Cool on boxing
Actor-rapper LL Cool J can't get enough of boxing
Posted: Friday September 28, 2007 11:29AM; Updated: Monday October 1, 2007 1:11PM
Rapper and actor LL Cool J (nÚ James Todd Smith III) has been a boxing fan long before he recorded "Mama Said Knock You Out." SI.com's Richard Deitsch recently caught up with the 39-year-old for a conversation on his passion for pugilism:
SI.com: Why are professional sports and music so intertwined?
Cool J: Because at the end of the day you are dealing with people that have a winners' mentality, people that are driven to be No. 1 at whatever they do. These are some of the most competitive individuals in the world. Remember, to be an artist, you have to be incredibly competitive. Not only are you dealing with a lot of competition but it is subjective. It's based on opinions. It's not like I can score two points and everybody knows I scored two points. It's a scenario where I have to convince you that I scored two points.
SI.com: How important is sports in your day to day life?
Cool J: I love sports but I'm not a guy that wants to love every sport. I love boxing and I'm very passionate about it. I'm fairly passionate about basketball. But I'm more of a boxing fan than I am a fan of basketball.
SI.com: What fighters do you like?
Cool J: It goes across weight classes for me. The heavyweight division is so nasty that I don't know what to do. I'm ready to throw up on myself behind the heavyweight class. But I love Floyd Mayweather and I can't wait for his fight against Rickey Hatton. I need that in my life, even though I know that's not the big money fight like another fight with Oscar. Hatton handled Jose Luis Castillo so easily and I would love to see how this would go because Mayweather had problems with Castillo.
SI.com: What is about boxing that fuels your passion?
Cool J: You have a guy in your ear giving you instructions and putting together a game plan. But then you gotta take it on yourself to go out there and execute. It's none of these excuses like, "My friend didn't sink the shot" or "Johnny dropped the ball" or "Billy struck out." It's none of that. You have to go out there and take responsibility for your destiny.
SI.com: Have you ever sparred?
Cool J: I never spared with any professionals but I have been in the ring with Lennox Lewis playing around. What was that like? What do you think it was like. It was tough, man. He's a big boy.
SI.com: Did you get a shot in?
Cool J: Yeah, I got one in. But I also begged him not to return the favor.
SI.com: The best fight you have ever seen?
Cool J: It's gotta be Diego Corrales-Castillo fight. The first one. That was serious.
SI.com: Do you go to the big fights?
Cool J: I have but it's funny: I love the fights so much that I want to see it on TV so I can hear Larry Merchant complain. I need the commentators to annoy me. I need to see the slo-motion replays. But I was at the Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe fight with "Fan Man." First of all, I was in shock when I saw that. I could not believe what I was seeing. He came out of nowhere. I felt like I was at a Batman movie. Then after that, to see people kick his butt was nuts. They were beating him with walkie-talkies. I was shocked. It was pretty wild.
SI.com: Who is your favorite fighter of alltime?
Cool J: Mike (Tyson) before he went south. The pre-Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson was a site to behold.
SI.com: Are you friends with any professional athletes?
Cool J: I'm friends with Evander. He's my closest friend in sports. We met a long time ago. He had just come out of the Olympics. We just hit off. I would go to his house and he would come to mine.
SI.com: Is there a basketball team that you root for?
Cool J: I really wanted to see LeBron James win this year. I know he wasn't ready yet, but I thought it would have been a great Cinderella story. I like LeBron. I'm such a fan of rugged individualism. Not to say I can't work within a team because I have people on my team in my life. I don't want to say I am not a team player but I am just a fan of people who are rugged individualists and mavericks, people that go out there and get it on their own. I thought Michael Jordan was like that. But he was a rugged individualist who was so great that he made everyone around him better, even as he excelled as an individual. I'm not a big fan of golf but Tiger Woods is so great at golf that he made me pay attention to it because he is excelling at so incredibly.
SI.com: Did you play any organized sports in high school?
Cool J: I played football growing up and though karate is not necessarily considered a sport, I took karate. I played club football.
SI.com: You played running back in Any Given Sunday. What was it like playing a pro athlete?
Cool J: Being on the set was incredible. The one thing I found out was it a lot tougher to do it, then to talk about doing it. As far as being on the set, there was nothing better than watching Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor go at it. They dogged each other. Lawrence Taylor said that if Jim was around in his era, he would have knocked him out. Jim turned to Lawrence and said, "I ain't no punk now."
SI.com: Is there any real-life sports story you would like to tackle as an actor?
Cool J: Not right now but I always thought a story that was compelling was the Darryl Stingley story. That was deep. God bless him.
SI.com: The best athlete in your lifetime?
Cool J: Michael Jordan. At the end of the day, he refused to lose.
Rapper and actor LL Cool J is a spokesperson for SUBWAY FRESH FIT"! meals. He is currently putting together his latest album titled Todd Smith, Part 2: Back to Cool