Dr. Mickey Demos is having the time of his life — in fact, several lives. He was successful as a boxer, a doctor, a lawyer, and an author. He was an outstanding boxer in college and was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1980. Now 84 years old, he lives with his wife in Mani, Greece. He was interviewed for Intercollegiate Boxing.
RIP Mickey Demos: September 9, 1930 – January 20, 2015
You had a lot of success as boxer.
Before I boxed at the University of Miami, I boxed in the Golden Gloves. The photo is of me (on the left) in 1947 when I was 17 and boxing in the finals of the Florida Golden Gloves Tournament.
At the University of Miami I fought in two NCAA championships. I advanced to the title round when I was a senior and lost by a split decision. In college, unlike the Golden Gloves, we wore protective headgear. That’s the reason I still have all my marbles!
Your son, Mickey Demos, Jr., was also drawn to boxing.
Mickey, Jr. had 39 bouts and won the State of Florida Junior Olympic Boxing Championship 3 years in a row. He quit boxing at age 16, at my insistence. With his experience he couldn’t be classified as a novice any more. He would have had to compete in the open class. I didn’t want him to take a chance getting hurt, so I insisted he retire from boxing. It was time for him to concentrate on his studies and prepare for college.
But “Little” Mickey had one last bout. One night we attended a boxing show together as spectators. Without my knowledge he disappeared, and to my surprise, later appeared in the ring. His opponent was Steve, an 18-year-old open division Miami Golden Gloves champion. Even though the promoter knew it was against AAU rules for an experienced open boxer to compete against a juvenile, he couldn’t resist setting up the match. Mickey won the bout by a unanimous decision, almost stopping him with a left hook to the body for a nine count.
That was the last bout for each of them as amateurs. Steve turned pro, and Mickey became a professional boxing coach. Mickey couldn’t stay out of the gym and still stays in top shape.
When Mickey was 16, he began a job coaching boxing at the City of Miami gym. He taught boys and adults, including police officers and lawyers. He has continued teaching and coaching boxing to amateurs and professionals. He has a college degree in finance, and is a lawyer and a member of the Florida Bar, but he prefers coaching boxing as his life’s work. I wasn’t surprised when he was selected 2009 Miami Personal Trainer of the Year. This is what he loves to do, and he does it well.
What has been your involvement with the US Olympic Team?
I was the International Olympic Boxing Chairman for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and the 1980 Olympics in Russia. But, because of the US boycott and at President Carter’s request, I did not attend. I set up the medical program there, as well as for the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles, which I did attend.
Mandatory use of headgear was required for the first time at these Olympics. There was much resistance. Even though all countries were told explicitly about the new rule, many still threatened to pull out until the last minute — but they didn’t.
Were you involved with other boxing organizations?
I was involved as the Medical Chairman of the AAU for years and worked closely with the Golden Gloves organization to install the new safety rules. In addition to the headgear requirement, these rules included: a standing 8 count; putting the mouthpiece back into the boxer’s mouth when it fell on the canvas; physical examinations of the boxers before the bout; careful observation at ringside and examination of each boxer after each bout.
We tried to make the sport of amateur boxing as safe as we could. There was a movement to ban boxing from the Olympics, because it was too dangerous. Now I hear they are thinking of doing away with the headgear requirement for the next Olympics. I fail to see the reasoning in that!
What do you think of the state of amateur and college boxing?
College boxing has the headgear rule and that rule will remain. That’s why college boxing will survive. It was men like Rolly Schwartz, Colonel Donald Hull, and the Chairman Robert Surkein who did the lion’s share of instilling the new amateur and Olympic safety rules that have kept this honorable sport from going extinct. I am sure that the thought of eliminating the headgear in the next Olympics has them turning over in their graves
What are your thoughts about professional boxing?
I hate it!
You are also a published author.
I’m passionate about my Greek roots and the history of the geographical and cultural region of Greece known as Mani. I’m proud of my latest book, which was published this year: All about Mani and The Greek Crisis.
Thank you, Dr. Demos.