Chatting with the champ: Former welterweight contender Darryl Anthony
To thrive in the amateur program in a boxing hotbed like St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1970s was not easy, as the city known as “The Gateway to the West” has produced a vast amount of talent over the years.
Success in the unpaid ranks meant that, to secure a spot as a top-rated amateur fighter, you were going to war on a regular basis with some of the toughest fighters in the country, many of whom would go on to world championship careers in the pros.
Former welterweight contender Darryl Anthony was one of those fighters. He survived the gauntlet that was 1970s amateur boxing in St. Louis and then went on to have a very good career as a professional. While his boxing resume was punctuated with the fact that he was the only fighter to defeat New York superstar (and future world champion) Mark Breland in the amateurs, his career indeed meant much more than that.
Although Anthony, 26-11-2 (17), never won a world title in his 39-fight, nine-year career, he did battle some of the best fighters in the world. Luck and timing often play a role in a fighter getting a title shot at the right time. For Anthony, not getting a shot at the brass ring is somewhat forgivable, considering he fought in an era of welterweights that included Breland, Aaron Davis, Mike McCallum, Marlon Starling, Donald Curry, Simon Brown, Johnny Bumphus, Tommy Ayers, Maurice Blocker and many more.
Anthony earned a well-deserved reputation as a talented boxer-puncher who could beat anybody in the world on any given night. Among fighters, he was known as a real pro, a fighter’s fighter, who would face anyone, anywhere, anytime. If you were anything less than world-class, you were probably going to pick up a loss. And, if you were the best in the world, you’d better still plan on a long evening because Anthony would be there, and then some, all night.
Anthony, now 59 years old, retired in 1991 after facing some of the very best fighters in the world including former world champions Gene Hatcher, Gianfranco Rosi, Lloyd Honeyghan, Breland and Otis Grant, among others.
In a recent interview, Anthony shared his thoughts on his days in the ring and his memories of a very good career.
Bill Tibbs: Hi Darryl, Thanks for taking a minute to chat.
Darryl Anthony: No problem, Bill. Thanks.
BT: Talk a little bit about your amateur career and how you got started in boxing.
DA: I was about 10 years of age and I was approached, along with some other guys from the neighborhood, about joining a boxing program at a gym that was being started up by a fellow named Palmer Hubbard. Initially, we all said no but I eventually wandered over to the gym and started to box. Pretty soon, I was beating some good fighters and doing well. They have something in St. Louis called the Diamond Gloves and I ended up winning that two times. Then it was time to go on to the big time of amateur boxing with the Nationals and the Golden Gloves. I boxed at the Nationals and was looking to look to qualify for the Olympics. Everyone’s goal, who was doing well in the amateurs, was to fight at the Olympics.
BT: How did things go at the Nationals?
DA: I went to the Nationals in1980 and the AAU qualifiers for the Olympic trials. I faced off against a very good fighter named Johnny Bumphus, “Bump City” Bumphus. He defeated me at the Olympic Trials. I think I was at my best in boxing at that time. I was boxing at my peak and I think Johnny was also at his best, at his peak as a fighter in his boxing career, at that time.
BT: How many amateur fights did you have?
DA: I think I finished up around about 120-16, or 120-15, something like that. There were lots of fights that weren’t ever recorded, so I had more but I would say about 120-16.
BT: At this point, you decided to turn pro?
DA: You know, I really didn’t know what I was going to do. Should I start my college studies or should I take a shot at the pros? I felt I had to at least try it and give it a shot in the pros. It was around this time that I got approached by (manager) Pete Susens, who put me in touch with Top Rank Boxing. I had a very supportive family and very supportive people around me, so I thought I should at least take my shot in professional boxing. I was pleased that a company like Top Rank was interested in me.
BT: You faced an awful lot of good fighters in your professional career. Who do you feel was the best fighter you ever faced?
DA: Again, I would probably say that I was boxing at my best when I fought Johnny Bumphus at the Olympic Trials and I would say that Bumphus was the best fighter I ever faced. He was at his peak as a fighter at that time, as well, when he was fighting at the Olympic trials.
BT: Looking back, how do you feel about your pro career? You fought in a very good era of welterweights but distinguished yourself as a very good fighter.
DA: Yeah, I remember when I was training with Aaron Pryor and Tommy Ayers and was doing very well with Ayers. I think I was surprising some people because Ayers was a very good fighter. But I do have some regrets for sure. I wasn’t totally prepared for some of my biggest fights. I took some fights just for the money and maybe that affected my performance? I do think I had talent. I didn’t have to box. I came from a good home. My mom always worked and I had a stepdad in my life. I would definitely do some things differently. I would start to box a little later, perhaps in my teens, maybe age 15 or 16, not start so early. Sometimes I think, by the time I turned pro, I was already a little bit burned out. I was also loyal to my trainer, at the time, loyal to a fault. I probably should have looked for a trainer who could have perhaps taken me to the next level. But I have fond memories of my boxing career. Yeah, I feel I had some talent but I would certainly do a few things differently.
BT: Are you involved in boxing anymore?
DA: I am on the board of directors of the St. Louis Golden Gloves, so I’m still involved, which is good.
BT: Thanks for the chat, Darryl.
DA: No problem, Bill, my pleasure. Thank you.
The soft-spoken, articulate Anthony still lives in St. Louis with his wife of 29 years and his three children. He has been working in real estate and mortgage financing for the last 25 years since he retired from boxing.