Danny Williams: Beating Mike Tyson was dream come true
….Dad’s death lowest point of his career
Danny Williams, 47, was born British. He is a retired heavyweight boxer whose exploits in the ring made him one of the most popular British boxers of his day. Right now, Williams has called time with boxing. Except, perhaps, until he is called to assist younger and aspiring boxers at clinics as an instructor, the former British heavyweight champion says he has nothing left to offer in the fistic art of self-defence. “My boxing career is over,” he declared.
Born to a Jamaican mother and a father of Nigerian descent, the retired boxer feels that at his age, even though he has called it quits from boxing, he still has a hidden talent which is yet to be explored to the full. What he intends doing is far from the boxing ring. He wants to go into a new field altogether.
“I want to go into acting,” he said.
Acting may not be entirely new to Williams. In a telephone chat with Sports Vanguard, Williams boasted of a profitable stint in acting even before quitting boxing. He told us that he played a key role in a movie that turned out to be a thriller, a blockbuster which was rated 4th in Turkey at the time. He said a boxing agent took him to Turkey to play the role of a boxer in the movie.
Danny Williams’ Nigerian background remains hazy as he could neither name his state nor which of the Nigerian tribes his roots originated from. “My father told me his grandfather came from Nigeria and from available information, my paternal grandmother too was Nigerian,” Danny disclosed, adding, “my father’s name is Augustus Williams.”
When we pressed for details about his Nigerian background, the former boxer said, “He didn’t give me those details you are asking for. I don’t have the information you are asking me.”
What happened to the other arm? We asked.
“It dislocated, so I began to use my left hand and, to God be the glory, I was able to knock him out.’
After the dramatic win over Potter, Williams was laid off due to injury. He recovered after six months to record another 32-second knockout over the respected opponent – Kali Meehan and then avenged his defeat to Francis, stopping the 36-year-old on an eye injury in the 4th round.
As a reward for hard work, Williams was signed by Don King and ended 2001 knocking out US journeyman Shaun Robinson. His tenure under King would prove to be uneventful, and they parted ways at the end of 2002.
In February 2003 Williams fought Turk champion Sinan Samil Sam for his European heavyweight title in Germany. Surprisingly Williams dropped three times and was stopped in six rounds.
He returned with a fourth-round stoppage of Australian Bob Mirovic to retain his Commonwealth title, then knocked out Michael Sprott in five rounds to defend his British & Commonwealth titles.
In 2004, Williams re-signed with Frank Warren, then lost his British and Commonwealth titles in a third meeting with Michael Sprott via a disputed close points decision.
Till date, Williams is insisting he was robbed of victory “I lasted a few years as heavyweight champion and I got robbed. Everybody thought I won the fight but I got robbed.”
After two comeback knockout wins, Williams boxed former world champion Mike Tyson who was a phenomenon and the likes of Danny Williams grew up watching him fight. Tyson was first demystified by Buster Douglas via a shocking knockout. When Tyson staged a comeback in 2004, Danny Williams had already become a household name in the heavyweight class in Europe and in Britain in particular.
The fight against Tyson held in Freedom Hall State Fairground, Louisville, Kentucky. After staggering Williams numerous times in the first round, Tyson began to tire in the fourth round, when Williams threw a torrent of punches, he forced Tyson to go down. Tyson was counted out sitting with his back to the ropes and made no attempt to get to his feet while looking up at the referee. He had to be helped to his feet because, as was later discovered, he left the ring with a torn ligament in his leg.
I beat Tyson via 4th knockout and that remains the greatest victory of my career as a boxer,” Williams recalled.
How was it like beating Tyson, who, to the average fan, was boxing personified?
“It was an unbelievable feeling. I grew up watching Mike Tyson. He was a wonderful fighter and a fantastic boxer,” he said, but added, “I must confess that I may not have been able to beat him when he was at his peak. I know I couldn’t have had a chance against him. But again, here in the ring was a man who was a phenomenon with a tremendous past.
He was an amazing fighter and I felt that pride and satisfaction that I shared the same ring with him and, for the records, I came out victorious via knockout. It was a dream come true.”
After the fight against Tyson, Danny Williams’ career took a dive into oblivion, In December he finally challenged for a world heavyweight title, but Vitali Klitschko proved too much, as Williams was stopped in the 8th round.
“I had a shot at the world title against Vitalis Klitschko and I lost that fight. After that my career went down.”
Williams, who was called the Brixton Bomber said his loss to Klitschko forced him to retire.
“I took a lot of punishment from Klitschko and in boxing, punishment from a lot of punches makes you age fast. After that fight, I felt I couldn’t continue and I stopped fighting.”
After hanging his gloves, Danny Williams said he is not finished yet. He has decided to dust his acting garments and join the fray as a Nollywood actor.
Having participated in a movie in Turkey, Williams said he would bring his experience to bear.
“Yes, I have done a movie in Turkey. I was invited to Turkey to play a role in a movie. They got in touch with my boxing agent and asked that they wanted a former boxer. So I was called to take part in the movie which I gladly accepted to be part of. The film was highly rated and it was rated number four in Turkey at the time.”
Williams said he’s open to doing all kinds of films. “I want to try something else as I can’t do action,” the boxing champion enthused.
He, however, implored Nollywood producers and directors within and outside the shores of the country to give him a chance, in the bid to actualize his acting dream.
Talking about his love for Nollywood, Williams said his mother, a Jamaican is a lover of Nigerian films, adding that “she’s always watching Nigerian films, hence my interest grew too.”
According to the ex-boxing champion, Nollywood has grown rapidly over the years, such that he believes the platform will take him to the next level.
Williams believes he can add a lot of value to the Nollywood industry and also speaks on his motivation. “I am greatly inspired and hungry to achieve. I hope to do my best and make everyone happy. I just want to be a good actor.”
He said his passion for Nollywood heightened when his friend Abdulrahaman urged him to visit Nigeria.
Said Williams, “My friend and brother, Abdulrahaman Afolabi Animashaun (who is the son former Vanguard’s Editorial Board Chairman, late Alhaji Kola Animashaun) has been the one encouraging me to come to Nigeria and he has promised to provide me with the necessary links in the Nollywood industry”.
Despite declaring his retirement from boxing, Williams said he could spare a moment for kids aspiring to become boxers when he visits Nigeria.
“Definitely, I would want to take a look at what they are doing and perhaps have a few training sessions with the young boxers there. I would be glad to do so,” he concluded.