Up Close and Personal with Mississippi Retired Boxers Foundation
Representative, Brad Cooney
By "Bad" Brad Berkwitt May 25, 2003
is such a unique sport in the sense that it draws in so many diversified
people. People such as Brad Cooney, who is the Mississippi
Representative for the Retired Boxers Foundation (RBF). Cooney, a
Mahopac, New York native, contacted me a couple of years ago when he was
interested in reaching former Heavyweight Title Challenger “Gentlemen”
Gerry Cooney. That email led to our very close friendship which started
with the fact, they we not only loved boxing, but finished our high
school years in the same town as well as, attended the same High School.
Since that time that we graduated, our life’s have truly paralleled one
another’s by first, both joining the US Navy, Cooney first, but I soon
followed two years later. Then, taking on the cause of helping down on
their luck fighters regain as much dignity and financial along with
medical assistance that was out there.
Cooney wasted no time in his professional life to help others when he was
honorably discharged from the US Navy back in 1988. He immediately
started working with people that had head injuries, and various other
types of disabilities.
This work would lead to him becoming one of boxing’s (Angels on the
sidelines) when he would hook up with former USBA Middleweight Champion
Alex “The Bronx Bomber” Ramos, President of the Retired Boxers
Foundation. Cooney went to work right away to help Former WBA
Heavyweight Champion Greg Page who Ramos was seeking assistance for due
to a life altering brain injury during a boxing match in Erlander,
Kentucky. There are many heroes in boxing, and I am honored to call Brad
Cooney not only a friend, but one of those heroes to the boxers I care
so much about.
What are your earliest memories of following boxing?
Watching fighters like Alexis Arguello, Marvin Hagler, and the rivalries
between Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran. My brother and I would
watch their fights when we were kids.
Growing up in New York which is a hotbed for young boxers, who do
you recall watching?
I really watched “Gentlemen” Gerry Cooney coming up the heavyweight ranks.
When he fought on the MSG network, I would always watch him. To this
day, I still remember the great fight he had with former WBC Heavyweight
Champion “The Easton Assassin” Larry Holmes. Though Cooney lost, he
showed great heart in that fight.
Please explain to the readers about your job working with people with
brain injuries and how you were able to use that knowledge to help
I have been in the field for about 14 years. We have a program here in
Mississippi called Allied Enterprises. It takes people who have suffered
physical injuries, and assists them to transition back into a community
based employment setting. I learned a lot about how to go about getting
disability benefits such as supplemental security income (SSI), and
social security benefits. As you know, at times fighters go down, and go
down hard. Some receive life altering injuries and need help financially
after they are injured. That's where I come in.
As the Mississippi representative for the Retired Boxers Foundation,
(RBF) what are your duties?
Well, it can go beyond just my state. But as far as Mississippi goes, if
there is a fighter from Mississippi who suffers any kind of life
altering injury, or a fighter that is alcohol, and or drug dependent
which causes him to hit rock bottom, they can contact me. I will get
with Alex Ramos and Jacquie Richardson to see what we can do to help.
What to date have you been able to achieve as a representative for
I am not one to pat myself on the back; I just do my best to assist people
if they need an upper hand. I guess helping former WBA Heavyweight
Champion Greg Page through the red tape of the social security nightmare
would be something I have achieved with the RBF. Being able to
accomplish things like this are very gratifying to me.
If there were was one major focal point you would like readers to
know about the RBF, what would that point be?
That Alex Ramos busts his tail to get assistance to these guys. I find it
pathetic that there are multi millionaires in and around the sport of
boxing that donate nothing to our cause, but we have 11 year old girls
giving their savings to help the plight of Greg Page.
Recently you became heavily involved in amateur boxing in your
state. Tell the readers how that came about, and the differences you see
between amateur and professional boxing?
We have a boxing club here in the Jackson area. Stan Nichols, one of the
guys that runs it, and I got together. I go by there as much as I can to
support the kids. The biggest difference I see between pro's and
amateurs is almost like major and minor league baseball. In the minor
leagues the passion, along with heart and desire, are stronger than in
the pro's at times.
Who are your three favorite fighters of all-time and why?
First, Sugar Ray Leonard because of his grace in the ring. He made it look
so easy and was lighting fast along with smart. Second, Julio Cesar
Chavez who was such a dominant champion that he always poured his guts
out in his fights. Finally, Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Hagler was just
awesome in the ring. Being a southpaw that could also fight right
handed, helped cement why I thought he was a monster in the ring.
What is the greatest boxing match you have ever seen and why?
The Thrilla in Manila. I was about 10 when that fight happened, but I have
watched the tape quite a few times, and the history behind the fight was
incredible. The psychological assault Ali put on Frazier was almost as
bad as the punishment in the ring.
Do you favor a mandatory retirement fund for all boxers and if so,
how would you like to see it accomplished?
Yes, I absolutely favor it. I think the promoters need to get less greedy,
and put some of that money into a fund, and the fighters should as well.
It’s just like anything else, when you are living large, and healthy you
have blinders on. That is until you go down yourself, and end up in a
wheelchair or something. Then, and only then do you say "Damn, I wish
there was a fund in place to help me"
Finally, what is the saying you live your life by?
“You can’t fly with the eagles, if you are running with the turkeys”.
As always fight fans, keep reaching for the stars, and all your dreams can
”Bad” Brad is the best selling author of the new boxing book, Boxing
Interviews of a Lifetime available from www.1stbooks.com. To order your
book, you can call 1-888-280-7715 or to purchase a personally signed
book from the author email him at the below address.