One-on-One with the Pazmanian Devil, Vinny Pazienza (11/98)

If any of you saw his fight with Dana Rosenblatt, you know why he’s called the Pazmanian Devil. I was there at ringside and was going to jump up on the ring to congratulate my pal after his sensational KO. But I saw the veins in his neck popping and debris flying about with two men already down from his whirling pazmanian assault. So I thought NOT, stay were its safe, far away from the mini cyclone until the winds die down.

Outside the ring, no milder man exist, a true gentleman. The Pazman is the most generous athlete I have ever met, and I have met them all. He literally spends hours signing autographs for his Pazmaniacs, usually giving out his own photos or cards. I could go on for five or six pages with stories of his generosity to fight fans and under privileged children, and adults for that matter. Lets go one on one with the former five time World Champion, Vinny Pazienza.

BP: Vinny, do you remember your first autograph?

VP: No.

BP: Come on and work with me man, I'm trying to do an interview.

VP: Alright, actually I do remember, I was in the Junior Olympics and a new born Pazmaniac asked me for one after I won an exciting fight for the New England title when I was 15 years old.

BP: Do you collect any memorabilia?

VP: Not really, unless you count championship belts, I have at least six or seven.

BP: Six belts, wow. Which ones.

VP: I said seven. The IBF I won from Greg Haugen for the Lightweight Championship. The USBA I Won by beating Ron Amundsen, the WBA I won by beating Gilbert Dele for the Junior Middleweight Championship in one of my best and toughest fights ever. The IBO Super Middleweight belt I won from caving in Dan Sherry’s ribs. I got the IBC by beating the legendary Roberto Duran, even though he was past his prime, he was still tough as nails. The WBU for knocking out Rosenblatt, and the World Championship belt I got for beating Stuart Owen on Police Academy the Series.

BP: Police Academy the Series?

VP: Yea, why, that counts.

BP: I’m not arguing, what ever you say, your the champ. Did you ever collect anything else?

VP: When I was a kid I used to collect Baseball cards. I kept them until you talked me into selling them. Then the guy ripped me off. They're probably worth a fortune now.

BP: Here we go. It was your idea to sell them! If I recall they were a little beat anyways. It's important that you keep them in mint condition.

VP: I didn’t know they had to be mint. I thought the ancient look to the card was good. I had a Nolan Ryan rookie, a Yaz rookie, a Babe Ruth rookie.

BP: OK enough! Forget the cards! I look around here and I see all kinds of stuff that looks like a collection. You got a framed set of collectors cards over there. All kinds of posters. A few paintings. Lots of photos. Tell me about some of these.

VP: The card set is cool, its a complete set on the Pazmanian Devil. That’s a complete uncut sheet, the first one off the press. I have the movie poster from the Raging Bull, one of my all-time favorite movies. In my gym, the Father & Son Gym, I have all the posters from my fights hanging up. From my amateur days up to my last fight at Foxwoods. I have a lot of other momento’s from my career. Awards like that Crystal Bowl with WBA belt on it. It was for winning the Comeback Fighter of the Year, after returning from the neck injury and beating Luis Santana. A gold medal for winning the Jr. Olympics & the National Sports Festival in Syracuse, NY.

BP: There's a lot of fans out there who collect the Pazmanian Devil's stuff. Things like program books, tickets, and posters, etc... What do you think about that?

VP: I think its cool. The whole country is on a nostalgia kick, and I don't think it's going to die out either. A lot of my fans write and tell me about their collections. One guy even has this license plate, "PAZMAN" on his car. Some of that old stuff goes for big bucks. Memorabilia from Marciano, Ali and other champs. Maybe someday some of my things will be valuable. I know the two programs from my Championship wins over Haugen and Dele are tough to come by. I also know there's a lot of collectors out there because I sign tons of autographs.

BP: I've been with you when you've signed autographs at a red light in your car, and when you had a mouth full of pizza, or in mid conversation. I remember one time, I got you a gig for signing autographs at a show for an hour. You stood for two extra hours to make sure everyone in line got an autograph. Tell me your views on autographs, do you like signing?

VP: Let me tell you something, it really pisses me off seeing athletes blow off fans trying to get an autograph! Without our fans we have nothing, I've spent hours signing autographs for the Pazmaniacs out there. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing the look on a fans face after I sign a photo for them. I spend hours responding to fan letters. I believe I have the best fans in the world and that’s what keeps me going. They feed off of me and I feed off of them. We inspire each other. When I here of guys like Reggie Jackson asking for money from a fan he meets on the street, it really ticks me off.

BP: Alright, take it easy. You look like your ready to go at it. Tell us, what’s next for the Pazman?

VP: First I'm going to hook you, then I'm going to the gym to work out.

BP: I mean what’s next in your career, you know, boxing, acting. What’s going on?

VP: I’m fighting Nov. 6th and Dec. 18th at Foxwoods on ESPN. They’ll be two tough (hopefully) tune-ups, then the big one for the IBF title in February. Then I’m going to call it a boxing career and move on to my movie. I’m very excited about making my life story into a movie for the big screen. My manager, Bill Cayton is also my theatrical agent. We are working on it right now. I’m really looking forward to playing myself. It will make leaving boxing that much easier for me, and open the doors to a new career as well.

BP: Gee, a movie about your life, do you think somebody's going to play me?

VP: Yes, either Joe Pesci or Weird Al Yankovich. Now lets go get something to eat.

Vinny and I joke around a lot, but all kidding aside, he is the guy next door. No phony, no stuffed shirt. He's just a fun loving man with a lust for living life. He would do anything for his family, friends and fans, and he has. There has never been a fighter with a bigger heart than Vinny Pazienza, just review any of his fights on video and you’ll see what I mean. Love him or hate him, in the ring as well as outside, he does what he does, for his loyal fans.