Danny McDermott, aka “Little Mac” is a world champion boxer, who in 2014 won the WBU Light Welterweight world championship in the Philippines. He defeated Ronnell Esparras to become the first North Bergen, New Jersey, native to win a title since James J. Braddock in 1935. McDermott’s victory made him the first American to win a world title in the Philippines.
Before becoming world champion, McDermott won in New York and New Jersey Golden Glove competitions. He also won the bronze medal for the USA Boxing Team in 2004 representing New Jersey in international competition at the Aponte Games in Caguas, Puerto Rico before turning pro.
His boxing career took him all over the world, facing such fighters as Italian lightweight champion Floriano Pagliara, who he knocked out in two rounds. McDermott served as chief sparring partner to Arturo Gatti when Gatti got ready for Leonard Dorin, Jesse James Leija, Floyd Mayweather and Carlos Baldomier. Gatti was McDemott’s mentor. McDermott was chief sparring partner for Junior Jones when he won his world title fight against Marco Antonio Barrera. McDermott sparred world champions Bones Adams, Gerry Penolosa, Paul Malignaggi, Yuri Foreman, Ivan Robinson, Vivian Harris and Macho Camacho to name a few.
McDermott is a humble man who knows the value of hard work and faith. In this exclusive interview, I sat down with him to get a current sense of the sport of boxing, his experience teaching fighters and how learning boxing can help officers become more effective and safer.
McDermott teaches aspiring boxers, enthusiasts and officers. He runs the “Little Mac Boxing” to help people get their bodies into fighting shape to take on anything they want to achieve in life. He still competes in the professional boxing circuit and is preparing for a fight in Atlantic City at the Claridge Hotel. Blue Magazine is rooting for his success!
Why is boxing an important sport for law enforcement officers?
Danny McDermott: I believe boxing or any form of martial art really, is important for law enforcement officers to know. There are many times officers will be presented with a physical altercation on the job where they need to subdue a perp physically. If a guy is resisting and he becomes physically violent but has no weapon in hand, the easy thing to do is take out your gun and shoot him or these days you use a Taser. The way things are in this country nowadays the laws are in place to help the criminal, not the officers. You shoot your gun, you’re in trouble. You get hit with a suspension, years of ongoing litigation, and you become a poster boy for police brutality. You are publicly embarrassed and shamed through mainstream media. We’ve seen it more and more over the last fifteen years. But, if you know how to handle yourself in some form of self-defense, boxing, I think you don’t have to resort to pulling out your firearm when a suspect comes at you with no weapon in hand. You’ll have the ability to handle the situation better.
Boxing is an amazing form of exercise. This is a great sport for officers to stay in shape and stay healthy. You don’t really know how long a minute is until you spar in a boxing ring. Besides being in great physical shape, you are learning self-defense. I think every officer should study some form of self-defense. I see it all the time in the boxing gym. Officers come in to train and become more effective on the job.
Boxing will give you a great sense of confidence. There’s no better feeling than knowing you can take care of yourself and the ones you care about if a physical situation arises. It’s a known fact that when you are in top physical condition, all your senses are much sharper. Your awareness is at its peak and that’s vital for an officer of the law.
Many people may believe boxing is an offensive sport, would they be correct? If no, why?
There is a reason it is called the sweet science. To the average person that sees boxing on television, it’s a sport of savages. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots, but it’s a lot deeper than that. It’s a chess game. For every action there is a reaction, every defensive move there is an opportunity for an offensive move to be executed. Hit and not get hit. So I disagree when people want to say it’s an offensive sport. Being defensive is just as important, if not more important. Who wants to take unnecessary punishment when they don’t have to?
Is strength more important than technique?
I believe stamina is more important than both. I have seen physically weak guys with halfway decent technique win fights just because they were in shape and outlasted the stronger, more advanced boxers. It was their will that made these guys win. The only way you can out-will your opponent is to be in tremendous shape. That’s when confidence comes into play.
Perfect example is Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas.
Tyson’s strength and skill were on a different level than Buster Douglas’. But, Douglas had just lost his mother earlier that year and she was his motivation to get in great physical condition for his fight with Tyson. He trained endlessly while Tyson didn’t train as hard as he usually did. He expected to have an early night because he depended on both strength and technique. Who was in better shape that night? Who out-willed who? Stamina is extremely essential in boxing. It can make all the difference to out-will your opponent and win the fight.
What is the best aspect of teaching boxing?
It’s self-rewarding to know that you’re giving someone the ability to learn and love a sport that can positively impact his or her life. For those who will compete, it’s awesome to see how they shape and develop on that level. It’s equally self-rewarding to give people the tools to defend themselves if a situation should arise where otherwise they’d have become a victim. Nobody should have to become a victim by some evil person out there who thinks it’s OK to harm other people just because he feels like it.
I love teaching boxing. I think the most important thing to teach in the beginning is proper technique. Make sure they bring their hands back in place after every move. You can’t build a masterpiece without building a strong foundation. There are different ways to teach a new person to box because everyone is different. You might have to start teaching someone differently than how you usually teach, because they may pick it up different because they are built differently.
What has teaching boxing taught you?
Teaching boxing has taught me to become a better boxer. I see the mistakes that I made as a fighter. It’s also made me a better person, a more patient person. Some of the personalities I’ve dealt with over the last twenty years, not all of them have been the greatest kind of people to deal with. I’ve learned to adapt to the different personalities and different classes of people. Learning to adapt in different environments is vital in one’s life. It’s amazing how teaching boxing has actually taught me so much about myself and life.
For officers looking to add boxing to their defensive tactic skills, how should they go about this?
Find a local boxing gym. I was fortunate, my neighborhood had a PAL (Police Athletic League). There are very few Police Athletic Leagues these days but there are commercialized boxing gyms in almost every town or city. UFC, Club KO, TITLE BOXING. These are the McDonalds of boxing. Most of these gyms have a few decent trainers on staff. The days of “Micky” the trainer and the old “Rocky” gyms are few and far between. The most important thing is that they make the first move and seek out a place to train. The officers may find the place they selected is not the right fit for them, and move on to a different boxing gym. But at that point you’re already training and that’s the most important aspect of learning any sport.
Where do you see the sport of boxing heading in the next decade?
I see boxing remaining strong. Every generation has called it a dying sport since the 1900s. During every decade over the past century we saw great fighters come up and shock the world.
During the 1920s you had Dempsey, the ‘30s & ‘40s there was Robinson, Louis, Armstrong, Pep,--the ‘50s had Marciano, LaMatta, ‘60s & ‘70s had Ali, Holmes, Griffeth, Frazier, and Foreman. The ‘80s had Tyson, Leonard, Hearns, Hagler Camacho Duran, and the ‘90s was the time Holyfield, Lewis, DeLaHoya, Jones, Jr., Toney Trinadad, Hamed. The last two decades we had Mayweather, Pacquiao, Klitchko, Hopkins, GGG, Gatti, Lomonchenko, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
As you can see there are plenty of fans worldwide who love boxing. The highest paid athlete every year is a boxer. The sport of boxing will never die. I don’t see it happening.
McDermott is among the best boxers the sport had ever seen, and officers can benefit greatly from learning the sport directly from this world champion. If you seek to sharpen your defensive tactics and techniques through learning the sport of boxing, reach out to Danny McDermott at email@example.com
George Beck is a police detective, award-winning journalist, and editor-in-chief of Blue Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in History & Culture from Drew University. He is the author of The Killer Among Us and several other books. His nonfiction and short stories have been featured in magazines and anthologies nationally and internationally.