Thank God I Found the Will to Survive Through Boxing
Gerry Cooney, also fondly known as “Gentleman Gerry Cooney”, interviewed by ThankGodi author Paul Efron, shares his moving story of his triumph over growing up in a household that he did and how from that experience of negativity, defeat, abuse and neglect he was able, at the age of 16, to climb into the ring at Madison Square Gardens to fight for and win the middleweight championship.
Gerry realized then, that through his boxing he was able to express this anger towards his abusive alcoholic father through his boxing victories – instilling the knowledge from within, that ‘boxing made him somebody’ and it kept him focussed mentally and in physical ‘top shape’.
Boxing gave Gerry hope and kept him alive during this troubled time of his life – ultimately became the gift to his hugely successful life and he remains actively involved in the community, helping others in need through his charity work.
Gerry shares the importance of living everyday in appreciation and with an attitude of ‘taking the shot everyday’ at finding the blessings in life’s challenges.
In the wild and wicked world of boxing, Gerry Cooney is a rarity: a fighter who has enjoyed success in and out of the ring. As a world-class heavyweight, Cooney advanced to number-one contender. In 1982, he challenged Larry Holmes in one of the most anticipated title fights in history. As a businessman, Cooney has promoted championship boxing shows, owned shares of several minor league baseball teams, and founded F.I.S.T. (the Fighters’ Initiative for Support and Training), a non-profit organization which helped boxers make the transition from the ring to the real world by providing job readiness, training, and career assistance.
Cooney was born in New York City on August 24, 1956, and raised in Huntington, Long Island. His amateur boxing career was highlighted by a pair of New York Golden Gloves titles and an invitation to the 1976 Olympic Trials. His overall amateur record was 55-3. Standing 6’6” and scaling 225 pounds, Cooney turned professional in 1977. He won his first 25 bouts, including knockout victories over former world champion Ken Norton and perennial contenders Ron Lyle and Jimmy Young. On June 11, 1982, before a crowd of 32,000 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Cooney faced the unbeaten WBC World Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes in a title fight of such magnitude that it was hyped on the cover of “Time”. Cooney fought valiantly before suffering defeat in round 13. The bout drew a then-record gate of $7.29 million.
Cooney went on to engage in high-profile bouts vs. Michael Spinks and George Foreman. He retired in 1990, having compiled a pro mark of 28-3 with 24 knockouts and was ranked 53rd on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. Cooney has maintained close ties to boxing. From 1988 to 1992, he served as president of Gentleman Gerry Productions, promoting bouts involving ring legends Roberto Duran, Hector Camacho, and Foreman.
Today, Gerry lends his support to various charities and is often sought out to tell his story. He is a vocal advocate speaking out against drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence. On Monday and Friday nights, he co-hosts a boxing radio show “Friday Night at the Fights” on Sirius radio. In his free time Gerry enjoys golf and teaches boxing. Cooney resides in New Jersey with his wife, Jennifer. They have 3 children.