Jones, Roy Jr. 1969–

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Roy Jones, Jr. 1969

Professional boxer

At a Glance

Life With Father Was Trial By Fire

Robbed of Gold in Olympics Scandal

Broke With Dad; Demolished Toney

Cultivated Other Interests


Countless journalists, fans, trainers, managers, and other boxers have termed Roy Jonesthe best pound for pound fighter in the world. This middleweight champion from Pensacola, Florida, is known for lightning hand speed, thunderous knockout power, and astonishing agility in the ring. He even improvises with his technique, launching punches from unlikely angles and surprising opponents with unexpected moves and flurries of blows. Quoted on Jones website, former heavyweight champion George Foreman said Joneshits like a heavyweight and moves like a lightweight,

In addition, Jones is one boxer who has provided a positive role model for young people. He is totally disciplined in his approach to training, avoids drugs and drink completely, is highly involved in his hometown community, and dedicates much of his time to charitable organizations and projects. Jones has been especially involved in working with teenagers: by speaking in public to many groups, warning young people about taking drugs, and providing a training program and facility for local youths. A man with strong religious convictionswhich he expresses without any self-righteousnessJones never bothers with the trash-talking so many boxers use topsyche out opponents.

With his supremacy in the middleweight and light heavyweight range, it is surprising thatRoy Jones does not have universal name recognition. Part of the reason probably is his refusal to market himself as a spectacle merely as a spectacular fighter. In many ways, he has refused to play the game by rules established by the media and starmakers such as Don King.

But the biggest reason is the lack of any fighters in Jones weight division who can push him to his limits. The 1980s, by contrast, was a middleweight heyday, with a crop of sensational fighters at the top of their form, such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, and Thomas Hearns. These boxers incited and pushed each other; many of their fights were epic battles. But Jones has found no credible, champion-grade warriors to take on. In fact, many of his fights have been serious mismatches. While Jones is certainly a great boxer to watch, his matches are usually too one-sided to make for a good fight. This is a shame, because Jones potential has hardly been tested; it is quite likely that he would have prevailed over all the other great middle weights.

Often compared favorably with the Sugar Raysboth

At a Glance

Born Roy Jones Jr., January 16, 1969, in Pensacola, FL. Son of Roy Sr. and Carol Jones. Father, an exfighter, was Roy Jr.s boxing teacher.Education: Graduate from Washington High in Pensacola in 1987. Attended Pensacola Junior College.

Career; Widely considered best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Won National Junior Olympics title before he was 15. Won Golden Gloves in 1986 and 1987. As amateur, record was 121-13. Won Silver Medal at 1988 Olympic Games. Captured IBF middle-weight crown in 1993. Won IBF super middle weighttitle in 1994. Earned WBC light heavyweight title in 1996. Lost (by disqualification), then regained, WBC light heavyweight crown in 1997. Captured WBA light heavyweight crown in 1998; defended it in January 1999. Won IBF belt in June of 1999 to become the first undisputed light heavyweight champion since 1985.

Selected awards: Ring Sports Magazine1993 Fighter of the Year; 1995 Man of the Year; 1996 Sportsman of the Year.Ring, Boxing Illustrated, and Boxing Scene magazines1994 Fighter of the Year. International Boxing Federation1995 Fighter of the Year and 1995 Fighter of Unlimited Potential. ESPN ESPY Award 1995 Boxer of the Year. Boxing illustrateds Budweiser ratings, June 1995 onwardBest Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World. March of Dimes1995 Honorary Chairman. /KO1996 Best Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World and 1996 Best Fighter in the World (in poll of boxing experts). Congress of Racial Equality1996 Outstanding Achievement Award. Amer. Assn. for the Improvement of Boxing (the Marciano Foundation) 1996 Humanitarian of the Year.Boxing 1996Best Pound-for Pound Fighter in the World. Harlem Globe trottersHonorary Ambassador of Goodwill (1997). Escambia-Pensacola Human Relations Commission 1997 Olive Branch Award, for humanttanianism,

Addresses: Online http://www.Royjonesjr.Com Pro-motion-Square Ring, Inc., 200 West LA RUA Street, Pensacola, FL 32501. ManagerRichard Pope, 704 West Michigan Ave., Pensacola, FL 32505.

Leonard and RobinsonJones is believed by many to be the greatest boxer of all time. As Ross Greenburg, executive producer of HBO Sports, was quoted in a Sports Illustrated feature, he and the other HBO commentatorswere there for Leonard and Hagler and Hearns and Duran in their prime. I think Roy Jones gets in a ring and beats them all. Ive never seen that kind of punching power and speed in one man. In 1996, High Frequency Boxings John DiMaio wroteThe early evidence points toward the real possibility that Jones is the greatest talent this sport has ever seen. His skill so dwarfs that of his nearest ranked oppositionthat providing competitive opponents is a more challenging dilemma than the fights themselves. The expert opinion ofBoxing magazines editor, Bert Sugar, is provided on Jones website: He possesses the fastest hands in boxing with lightning fast moves and explosive power in both hands. After lost the World Boxing Council light heavyweight crown to Jones in a 1996 unanimous decision, Mike McCallum called Jones the greatest fighter of all time.

Jones mastery extends beyond mere strength and speed, however. He also has the ability to outthink other fighters, to anticipate and counter their moves before they even know what they are. Olympic team coach Alton Merkerson, whom Jones hired in the early 1990s as his trainer, said inSports Illustrated, Roys not only got the quickest hands in boxing, but the quickest mind.

Life With Father Was Trial By Fire

Roy Jones, Jr., was born in Pensacola, Florida, to two very different parents. His mother, Carol, was warm and easygoing, whereas his father, Roy Sr., was much like a Marine drill sergeant with respect to his son. A decorated Vietnam veteran, ex-club fighter, and retired aircraft engineer who had taken up hog farming, Roy Sr. was hard on his son from early on, taunting the child, sparring with him, enraging Roy Jr., yelling at him, and beating the child, often for 20 minutes at a time. This behavior never really changed; if anything it became more brutal as Roy Jr. grew up. Many people would call the fathers treatment outandout abuse, but he believed he had a good reason for it: to make Roy Jr. tough enough to be a champion. In this pursuit, he was relentless, and Roy Jr. lived in constant fear of his fathers verbal and physical violence against him.

Jones described his childhood inSports Illustrated: After a while I didnt care about gettin hurt or dyin anymore. I was in pain all day, every day, I was so scared of my father. Hed pull up in his truck and start lookin for something Id done wrong. There was no escape, no excuse, no way out of nothin. Getting hurt or dyin mightve been better than the life I was livin. Used to think about killin myself anyway. Theres no way to know whether or not Jones would have become a world champion fighter without this extremely punitive upbringing, but theres little question it toughened the young man. Roy Sr. ran his own boxing gym, to which he devoted all his available time and financial resources. He offered direction and useful discipline to numerous youths, and steered many of them away from trouble. Roy Sr. did everything possible to expand the program and help more kids. But towards his own son he was merciless, driving Roy Jr. to the brink of exhaustion, screaming at him in front of all the other fighters, assaulting him. Roy Sr.s father had been a hard-working laborer, and had been tough on him the way he was on Roy Jr. But Jones, the world champion boxer, will not continue this line of treatment. He is very attuned to others anguish; on his web site, he says, What gets [me] down? is.. .watching other people be hurt and mistreated. It is a feeling he has known very well.

Using his fighting birds as an image for his own predicament, Jones said in the sameSports Illustrated piece: I spent all my life in my dads cage. I could never be 100 percent of who I am until I left it. But because of him, nothing bothers me. Ill never face anything stronger and harder than what I already have. Jones father, with his overbearing and overwhelming personality, had created a powerful craving in the boxerthe need to become his own man.

Robbed of Gold in Olympics Scandal

Going into the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, Korea, Jones had amassed an extraordinary record of 106-4. (His final tally as an amateur would be 121-13.) In the final, championship bout for his division, Jones thoroughly dominated his opponent, South Korean Park Si-Hun, with 86 punches to Parks 32and a standing eight count to boot. But the judgesdecidedagainsthim, 3-2. The boxing world was stunned by this outrageous decision. As Kevin Monaghan, NBCs boxing correspondent at the games, said inUSA Today, It was an absolute joke. It was obvious Roy had won the fight. He was so fast, the guy couldnt lay a glove on Roy. The same article includes a quote from U.S. Olympic Committee director of media services Bob Condron:It was not, in any sense of the word, close. The decision was such a blatant injustice that 50 Korean Buddhist monks went to Jones to express their shame.

An investigation ensued, and evidence surfaced indicating corruptioni.e., bribes. Ultimately, two of the three judges who ruled against Jones were permanently barred from boxing. At the time of the games, Jones reacted with dignity, accepting the silver medal despite the gross affront that had occurred. Since then, he has waged a campaign to get the medal he deserved. But the International Olympic Committee has refused to overturn the scandalous decision. The Committee presented Jones with the Olympic Order in September 1997, but this belated consolation prize was no substitute for the medal that was stolen.

Despite Jones preeminent stature, the Olympic incident still vexes him deeply. Millions of people believe Jones obviously won the Gold Medal. But for him, vindication can come only when the decision is officially overturned. And he still keeps a flame burning:I will die with a little hope in me, Jones said in aUSA Today piece.

Broke With Dad; Demolished Toney

The early days of Jones professional career were very controversial. His fathers style of management was one of absolute control, and many of Jones Sr.s decisions at the time were considered perverseespecially his choices of opponents for his son. He refused to set up matches against any serious contenders, and stuck instead with second-or third-raters. Roy Sr. claimed he was just trying to carefully cultivate his sons career and his character. As he asserted in aUSA Today article:I dont care what nobody thinks. You dont give a kid $2 million and the prestige of a world title. Otherwise, you wind up with a Mike Tyson. But the boxing establishment saw this as merely padding Jones record with easy wins. The phenomenal Olympic boxer was rapidly falling into obscurity.

Jones loyalty to his father was intense, and so he passed up numerous offers from managers and handlers to guide him to greatness. But in denying his son any decision-making capacity, Roy Sr. was stoking the fighters frustration. Finally, he went too far; he crossed the line. The incident involved a dog, which had bitten Jones younger sister in fear. Roy Sr. went onto his sons land and shot the dog numerous times while it was tied to a tree.

The final act of disrespect, was what Jones called it in a New York Times piece.Theres certain things you dont do to a man. My father didnt raise me to be a pushover, not even to him. Shortly after, he hired Alton Merkerson. Jones also took on Stanley Levin, a trusted friend and mentor, to handle the business side of things. Roy Sr. has never forgiven his son: He refuses to talk with Roy Jr. As he said in SportsIllustrated, Once you break the plate at my table, you can never eat there again.

Jonescareer finally started to soar. He took on the most challenging fighters out there, and trounced most of them in a few rounds. Finally, in November 1994, Jones got his chance for a truly sensational match, against JamesLights Out Toney. Toney, an admitted former crack dealer who talked enough trash to fill a city dump, had gone undefeated in 46 bouts and was rated the best in the world. The Jones/Toney fight was ultra-hyped, and Jones for the first time in his career was the underdog. The world was eager to see whether he really had what it takes.

Over the course of the 12-round unanimous decision, Jones demonstrated his greatness. He danced circles around Toney, knocked him down hard in the third round, and blasted the big man repeatedly.Ring magazine called Jones performance the most dominant of any big fight in 20 years.

Since then, Jones has faced few true challenges. His onlyloss was the result of a foul. In a March 1997 fight against Montell Griffin, Jones had to work hard to gain an edge. Griffin was proving himself a tough adversary, and it had gotten to Jones. Around the seventh round, though, Jones started to prevail. By the ninth, he was bashing Griffin hard, and forced the challenger down to one knee. Since the ref did not tell him to halt his attack, Jones hit Griffin with two more punches, the second one hard enough to knock him out. Jones was disqualified for the infraction. In the August 1997 rematch, Jones KOd Griffin in the first round, and with that regained the World Boxing Council title he had forfeited in the earlier fight. That was the end of that controversy.

In June of 1999 Jones became the first undisputed ight heavyweight champ since 1985 (when Michael Spinks relinquished that distinction to fight at the heavyweight level), to unify the belts, Jones easily overwhelmed International Boxing Federation (IBF) belt-holder Reggie Johnson in a unanimous decision, with Johnson bleeding heavily down several times, and in trouble the entire fight. At one point Jones looked over at Michael Jordan in the front rows and yelled, Watched this! He tattooed Johnson with a series of blows too rapid to see clearly even on slow-motion replay.

Cultivated Other Interests

Jones leads an extraordinarily active life. Boxing is his profession, but he has loads of other passions. These include cock-fighting, which Jones has pursued avidly his whole life. He even raises birds himself, though he does not necessarily fight them. Jones credits the gutsy roosters for helping teach him about being a valiant and shrewd fighter.

Jones also loves the game of basketball, and he even played professionally with the United States Basketball Leagues Jacksonville Barracudas during the summer of 1996. In fact, to keep things interesting for himself, Jones became the first man to play a game of pro basketball and defend a boxing title in the same dayJune 15, 1996. His opponent that day, Canadas Eric Lucas, was widely considered easy pickings for Jones, so a fatiguing basketball game was one way to even the field a little.Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service quoted Jones as saying, a little defensively perhaps, At least this gives the guy a chance. Clearly, basketball is far more than a casual hobby to Jones. But no one suggests that the 5 11 Jones should switch sports.

In addition, Jones has done a lot of motivational speaking, primarily to younger people. He has raised money for a number of charitable causes, including his injured friend Gerald McClellan. Jones visits hospitals to offer hope and inspiration to severely III and injured patients. He also runs a youth program in Pensacola. And the list goes on; Jones is as involved in community-building and humanitarian work as any fighter ever.

A boxer with Jones skills and genius easily could rack up a string of victories every year, and expand his visibility to the public. Many people in the boxing industry would love to see him do exactly that. But Jones does not fight just for the sake of fighting. In fact, he usually keeps it to three or four matches per year. Jones aims to select matches that cany big purses, and he has expressed frustration that his weight class is paid is so much less than the heavy-weights are. But part of the reason Jones fights infrequently is because there are no fighters with comparable talent. He has even considered bulking up to take on the heavy-weights or trimming down to fight the welterweight champions.

Jones has made clear many times that he has conflicted feelings about boxing, mostly because of the sports inherent dangerfor both combatants. Even a great fighter gets hit sometimes, and the human brain was not designed to endure much battering within the skull. Jones has seen up close the effects of one severe knockout punch on a friend of his: Gerald McClellan, whose eyesight, hearing, and speech were badly damaged. As he said to USA Today, I care about my well-being after boxing. This game is dangerous. It doesnt take an accumulation of punches to mess you up. Gerald didnt have any hard fights before Benn. And look what happened. A year later, he was quoted in the same paper:This game is not a good game for anyoneme or anyone else. Look at the history of the guys who were great. Look at their condition 10 years after theyre done. This game doesnt usually deal you a good hand, not in the long run.

It is very rare for a fighter to discuss the long-term effects of the sport, but Jones is honest about the risks entailed. In addition to being a great athlete, Jones is intelligent and sensitiveand he does not want those qualities diminished.

The other side of the issue is that Jones does not want to maim anyone. He has a well-developed conscience, and would hate to inflict a terrible injury. Sometimes when Jones fights opponents who are far below his caliber, he has to look out for the other mans well-being. For instance, when pressure from promoters and the challenger pushed Jones into taking on Vinny Pacienza in June 1995, he was not happy about it. He knew Pacienza was past his prime but also had the kind of grit that would keep him going even if the going got dangerously self-destructive. In that fight, Jones intent to avoid hurting Pacienza prompted the referee to issue a warning. Then, as he steadily bloodied and rocked Pacienza at will, Jones all but pleaded with the ref to halt the fight. After six rounds, a TKO finally was called.

I cried after the Pazienza fight, said Jones in theNew York Times.It tore me up inside. It really made me wonder about what I do automatically.

For Jones, fighting is a means to an end, but it is not how he chooses to approach life outside the ringor indefinitely in it either. Not many boxers are tough enough to admit, as Jones did inUSA Today, that his real desire isto be loved and feel wanted. On another occasion, inSports Illustrated Jones discussed the idea ofliving large, in the ring and out:Sure, Ill do some show-boating in the ringIm the only true performer in the ring today. But not outside of it. People assume every boxer wants to live the fast life. Thats an escape, not a life. I want a personto-person life.



High Frequency Boxing, February 1, 1996.

Knight-Ridder/TribuneNews Service, June 14, 1996.

New York Times, August 3, 1997, magazine, p. 23.

SportsIllustrated, May 24, 1993, p. 56; June 26, 1995, p. 78.

USA Today, August 29, 1990, p. 1C; June 13, 1996, p. 14C; September 26, 1997; April 30, 1998, p. 14C.


Roy Jones Jr.s web site: http://www.RoyJonesJr.Com.

Mark Baven

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Jones, Roy Jr. 1969–

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