A talk with Steve Farhood


Amicable, knowledgeable and always accessible, Steve is living the life, as a journalist for Ring Magazine and Shobox Commentator. Here are his thoughts about everything from boxing to polka.

brianadams_stevefarhoodBrian Adams with Steve Farhood.

Jill: How would you define your role in the boxing community?

Steve: I’m first and foremost a journalist, which means my role is to inform, report, critique, and entertain. I’ll leave it to others to make policy, administrate, and negotiate. I feel no need to be king.

Jill: Are you involved in other enterprises?

Steve: My career for 30 years has been in boxing journalism. I feel lucky that I’ve always been challenged, and working in a variety of roles has kept things fresh. I’ve never been bored. I have many non-boxing related interests, but professionally, the only other job I have is columnist for a poker magazine.

Jill: Do you love boxing or is it just a business?

Steve: I absolutely love boxing and virtually everything about it. The best thing about being a journalist is that I have the access to be an insider without the exposure (financial or emotional) that could create problems or uncomfortable moments. Sometimes boxing is just a business, but for me, it’s just a big part of my life, 24/7.

Jill: Tell me about your journey to the ring?

Steve: Upon graduating from NYU in 1978, I applied for newspaper jobs and was rejected at every turn. I was lucky to apply for a job as a copy editor for a publishing company (London Publishing) that put out boxing and wrestling magazines. I worked there for 19 years, creating KO magazine and in 1989, becoming editor of The Ring magazine.

Jill: Who are the people who’ve inspired you the most?

Steve: As a writer, I was inspired by Pete Hamill, who is the ultimate New Yorker, and Larry Merchant, who wrote a fantastic sports column for the New York Post. Hemingway and Faulkner, too, of course. And my boss at London Publishing, Stanley Weston, was influential as well.

Jill: Is there anyone, perhaps a lesser known sports figure that you think will be a future sensation?

Steve: Michael Phelps a side, the role of dominant American heavyweight is open. If the right boxer comes along, he could be huge–and he could help regenerate the sport here in the /st1:co}ntry-reGion>. I just wiSh I knew who he was so I could buy stock in him early in the game.

Jill: What are your feelings about women’s boxing?

Steve: I am a supporter of women’s boxing. I love women athletes in general, and if a man can bleed and fight and dream, why should a woman be denied the same opportunities? With that said, I find the pool of talent in the women’s game depressingly shallow. If women’s boxing is included in the Olympics, that might begin to change.

Jill: Family — how do they figure into your schedule?

Steve: I have been married to a very understanding woman for 20 years. She’s a physical education teacher in the New York City school system, and she’s in way better shape than me. We have no children. I’m lucky to be surrounded by twin sisters and their children, and traveling allows me to see by brother, who lives in Southern California.

Jill: There are many who appreciate what you do. What would you say to your detractors?

Steve: Writing and analyzing on television isn’t a popularity contest. There’s a lot of subjectivity involved, so I have developed relatively thick skin. In fact, when I was editing the magazines, I saved all the critical letters and trashed all the complimentary ones. At one point, I had letters accusing me of being anti-white, anti-black, and anti-Semetic (and at the same time I was being honored by B’Nai Brith!). I am what I am and I’ve never tried to be anything else. If you’re looking for a screamer or a controversial commentator, I’m probably not your guy.

Jill: What could be done to make Boxing more popular? Steve: 11) Boxing is the only sport that takes its biggest events and makes sure they’re watched by the fewest people. It wasn’t that long ago that the fights of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvin Hagler were on free TV. That’s the way you build cross-over stars.

Steve: A lot could be done to make boxing more popular because it is so wonderful to watch. The powers-that-be have no sense of the long-term welfare of the sport. As a result, marketing of the sport is virtually non-existant. One quick fix: Get boxing back on free, commercial network TV. Another: Get back to one champ per division.

Jill: Unlike other sports, in boxing, the bigger the event the less people see it, do you agree? If so, can this be remedied?

Steve: Boxing is the only sport that takes its biggest events and makes sure they’re watched by the fewest people. It wasn’t that long ago that the fights of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvin Hagler were on free TV. That’s the way you build cross-over stars.

Jill: Do you think we should have a National Commission for oversee the sport? Steve: I am very definitely in favor of a national commission–as long as it’s not a federal commission. The government screws up everything it touches. Just look at the cronyism in the various state athletic commissions.

steve farhood

Steve Farhood, at work

Jill: Share a story that you think we’d enjoy.

Steve: A quick story comes to mind: In the early-’90s, I testified on behalf of the federal government and the FBI in the RICO trial against the IBF. I testified 11 hours in total, and while I was discussing the undeserved alphabet ranking of some Colombian flyweight, I looked at the jury box and saw three of the jurors fast asleep.

Jill: Golden Boy – Promoter? Ring Magazine? USA Boxing? Any conflicts here?

Steve: Golden Boy is a force that’s not going away. Having a promoter owning the biggest and most influential magazine in the sport is a bad conflict, but conflicts of interest ain’t what they used to be. They’re rampant everywhere, and in every industry, and we have to work around them. I’ve been guilty on more than one occasion myself.

Jill: How would you like to be remembered?

Steve: I would like to be remembered as the greatest writer of my time, a devastatingly handsome and urbane man who was slefless and genrous. But I guess I’ll settle for less.

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