SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes helped his former opponent and longtime friend Gerry Cooney celebrate the grand opening of his boxing academy at YETI MMA on Thursday, Feb. 7, in Scotch Plains.
Cooney, a Fanwood resident, invited the former champ to the event where the two talked briefly about their careers, joked with and posed for pictures with supporters, and signed autographs.
"I hope set a good example. We fought and tried to win. I came out victorious," Holmes said of his fellow boxing legend. "I didn’t hate him before, and didn’t after him. Gerry was just one of the guys I fought to pay the rent!"
"People ask 'Don’t you have hard feelings? No I don’t. Anytime Gerry needs Larry Holmes, I’m coming," said Holmes, who at one point was threatened to break Rocky Marciano's record for undefeated heavyweight victories. "We have fun, we make a few bucks. I’m happy to be his friend. That’s what it’s all about. Life is to short to hate people. He’s a champion."
"Larry is a great world champion," Cooney said as Holmes demonstrated his famed jab, which was rated one of the best in boxing history. "The jab. It’s a nightmare!" Cooney yelled in a mock flashback.
Holmes and Cooney struck an unlikely friendship in the years after their now legendary championship fight, the first ever big time pay-per-view event. "Gentleman Gerry," the charming pugilist from Huntington, NY, with a devastating left hook battled the undefeated "Easton Assassin" on June 11, 1982, at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.
Cooney, who had not stepped into the ring for a year before the match, fought valiantly until the fight was stopped in the 13th round. He would not get another shot at becoming heavyweight champion. Meanwhile, Holmes held the WBC heavyweight title from 1978 to 1983 and fell one victory short of matching Rocky Marciano's career record of 49–0 when he lost to Michael Spinks in 1985.
Gerry Cooney's Boxing Academy is located at Yeti MMA, 2507 US-22 West, in Scotch Plains.
To read TAPintoSPF's in-depth profile on Cooney and his career, click here.