Nate Tubbs Interview: On Corrie Sanders, Nelson Mandela, Pistorius, and More
By Robert Brizel, Real Combat Media Correspondent
In a Real Combat Media international exclusive, former heavyweight contender Nate Tubbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, one of only two American heavyweights to have won big fights in South Africa, spoke out of his experiences there, and his views of the current situation involving athletes and violence.
Nate Tubbs had a son murdered in Cincinnati, so he is well versed with the violence of the streets. His older brother, former WBA heavyweight champion Tony ‘TNT’ Tubbs, has been in and out of prison in recent years for drug convictions involving cocaine addiction, and failure to pay children support for some of his 16 children.
Nate Tubbs, now 48, had a professional ring record of 18-4 with 14 knockouts between 1987 and 2005. In May 1992, Nate Tubbs knocked out future WBO World Heavyweight champion 23-0 Corrie Sanders in the second round at the Sun International Carousel Casino in Hammanskraal, Gauteng, South Africa. Tubbs upset win was the biggest in South African boxing in 30 years, along with WBA World Heavyweight champion Mike Weaver’s thirteenth round knockout of Gerrie Coetzee to retain his title in Sun City, South Africa, in October 1981.
Corrie Sanders versus Nate Tubbs Heavyweight Bout, May 21, 1994 on YouTube
Nate Tubbs: “In 1994 I went to South Africa to fight Corrie Sanders. The bout was held at the Sun International Carousel Resort . After our flight arrived, my group was taken to downtown Johannesburg in a van, where we got different transportation to the result. I trained for 10 days at Sun International before the fight. The South Africans had sparring partners, provided equipment and everything for us. I was treated good over there.”
Real Combat Media: “How did you wind up at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration?”
Nate Tubbs: “My training camp went with me to watch Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as President of South Africa in Pretoria. It was the greatest moment of my career, to see the first black president (of South Africa). We squeezed our way into the crowd, but we could see. We were a ways back (from the presidential dais), but it was being in an atmosphere so great. A lot of whooping and hollering going on, but the South African people were well behaved where we were.”
Real Combat Media: “But that was the only time you left the resort?”
Nate Tubbs: “Yes. When we first arrived, we were transported to Johannesburg. Somebody from promoter Cedric Kushner’s team picked us up at the airport with a van. Later, when we walked with guards on the streets of Johannesburg, I saw a lot of violence. We walked with guards to our destination downtown. I saw violence in the alleys. The guards told us to keep moving till we got to where we were going. I looked around at the chaos around us. The guards told us to walk fast and keep moving. At the time, the television stations in south Africa were broadcasting all of the violence and killings on the street, so I didn’t want to leave the sun International Resort and do any sightseeing. I was still training for the Corrie Sanders fight. We just went to Nelson Mandela’s inaugural.”
Real Combat Media “What did people at the resort think of you fighting Corrie Sanders?”
Nate Tubbs: “When I told everyone (at the resort) I was going to fight Corrie Sanders, they thought I was going to lose. They thought Corrie Sanders was god over there.”
Real Combat Media: “Your weigh-in with Corrie Sanders was at the resort?”
Nate Tubbs “Yes. The weigh-in was held at the resort. We seen each other, but we didn’t say anything to each other. We went to the news reporters and gave our statements. I said I was going to knock him out in three rounds. He had guys (spies) from his camp sparring with me, they beat me up for three or four days, and reported back to Sanders that he was going to knock me out in two rounds. Sanders believed these reports. I was initially tired due to the time (zone) change. I was awake when the South Africans were asleep. For the first five days, I was tired from the time change.”
Real Combat Media: “And then?”
Nate Tubbs: “The last two days of sparring I knocked everybody out. This got back to promoter Cedric Kushner, who gave me a five fight promotional contract to sign at the weigh-in with no protections, because he never thought I was going to win. We renegotiated the contract after eight or nine months and he gave me more money, because he had me sign a contract he could not fulfill as promoter.”
Real Combat Media: “Why couldn’t Cedric Kushner honor your contract?”
Nate Tubbs: “Because after I knocked out Corrie Sanders, nobody would fight me! Eventually Kushner got me some fights, and fulfilled the contract. Sanders never asked me for a rematch at the time. I’d have given him one, and knocked him out again!”
Real Combat Media: “Talk about your bout with Corrie Sanders at Carousel Casino.”
Nate Tubbs: ” The event was sold out. A lot of people, television cameras, everything. A full fight card. We just fought the main event.”
Real Combat Media: “What happened after you knocked Sanders out?”
Nate Tubbs: “We shook hands and hugged. I talked to him a little bit in the ring after I knocked him out. That was it. I flew home to the United States the next day.”
Real Combat Media: “What did you eat to prepare for the Sanders bout?”
Nate Tubbs: “In the resort restaurant where I ate my meals, black girls kept coming up to me and saying I must win for my people. That inspired me. There was a white chef who was nice to me, telling me Corrie Sanders had never been beaten, and I had to eat what he called ‘the fighter’s meal’ which he fed me. It was the first time I ever ate shrimp. The chef fixed me up with shrimp and rice. He gave me jumbo shrimp. So I ate that every day, the first time in my life I had ever eaten shrimp.”
Real Combat Media: “Would you go back to South Africa to fight Francois Botha?”
Nate Tubbs: “I tried to fight Botha over there. I told his matchmaking agent I would take the fight, but the match never materialized. The money has to be right for me to go to South Africa now. I’m 48 years old. Botha just fought (in New Zealand). Botha is 44 years old. If they give me enough time to be ready for him, I’ll be ready for him. If the money’s right, I’ll fight Botha. I believe I can beat him. I’m not that interested in fighting anyone. I would love to go to South Africa and promote a boxing show.”
Reader’s Note: Francois Botha is fighting a rematch in South Africa with Sonny Bill Williams in December 2013, with strict drug testing controls to be put into place.
Real Combat Media: “Let’s talk instead about what you know about the death of Corrie Sanders, shielding his daughter from gunfire during a robbery at a party they were at on September 23, 2012.”
Nate Tubbs: “Corrie Sanders was an honorable man. He didn’t do anything other than what an honorable man would do. He died protecting his child. I last saw him before his fight with Dr. Vitali Klitschko at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in April 2004. I flew in for the fight and went to the press conference. Corrie saw me out in the crowd, and came over and shoot hands. We discussed the bout with Vitali (for the world heavyweight title), we talked about boxing. I told him if he beat Vitali Klitschko, I would give him a rematch. I thought Vitali, the older Klitschko, fought Corrie a lot smarter than his brother Wladimir. I always Wladimir had better potential and better skills. But Vitali used his height, reach and foot movement to outbox Sanders. Corrie really could not get inside on Vitali.”
Real Combat Media: “It is now 2013, and apparently South Africa is still very violent and people are afraid.”
Nate Tubbs: “The Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius (The Blade Runner) is Caucasian. He presumed he had an intruder in his apartment at night, a case of mistaken identity. He shot his girlfriend to death through the bathroom door on Valentine’s Day and got charged with premeditated murder. With Oscar Pistorius, I’m looking at what the real deal is, I’m looking at what position he and Reeva Steencamp were in terms of their relationship, without knowing for sure the terms of their relationship and whether there was any trouble.”
Reader’s Note: Oscar Pistorius was released on bail after surrendering his passport.
Nate Tubbs: “Then lead detective Hilton Botha was charged with seven counts of murder when he and two police officers fired at a minibus they were trying to stop. That incident happened in October 2011. Now Detective Botha is off the Pistorius case. First he gave testimony against Pistorius, then murder charges were reinstated against him, the lead detective of the prosecution. I’m surprised detective Botha is still on the force. I don’t think there should be a mistrial declared against Pistorius, though. If Oscar Pistorius is guilty, he’s guilty. Nobody knows what happened besides him and her (the dead girl).”
Real Combat Media: “Nate Tubbs, you fought in South Africa. You witnessed the birth of a new nation. By your own account, you witnessed violence and lawlessness when apartheid fell in South Africa. You yourself were gripped by fear when you went to South Africa to fight 19 years ago, and it was not fear of your opponent. You experienced the climate of fear of a lawless society.”
Nate Tubbs: ” Does an individual feel the grip of a climate of fear? It’s hard to say. All I know about the Oscar Pistorius case comes from what I see on television.. He (Oscar) and his girlfriend (Reeva) had some problems. Oscar got up on one side of the bed (on his leg stumps) , then went to the other side of the bed and got his gun on the other side. The girl was not there, and sleeps on the other side of the bed. I don’t know if he had a bed lamp or not. But why would you assume there’s an intruder when your girlfriend’s with you, and she’s not in the bed? Wouldn’t you feel the bed to check it, even if the room was dark? She could be in the bathroom. Wouldn’t you ask ‘are you in there?’ There’s a whole lot of questions there to be answered.”
Real Combat Media: “Thanks for your sharing with readers your experiences in South Africa, and your take on the current events gripping South Africa now. You have promoted a number of boxing shows in Indiana the last few years. Would you care to share with readers your future plans as a boxing promoter?”
Nate Tubbs: “The Rising Sun Casino in Indiana where I promoted my boxing shows did not renew my contact. My next boxing show in 2013 will be held later this year at either a new casino in Ohio, or at Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Convention Center.”