest fighter you have ever faced, and do you believe the outcome would be different if you two were to fight again?

Wayne McCullough:  Morales is the hardest hitter and Hamed was the strongest until I faced Harrison.  His strength was unbelievable.  I couldn’t believe he was stronger than Hamed.  Harrison’s physical strength was unbelievable.

BoxingTalk:  A lot of people don’t know this until they read your book, but you were very close to death after the Harrison fight.

Wayne McCullough:  All these different athletes have dropped dead with cardiac hypertension.  That’s what I had during our fight.  I was sick with a virus a couple weeks before the fight.  Cheryl wanted to pull me out but I thought I was going to let a lot of people down and I almost let me down.  I could have dropped dead like a lot of basketball and football players have.

BoxingTalk:  You give great detail to the fights that you were in.  Did you base your fight reports on memory, or did you need to go back and watch your fights again on tape?

Wayne McCullough:  I have a good memory, but I went through every fight and sat through every second of every fight and described to Cheryl who was typing it.  I felt I was back in the fights again the way I saw it in the ring.  I wasn’t afraid to criticize myself.  I simply described if I was hurt and how I felt.

BoxingTalk:  Looking back what was your fondest memory that you put down on paper?

Wayne McCullough:  Having met Cheryl and my daughter being born.  Also, going to Japan to win the world championship title from Yasuei Yakushiji.  Do you know that no journalist from Ireland came over because they thought I was going to lose?  I beat him pretty easily too.  Another found memory was when Eddie Futch had me on his top 5 list of fighters he has trained.  This is coming from the guy who trained Joe Frazier too.

BoxingTalk:  What was the biggest disappointment or heartbreak you wrote about?

Wayne McCullough:  The Zaragoza fight to tell you the truth.  I though I won the fight and Futch thought I won the fight, but I took a lot of criticism afterwards from the media.  The Harrison fight was another big disappointment I wrote about.  I could have explained how sick I was, but maybe the people who criticized me will read this and take t heir words back.  I had to dig deep against a bigger guy and I fought for 12 hard rounds just like how Jeff Lacy fought against Calzaghe.  He fought until the end, and that's what I did.

BoxingTalk:  Virtually every opponent you faced and mentioned in the book, you now have a friendship with…

Wayne McCullough:  …The way I see it is you spend 12 rounds together getting as close as you can to your opponent with out being married, and then all of a sudden the bell rings and you don’t see them again for the rest of your life.  I think that’s weird.  When I saw Joel Casamayor after the Olympics I gave him our fight from the finals and since I had a copy of his semifinals fight, I gave him a copy of that too.  Harrison and I talked to each other the last time I saw him in Vegas.  Hamed called me and we stood and took pictures the last time I saw him.  They all respect me as much as I  respect them.

BoxingTalk:  The last time I saw you in Vegas you had just found out that it was your trainer Freddie Roach who stopped your last fight against Larios and not Dr. Goodman.  How is your relationship with Freddie Roach now?

Wayne McCullough: I saw Margaret at the Vargas-Mosley fight, and I went up and apologized for blaming her on the stoppage.  Freddie never told me that he was the one who stopped it.  I found out about it after reading about it through the media.  Even when he was in the dressing room with me after the fight when we were all upset about Dr. Margaret Goodman stopping the fight.  My relationship with Freddie is that we don’t have one.  I don’t have respect for him because he doesn’t have respect for me.  I won’t talk bad about him, but he didn’t know me the way Eddie Futch knew me.  For three fights Freddie only trained me for 5 weeks.  He doesn’t know me or care about me.  Freddie should not have gone to the media if he didn’t tell me first…and tell me to my face.

BoxingTalk:  What are your plans now, and when will you fight next?

Wayne McCullough:  I’m going to Disneyland.  We’re in the process of moving into a bigger place, but I haven’t stopped training.  Dan Goossen has been working on stuff and hopefully I’ll get to fight in May.

BoxingTalk: How have book sales been going?

Wayne McCullough:  It is on the top ten best sellers list over in Europe.  The book really inspires people and helps them get through their lives.  It’s not just a boxing book, it’s a book with a lot of ups and downs just like what normal people go through.

To purchase your copy of Wayne McCullough’s autobiography Don’t Quit, please go to or


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