Career inside the ring helped Muhammad prepare for life outside of it
Chad Dawson and Joan Guzman may be undefeated, but they still have to pay their dues in training. That's where Eddie Mustafa Muhammad comes in.
Originally Published: April 7, 2008By Royce Feour | ESPN.com
There are better known and more heralded trainers than Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, but few can get more out of their fighters' abilities than he does.Muhammad, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., has a well-deserved reputation as being able to get his boxers to fight at a higher level. Whether he's working with an obscure preliminary fighter on a club card or training a veteran who's headlining a nationally televised card, he motivates his boxers with a hard-nosed, no-nonsense style. Muhammad is a former WBA light heavyweight champion. He stopped Marvin Johnson in the 11th round in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1980 to capture the WBA 175-pound championship. Then known as Eddie Gregory before he changed his name, Muhammad defended his title twice -- he stopped Jerry Martin in the 10th round in McAfee, N.J., and Rudy Koopmans in the third round at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, both in 1980.
Muhammad lost the championship on a 15-round unanimous decision to Michael Spinks in 1981 at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. He retired from boxing in 1988 with a record of 50-8-1, took a couple of years off and started training fighters when he moved to Las Vegas in 1990. He has worked with a number of world champions, including James Toney, Iran Barkley, Michael Bentt and Johnny Tapia. He currently trains WBO super featherweight champion Joan Guzman and WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson. Dawson defends his title Saturday on April 12 in Tampa, Fla., against former champion Glen Johnson. Muhammad, who has trained Dawson for about six months, said he improved Dawson by working on his balance.
AP Photo/Reinhold MatayBalance wasn't exactly Dawson's forte before he hooked up with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
His balance wasn't that good. All great fighters -- [Muhammad] Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson -- have great balance. They all started with balance. I wanted him to move on his toes and I showed him how to do it.
-- Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, on working with Chad Dawson
"I'm surprised that Muhammad doesn't get more chances to [work with more] major fighters," Moretti said. "If you have Eddie Mustafa Muhammad as your opponent's trainer, you have your hands full. You know they are going to be in shape and have a specific game plan. He gets the best out of his fighters. If he has time to spend with his fighter, they will be tough to beat even if they are not that talented." In the past five years, Muhammad has split his time training with organizing his boxers' union -- Joint Association of Boxers (JAB), which is affiliated with the Teamsters Union. Muhammad said he is still in the process of organizing JAB and has signed up more than 2,000 fighters. "Every organization has a union except the fighters," he said. "This is my legacy, the union. When they can no longer fight and no longer hear the roar of the crowd, the fighters will still have their medical and health benefits. But it doesn't end there. "That's just the tip of the iceberg. We will send them to school to learn a trade, a craft so they can keep up with society and not stay in the fight game way past their due. This is something they need. They get a pension when they can no longer perform. I have done something I am very proud of." It's something that boxing can be proud of, as well. Royce Feour was the boxing writer for 37 years at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesMuhammad has kept busy since retiring from the ring in 1988.