Interview: Gary Balleto

By James Alden


Interview: Gary Balleto

James Alden: What’s good Gary? I understand that you have a movie coming out. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Gary Balleto: It’s a movie that has been in filming for three years. It’s about the life of a boxer and the life of a bookie. It’s how I met this 20 year old kid and the first time I ever met him, I was on film in the documentary. The director, Eric Latex, planned on establishing a relationship between myself and the bookie, with thoughts that if anybody can help change his ways, I [could] do that. The movie started out going one way and then turn[ed] into a documentary and [went in] another [direction]. They were covering my story, my life, what I believe in, and how I have been actually trying to help form the boxing union [and] working with JAB. JAB is going to be a big part of [the movie and] so are the Teamsters.


JA: Do you play yourself in the movie?


GB: Yes, I play myself.


JA: The Documentary takes place in Providence?


GB: Yeah. Well, the documentary takes place wherever I go.


JA: Is the bookie really a bookie?


GB: Yeah, he really is a bookie. What’s really interesting about the film [is that] it’s a documentary shot in a movie format. It doesn’t appear to look like your regular documentary which is pretty cool. It’s kind of like a raging bull, but there are no actors playing other peoples' parts.


JA: Have you seen the film? Are you pleased with the outcome of the film?


GB: It’s unbelievable. At first when they first started filming the movie, I figured it wasn’t going to be a big deal because it was an Independent film. It’s unbelievable. I can’t believe the way the story, the film, and the ending turned out.


JA: What’s the main goal that you have for this movie? What do you want people to get out of it?


GB:. The original story was documenting the Italian image and with myself being Italian and with Derrick Flemmings being Italian. When he first saw me, it was actually at one of my fights at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. I didn’t know who he was. He just came up in the locker room and was up in my face with the camera - you know I love the camera, so I didn’t mind (laughing). Then he was actually down at Jimmy Burchfield’s office one day, and Jimmy called me and said, "You got to get down to the office. You need to see this." I ended up going down to the office and I took a look at this piece of film with the fight that I had had at the Dunkin' Donuts Center and I was amazed at the way he used that scene for the opening of his movie, Dossay Sono, about the Italian image. In Italian that means sweet dreams. With him documenting the bookie at the time, he thought it was so funny with the kid was trying to act Italian and have all his friends together and the whole nine yards. The bookie actually wanted to come to the fight and get the scenery of the fight business.


JA: Now, I know you don’t want to give the ending away, but everything turned out okay in the end?


GB: Everything turned out great.


JA: Is this going to be an East Coast film or is it going to go Nationwide?


GB: He’s planning on putting this movie in the theaters. He's going to go to certain film festivals in May. He’s got all his information in about that. He’s in talks with HBO who really want the movie. He’s in contact with all the major film producers.


JA: So what’s the latest with Gary Balletto the boxer?


GB: Well, I’m not doing anything right now and I’m still not sure what I am going to be doing right now. I think if it wasn’t for my family, I would be fighting again. My wife and my kids have a big influence on my boxing career.


JA: You have not officially announced your retirement have you? Are you on a leave of absence in a way?


GB: Well, I'm only 30 so I am still able to fight. Whatever great opportunities come my way I'm going to consider them.


JA: The last lost you had, did that take a big emotional toll on you?


GB: Yeah, I think it did. It took a lot of the hopes out of me. I look at the whole thing as 'that kid just had a great night'. Similar to Sergio Mora having a great night that first fight and Peter Manfredo having a great night last night. I just didn’t see that fight going that way at all and neither did some of the experts.


JA: Was there a lot of pressure put on you for that fight, knowing that possibly you could be fighting for a World Title if you win?


GB: I think there was a lot of pressure. I think the fight was of such great magnitude; with the fight being the Main Event on ESPN2. Getting prepared and ready for that fight, I did get sick with the flu. At the weigh-in, the kid was two pounds over and he refused to take the weight off and we should have had him take the weight off at that point.  I just didn’t fight like I was supposed to that night. I broke my nose in the second round and that threw the whole game plan off.


JA: That was the punch that knocked you down, right?


GB: Yeah and after that I was just trying to catch him and knock him out.


JA: Have you been keeping yourself in-shape since your last fight?


GB: I always stay in shape. I actually do a couple of boxing classes two nights a week and spar with a good friend of mine every Saturday for 10 rounds. So I have definitely been keeping myself in-shape.


JA: Now, if you ever did come back, would you ever consider switching trainers and switching styles to maybe a more defensive style?


GB: I haven’t considered switching trainers. I love my trainer and I have a style that fits my liking, but it didn’t work the night of that fight. I just like to stay on the outside and jab them and throw my power punches. I still feel that I can get in there with anybody.


JA: So, you still feel confident that you can get in there with anybody?


GB: Anybody!!!


JA: The Contender 2 is having open try-outs. Do you think that you might try out for it?


GB: I think I am going to give that a shot. That’s something that might be worth fighting for. Depending on how big this movie goes, it may be worth it for me to fight after the fact.


JA: If the movie does big, you considering doing a season 3 of The Contender?


GB: Well the thing is Jimmy, I make pretty good money with my business and it kind of doesn’t make sense for me to box. I own my own construction company. I never made money boxing. I did it for the love of the sport. It’s so hard to walk away from the game that you love and have put a lot of hard work and effort into it, but I always made money with my construction company; I buy and sell properties.


JA: From what I've been hearing, The Contender fighters have been making pretty decent money, money that they would have never made if they hadn’t gone on the show.


GB: I think that’s worth fighting for.


JA: If you were to join the show, I guess you have to be a promotional free agent. Are you still signed with Jimmy Burchfield?


GB: That’s something that I don’t even know. I think it probably ran out. I don’t know what I would do. I might go back with Burchfield because we are good friends.


JA: Is there anything that you would like to say in closing about your movie or your career?


GB: Well, I wanted to say that this movie covers my last 5 professional fights and you're going to see highlights of all of them in this movie. Every time I watch it I do want to fight again; I do miss it…. I do miss it and if something happens or if I get a call, you want to know something, I have never gotten a call from anybody [looking] for me to fight [them]. Normally when people get laid off, they get called out and fighters want wants to fight them for a big payday. That hasn’t happened to me. I think that has to do a lot with me being a puncher.


JA: Now do you have a website where the fans can reach you at?


GB: I have a website for the movie. You can watch the trailer on there. The website is Sweet Dreams is the name of the movie, so everybody go check it out!