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Exclusive Interview: Peter Buckley talks to Ring News 24 about his amazing career, his life and what lies ahead for the legendary journeyman

Ringnews24.com: How did you get into boxing?

Peter Buckley: Well, I got into a lot of trouble when I was younger. A boxer near where I lived called Rocky Lawlor kept saying to me I should go down the gym so in the end I went down there. It just took off from there really. To be honest I thought I’d only have a few fights. I never thought I’d have 300.

Ringnews24.com: Did you have much of an amateur career?

Peter Buckley: I started boxing as an amateur at 11. I had 54 fights and lost 4 of them. I was a good amateur. I won the Midlands title 4 years on the trot. I lost my second fight by majority decision against a kid who had had about 10 fights and had won them all and I was giving away about a stone in weight which you couldn’t do nowadays. His name was Lee Williams. I got to the semi finals of the ABCs one year where I lost to Nigel Wenton. I also lost to a Welsh kid. My last amateur fight was against Mark Tibbs in the ABC finals when I was 15.

Ringnews24.com: Most people would call you a ‘journeyman’. Is that term disrespectful or is it the same term fighters like you refer to themselves?

Peter Buckley: I’d call myself a journeyman but I’d say I’m one of the better ones. The term ‘journeyman’ is respectful in my opinion. It’s somebody who knows the game, is willing to travel and accepts all challenges.

Ringnews24.com: You fought 300 times and a total of 1688 rounds in a 19 year career. That’s an astonishing amount even by the standards set by legends decades ago. What made you keep fighting?

Peter Buckley: I just love boxing. I was fighting every week more or less. I never turned a fight down. I injured my shoulder in a fight so I probably should have had a good rest really but I didn’t bother so in a lot of my fights I actually fought with one arm for a lot of my career. I used to have a lot of physio on it which didn’t really work. The last few years I started having acupuncture on my shoulder and that seemed to cure the problem. I just loved boxing really.

Ringnews24.com: You’re arguably Europe’s greatest journeyman and one of the World’s best too. What would you say are the key attributes needed to become a successful journeyman?

Peter Buckley: You have to realise you’ll be fighting in the away corner in every fight and know that you won’t get any close decisions. You just know that from the start. If you’re fighting a home kid and you give him a tough fight and arguably win the fight, the judges and ref don’t think you won. In their minds they just think that kid had a bad night. I mean it’s like they think journeymen are so used to losing they don’t mind another loss. It’s wrong but it happens that way. You just have to take it on the chin. Sometimes after I lost a decision that I knew I’d won, I’d be well angry and swearing but then I’d think ‘what’s the point?’ because nothing would change. I’d never be disrespectful to a referee though as I’d be back in the ring with them a week later.

Ringnews24.com: You were only ever stopped 10 times in 256 losses. Your chin must be made of concrete. Do you have any secret as to how you managed to remain on your feet?

Peter Buckley: Well, out of those 10 stoppages I would say only 5 were genuine. The other stoppages weren’t genuine. I mean I fought a Mexican guy [Gregorio Medina] once when I shouldn’t have even been in the ring. Another time I went up to Scotland to fight Bradley Pryce for the second time. I got out of the car after 4 and a half hours, saw the doctor, weighed in. He was a lot heavier than me on the night, he hit me a few times, I went down, got back up, went down again. I boxed a geezer called Martin O’Malley in Ireland. That fight shouldn’t have been stopped and nor should my fight against Richard Evatt have been stopped. Naseem [Hamed] didn’t stop me genuinely either. The only fighters who genuinely stopped me were Duke McKenzie the first time we fought. That was also the first time I’d ever been stopped as an amateur or pro. The second time we fought though I had a shoulder injury and you can’t fight someone of Duke’s calibre with one arm. Colin McMillan stopped me genuinely. Acelino Freitas did too. I remember fighting him and he was huge! I was pulled out after 4 rounds.

Ringnews24.com: You did actually move your head a lot when you fought. You weren’t just a punch bag so to speak.

Peter Buckley: Yeah, I had a good defence. I had a cross arm defence which I picked up from watching a lot of the old greats. It’s a good defence because if someone’s hitting you on the glove you learn how to roll with the shots and I was always tucked behind my left shoulder. If my opponent threw a right hand and I was tucked behind my left shoulder, it’s actually difficult for the right hand to hit you flush. If you got a cross arm defence and someone’s hitting you with hooks and that, it’s actually a bit like someone hitting you on the pads, but just a bit harder. It worked because in 300 fights I never even had a cut eye. The only cut I ever had was on my nose and that was from a clash of heads.

Ringnews24.com: Do you think the fact you weren’t susceptible to being cut was one of the reasons you managed to fight so many bouts?

Peter Buckley: Yeah, without a doubt. The most I ever had really was a black eye. I could count on both hands how many times I had black eyes in my career.

Ringnews24.com: I once read that some boxers of yesteryear like Jack Dempsey would wash their faces in vinegar to keep it from cutting. Did you have any methods to keep your skin so rugged?

Peter Buckley: Nah, I didn’t do anything like that. The only thing I use vinegar on is my fish and chips! [Laughs]

Ringnews24.com: At which point in your career did you realise you probably weren’t going to win many bouts and had become a journeyman?

Peter Buckley: Well, for example, I remember I once went up to Scotland and fought the Scottish champion Jamie McBride. I absolutely gave the kid a boxing lesson. But the referee raised his hand at the end of the fight and had me losing by about 4 rounds. I remember thinking ‘you know what, I tried my hardest here and won and I didn’t even get the decision’. After that when I’d go fight in Scotland I wouldn’t really try very hard half the time. I fought Drew Docherty 3 times. I lost to him by half a point the first time I fought him in Birmingham then I went up to Scotland and fought him twice and lost by 3 or 4 points. I always gave opponents close fights. It was only after I’d had loads and loads of fights that sometimes I’d turn up to fights after being out the night before or whatever. Like sometimes I’d get fights offered to me in the morning of the fight.

Ringnews24.com: Did you used to get a lot of your fights at such short notice?

Peter Buckley: Yeah, loads of times I’d get a call in the morning saying there was a fight that night for me. I remember once I got the train at 7am to Scotland for a fight that night. It was meant to be a direct train but it turned out it wasn’t. It stopped at every single station all the way to Scotland. I’d had no signal on my phone all the way there, I got off the train, and a message came through on my phone that said ‘show cancelled’. So I’d had 10 hours of travelling for nothing. I had to get back on a train and go all the way back again. After that, any time they’d ask me if I wanted to fight in Scotland I’d say only if they flew me up there.

Ringnews24.com: Just one day notice? So, VERY short notice then?

Peter Buckley: Yeah, I’d say I’ve had 50 or 60 fights where I’ve been sitting at home and I’ve had a phone call saying there’s a fight for me. I’d ask ‘when, where, who, how much money?’, then I’d jump in the car, drive there, fight, get paid and come home again. I remember my car broke down once. I was under the bonnet trying to repair it myself. Anyway, next thing I know I get a phone call saying there’s a fight for me in Nottingham against Commonwealth champion Alex Moon. I said my car’s broken down. They said as long as I could get there in 2 hours the fight was there for me. So I phoned my brother, he drove down in his car, I drove his car to the fight, he stayed with my car until the AA came and I fought Alex Moon. He beat me over 6 rounds. Another time, Nobby phoned me up while I was eating my dinner to tell me there’s a fight for me in Dudley. He told me to get there in 45 minutes so I jumped in the car, drove there, fought and came home.

Ringnews24.com: Do you think journeymen always get a fair deal in the ring or do you think sometimes if a fight is close the win will be given to the opponent in order to keep his own record looking good?

Peter Buckley: Well, it’s a fact journeymen don’t get given close decisions. I lost so many fights on the old half point system. If you look at my record, I lost so many fights by something like 59 and a half points to 58 and a half. I’ll give you an example. I fought Donnie Hood up in Scotland. He was a good fighter. I schooled him, beat him up. The scorecards went against me. Even the Scottish crowd booed the decision. It wasn’t Donnie Hood’s fault though. He was just there to earn some money, the same as me. After that I ordered the video of the fight. Not to show anyone or anything like that, but just so I could watch it back myself. I paid for it but it never even arrived. It got lost in the post apparently, they said. Like I say I lost so many fights by half a point that I should have won. I’d say out of the 256 losses I had, I know for a fact I probably won up to a hundred of them. My record should probably be about half and half [wins/losses]. But what can you do? You have to just get on with it. It isn’t the end of the World.

Ringnews24.com: Did losing so many times ever dishearten you or make you want to give up?

Peter Buckley: It never made me want to give up because like I say, I could dispute a hundred of those decisions easily. I know in the boxing World I have a lot of respect from people who are knowledgeable about the sport of boxing. If THEY didn’t respect then I’d think I was doing something wrong. They’re the ones whose opinions I respect, not the average mug in the pub who doesn’t have a clue about boxing.

Ringnews24.com: You had some title success. You won two Midlands Area titles. Can you tell us about those wins?

Peter Buckley: Well, I won two Area titles at two different weights. I stopped Matthew Harris in the 6th round to win the super bantamweight title and I beat Brian Robb to win the super featherweight title via a 10 round points decision. Then I fought him again in a rematch a few months later and stopped him in the 10th round. The crowd were hostile to me that night so it was nice to silence the crowd.

Ringnews24.com: You were the first man to take Prince Naseem Hamed the distance. Could you tell even back then he would go on to be something special?

Peter Buckley: I knew Naz before he even turned pro because Brendan Ingle would bring him to a lot of the shows. I wasn’t scared to fight him or anything like that. To be honest, he was one of the easiest fights I ever had. Don’t get me wrong I knew he was going to be good. I think he knew he wasn’t going to be able to stop me and the second fight should never have been stopped. He was beating me but he didn’t hurt me once.

Ringnews24.com: Naseem Hamed wasn’t the only fighter you fought who would later go on to have World title success. You also fought Duke McKenzie, Barry Jones, Paul Ingle, Scott Harrison, Gavin Rees, Colin McMillan, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, Acelino Freitas, Salim Medjkoune and Johnny Bredahl. This isn’t taking into account the domestic champions you also fought. Who was your toughest opponent?

Peter Buckley: Duke McKenzie without a doubt! When I first fought him I’d never been stopped or anything. He then went on to win another 2 World titles. He was pure boxing class. He’s a proper nice geezer too. One of the nicest guys I’ve met in boxing actually.

Ringnews24.com: You fought from super bantamweight up to welterweight. You even gained or lost as much as 10lbs from one fight to the next. Did you find it easy to make weight?

Peter Buckley: When I boxed at super bantamweight I always got a bit of notice so I could make the weight. Other times I would just fight at my walking around weight. If they’d phone me on the day I’d fight at my walking around weight. I fought Gary Woolcombe who went on to win the British light middleweight title at a day’s notice.

Ringnews24.com: Are journeyman expected to make weight as stringently as other fighters are?

Peter Buckley: At the end of the day you’re doing them a favour. You say to them on the phone what weight you’re going to be coming in at and they either say yes or no. Most of the time they say yes because they don’t have anyone else anyway. If you take a fight at the last minute they can’t really complain if you’re a bit over the limit.

Ringnews24.com: If a boxing fan didn’t know who Peter Buckley was, which of your fights would you recommend they watch?

Peter Buckley: That would have to be the Matt Brown fight. I stopped him in the first round. He went on to fight for the British title twice.

Ringnews24.com: How did you get the nickname ‘professor’?

Peter Buckley: The Scottish M.C Craig Stephen said to me once ‘I’m going to announce you as The Professor’. I said ‘don’t be a prat giving me names like that’. But he said ‘you’re always teaching someone something’. I just let him do it in the end. I never used it personally. I always asked to just be introduced as Peter Buckley.

Ringnews24.com: Why do you think many fighters fail to stay retired and instead return to the ring?

Peter Buckley: I think they miss the buzz of getting in the ring. I officially retired after I’d have 292 fights. I thought that’s it now. I then went to watch my mate Tony win the British masters title up in Scotland. I was on the front table with a few people and they said they thought I’d had 300 fights. I said ‘nah, 292 and I’m not fighting anymore’ and they were like ‘wouldn’t it be good to have 300 fights and set a record?’. So I decided I might as well come back and round it off to 300. I mean nobody would remember 292 fights but they’ll remember 300.

Ringnews24.com: Once you retired, you remained retired. Were you ever tempted to return?

Peter Buckley: No way. Like I say, I’d already packed it in once and came back for a final few fights. It was a long journey. People ask me if I miss boxing. I don’t miss fighting but I love being involved in boxing. I love boxing, it’s a brilliant sport. I love going to shows, the atmosphere, working in the corner but I don’t miss fighting one bit.

Ringnews24.com: Bowing out of the ring with a win must have been a great feeling for you?

Peter Buckley: Yeah, it was good to bow out with a win after a run of losses.

Ringnews24.com: Are you concerned that the amount of fights you have had may affect your health later on in life?

Peter Buckley: No, I don’t worry. I’ve never had a problem in any of my scans. I had a M.R.I scan three days before my last fight and everything was fine. It was a nice feeling to know there was nothing wrong just as I was about to retire.

Ringnews24.com: Did you have a good relationship with your long time manager Nobby Nobbs?

Peter Buckley: I got a lot of respect for Nobby. I mean I’ve been in changing rooms in London and I’ve heard trainers say to their fighters ‘you gotta do this’ then the kid gets in the ring, gets stopped in a round and comes back to the changing room. Then the trainer would say ‘you should’ve done more running’. Nobby would be like ‘the kid could’ve done a marathon; he still wouldn’t have won that fight!’ Nobby told you how it was. Nobby would phone me up and say ‘I got a fight for you. It’s either gonna be hard or it’s gonna be easy. The hard one will be for more money or I got an easier one for you next week’. Half the time I’d take the hard one. Nobby would say I made it look easy. I’d say ‘well, I thought it was easy’. I got a lot of time for Nobby. I mean if it wasn’t for him I think I would’ve been in prison for a lot of my life because I was always in trouble when I was younger. He taught me a lot of values.

Ringnews24.com: Would you say boxing ‘saved’ you from a life of crime?

Peter Buckley: Yeah, I’d say so. I mean I spent a few years locked up because I was a bit of a tearaway when I was younger. I wasted a lot of years just going nowhere but Nobby straightened me out. Boxing did give me a purpose in life. It was the best decision I ever made. I mean I don’t care if people say I was the worst boxer ever or whatever. It doesn’t bother me. I went to places which I wouldn’t have gone to. I fought for a junior World title in Austria against an undefeated fighter [Harald Geier]. I held my own with him. I even floored him in the 9th round. He went on to fight for a World title and got knocked out in one round. I wouldn’t have got knocked out in one round!

Ringnews24.com: Do you have any involvement in boxing now?

Peter Buckley: Yeah, I’m a trainer. I’ve trained Sid Razak who’s a good journeyman. He’s been doing well.

Ringnews24.com: Ringnews24.com: Do you watch boxing nowadays? Who are your favourite fighters to watch?

Peter Buckley: My boxing idol growing up was Charlie Magri. Nowadays, I like Kell Brook, he’s good. I like Carl Frampton; he’s a good little fighter. Scott Quigg is good. Ricky Burns is a tough fighter too. He’s come up the hard way and had a few losses. He’s a nice guy too. I like a lot of the British fighters. Timothy Bradley is a good international boxer. Brandon Rios is good too. He beat John Murray who I fought earlier in his career. Murray’s a good fighter but Rios was just a bit too big for him really.

Ringnews24.com: Ringnews24.com: Have you ever thought about writing an auto-biography?

Peter Buckley: Yeah, I have actually. That might happen in the future. I’ve actually had some interest from America from some people who want to do a film about me.

Ringnews24.com: Can you give us any details about the film and will you have a role in its production?

Peter Buckley: I won’t be involved in the production. I’ve read the script and it’s really good. We’re just waiting on the finances for it right now really. It’s a big company called ‘State Street Pictures’ with a guy called George Tillman Jr. We’ve talked a lot about it so hopefully we can get the finances sorted and get it on the big screen. I can’t reveal too much.

Ringnews24.com: Is the film about a British boxer or about you specifically?

Peter Buckley: It’s about me. I spoke to a writer about my life and career for months telling my story in my own words. It’s a good script. I think it will be really good.

Ringnews24.com: Do you look back on your career with pride?

Peter Buckley: Yeah I do. I never turned down any fights, I fought everybody and at any notice. I fought some very good fighters. I never received a 10 count in my career and never got knocked out. To me, that’s mission accomplished.

Ringnews24.com: Do you have any regrets or would you do it all over again?

Peter Buckley: I’d do it all over again but what I would do differently is when I injured my arm badly; I would’ve rested for at least 6 months and got it sorted out properly. Like sometimes I’d be warming up in the changing room and I’d hear my shoulder pop a bit but I’d just ignore it and get in there. But apart from that I’d do it all the same again.

Ringnews24.com: Would you like to say anything to your fans?

Peter Buckley: Watch this space! Keep an eye out for the film and hopefully one day I’ll get round to writing a book.

Ringnews24.com: It’s been a pleasure talking to you Peter.