Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Touching Gloves with…Dave ‘Boy’ Green

By Dan Hanley

Over the years, having devoured in text anything and everything fistic in nature, I have become quite cynical with the ease a scribe can dole out such descriptive terms such as his “lethal left hook” or his “air-tight defense”. However, back in the day, there was a kid taking English shores by storm and the Brit press introduced this then-teenage Yank to the unique phrase, “teak tough” when describing this fiery, young pug. If there was ever an understated term, this was it.

 DH: Dave, I always recall seeing in Ring Magazine’s ratings, your home base as Chatteris. Is that where you’re originally from?

 DG: Born, raised and I’m still here. Chatteris is in Cambridgeshire in the south east of England. It would be considered…East Anglia.

 DH: What steered you towards boxing?

 DG: Well, I wanted to be a footballer when I was a kid, but one day I went with a mate of mine to a boxing gym and I just loooooved it! The one on one competition had me hooked.

 DH: How did you fare as an amateur?

 DG: I fought amateur from the age of 13 until the age of 21. I had 105 amateur fights and won 82. Now, I must mention that after 91 fights Andy Smith began training me. Andy tweaked my style a bit and I’ll tell you, whatever he did, something clicked because I only lost 1 of my last 14 fights.

 DH: Describe how Britain’s annual ABA tournament unfolds and how you progressed.

 DG: There’s about eight different areas throughout England, Scotland and Wales that will compete and eventually eliminate one another throughout the tournament with the finals to be held in Wembley Stadium. In 1974 under Andy Smith I made it to the Semi-Finals in Manchester losing to eventual winner Terry Waller, who was a 5 time ABA champion.

 DH: The Commonwealth Games were held in ‘74. Did you have a shot at England’s squad?

 DG: Y’know, it’s my one regret, that I never boxed for England internationally. If I stayed on for another year it probably would have happened, but I wanted to go pro. In September of ‘74 I signed a pro contract, in October I got married and in December had me first pro fight.

 DH: Who did you turn pro with?

 DG: Oh, I stayed on with Andy Smith. He managed and trained me my whole career.

 DH: He had quite a stable. Did you ever feel overlooked?

 DG: Oh, no! Although Andy was also managing Joe Bugner, Des Morrison, Jimmy Harrington, Bjorn Rudi and others, he looked after each of us so well.

 DH: Where did the ‘Boy’ nickname come from?

 DG: (laughing) That was Andy. There was a great fighter from Chatteris named Eric ‘Boy’ Boon. Well, Andy said there must be hundreds of Dave Greens fighting throughout England, so to set me apart he started the Dave ‘Boy’ Green thing.

 DH: In your 12th pro fight you fought veteran Billy Waith in a final eliminator for the British 140 lb. title. Tell me about the fight.

 DG: Billy was a tough little fighter, but all he did for 5 or 6 rounds was cover up. I only had 11 pro fights and he was obviously waiting for me to get winded and be done. But I kept going and stopped him in 11. 

DH: You fought three times over the next several weeks before receiving your title shot at Joey Singleton’s British title. Wouldn’t a loss have scuttled your title fight?

 DG: I…don’t know. The question never came up. (laughing) Andy must’ve had great faith in me.

 DH: What did it feel like in the Royal Albert Hall that night being crowned British champ?

 DG: Oh, fantastic. Joey Singleton was a lovely fighter but he was no puncher and I was able to walk right through him. A tremendous atmosphere in the Hall that night.

 DH: With Andy Smith as your manager, what role was Mickey Duff playing in your career?

 DG: Mickey Duff was the Matchmaker. Mickey was the best Matchmaker this country has seen. He was a great man and boxing was his love. He always made great matches for the punters.

 DH: I see he was bringing in some very diverse talent for you such as Ramiro Bolanos and Jimmy Heair. But tell me, was there bad blood between you and Heair?

 DG: No, but he was doing things to rattle me such as sticking out his tongue and following me back to me corner and saying, “Is that all ya got?” Just trying to get in me head.

 DH: At the end of ‘76 you received a shot at the European light welterweight title. Tell me about the fight with Jean Baptiste Piedvache?

 DG: Piedvache’s record was like 40-1 going into that fight. It was a very tough fight but I stopped him in nine rounds. But that was it for me at 140. I couldn’t make the weight anymore. Two days after a fight I was weighing 11 stone. To tell you how easy I’d put on the weight, around this time we went on Holiday to Spain and I came back weighing 175 lbs.

 DH: I believe it was around the time of the Bolanos fight that I began hearing tales of ‘Boy’ Green’s ‘Muckspreader’. You have got to elaborate on this for me. DG: Well (laughing), I’m from an agricultural area in the south east and Andy Smith noticed the way I would throw an overhand right. It was sort of over and down. Like the way a farmer would sling a shovel. So Andy started calling it my ‘Muckspreader’ and the name stuck.

Green (right) blocks a left hook from Stracey.

DH: In March of ‘77 was the fight that stopped traffic over in England. Tell me about your fight with former welterweight champion John Stracey.

 DG: This was a cracking fight with the winner to get a shot at the world title. I was up by about 2 or 3 rounds and it was stopped in the 10th round with John’s eye closed and taking punishment.

 DH: Did I hear he’s doing after-dinner singing now?

 DG: Yeah, and he’s not bad. But (laughing), it’s a good thing he did a bit of boxing first. Don’t think he would have made much money singing back then.

 DH: January 14, 1977 at the Empire Pool in Wembley. Your shot at the world welterweight title against Carlos Palomino. You were doing so well, appeared to be ahead and had really stung him in the 10th round. What happened?

 DG: It was actually in the 10th round that he caught me and closed me left eye. In the 11th I was turning in order to see and he caught me with a left hook and that was it. It also marked the last time my wife would ever watch me fight.

 DH: Three months later you were back against top contender Andy ‘The Hawk’ Price at the National Sporting Club. Tell me about the fight.

 DG: Andy ‘The Hawk’ was an excellent fighter and like you said, a top contender. Andy Smith said we have to keep fighting this type of fighter in order to stay in the top ten. It was a very close fight, which I believe I only won by one point on referee Sid Nathan’s card.

 DH: In March of ‘78 and then rescheduled for May you were to fight Canada’s Clyde Gray for his British Commonwealth welterweight title. Why did this fight not take place?

 DG: Just prior to that I had beaten Roy Johnson of Bermuda and damaged me right hand in the process. We thought we were right before the rescheduled fight but a week before the fight the hand went again while sparring with Des Morrison. Clyde Gray thought I ‘bottled’ it, but I had damaged the metacarpal bone and it had to heal. But I do think it would have been a great fight between myself and Gray.

 DH: On October 21st of ‘78 you were scheduled for your awaited rematch with Carlos Palomino in Monte Carlo. Again, why did this fight not take place?

 DG: About two weeks before the fight Palomino hurt his back and pulled out. But rather than allow him to reschedule, the WBC ordered him to sign for the #1 contender, which was Wilfredo Benitez. Benitez, after beating Palomino then promised me the shot but Sugar Ray Leonard’s people offered him $1,000,000 to defend against Leonard. Bob Arum then promised me the shot at the winner, which eventually did happen. 

DH: Your fight with Henry Rhiney for the European welterweight title was televised over here. I think Rhiney was a very under-rated fighter. Tell me about this fight.

 DG: Well, you’re right. Henry Rhiney was a very good fighter and it was a great fight, which I won on a 5th round knockout. However, what bothered me about this fight was the fact that Henry held both British and European titles, but at this time the European Boxing Union shortened their title fights to 12 rounds, whereas the British title fights retained the 15 round distance. Therefore, Henry’s British title was not at stake. And do you know who he eventually lost his British title to? Kirkland Laing. I beat Kirk three times as an amateur, but never got me chance at him or the British title at welterweight.

 DH: In June of ‘79 you lost your Euro title to Jorgen Hansen in Denmark. Now, I gotta ask you. You took everything Jean Baptiste Piedvache, John Stracey and Carlos Palomino - for 10 rounds - threw at you without flinching. Suddenly, an aging fighter, whom you had on the canvas earlier in the round, takes you out in 3. Do you think you lost a step after the Palomino KO?

 DG: No! This was my fault. As a matter of fact, I believe he went down earlier in the round strictly for effect. Andy Smith kept telling me to be careful, that he was a big puncher. And he was, plus he was a cagey old boy at that. I got reckless after scoring the knockdown and walked into one. It’s funny talking about this because I was recently contacted to participate in an interview over in Denmark for a documentary on Hansen.

 DH: In March of ‘80 you received your second shot at the world title. What was it like in Landover, Maryland being involved in a Sugar Ray Leonard event?

 DG: To be honest, I could have fought Sugar Ray Leonard 25 times and wouldn’t have beaten him once. He was so good. I don’t recall the Sugar Ray Robinsons, but for my money Leonard is the best that I’ve seen. But I did make me career high purse for that fight.

 DH: What kind of money were you seeing through your career?

 DG: Well, early in me career Andy wouldn’t take any of his share of the purse. But eventually I began making some decent money. I made £25,000 for the Price fight, £35,000 apiece for the Stracey and Palomino fights and my career high of £125,000 for the Leonard fight. And remember this was in Pounds, which was roughly at a 2 to 1 ratio with the Dollar at that time. In total I made about £450,000 while boxing.

DH: After the Leonard fight you ran off a string of wins before inexplicably being stopped by unknown Reggie Ford. When I saw that result I recall ranting, “There is no way ‘Boy’ Green lost to Reggie Ford!” And you never fought again. What did you lose?

 DG: I had said to Andy once that when he thinks I’m finished that I’d follow his decision. During that fight I had nothing to offer. I was down around the 3rd round and at the end of the 4th Andy said that he would give me one more round to turn it around. And when I came back to me corner at the end of the round he retired me on me stool and the career with it. But it was the correct decision and that’s why I’m able to talk to you today.

 DH: You retired at 28. On your heels was the emergence of Kirkland Laing, Colin Jones and Lloyd Honeyghan. Did you ever feel the desire for a comeback?

 DG: No, I had an opportunity at a job in business and I took it. Although Andy did take me aside and say, “Listen, Dave, if anything goes wrong, come and see me again. I’ll get you the right fights.” He was so pleased that I made it in business and did not have to return. I cannot say enough good things about Andy Smith. He was the best manager this country has seen. He was more than a manager. Joe Bugner wouldn’t listen, but those of us who did were looked after.

 DH: What business did you get into after boxing?

 DG: I got into sales for a firm supplying Cash & Carry’s with inventory. I must’ve had a knack because my boss was complaining that I was making more than he was. Eventually I began running me own company. It’s called Renoke Marketing Logistics, Ltd. We buy and sell to Co-ops, Cash & Carry’s and retailers.

Green, at right, seen landing a right on the chin of Palomino.

DH: Any regrets?

 DG: None. Boxing was great to me. I’ll tell you a funny story of the notoriety it’s given me. A number of years back I was in King’s Lynn in Norfolk for a New Year’s Eve party. I was going out of the hotel for a breath of air and who do I run into but Princess Diana. I just sort of awkwardly introduced myself by saying, “Hey, Princess Di! Dave ‘Boy’ Green.” She was such a lovely person and the funny thing was, she knew who I was. Boxing has given me lifelong friendships as well. It’s one of the few sports where you can beat on one another and then lock arms afterwards. I’ve had a great time with Carlos Palomino while on holiday in California and Sugar Ray Leonard’s been to me home. I’m here today living fairly comfortably. My wife Kay and I have been married 37 years and we have twin daughters and a son who are all doing well. So, I couldn’t ask for much more.


 A few years back I was fortunate to make fast-friends with a pair of die-hard boxing fans in Colin and Carolyn Chilver of the Middlesbrough area of England. Two people that have traveled the globe pursuing their passion with the sport of boxing. When they told me of an awards dinner they were attending in Hammersmith, I could only think to ask, “Do you think ‘Boy’ Green will be there?” Thus, my hashfest with Dave ‘Boy’ Green. And, to be audacious enough to abuse the metaphor, this teak-tough fighter’s Muckspreader has served him well in life.

 See ya next round,

 Dan Hanley


brian said...

Interesting interview;I think Carlos Palomino would have also decapitated him in the rematch..

Anonymous said...

don't talk crap brian !

Unknown said...

What a commendable decision to retire at 28 ! I remember the commentator mentioning during the Sugar Ray fight that Dave was 'muscle bound' or something to that extent !! . Thanks Dave for your words and time as a top British fighter

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