Exclusive Interview With Boxing Icon Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IJune 5, 2010

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 19:  Boxer Larry Holmes attends the premiere Of 'Muhammad And Larry' at the Tribeca and ESPN Sports Film Festival at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas on October 19, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images)
Rob Loud/Getty Images

A statue of boxing icon Larry Holmes will be unveiled this summer in the former heavyweight champion’s hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania.


The 12-foot, 900-pound statue of “The Easton Assassin” will be situated in the park on Larry Holmes Drive.


Holmes (69-6, 44 KOs), who was rightfully inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2008, said he was honored to be recognized by the city where he was raised and still resides.


“Most people don’t get a statue until they die,” said Holmes, 60, who remarkably won his first 48 professional bouts. “I’m alive and I get to enjoy it.”


Unfortunately, despite Holmes’ vast boxing skills and impressive pedigree, many fans and analysts did not “enjoy” his dominant reign atop the heavyweight division.


Holmes was not particularly flashy and he had the misfortune of being sandwiched between two of the most celebrated pugilists in the annals of the sport, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.


In October 1980, Holmes successfully defended his WBC crown and pounded an aged Ali (56-5, 37 KOs) before he earned a 10th round TKO victory.


Nearly eight-years later, Holmes himself was past his prime and he was viciously defeated by Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs) via a fourth round TKO.


Sadly, Holmes’ signature win was essentially created by the media.


In June 1982, Holmes fought a legitimate prizefighter named “Gentleman” Gerry Cooney.


Cooney (28-3, 24 KOs), who Ring Magazine ranked as the 53rd greatest puncher in history, was big and strong and he possessed tremendous power in his fists.


Most importantly, Cooney was white.


An American Caucasian had not been a heavyweight champion since Brockton’s Rocky Marciano (49-0, 43 KOs) retired as an undefeated titlist in September 1955.


Nefarious promoter Don King, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1966, labeled Cooney “The Great White Hope” to create a racial divide and bolster interest in the matchup.


King’s plan worked seamlessly and the Holmes versus Cooney bout generated unprecedented attention.


Despite the fact that Holmes was an extremely formidable champion, Cooney was lavished with more hoopla simply because of the color of his skin.


Cooney fought valiantly against “The Easton Assasin” and even managed to hurt the great Holmes on occasions.


However, Holmes was clearly the better boxer and the contest was mercifully halted in round 13 when Cooney’s trainer threw in the towel to save his fighter from being further pummeled.


“I like Gerry,” said Holmes, who dropped out of school in seventh grade to work and help his family with finances. “We’re friends to this day.”


Holmes hung-up his gloves for good in July 2002 at 52 years of age after he outclassed a sideshow freak named Eric “Butterbean” Esch (77-8-4, 58 KOs) by a unanimous decision.


“I never wanted to hurt anybody,” said Holmes, a happily married father of five. “I only fought for the money. I’m a caring person. I want to be remembered as a guy who did what he had to do to take care of his people.”


Holmes may have “never wanted to hurt anybody,” but he absolutely wanted to be the best at his craft and he firmly believes he is the preeminent heavyweight pugilist ever.


“I think I’m the greatest of all-time,” said Holmes, who currently is the lead singer in his band “Marmalade.” “People can say Ali’s the best. But, I don’t. It’s just me.”


Holmes raved about Easton and emphasized how much the statue means to him.


“Easton’s a nice community. Everyone knows everyone. It’s just a great town.”


Holmes may not actually be “the greatest of all-time.”


Nevertheless, he is a legendary boxer for the ages and he will soon be forever lionized in the “great town” of Easton.