The Iceman Speaketh: One on One with John Scully

By Raj Sharma


The Iceman Speaketh: One on One with John Scully

John “The Iceman” Scully’s been an amateur champion, professional contender, and world-class trainer. Soon, you can add author to his resume.  The former world title challenger is putting the final touches on his autobiography “The Iceman Diaries”, a book he promises will differ from other boxing books.

“My book is gonna be the realest boxing book anybody’s ever read,” Scully said, speaking by phone from his native Connecticut. “I’m going to go into it as deep as I can as far as telling people what happens in the boxing ring. What it’s like-what we think. Giving people a genuine look into the mind of a boxer.”

“I’ve read a lot of books by fighters and there’s some good books out there,” he said. “I just don’t think guys have gotten deep and told people what it’s really like. I’ve always been fascinated by that.”

Besides the experience of being in the ring, Scully also discusses other topics such as
making weight and why so many boxers compete past their prime. Readers can also expect chapters on his longtime friend Roy Jones Jr. and a behind the scenes account of Scully’s challenge for the IBF world title.

Scully, 39, has been involved in boxing for 25 years. Inspired by the heroics of Muhammad Ali, he started training at 14 at a local gym.

The Irish-American teen showed an aptitude for the sweet science and began capturing amateur titles. Scully won three New England Golden Gloves championships and a National PAL title before earning a bronze in the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials. A win in international competition earlier that year convinced him he was good enough to turn pro.

“Early in 88, I won a decision in Montreal over Otis Grant,” he recalled. “At the time, Otis was ranked number two in the world as an amateur. When I beat Otis was when I really think I thought to myself I could turn professional cause I felt Otis was gonna
be a good pro.”

Scully turned pro on September 16, 1988, with a first round knockout over Paulino Falcone at the Hartford Civic Center. After twelve more wins, he suffered his first loss to future world title challenger Brett Lally, losing a ten round unanimous decision in Atlantic City.

He regrouped with 5 straight victories before dropping a decision to middleweight contender Kevin “Killer” Watts in March 1990. His record a respectable 18-2 with 13 KOs, Scully moved up in weight to super middleweight.

After winning nine in a row, Scully lost decisions to contenders Tim Littles (for Little’s USBA 168 pound title) and “The Punching Postman” Tony Thornton. Ironically, it was a defeat in December 1995 to two-time world champion Michael Nunn that proved the highlight of John’s pro career.

Before a large crowd at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, and national ESPN audience, local hero Scully pressed the slick boxing Nunn for much of their spirited twelve round super middleweight bout. Scully came up short on the scorecards, but walked away a winner in the eyes of many fans and more importantly himself.

“Even though I didn’t get the decision, it’s probably my proudest moment as a pro,” he said. “I thought I fought a good fight and proved I belonged at that level. It was an honor to fight the guy. I really looked up to him and thought he was a great fighter.”

“To this day, I still get emails where people think I won the fight, at least a draw. To say I fought a great fight with him is good enough for me right now.”

The impressive performance against Nunn opened doors for Scully, as he soon ventured to Germany to challenge for the IBF light heavyweight title held by Henry Maske. Unable to deal with the German’s awkward style, Scully lost a unanimous decision.

The Maske defeat marked the beginning of the end of Scully’s career. Inactivity and weight problems were factors during a run where John dropped 5 of 6 fights. For his bout with contender Drake Thadzi, Scully claims he had to lose 9 ½ pounds to make weight. Thadzi won by seventh round technical knockout, the only time Scully was ever stopped.

A decision win over Cleveland Nelson in June 2001 was Scully’s last bout though he never officially retired. A string of bad luck befell the fighter, as nine straight bouts fell through for various reasons. In the interim, Scully began training former Olympian Lawrence Clay Bey.

“After the fight, I remember thinking I finally put on a good performance without having trouble losing weight,” he recalled of the bout with Nelson. “I was really looking forward to the future. I really thought things were gonna take off for me. Once the ninth fight fell out on me, I just continued focusing on training fighters.”

“I’ve been training amateur kids since 1992; well before I fought for the world title,” he said. “I’ve always been pretty good at training fighters and giving them insight. I’m able to relate to fighters on the level of someone who’s been in their shoes.”

Scully’s roster currently includes some of the best talent in the New England area, including two-time world champion Jose Rivera and USBA Super Bantamweight champion Mike Oliver. Rivera’s defeat of Alejandro Garcia for a junior middleweight title in May 2006 has been the high point of Scully’s new career as a trainer.

“It was kind of a surreal situation,” he said. “To be honest, I was always more happy for him than myself as a trainer because I’ve known Jose so long. He’s always been dedicated and disciplined. For him to win a world title so many years after turning pro, all those tough fights. It was almost like a Rocky story.”

Scully’s tale is equally wonderful.  A kid with a love for boxing who chased his dreams before continuing on as a trainer. The book’s almost finished, and Scully hints at a knockout.

“I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be worth the wait.”

Note: Fans interested in reading a free excerpt from the Iceman Diaries can contact John by email at


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