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Mike Weaver Interview Part III: Inside South Africa, Coetzee, Dokes, and More.

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

 

In part three in a series of interviews with former World Boxing Association World Heavyweight champion Mike ‘Hercules’ Weaver, we got inside South Africa, where Weaver defending his WBA title successfully by thirteenth round knockout against number one contender Gerrie Coetzee on October 25, 1980. The title defense took place at the Sun City Superbowl Arena in Sun City, Bophuthatswana, South Africa.

 

Robert Brizel: “Did you feel apartheid when you went into South Africa?”

 

Mike Weaver: “No, I never felt it (in South Africa).”

 

Robert Brizel: “Did you expect to get a world title win by 15 round decision there?”

 

Mike Weaver: “I never thought about it (that way). I went into South Africa to fight Gerrie Coetzee and knock him out. I never thought about it going to a decision.”

 

Robert Brizel: “After you won (the bout and knocked out Coetzee), did you see people celebrating in the streets?”

 

Mike Weaver: “We drove around, and met some guy who took us to (see) Soweto (town).”

 

Robert Brizel: “Is it true everyone who came to your fight in South Africa was white?”

 

Mike Weaver: “There were (some) blacks at the fight, some not, mainly because of the price of the tickets (to attend, not apartheid).”

 

Mike Weaver: “What did you hear happened after the fight?”

 

Mike Weaver: “In Bophuthatswana State (where we were), they were cheering everywhere (over my win, in celebration) for a few days.”

 

Robert Brizel: “Where did you go after your win in Sun City over Coetzee?”

 

Mike Weaver: “I stayed in South Africa for a week afterwards, just to meet with the people. I guess it meant a big thing to them (that I was a black world heavyweight champion and beat the white South African challenger in South Africa). I didn’t take it as black and white (my bout with Coetzee).”

 

Robert Brizel: “How did Gerrie Coetzee take the loss? Did you spend any time with him?”

 

Mike Weaver: “Coetzee wanted to be friends. The day after the bout, he came to my room and hung out with me for a while and was very friendly. Gerrie Coetzee is an okay guy.”

 

Robert Brizel: “Did anybody noteworthy tell you not to go to South Africa to defend your title, owing to the apartheid situation which existed in South Africa at the time of your bout?”

 

Mike Weaver: “Yes. The Reverend Jesse Jackson told me not to go there (South Africa) because of (the) apartheid (at that time). (I told him) I’m a fighter, not a politician. I had an opportunity to make some big money, so I did (I went to South Africa for a big payday).”

 

Robert Brizel: “Were you intimidated by the (white) South African majority at that time?”

 

Mike Weaver: “They told me I’m not going to win. Some thought the South Africans were paying 2.5 million dollars to try to buy the title. There’s racism over here (in the United States) too. (I said) I’m going over as an athlete, and not a politician. It’s a fight.”

 

Robert Brizel: “In your WBA world heavyweight title second bout with the late Michael ‘Dynamite’ Dokes, what did you do to fight a better fight than you did in the first fight?”

 

Mike Weaver: “I had to change my game plan to become a fast starter. I’m a slow starter, (so) I got into the habit of starting (my bout) with a faster pace like Dokes did. We suspected that (his rapid fast start style would occur again), and that’s what I did (in my second WBA world heavyweight championship bout with Dokes).  I like to believe I won (it was a 15 round draw, the last 15 round in a world heavyweight championship bout. All world heavyweight championship bouts were subsequently shortened to 12 rounds.).”

 

Robert Brizel: “Why do you believe you beat Michael Dokes in the rematch?”

 

Mike Weaver: “I thought I landed the harder punches (in the Dokes rematch). The judges didn’t see it that way at that. I thought they won the fight.”

 

Robert Brizel: You were a 15 round championship fighter, in your era.”

 

Mike Weaver: “A champion’s life is different for 12 round fighters. It’s three rounds less.”

 

Robert Brizel: “Is a 15 round fight more exciting?”

 

Mike Weaver: “I believe it is. After the tenth round, you really have to dig in, and I believe it’s more exciting to fight for 15 rounds!”

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Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert is the Head Boxing Correspondent for Real Combat Media Boxing since 2013. Robert is also a photographer and ringside reporter for the RCM Tri State region which includes NJ, NY and PA. Robert conducts exclusive interviews, provides historical boxing articles and provides editorial ringside coverage of major boxing events. You can contact or follow Robert on Facebook and by email at robertbrizel@realcombatmedia.com.