Danny Green Interview: Mano-a-Mano

It's Not Easy Being Green...


"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail." (Confucius)


Danny Green is no stranger to defeat. But through a decade of plying his trade in the loneliest and most unforgiving sporting arena, the unassuming Western Australian has forged himself an indelible place in the annals of Aussie sporting history, not only for his dominance against some of the biggest names in world boxing, but perhaps even more so for his forthright grace and humility when fate has smiled less glowingly upon him.

green headgear

On the scale of threats to Green’s career- if not his life- perhaps his most daunting test came this year, not in the form of American Antonio Tarver, but a burst appendix requiring major surgery. The road to recovery has been a long and tedious one. A true champion, however, is down but never out, and the tenacious Cruiserweight Champion once again proved the doubters and sceptics wrong, clawing his way back to form from debilitating illness and putting his title on the line against fellow Jones Jr victor, Tarver.

The Green Machine has carved out a legacy far more substantial than a multitude of titles and silverware- not that 31 wins from 35 starts are figures to be taken lightly. No, the Green brand has become synonymous with more substantial qualities- laidback humility, nobility in victory or defeat, a straight-up attitude and an undercurrent of simmering determination. Qualities the average Aussie bloke respects and aspires to.

APOLLO caught up with boxing legend Danny Green to wax lyrical on overcoming adversity, the rise of MMA and the last of the V8 Interceptors…


APOLLO
Firstly, Danny, congratulations on all your successes and thanks for chatting to APOLLO. You had surgery earlier this year and there was a lot of talk about that in the media, how is your recovery coming along?

DG
I didn’t realise but my appendix had burst and I had been in a fair bit of pain to say the least, and then I actually didn’t do anything about it, I just thought it was a recurring problem I had for the last 7 years which has hospitalised me nine times. I thought it was that again, but it was a bit more serious, an abscess had formed around the burst appendix. It got worse and I spent 6 days in hospital and they took a scan that showed an abscess and fluid that was still in my pelvic region but they didn’t know what it was. They went in and found out my appendix had burst and this abscess had formed. They got it out and it was really painful, I didn’t eat for 8 days. I lost 11kg at one stage and I’ve slowly been putting that weight back on but it’s hard. It could have been worse though, I’m happy and back on the road to a full recovery.

APOLLO
Good to see you bouncing back, mate. Since you’ve come out of retirement you’ve been in pretty impressive form. What have been the highs and lows?

DG
My comeback fight was April 2009, I fought a South African guy and put him away in two rounds, that was a promising sign for me. Then I won the Cruiserweight World Title against Dominguez. That was obviously a big thrill, my third World Title in our weight division. I’m the 2nd Australian to have achieved that. It was a very exciting fight with a fairly tough bloke so it was a good scrap, and then to get a shot and actually beat a guy like Roy Jones Jr, who is an eight-time World Champion, a future Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest fighters of all time. I was a 5-to-1 underdog and so to be heavily involved in negations, to go and set it up along with the Green Machine and to get it out here to Australia was a huge thing for Australian sport. Noone really gave me a chance with their head but with their hearts there were a lot of people telling me I could do it, which was a great feeling. Against Roy Jones Jr you can understand why the pools didn’t really give me a chance, considering in the fight before in America, he absolutely destroyed Geoff Lacey, he made him look ridiculous. It was like the Roy Jones Jr of old had returned. It was crazy that he could fight like that, and that’s why noone really gave me a chance. They thought “Green’s in trouble here but we hope he wins”, so in one way it was hard because I didn’t really have people believing I had much of a chance in their heads, but with their hearts they were backing me, so it was nice. To blow him away in one round so devastatingly, it was crazy. It was the most amazing time of my life, apart from the births of my kids.

 

green train 1

The road back from major surgery has been a long and arduous test of Green's tenacity...

APOLLO
No doubt. It was an incredible moment.

DG
I guess there are highs and lows, and that was an all time high. The low point was obviously against Paul Briggs. That was a moment I won’t really look back on too much. Unfortunately it was out of my control, we can’t control what someone else does but unfortunately I agreed to the fight- he called for it and we agreed to it- and I guess I have myself to blame, but what went down was very, very disappointing and subsequently he was fined for his actions and I was cleared of anything. In one way it shows you who your true friends are and who sticks by you when you’re in a crisis. It cleared a lot of shit out of my life so it was good in one way, and then I guess to come back and defeat an undefeated fighter (BJ Flores)- I was very big, strong and hungry.

briggs 1

Stage-dive... Green's unabashed pledge to his fans to make amends in the wake of the Briggs farce epitomises the straight-shooting attitude that's earned him the respect of a nation.

APOLLO
Just along those lines, with your victory over BJ Flores, a boxer who has dabbled in MMA, it would be interesting to get your thoughts on UFC- do you think the rise of UFC poses a threat to boxing as a commercial enterprise?

DG
BJ Flores was a top 10 fighter- he’d been avoided by the World Champion because he was such a skilful and experienced fighter- a former 3 time heavyweight amateur and Golden Gloves Champion, he was one of the best fighters in the States so to defeat him was a big achievement.

MMA and boxing- they’re two totally different sports. I’m a stand-up combat fighter and I’ll fight any single person from the UFC- any time of day, all day, every day- stand up fighting, no problem at all. And I’d be confident of defeating every single one of them without a problem because I’ve been in the game and I’m a craftsman- I’ve been in the game for 20 years and I’m a professional and an expert at what I do, yet if I was to go to ground and fight a guy who was very skilled at that Jujitsu style, well obviously I’m going to struggle because it’s not what I do and not what I know, and they’re experts at that, so it’s horses for courses.

Yes, their sport is coming on but I guess my overall numbers speak for themselves. The biggest fight was myself and Mundine, the close second was myself and Jones Jr. The numbers that you’re seeing in Australia pale in comparison to the big US fights like Mayweather, I guess. But the UFC is definitely gaining momentum and I guess one factor is that they market their sport very, very well.

APOLLO
True. There was some talk a while ago about a possible fight with UFC giant Brock Lesnar, is there any truth behind that rumour?

DG
A journalist asked me a question, they said “Would you fight UFC- what do you think of a guy like Lesnar?” It was just an off-the-cuff question, but it went bananas. I said then, and I’ll say it again today- I might consider fighting Lesnar in a boxing fight, no problem. But I’m not overly stirred up to get in there under their rules with a guy who is an extremely skilled, gifted and successful wrestler, and a 250 pound monster to boot… he’d probably tear my limbs off if he had to. But in a boxing ring, he wouldn’t last a round with me, and people shouldn’t take it too seriously when that is said, because they’re different sports- I’m an expert at what I do, and he is an expert at what he does, but if we were to cross over and go into each other’s sports then we should get beaten by each other in our own chosen sports, because that’s what we do.

lesnar 2

Urban Myth... rumours of a possible Green - Lesnar match-up are unfounded

APOLLO
What are your strengths and weaknesses?

DG
I’ll start with my weaknesses. Get the negatives out the way. As human beings we all have weaknesses so probably my weakness is over-training and training too hard- wanting to make everything perfect, trying to be a perfectionist at everything. I pride myself on my work ethic and being a professional and doing everything right. Sometimes I’m a little too preoccupied with making sure that everything is perfect and making sure every single punch I throw is a perfect technique which doesn’t work, sometimes you got to let it all go, so I guess that could be a weakness, my mind ticks over a lot and I think about things too much and try and prepare myself mentally too much. My strength now is that I’ve learnt to relax more and enjoy it- my strength is also my technique and my honed eye and my God-given power. I’ve got heavy hands and I’ve got great technique and I’ve worked on that for 20 years, it hasn’t just come naturally- I’ve worked and worked and worked on it.

APOLLO
How do you prepare mentally for a fight?

DG
The longer I’ve gone in my career, the more relaxed I’ve become and the less I prepare for it. I know what I’m doing in there and I’ve been in the ring with hundreds and hundreds of different people either in fights or sparring, so I’m very comfortable in there. So now that I’m more experienced, I know I’m very comfortable. I’ve always been comfortable, it’s just a matter of mentally knowing that. In the ring I’m pretty comfortable and pretty relaxed and calm, so it’s just a matter of knowing and believing that. Mentally if you know you’ve done the work- if you’ve put the work in and you’re prepared properly, it’s a big advantage going into a fight no matter who you’re up against- whether it’s Roy Jones Jr or anyone else. The most relaxed I ever was in a fight was against the best fighter I’ve ever fought, one of the best fighters of all times, Roy Jones, because I’d meticulously studied him. My coach and I worked out a great plan and we prepared at training, and it was paying off in the gym and therefore there was no reason why it wouldn’t work in the ring… but on the night it all matters. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done- if it doesn’t come together on the night, if you don’t prepare mentally and you’re not relaxed, calm and confident in your preparation, then it won’t work. I’d done that and I was all smiles before the bell went because I knew that the greatest moment in my boxing career was about to come to fruition.

 

" I’ll put my hand up when I’m wrong, admit I fucked up... but if I’m right, I’ll stand my ground..."

APOLLO
It was an awesome fight. I don’t want to dwell on this issue too much, but I probably should ask the question on everyone’s lips- Green/Mundine Part 2… can we expect to see that anytime soon?

DG
It really had the potential to take place until he was knocked out by a reality TV contestant.

green mundine 3

Man Vs Machine 2... seems an unlikely prospect

APOLLO
So it’s off the cards?

DG
Who knows. A lot has happened since 2006- I’ve moved up two weight divisions, I’ve won World Titles and I guess I’ve gone from strength to strength and improved as a fighter and also put on 10kg. A lot has happened and a lot has changed, I guess he’s reluctant to ever fight me again- the one he pulled out of retirement and then ran the other way. He went down 2 weight divisions so he is reluctant to put his money where his mouth is and actually step up to the plate for the rematch. He knows we are ready to rumble anytime of the day and have been since the fight. He has proved he’s not confident. On the night he won the fight, no problem, but if it were to happen again… I think he’s reluctant because he probably sees the result rushing over and over again in his head.

APOLLO
I’m going to throw a curve ball at you. I’d like to get your thoughts on this comment- “Danny Green is arguably one of the most respected figures in Australian sport- perhaps it’s his modesty, his understated nature or that he’s a just regular guy made good through hard yakka and dedication”. What do you think it is about Danny Green that the guy on the street relates to?

DG
It’s very humbling and very nice to hear that. If that’s what people think, that’s a very nice thing to have said about you. It makes me very proud and determined and inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing and not change, and hopefully remain successful. I think people can identify with me cause I’m just a normal dude, a normal bloke- I’ll say g’day to anyone, have a beer with someone. I’m just a regular Aussie guy who’s down to earth and relaxed. That’s who I am, and I go about my life in a pretty quiet fashion. I love the Australian way of life, I love the beach, I love surfing, I love my family, love my mates, love the country, I love people in general. I’m no different to anyone else, that’s how I’ve been raised. My Dad has raised me to look someone in the eye when you shake their hand and be straight. I’m a straight guy who plays with a straight bat, calls a spade a spade. If it’s right it’s right, if it’s wrong it’s wrong. I’ll put my hand up when I’m wrong, admit I fucked up- and if I’m right I’ll stand my ground.

green straetch

Pride and power... the cornerstones of Green's success

APOLLO
I believe your weekend ride is a classic Ford XB- aka Mad Max's V8 Interceptor?

DG
My third child... ha ha. I have Ford XB with a 514 Big Block, it doesn’t get out as much as I’d like but it’s in pristine condition. I’ve had it fully modified, it’s been completely worked inside and out, and it’s fully custom. I can’t get the grin off my face just talking about it.

APOLLO
Sounds like a beast…

DG
Yeah, it’s black with a lot of chrome, it’s got 10” dishes in the back and it sounds like an aircraft carrier coming towards you. It goes as well as it looks and sounds as good as it goes. I pick my daughter up from school in it, she hangs her hand out the window. She sits in the front and my son sits in the back and he loves it. I’ll pass it on to my son when he’s old enough to appreciate it and drive it how it should be driven… obviously safely.

APOLLO
Do you ever take it out on the track and put it through its paces?

DG
It’s not really designed for a straight line, not really designed for the track. I’m a little bit tentative to take it and go as hard as it can in case I put it into a wall, mate. I would need a trailer-load of Kleenex tissues to stop me crying if I even scratched it. It lights up at the drop of a hat, mate.


"I’ve got heavy hands and I’ve got great technique and I’ve worked on that for 20 years, it hasn’t just come naturally- I’ve worked and worked and worked on it..."

APOLLO
Brutal. I understand you’re a keen surfer, what’s your favourite break?

DG
There’s a break about 6.5 hours north of Perth, it’s pretty heavy but it’s an awesome wave and it’s one of my favourite places, that and Yallingup down south where I grew up surfing- they are my two favourite places in the world. I told my wife that’s where I want to have my ashes sprinkled.


APOLLO
You’ve got a reputation for being a family man- how important is the balance between training and family life?

DG
It’s hard because I have to go away a fair bit. I’ll go on a training camp and isolate myself from my family, because this is a tough sport. It’s hard on my wife and kids who sacrifice the same as I do, because my kids sometimes are away from their dad for a bit. I’m pretty hands-on as a dad, I changed my daughter and sons nappies all the way through, so I’ve always been hands-on. I guess you want to raise them and guide them to be the best they can be. I’m not fussed what my kids do as long as they’re happy and healthy and they’re good decent people who look after their friends and family, and protect whoever they’re around. If they’re happy, I’m happy. I don’t pressure them to being anything. I try and instil strong moral values and make sure they’re happy. As a dad that’s all you can ask for, and I love my kids more than anything.

APOLLO
And just finally- what will be the Danny Green legacy when you finally hang up the gloves?

DG
I really would like my legacy to be that people remember me for being a very honest guy, a hard fighter in the ring, and a bloke they could go up to and say “how are you, mate?” Not a bloke that is unapproachable, a bloke that leaves them with good memories. A bloke that was a decent fella. A good hard fighter in the ring who never took a backward step.

 

Thanks for chatting to APOLLO, Danny, and good luck for the future!

 

Images - Green Machine Boxing/Adam Taylor; UFC

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