Q&A: Bernstein’s 30 years of boxing coverage
Hall of Fame sportscaster Al Bernstein once fell asleep during a live broadcast, was pelted by a large piece of debris following a controversial fight in Puerto Rico, and foiled separate interviews with Marvelous Marvin Hagler in the wake of two of the former middleweight champion’s greates victories — his unanimous decision over Roberto Duran and his 11th-round knockout of John “The Beast” Mugabi.
But no one points that out better than the 62-year-old Showtime boxing commentator in his book “30 Years, 30 Undeniable Truths About Boxing, Sports and TV,” copies of which Bernstein will be signing March 9 at the Luxor hotel and casino in Las Vegas from noon-to-3 p.m.
Bertein spilled the beans about how he once implied on the air that Hagler lost to Duran, and later, ended a post-fight interview with the Brockton, Mass., fighter without recognizing his reference to retirement after the Mugabi bout.
However, while Bernstein humanizes himself through his willingness to poke fun at his own gaffes, he also illustrates the difficulty of his craft while recounting other stories about his travels for work in boxing and other sports.
Bernstein’s book signing will to take place at the Boxing Hall Of Fame that is located within Score, the Interactive Sports Exhibit at the venue. All purchasers of Bernstein’s book will also receive a free DVD “Al Bernstein’s Favorite All-Time Greatest Knockouts,” which will include those of Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and others.
Published by Diversion Books, copies are also available at http://j.mp/albernstein and www.Amazon.com.http://www.amazon.com./
RingTV.com: What did you want to accomplish with this book?
Al Bernstein: I wanted to walk the line of being conversational. I wanted to walk the line, and I think I did, chronicling the people and the things that I’ve seen.
Because of the nature of what I’ve done, there have also been some personal things that I also thought would be of interest to people.
RTV: Do you feel that the book comes off as more of a conversation between yourself and the reader?
AB: I do. That’s what I meant it to be. I didn’t really fill it up with a ton of personal things about me but I put in some things that were fun to put in. It was basically meant to be a chance to show what I’ve seen.
I’ve had kind of a unique seat over the years, in both sports television and boxing television. I wanted to take that seat that I was fortunate to be afforded and use it to tell people some fun things that they might not know about.
RTV: How much did the two situations with Marvin Hagler bother you?
AB: It’s a funny thing, and that’s why I used them for humor, I guess. Listen, I wrote that chapter and the chapter that talks about all of the funny things and the gaffes because some things you create and others are thrown upon you. Live television is a fascinating entity and I threw that in for a variety of reasons.
One, I could hardly write that chapter without tossing in my own faux pas, since I talked about some others. I think that it’s instructive, because I survived.
Fortunately, I have not made extra problems for myself. I’m not one of those people. It’s dangerous enough being a sportscaster doing live television.
You’re living on the edge every second. But when you have the attitude where you’re going to say things that may be a problem or are on the brink of potentially bad taste, then you’re adding to your woes.
I’ve never done that. I’ve never been a guy that added to my problems, at least in that regard. But those stories about Hagler are an indication.
I’m a pretty responsible sportscaster, and I’m a pretty prepared sportscaster. But, it just shows you that you can still have moments, and important moments, where things don’t go your way.
RTV: Like with the Hagler situations?
AB: Well, the first thing with Hagler, the Duran thing, I guess that I had that fight in my brain that because the judges had their fight so close, he allowed it to be close.
So a “loss” sort of worked itself into my brain, even though I knew that it wasn’t so. It’s remarkable how few people have brought that up to me and many people have watched that broadcast.
I don’t know if that part of it is even on Youtube, but I’ll have to look it up and see. At any rate, very few people have brought that up to me. So, it was interesting. Once in a while people will.
RTV: What about the other one, regarding his potential retirement?
AB: Well, the other one, it wasn’t really something I created. The producer was talking to me, although I can’t really blame him.
But it was one of those situations where I just didn’t hear Hagler. That was also a beauty. But I put those in because I think that it’s instructive.
For the most part, I’m a prepared guy and I’ve lasted 30 years doing what I’m doing. Yet, it shows you that you can have those moments.
I think, also, in addition to hopefully giving people some laughs, I can point out that, you know what? When you’re doing a live broadcast almost anyone is subject to something like that happening.
Photos / BoxingChannel.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]