The former WBA World Heavyweight Champ James “Bonecrusher” Smith spoke at the Dillon High School Auditorium on Tuesday, February 28, before an enthusiastic crowd of students, teachers, coaches, and others.
Smith was born in Magnolia, North Carolina.
When Smith was only 6 years old, he did not like school. In fact, his parents had to make him attend. But, later he learned to like school, graduated high school, and then college. While at school, the 6-ft, 4-inch Smith played basketball but not football as his parents were afraid that he may be hurt playing football. Imagine that…and he became heavyweight boxing champ!
After serving in the U.S. military and working as a prison guard, Smith competed as an amateur and compiled a 35-4 record before turning professional in November, 1981. He competed from 1981 to 1999.
He held the WBA Heavyweight Title from 1986 to 1987 after his win over Tim Witherspoon on December 12, 1986 in Madison Square Garden, New York. Smith is the first college graduate to become heavyweight champion of the world.
In 1987 he went 12 rounds (the only boxer to do so) with Mike Tyson. That fight was to unify the WBA and WBC crown.
When asked by one of the students in attendance “did Mike Tyson hit hard?” Smith replied “Yes, but so did I!”
During his professional career he had 62 fights of which he won 44. He fought boxers such as George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Frank Bruno, Larry Holmes, Joe Bugner, Michael Moorer, Muhammid Ali, Tim Witherspoon, and many others.
Smith became an ordained minister in 1996 and dedicated his life to helping young people stay clear of crime and drugs. Three years later he retired from boxing.
Smith now resides in Myrtle Beach, S.C. While speaking on Tuesday, February 28, he stressed the importance of school, honoring one’s word, and much more including “if one wants something and is willing to work for it, one will be successful”. Apply one’s self and achieve your goals.
Photos by Johnnie Daniels-The Dillon Herald